Speaking of native plants, our Plant Pick this month is Dicentra eximia, fringed bleeding heart. This early spring bloomer will pop out of the ground shortly after the snow melts with soft green basal leaves. Flower stems will quickly follow. Preferring dry shade with a soil rich in organic matter, this plant is an easy naturalizer. In a very hot summer, it may go dormant, but will quickly resprout new leaves once rain and cooler temperatures return in fall. The plant may then rebloom lightly.
You may already grow the tall Asiatic species, Dicentra spectabilis, or old fashioned bleeding heart. This plant can take up to 4′ of space in the spring garden and is lovely naturalized with bulbs. However, its foliage declines then disappears in the hot summer and a large gap in the garden will result. I like to plant a ground trailing clematis variety near the bleeding heart that will bloom in August and expand to fill the spot. Tubers of old fashioned bleeding heart can be ordered now for early spring planting, or else do this in the fall.