May 2017.

Notes: I first saw a bleeding heart bush when Dave and I were in Vermont, attending an open studios event in around a small town center. It was perfectly sunny and cool in that Vermont-early-summer way. Our map directed us to walk up a steep hillside, on a street lined with petite houses. At the top, we entered the yard of an older woman who painted watercolors. She was tending what seemed to me at the time to be an extraordinary garden.

I couldn’t yet imagine myself being a practicing artist again after years away from my paints, and I had never learned to be a gardener. Yet, I peppered this woman with questions about all of her plants, including the most basic “What is this?” “What is this?” “What is this?” and “How hard is it to grow?”

When we got to her abundant pink bleeding heart plants, I was in awe. Surely these plants, with their delicate and intricate flowers, must be extremely difficult to grow. (How often we mistakenly think the most wonderful things will only come to us with great difficulty! Sometimes true and sometimes not.)

She assured me the Bleeding Hearts fared well in New England and were hardier than they looked.

Then last May, I happened upon a row of them, their flowers healthy and dangling, at a plant nursery. I scooped them up and planted them in my backyard. After maybe six weeks, their leaves turned a sickly yellow and the stems started to wilt. Well before the summer was over, the whole plant had disintegrated. Many of my plants lose their flowers at one point or another and start to shrivel or turn dark as the seasons change, but at a certain point these Bleeding Hearts were just GONE. Still, I kept the spots where they had been untouched. Just in case.

So it was especially delightful to look out my window into the backyard a few weeks ago and see tiny plants with hearts the size of my pinky-nail shooting up from those spaces. And now, while many of the flowering plants are just waking up, and before the trees have a chance to grow their leaves and cover the yard in shade, these spring ephemerals are fully alive. (May 5).