The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus and brings home for me, as few other dedications do, the reality of Jesus’ humanity.
I often draw back emotionally when I realize what he endured in offering his very body and blood for my salvation. My tender heart cannot endure the reality of his horrific passion and am often reduced to tears by it all when I try to meditate on this truth. For this reason I am averse to attending Stations of the Cross, and Our Lord understands—after all he formed my inmost being in the womb (Ps 130:13).
Earlier in June I wrote about plants for a Catholic garden dedicated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. For July I’ve selected a few plants that would be symbolic for a garden dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus.
Blood Flower, Asclepias curassavica: a shrubby 2-3’ high tender perennial for the warmer climates, USDA Zone 9-11, and grown as an annual elsewhere. It is in the same family of Butterfly Weed and will attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Its red-orange flowers, touched with yellow, grow on the terminus—ends of stalks. To have more blooms, pinch back the stems early-on to encourage branching (more stalks=more terminal ends=more flowering sites). It has a much longer flowering period than Butterfly Weed, blooming from mid-summer to October. This plant requires full sun, evenly moist soil, and will reseed readily (that means it can become weedy!).
Blood Root, Sanguinaria canadensis: a perennial wildflower native to Eastern and North America, in USDA Zones 3-8. Lovely single palmate leaves with a bit of a blue-green tint that showcases a single 2”, 6-10 white petal flower in early spring (March-April). The flowers are nyctinastic, opening in the sun and closing at night. This plant grows best in evenly moist humus rich soil, in part to full shade; will form large colonies in woodland floors and along shady streams. The leaves will continue to grow until late summer when the plant goes dormant. All parts of the plant will ‘bleed’ a reddish-yellow sap if damaged.
Love Lies Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus: a tender annual that looks amazing cascading over walls, and is often grown in hanging baskets. It has long lasting 12” red ‘tails’ of tiny blooms, called panicles. It is drought tolerant—but not like a cactus!—growing best in full sun to light afternoon shade in hotter climates. Easy to grow in well drained soil, but roots will rot if overwatered and when stressed attract aphids. So yeah, a good plant for those challenged to be gardeners!
Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis (mentioned in June post and repeated here): Grow in moist, humusy soil in part shade. Beautiful in a border or woodland garden. Spring-early summer interest. Can take full sun in reliably moist soil. Protect from wind. Foliage generally goes dormant in summer’s heat, so be sure to choose companion plants so there isn’t an empty space left in the garden. USDA Zones 3-9.
Blood Flower: Image by Roland zh, upload on 27. September 2009 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Blood Root: Image by Spencer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Love Lies Bleeding: Image by Wildfeuer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons
Bleeding Heart: Image by Wildfeuer [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons