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Report From PIA – April 26

I can’t imagine a landscape that doesn’t have a bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) in the flower garden, or tucked among shrubs and foundation plantings. This perennial is very hardy, reliable, and absolutely lovely. It lends its grace to a garden early in the growing season, when we need it most.

The common name is so evocative as well. We use the term “heart” to sum up all of our emotions, as well as the organ that keeps us alive. Living requires both the pumping of blood and feelings, after all. The Buddhists say that, “all life is suffering,” which I know to mean that to be living means that we must also acknowledge death, injustice and uncertainty. Our hearts must occasionally “bleed” because we will have to say goodbye to people and things we love.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned here that I help former neighbors, Mel and Mary, who are elderly. They have no children, so they need someone to help pay bills, do some shopping, and serve as their advocate to the rest of the world. Thankfully, my neighbor Sarah signed on to help them as well, and we tag-team what needs to be done much as siblings do for older parents.

Now, Mary is dying. We are assisting with setting up the care she needs so that she won’t be in pain, and we help Mel deal with the fact that he’s losing the love of his life. His heart is bleeding, and it’s a painful time.

As I see the Dicentra that’s blooming in my garden, I’m reminded that beauty isn’t permanent. This plant tells me that we are all part of the circle of life, and we should take every opportunity to bloom, to appreciate beauty, and to help others to grow.

Bleeding heart flowers along with the Virginia bluebells, creeping phlox and basket-of-gold. All of these are lovely plants, but frankly, we might appreciate even the most weird and funky flowers at this time of year. After a time of dormancy and cold, any colorful signs of life are valued.

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