Lathyrus vernus, commonly called spring vetchling, is a little-known legume for the garden. (Richie Steffen)

Lathyrus vernus, commonly called spring vetchling, is a little-known legume for the garden. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Lathyrus vernus, spring vetchling

What: A little-known legume for the garden, Lathyrus vernus fills in the early flowering season and is extremely durable. The typicaly pea-like, purple flowers are wonderful in the early spring, when grown with hellebores of all sorts and pulmonarias. Lathyrus vernus “Albo-roseus” is a rare but sometimes available cotton-candy-pink form that is equally lovely. Ferny foliage lasts through the whole growing season and adds to the texture of the woodland garden. Its common name is spring vetchling.

Where: The mounding perennial will grow best in well-drained or sandy soils with full sun to light or open shade.

Size: This decidious plant grows to be 1 foot tall and 1 foot wide when mature.

Care: Once established, it only needs occasional watering during dry weather. In fall cut it to the ground once it starts looking tattered.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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