HARDY PERENNIALS: DICENTR

Bleeding Heart’, ‘Dutchmans Breeches’ and ‘Lady in the Bath’, are names for D. spectabilis, which is one of the loveliest of all plants for late spring and early summer. The root is ugly with its fleshy fangs, but the shoots emerging from it enhance their early promise as they unfurl with fresh looking deeply incised leaves. Through these arch cut branching stems to 2 feet or so, from which dangle the locket like flowers to which such folksy names have been given, though to see how the last mentioned of these applies, the flower has to be held upside down. Flowering lasts for several weeks from May onwards and for all its fragile appearance, the plant itself is fully hardy. It’s only needs are for reasonably good well drained soil, and to be sited where the strongest winds do not harry it. Old plants can be increased by very careful division, for both roots and shoots are brittle. D. eximea and its varieties make some spread, with less fangy roots and make a mound of pretty glaucous foliage. The type is a rather dull rose pink, but in the variety D. ‘Adrian Bloom) the individual flowers are much larger and of a ruby red shade, on sprays 15 inches high, from May to July and often longer. LV’Bountiful’ is also large flowered, but less richly coloured, whilst D. eximea alba, is white and only 9 inches tall. These Dicentras divide easily, best in early autumn and benefit thereby if the ground is dug over and enriched every 3-4 years.

DICENTRA eximea 'Adrian Bloom'

DICENTRA eximea ‘Adrian Bloom’

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