Bleeding Hearts in May

A profile of Dicentra spectablis, be careful with ornamental grasses and advice about Hostas.

Hello again everyone,

This month, one of my favourite plants is flowering in the plantadvice gardenís herbaceous border. Dicentra spectablis (pictured) is a fantastic plant. It is not much to look at during the winter months, nothing in fact, because it dies down completely to an over-wintering rootstock. But during this dormant period it is charging itís batteries for a wonderful spring floral display. Bright pink heart shaped flowers unfurl in spring and last into early summer, they dangle bravely from fishing rod-like flower stalks. As well as the striking flowers, Dicentra spectablis also has fern like, divided, light green leaves. But it is really the flowers that I grow Dicentra spectablis for. Why? What is it about the flowers that make this plant first on the team sheet in my herbaceous border? Well, I am struck by how the flowers are in fact perfectly natural despite their appearance, which looks like that they might have been bred and cultivated to look that way. The Dicentra spectablis growing in my back garden is identical to the specimens that can be found growing in the valleys and woodlands of Northern China and Korea.

So, if you are looking for some extra colour in your garden during the springtime and you donít mind bright pink, I would thoroughly recommend having a look in the Perennial section of the Plantadvice database to find out more about Dicentra spectablis.

One not so well behaved plant that I have been dealing with recently is quite capable of bullying itís way into the root systems of other plants and can become a problem if thought to itís potential growth is not given at planting time. I have been digging Phalaris arundinacea ĎPictaí out of a raised bed. The latin name alone, hints at bamboo like characteristics and that is certainly the case when you have experienced itís potential to colonise an area quickly. Donít get me wrong, it is an attractive ornamental grass that would be a valuable addition to any garden but it does need to be planted in the right place. Again, you can find out more about this plant by visiting our Plant Database and looking it up in the ĎOrnamental Grasses and Bamboosí section.

Moving on, I want to talk about the traditional advice given in many gardening encyclopaedias and reference books. I recently attended a talk given by one of the top nurseries in the U.K. specialising in Hostas. I was amazed to hear the speaker suggesting that usual, conventional advice about the perfect growing conditions for Hostas should be taken with a pinch of salt and that gardeners should experiment with site selection when growing them. The speaker suggested that the reason Hostas are often targeted by slugs is because gardeners are told to grow them in shade; the perfect light level for slugs. Try growing Hostas in full sun and see if you get as much slug damage...

Other jobs I have been getting on with in the gardens recently:
Trimming variegated Euonymus to shape
Trying to keep up with staking herbaceous perennials that are now growing at a rate of knots.
Regular checks for Pests and Diseases in greenhouses
Dead heading Tulips, preventing seed development and therefore allowing the bulb to store up energy.
Weeding around young trees that were planted in the winter.
Top dressing Brugmansia and moving them outside for the summer.
Moving Tomatoes, French Beans and Sweetcorn to their final planting positions, but keeping a close eye on the weather forescast in case of late frosts.

Happy Gardening, See you next time.


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