Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sometimes mistakes work

A few years back - I was younger then and more reckless - I planted a bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabili,s what I thought was a reasonable distance away from my young Mediterranean fan palm, Chaemerops humilis.  It turns out it wasn't quite far enough.  Both plants have expanded their girth.  Now the Dicentra emerges through the outer carpet of the palm fronds.  It's an odd combination but, somehow, it works.

Dicentra spectabilis growing through Chaemerops humilis
It's not a marriage that will last forever. of course.  Eventually the palm will produce enough trunk to lift its crown above the smaller perennial.  But, for a year or three to come I should be able to enjoy this accidental spring combination.

Often thought of as a bone hardy cottage garden perennial, the Dicentra fits in well in my more exotic garden theme, emerging early and flowering in mid to late spring before declining and retreating below ground soon after midsummer.  Just in time for slower developers to take over the space.  In my case this means Anemone japonica 'Honorine Jobert' and the half hardy (hardy with me but cheap to buy and replace every year if needed) acidanthera, Gladiolus callianthus. This year I've added my overwintered banana, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurellii' to the mix.  The effect should be interesting.

The Dicentra certainly adds a touch of brightness and distinction to the spring scene.  So much so that it always seems to feature in flower photos submitted to photography websites.  With this in mind here's the conventional shot that invariably gets submitted.

Dicentra spectabilis
Pretty as the species is I do have a soft spot for the white form, D.spectabilis 'Alba'.  It's not quite as vigorous but shares the same characteristics of liking good, humus rich soils and a position in dappled sunlight or light shade.

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba'
I can't decide which is the prettier - so I grow both.  They'll remain in flower for a good six weeks, excellent value for the space they occupy.

1 comment:

  1. Both white and pink forms are very garden worthy. I have a soft spot for them, with their unusual but beautiful blooms.