Archive for May 6th, 2010

The first garden I can remember belonged to my grandfather. He was fond of roses, and his hybrid tea roses showed off in their own special display beds set out across the back of the yard in full view. Funnily enough, I don’t remember the rose blooms themselves. I remember the plants neatly trimmed and mulched, tucked into their beds for the winter, a tribute to my grandfather’s affection for his favorites. They weren’t my favorites, though. The perennials that I remember all these years later were relegated to the border that edged the two sides of the yard. One that was always special to me was the bleeding heart.

I have always had bleeding heart represented in my garden, and am pleased that the Willow House garden had a number of lovely, big plants. Although its graceful, arching branches of charming, heart-shaped flowers give bleeding heart a tender appearance, it is sturdy and easy to grow. If you’ve ever tried to move a bleeding heart, you’ll know that an established bush has a tap root that goes halfway to China.

In addition to the pink Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis), there is a white form, “Alba“, that is also very pretty, and good for brightening a shady corner. It is a bit more elegant and sophisticated, perhaps, than the pink.

Fern-leaf bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) is a dwarf version that is good for smaller spaces. It’s under a foot tall, and lacks the long, arching branches of its taller relative, but has attractive flowers and eye-catching foliage.

For me, though, ferny leaves or white flowers are just a diversion. I still like the old-fashioned pink-flowered plants best.

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