Thursday, 14 May 2015

Bleeding Hearts

One of the most delightful woodlands plants for spring, bleeding hearts have now been divided into two groups, the low-growing dicentra and the taller and bolder lamprocapnos.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis Valentine

The rather sad sounding name comes from the flower shape that resembles a broken heart with a tear drop at the bottom.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis alba

Lamprocapnos produce long arching stems that the flowers dangle from in a row. The emerging leaves in spring are a lovely red or purple, then age to pale or dark green, or yellow depending on the variety. Lamprocapnos Gold Heart has bright yellow leaves that contrast spectacularly with its cerise pink flowers.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis Gold Heart

Dicentra are low growing with daintier leaves and tangled sprays of flowers.
Dicentra Stuart Boothman

Dicentra Cox's Dark Red

Dicentra Bacchanal has created a large spread under our Magnolia Leonard Messel and always attracts admiration. In its partly shaded position it can flower for several months.
Dicentra Bacchanal

Also of interest in the garden at the moment - Dodecatheon (shooting stars) have heavily reflexed petals that give them an out-of-this-world appearance. A member of the primula family they like sun or part shade and moist soil.

Our current to-do list

1. Preparing for our NGS open garden - we have finished the final planting and rearranging, but weeding, primping and clipping of the grass edges still needs to be done before we let the public in on Sunday 17th. We hope you can make it too!

2. Sowing the second round of vegetable seeds - we sow two pots each of carrot, parsnip and beetroot about three weeks apart and this gives us a plentiful supply in autumn and winter. I need to trim some bamboo first, so that I can use it to create a protective dome over the pots to deter birds.

3. Dealing with pests

Red lily beetle - we are now being very vigilant to spot red lily beetle before they start to breed. If they see you coming they fall to the ground on their backs and become very hard to spot. Try approaching slowly without casting a shadow and hold a pot or box underneath and tap them into it.

Green and black fly - we seem to have huge amounts of this pest at the moment, and for the first time we have found them on potted acers (the chickens led me to this discovery because they were jumping up to strip off the bug-infested leaves). We have ordered adult ladybirds and larvae which will enjoy snacking on the bugs. It's quite a slow process encouraging them out of their box onto the plants, but we do this every year for the roses and it works very well.

Vine weevil - in spring and late summer we dose all the pots and any newly planted areas of the garden with nematodes that target vine weevil larvae, and they seem to do the job. After losing an expensive and lovely potted peach tree to vine weevil, we now consider this to be essential garden maintenance.

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