A Fine Year For Bleeding Hearts
The old-fashioned bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) in my garden are looking very happy this year, the moist cool spring must agree with them. They are bushy and robust, with many long stems lined with dangling pink and white flowers.
The unique shape of the bleeding heart flower certainly suggests the origin the plant’s name, though it is odd that the drop of “blood” is white. However, this common name makes more sense than some others that have been used. For example: lady in a bath, Dutchman’s breeches, and lyre flower. As to lady in a bath – if the white part is the lady, then the name should be lady in a bath upside down. Now that I think of it, lyre flower is a good fit, though not as evocative as bleeding heart.
Note that the taxonomists have been at their mischief again. The botanical name was Dicentra spectabilis until recently, very suitable and appealing if you ask me. How they came up with Lamprocapnos I don’t know, but it is a very ugly genus name for a lovely flower. Lamprocapnos sounds like one of those parasitic eels that attach themselves to fish and suck out their vital juices.
Another reason my bleeding hearts may be looking especially nice this year is that they are just another year older. This is a plant that spreads gradually by rhizomes, the clumps becoming more and more impressive in size.
Bleeding hearts like shade and moisture. They are considered ephemeral because they die back after blooming. In my experience, though, bleeding hearts in the right sort of spot will keep their foliage looking fresh until July or August.
Blue flowers go particularly well with bleeding heart, especially Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophyla). A note about false forget-me-not. This is not to be confused with forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica). False forget-me-not is a longer-lived perennial with flowers very similar to Myosotis. It also goes under the common name Siberian bugloss. Which would you rather be called? Enough said.
Ferns are another excellent companion for old-fashioned bleeding heart.
Do you have bleeding heart in your garden? Is it having a good year?