At right we see Dicentra eximia and the taller and more flamboyant D. spectabilis in their new bloom, taking over from Narcissus bulbs (back left) which are past their perfection, but still beautiful and scene-stealing in the otherwise relatively monochromatic bed. D. eximia is longer-blooming, but I prefer the purer red-pink of D. spectabilis, and its more “heart” shaped flowers – and in this position, shaded from about 11AM to 3PM each day, even D. spectabilis bloomed for about 6 weeks last year. I am glad to have these plants, whose size and timing is crucial in this bed – although their niche could also be filled by early Rhododendron, which would also have winter and more early spring interest.
At left front note a green-over-brown Lillium spear, 4 Fritillaria meleagris in front of last year’s dead cropped Pennisetum grass, and the new spiderwort (Tradescantia) foliage, still streaked with red-brown. The Fritillarias are rather lost here, in part due to my reddish (not the garish dyed red! red) mulch. I have several spaces here to fill (last year’s Pennisetum, Lavandula and Verbena, I’m afraid), which means I can buy more plants without doing more double-digging. I won’t again attempt a Mediterranean plant like Lavandula on this side of the bed.
The back row has, between and to the right of the clumps of blooming Narcissi, healthy returning perennials – Lupinus, and Alcea (hollyhock), respectively. These were grown from seed sown in situ last summer, and so if all goes well this will be their first season blooming for me. (Last year I placed purchased Lupines in the front of my house, where the afternoon sun killed them.)