Bleeding Hearts and My English Cottage Garden

By Beverly DeMers

Did you see The Holiday? It’s already been 6 years since the movie came out, but I’m still in serious lust with Kate Winslett’s country cottage in the film. Even though it’s only shown in winter, in my mind I have planted a beautiful cottage garden front and back. My first flower planted there is the Bleeding Heart.

Maybe I’m genetically predisposed to like the English garden look. After all my paternal great grandfather was half English. He was born at sea on the way to America. Due to some family tiff none of us know his mother’s name. She has forever been referred to as “the French woman.” Anyhow, all I know is we grew up drinking tea, with milk and sugar please, and my cousin Frances is an even bigger Anglophile than I am.

Given our family’s passion for English traditions, we always had Bleeding Hearts in the garden. They are the epitome of grace and beauty with their soft-looking leaves and gently arched stems. The blooms remind me of little ballerinas on point. I have two kinds in my garden all abloom right now. The traditional  pink and white Dicentra spectabilis, and the all-white Dicentra spectabilis alba. They were both given to me by a friend and have continued to multiply over the years. As a matter of fact, they spread so much last year I was able to dig out quite a number of them to share. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to pass along such pretty plants?

When I lived in the woods, I had the wild cousin of Bleeding Hearts known as Dutchman’s Breeches, which are white and yellow. Another name for them is Squirrel Corn. The foliage is so fragile and lacy, I half expected to see a little elf peeping out from underneath. The dappled sunlight and leafy soil suited it and it’s domesticated cousins just fine. Which is yet another thing to love about Bleeding Hearts: they demand so very little and will just multiply and bloom away.

Mine are planted in part-shade, though their children have sprung up in full sun. The ones in sunshine do fine here in PA until summer really hits. After that, they just quietly fade away until next year. Those in the shade keep their greenery until sometime in August. By then, other things have filled in the gap made by their dying back.

So now you know my first flower in an English cottage garden is the Bleeding Heart. What are the others? You tell me! Click HERE and tell me on our Facebook fan page what your favorite English cottage garden flowers are.

Photo credits: (pink) Chris. P, (white) steffofsd

2 Responses to “Bleeding Hearts and My English Cottage Garden”
  1. Dale says:

    Did you know if you take a bleeding heart apart you will have 2 swans, 2 ballerina slippers and ballerina. I love them

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