Choose the 'bathing lady' for low maintenance beauty in your garden
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Choose the 'bathing lady' for low maintenance beauty in your garden

I LIKE to think of May as being the month when residential areas show much of their beauty to the passers-by.

May is the most beautiful, breath-taking month of the entire year. But however nice the front gardens may be, it is generally accepted that in many properties it is ‘the back’ where most of the colour, the scent, and the beauty is to be found.

It is here also that one is most likely to see an ornamental feature of one kind or another.

An interesting purchase could well be a tiny, self-contained pool with enclosed pump (available at most garden outlets) or art in the form of a modern piece of statuary.

A simple garden seat set near a border of low maintenance plants would also look wonderful and draw favourable comment from visitors and family.

All these features require minimal maintenance, and if some equally low maintenance plants are added to beautify their surroundings, then annual attention will be greatly reduced.

In fact, some plants can be left almost unattended for years.

A plant that meets these requirements is Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectablis) for it dislikes disturbance of any kind.

It is slow to increase but eventually it will make an impressive clump of fleshy roots.

This old-fashioned garden plant can also be known as The Lyre Plant or even Lady-in-the-Bath, but irrespective of what you call it, please do not disturb it once planted.

At one time, this was so 'ordinary' (and so typical of the humbler garden) that it was shunned by the more sophisticated.

Time brings change and we now have come to realise the grace and charm of this plant’s delicate foliage and the arching sprays of delicious pink or white flowers, with stylish lyre-shaped petals which can be gently pulled back to reveal the little white lady modestly having her bath.

Like all bathing beauties, however, she is far too fragile to be chilled and buffeted by cold winds, so place her where she will have shelter and peace and a decent amount of regular heat.

Do bear in mind that the roots of Dicentra are brittle as glass and cannot bear to be disturbed by repeated repositioning.

Plant this month, direct from pots purchased from any good garden centre.

Dicentra spectablis is the preferred species and this willingly sends up ferny green foliage in spring, followed by arching stems hung with locket-shaped blossoms.

On these, the outer petals are red or pink, the inner white.

Dicentra can be propagated from winter divisions but must be replanted immediately.

Mark its position for the entire plant dies back completely during winter.