Charm, is not a characteristic you hear much of these days, in the description of either plants or gardens or human beings too, come to that.

This strikes us as a pity. Especially with the human beings!

Meaty designs and structural plants can make substantial statements, but we also need to be able to command a lightness of touch.

As, say, at Mabel Choate’s famed spread at Naumkeag.

And a lightness of touch in the detail of your plant collection is also important.

At this time of year Dicentra scandens always strikes us as  ‘a plant with charm’.

Even that great, and hard to please, plantsman, Christopher Lloyd thought so!

If, with its ferny foliage and lemon lockets, this is looking a bit familiar, so it should.

For it is, of course, related to that traditional, cottage garden charmer, the pink or white Dutchman’s Breeches of spring time.

But is doing it all so much later and climbing too:

Its tangled skeins of chain-like shoots and blooms, cling by tendrils and look delicate.

But they are fine as long as you leave them alone. Try to redirect their climb and you end up with a tangled, limp mess! Slugs often attack the young shoots at ground level here, so a small necklace of slug pellets is a good idea early on.

Hang on, we are making this seem quite difficult which it is not.

Plant this herbaceous perennial at the base of some shrub or other climber, once it gets going forget about it and allow it to work its way up through to the light. We grow it with various tough climbers such as Araujia and Vitis cognettiae:

And still the Dicentra manages to find its way through and hang gracefully 2 – 4 metres aloft at this time of year, elegant and citrus fresh, in contrast to the thuggish manners of the other climbers.

With age the flowers redden at the tips, charmingly. And again this detail is useful.

Bicolour effects always set up a certain vibrance:

Cute little seed pods follow:

But it would appear that there are viable and non viable strains and ours is quite definitely non viable. Bearing in mind the volume of flower, phew!

Coming to us all the way from the Himalayas, this delicate little treasure has hit smack into a long winded wrangle amongst the botanists as to whether this is Dicentra scandens, Dicentra macrocaponos or whether the whole climbing dicentra genus should be called something like Dactylicapnos.

Guys, don’t bother. We are sticking to the name we know.

Because it looks like a dicentra  and its specific name, scandens, describes in ‘botanical latin’ its  climbing habit.

Logic is on our side!

R and L

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