Sunday, 17 July 2011

Weed or wildflower?

Mock outrage at Friday evening’s Gardeners World as the very splendid Monty Don refers to Corydalis lutea as a weed. He was speaking of it with affection, so I think he’s excused, though I like to think of it as a wildflower. Granted it has a wondrous faculty for self-seeding, but it rarely has it inserted itself in a position where its presence has done anything other than brighten the immediate environment and, should it do so, it’s not hard to pull out.

I love it for its soft, ferny leaves, which remind me of aquilegias or the maindenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris, and yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers. It’s a delightfully unfussy plant, liking the margins of things, and will cope as happily with the shade under a tree or hedge as with a position on a sunny wall, in the cracks of which it frequently stations itself. All it requires is moderate drainage, and a slightly alkaline soil. In the shade, it looks great planted with epimediums and its not-too distant relative Dicentra ‘Ivory Hearts’.

It catches my eye, peering back at me from under the pyracantha hedge opposite the kitchen window. Company for when I’m doing the washing up.

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