It’s that time of year: the Dicentras are beginning to emerge after their winter nap, and Dicentra ‘Aurora’ is no exception. Unlike it’s Disney©® Ltd. namesake, Dicentra ‘Aurora’ does not owe it’s identity primarily to it’s tendency to sleep. Neither does it await salvation by a stranger, to awaken it from it’s slumber. Indeed, it positively bursts forth with vigour in the spring, and flowers prolifically from spring through to autumn if given half a chance
Given it’s lack of similarities with the aforementioned princess, I can only assume it was named with the Aurora borealis in mind. It has the propensity to brighten up and thrive in a shady spot; a display of colour in the darkness, so to speak. The creamy, pale flowers arrive in abundance and dangle merrily away throughout the year. Below the flowers lie a carpet of glaucous leaves. All in all it has a rather charming appearance, which belies it’s penchant for colonisation. Like all of the most vigorous D. formosa derived plants, it’s rhizomatous roots like to steadily seek out landscapes new and exciting.
‘Aurora’ is a hybrid with lineage from those two All-American stalwarts: Dicentra formosa and Dicentra eximia. The presence of D. eximia’s East Coast genes make ‘Aurora’ more tolerant of warmer temperatures than D. formosa alone gives. I grow it in one of the driest spots in the garden and it sometimes goes dormant during the height of a particularly dry summer, but it seems to cope admirably with it’s inscrutable treatment.
Below are a couple of pictures from today (17th March 2021) showing the current progress of D. ‘Aurora’:
On the left are plants in 9cm pots in the greenhouse, being grown on to sell. On the right are the shoots showing in the open garden. The pots are kept in the greenhouse merely to protect them from the local wildlife rather than the weather (pots in our garden don’t fare well against squirrels, magpies, etc.). A side effect of this protection is that they are slightly more advanced than the plants growing outside. The outside plants are in loose loamy soil, enriched yearly with leaf mould.
As mentioned above, Dicentra ‘Aurora’s Happy Place is to be slowly growing into and creeping through fresh new soil. With it’s exploratory rhizomes staying near the surface, it’s not difficult to contain it should that be your desire. It is a very obliging plant for the gardener: reliable and tough, with a long flowering period and an easy going disposition. Here it grows in the shade, but it has a reputation for being one of the best Dicentras for sunny spots. I will soon have some of these lovely plants available to buy from the shop – if you’re interested, do subscribe and I’ll be sure to let you know when they’re ready. Alternatively, follow me on Twitter or Instagram to stay up to date.