Yellow Fumitory (Corydalis lutea)

Today was FRIGID with no activity out in the gardens (except for hungry deer).  While the weather outside was frightful, the inside was so delightful (and productive).  Pat M. continued to process lights while Dr. Gredler painted more trash bins with a fresh coat of grey/blue paint.  Ron Y. and Dave were putting primer on their carpentry projects which will become the “soon to be announced” garden art projects for this year.  More to follow on that annual event very shortly.  Vern, Jim, Bob K. and Dick H. were all working on carpentry projects as well.  Larry O. was here briefly and we saw a couple others as well.

Any time I do a presentation regarding the shade garden, I include the yellow fumitory (Corydalis lutea).  This perennial has thrived for us and has been a colorful component in many of our shade and part shade gardens.  All of these images (most from RBG) will do credit to the beautiful flowers and clean foliage of this European native.  The blue-green foliage (three-lobed leaflets) is reminiscent of bleeding heart (Dicentra sp.) or even columbine (Aquilegia sp.).  Of all of our perennials (literally, all) in the garden, this one has the longest bloom period which will start in May and end in early October.  They are “self-cleaning” so simply continue to shed old blooms and produce new ones.  These plants prefer rich, moist soils and will never thrive in dry soils.  Full shade to part shade are preferred but with ample moisture, I’ve seen them do well in more sunlight.  Soil drainage is important as yellow fumitory will resent wet winter conditions and may disappear.  This species is hardy to only zone 5 so keep that in mind.  When happy though, this plant will reseed prolifically although seedlings are easy to remove or relocate.  The image below shows some “advantageous reseeding” throughout open gaps in our shade garden.  There were only three plants installed here five years before the photo so you can see how it spreads out.  Beautiful!  At 15″ tall, this tough perennial should be included in your shade garden palette and as long as you keep it happy, it will do the same for you!