Yellow Fumitory

'Canary Feathers'
Yellow Fumitory
aka, Fumewort
or False Bleeding Heart

"Given me hundreds of years ago,
My name has a meaning you shall know:
It means, in the speech of the bygone folk,
'Smoke of the Earth'--a soft green smoke!"

-Cicely Mary Barker

An easy fast-growing plant for the shade garden, Corydalis moorcroftiana x wilsonii 'Canary Feathers' forms a spreading clump of blue-green ferny leaves generally well under a foot tall.

Raising above the leaves another eight to ten inches are erect racemes, each spike having a great many bright yellow tubular flowers, with a long bloom time for spring & summer. The very unusual shape of the individual flowers gave rise to the common name Bird-in-the-Bush, as each flower does look rather bird-like.

The soft foliage & the fleshy stems of the flowers are easily battered by hard rain or overhead watering, but will recover quickly. The blooms are individually surprisingly longlasting; each spike can last a full month, with new spikes developing one after another.

It wants regular, even moisture with good drainage, or it will go prematurely dormant before summer's end, though an established clump is hardier in harsher conditions than usually believed.

With sufficient moisture it is vastly more heat-hardy than most corydalis species & will keep on flowering even if summer gets into the 90s. And yet it is not recommended above zone 8, because it does require a good solid winter dormancy to restart its bloom cycle the following spring.

The cultivar was developed by Janet Egger of Wilsonville, Oregon, & introduced in 2006 by Terra Nova. Because of the size of the blooms, its popularity was certain. It's vastly more vigorous than its two parent species, with larger blooms.

As a sterile hybrid, cultivation in the garden is by division of the spreading clump. The sterility contributes to the persistance of blooms, as they are attractive to pollinators, but as no seed results, 'Canary Feathers' has instead an extended flower-time.

See also:
Corydalis lutea, yellow fumitory

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