These elegant perennials with fern-like leaves and heart-shaped blooms on arching stems are extremely easy to grow and flower early, peaking in May.

The taller types make good planting companions with mossy saxifrages, ivies and hellebores, while other good plant partners include hardy geraniums and hostas, or other plants providing interest later in the season.

Smaller dicentras can be grown with foxgloves, tall campanulas and astilbes. They will thrive in sun or shade and in most soils but they do best in sheltered spots in semi shade and a moist soil.

If you keep them out of the midday sun and keep the ground moist, you may extend the flowering season into the summer. D. spectabilis, which is widely available, will grow up to 90cm (3ft) tall, producing arching sprays of pink flowers, while ‘Alba’ is shorter, at 70cm (28in), with ivory white flowers. The more compact dicentras, growing up to 45cm (18in) high, include ‘Snowflakes’ and ‘Bacchanal’.