Monday, 9 May 2011

Misbehaving Badly


Aquilegias which are well known for their promiscuous and perfidious behaviour are certainly living up to their reputation in my garden this spring. I can only recall planting one aquilegia in this border - the delightful two toned  'Nora Barlow' which is said to come true from seed. Yet this spring I have a pink tinged double white, a blue tinged double white, a dusky single pink, purple ~ both single and double as well as a most dubious two toned purple and white. I know that the all purple has probably drifted in from around the corner but as to the others I am left guessing their parentage. I think that 'Nora Barlow' is probably sulking as she is behind the others and has still to open fully. It may interest you to know that the Nora Barlow who this plant was named after was Charles Darwin's granddaughter. She was a keen gardener and lived to the age of 104. She studied genetics at Cambridge and attempted to hybridise various flowers including aquilegias. However the 'Nora Barlow' aquilegia was almost certainly not the result of one of her own experiments, since a similar form was known going back to the sixteenth century. 'Nora Barlow' grew in her own garden though and a friend was to pass on seed to the nurseryman Alan Bloom of Bressingham with the suggestion that he might like to stock the plant. A condition was that the plant was named 'Nora Barlow'.


If you are a fan of aquilegias and can travel to the Swansea area you might like to visit 'Touchwood', the garden of Carrie Thomas, who holds a national collection of aquilegia vulgaris and aquilegia hybrids. The garden is due to open this month ~ see here for details. Carrie also welcomes visitors by appointment at other times. She also sells a range of aquilegia seeds as well as seed of other cottage garden plants.

15 comments:

  1. Anna - this morning I was just walking around the garden musing about the "perfidious behaviour" of aquilegia! You have beaten me to it with a post!

    It is interesting to know how Nora Barlow got her name.
    K

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  2. Interesting about Nora Barlow. I have a purple in the back garden which I planted, but a pink has popped up in the front garden this year, I've no idea where from.

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  3. Mine are have been pretty promiscuous too! Like you I have colours I didn't buy, in places I didn't plant them!
    And yes, I guess walnut ink does come from some part of the walnut plant as freshly picked walnuts stain everthing don't they, but I don't really know!

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  4. I love their self-setting free- flowering chameleon tendencies. Only have the common vulgaris and yours have tempted me to think more seriously about them. Thanks Anna, for all the interesting info on Nora Barlow too
    Laura

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  5. I've been hoping mine would cross-breed...I always love those little spontaneous little plants popping up here and there.

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  6. I have just bought Christa Barlow the dark blue sister to Nora' I think Nora is actually prettier and I must replace her as she died on me yet "wild" Aquilegias seed all over my garden...just typical!
    Wondering if I should remove seed heads of the more boring colours but not sure if I can summon up the energy :-)

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  7. I think the aquilegias are such a sweet woodland plant. I have some coming up now and can't wait to see them - whatever colour they turn out to be this year. :)

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  8. I wasn't aware of these behavioural characteristics of Aquilegias! Haven't grown them for years, but I'll make a point of getting some, as I delight in plants that pop up everywhere!

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  9. So that's how it got its name.

    I grow Nora Barlow. There are a lot of wild blue aquilegia that pop up here. Aquilegia are called ancolie in French.

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  10. I love Aquilegas but prefer the American varieties with the long spurs - I seem to have a lot of purple ones this year sure that wasnt the case last year!!

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  11. Promiscuous little blighters, aren't they! I made the mistake of planting dark purple Miss M I Huish alongside a more simple blue but which has lime green leaves. Not sure why I even bought the latter. The unholy alliance has given rise to a pale pink fluffy aquilegia with, yes, you've guess it, lime green leaves. Personally I think it is an abomination! I want to try growing some orange ones, but dread to think what might come from the subsequent liaisons...

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  12. Wonderful. My mother-in-law has dozens of aquilegias appearing in her garden that must have been sown by the birds. We have acquired a couple of these to add to our garden soon, and I found a lovely dark red one springing up from the compacted sand out the front of our house, which is now happily waiting in a pot to be planted properly. Thank you birds!
    Have just sown some 'Lime Sorbet' seeds for next year too, which I look forward to seeing in their glory.
    Thank you for sharing Touchwood with us: I hadn't heard of it but suspect a visit will soon be on the cards as it's not too far away!
    Sara

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  13. Lovely photos, and thanks for the information about who Nora Barlow actually was - really interesting; I didn't realise she was Darwin's grand-daughter, nor did I realise that one of Darwin's grand-daughter's studied genetics. Fascinating, as Darwin would have had a lot more info to back up his theories had he (or anyone else) actually known about genetics at the time.

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  14. I have only just got around to reading other blogs this week only to see that you too have done a post on aquilegia - aren't they just lovely! Please don't think I copied you :0))

    I didn't know the origin of the naming of Nora Barlow. R

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  15. i love aquilegia, still looking for seeds of white ones for my garden :)

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All your comments are much appreciated and treasured. I wil try to reply to everyone who leaves a comment, but it may take me a few days, especially when I start spending more time in the garden and at the lottie. I know that you will understand :) I am sure that I will also visit your blog if I have not already done so. If you have any specific questions I will either reply to them here or you can email me at : thegreentapestry@gmail.com

Namasté

- Anna.