Well the metre fits. As I maintain my return to the fold, I’m featuring another “collection” of six, this week Columbines or, as most call them Aquilegia.
They’re also called “Granny’s bonnets”. I wonder if Granny wears them as she’s gardening. The name “Aquilegia” comes from the Roman “aquila”, meaning eagle, because some bright sparks decided that the flower petals resembled an eagle’s claw. “Columbine” comes from the Latin “columba”, meaning dove, because some other bright sparks decided that flowers looked like doves. As to “Granny’s bonnets” I leave you to form your own opinion.
Now I’m only here because some guy who we all call Pop (or is that Prop?) came up with the idea of inventing a meme to prop (or is that pop?) up his blog stats. And, if I may be so bold as to say so, a pretty fine invention it is, steadily blooming and increasing under his tender care. Pop over to his place, read his post of the day and then dig down below ground level to see a host of links to other six posts. Such are his propagating skills that the host grows throughout the day, and even into Sunday so repeat visits are a good idea. They also serve to increase, by a process of self-seeding, Mr Prop’s (or is that pop?) stats though, being low calory, don’t increase his waist size. Which is nice.
Right, let’s get on with it.
Number 1 today piggybacked on a Geranium that I planted last year. For the interested, it was G. himalayense. I don’t know which variety this is but it’s nice so I’ll live with it and let it self-seed and see what happens. It looks like a variety that poked itself up in a Devonian garden a few weeks back. (Those with long memories may recall that it became something of a tradition for me to find a way to mention Devon and for a certain Devonian to mention me each Saturday. Until she stopped. First!)
Number 2 is another sudden appearance. This didn’t piggyback. At least it appeared this year nowhere near anything newly-planted. This is a bit distinctive so, rather than allowing it to self-seed, I’ll collect seed and see.
Enough of the surprises.
This is a known variety which I planted deliberately. It’s a blue form of the Winky series. Now Winkies are not like other Aquilegias. Rather than forming tall clumps, they form short bushy plants. Here they don’t seem to seed themselves around. I planted two and I still have two. Now a few years old, they’re about a foot tall and maybe a bit more across.
One thing about Winkies is that if they do set seed, it doesn’t come true so even if you managed in some controlled way to pollinate a flower with another flower from the same plant, you wouldn’t be guaranteed a plant of the same colour.
Am I cheating? There’s nothing in the rules to say that I can’t feature a different colour of the same series. This is Winky pink. From the back so you can see the “claws”. You may also notice that, unlike many Aquilegias, the flowers face up. Which is handy as you either look down at these short plants or would have to lie in the mud to look up at them. As the flowers age, though, they seem to droop more.
Ah! The eponymous ‘Nora Barlow’. The original Nora had six children so her namesake, possibly the most prolific seeder of the buttercup family (did I mention that Aquilegia are related to buttercups?), has clearly read the manual. Though not necessarily completely. Nora was not a fan of frills and bright colours, preferring simple dress in “earth shades”. She was also Darwin’s (that’s Charles, you know) granddaughter. The Barlow series was named for her as, so the story goes, the first plants were found in her garden.
Just remember that if Nora appears in your garden, deadhead with abandon or she’ll appear everywhere. Like Himalayan Balsam. Individual plants are OK, though. They tend to be upright and fairly narrow, popping up wherever a bit of ground presents itself but not clogging out neighbouring plants.
Nora’s sibling, ‘Black Barlow’, is, at least for me, better behaved. I begged some seed from a friend some years ago as I’d long admired the colour of this form. A few seeds germinated and went on to develop decent plants. By ‘a few’ I literally mean three. I still have three Black Barlows. And only three. They very kindly form seed pods every year but those seed pods, when harvested, turn out to be empty.
Well, hey! I made a six, even if I cheated a bit.
If you grow Aquilegia, and don’t want to get overwhelmed – that many don’t go mad here (I’m looking at you, though, Nora) may be fortuitous but don’t assume that the same varieties as I have won’t go mad on your plot – start to chop down stems as soon as flowers START to fade. Don’t wait for a stem to completely go over as, by the time it does, early flowers will have dropped their seed. When a plant has finished, chop it to ground. In late autumn, the plant you think you hacked to death will start to send up new foliage. It’s getting a head start on next year. Leave the chopping too late and you’ll not only have an increased stock of plants from seeds (!) but will be removing the new foliage that will power the existing plant for another season.