Last spring I ordered masses of seeds from the UK National Plant collection of Aquilegias and the plants raised from these are just starting to bloom. Here is a quick taste of what has been produced. Not all are open yet so I may add another post in a few weeks when there are more in bloom.
Aquilegias are known for their promiscuous breeding habits and they interbreed widely. So although I knew that the packs of seed were ‘ex’ this and ‘ex’ that there would be considerable variation in their offspring. As it has turned out there is HUGE variation in the colours, habits and shapes of the flowers and plants. Some are lovely, some are nice and some are horrible – well in my opinion. Here are a few so you can judge.
After the photos is some bad news about a new aquilegia disease – why do these things keep cropping up!
A purple and white in the blue border. I like this one, though it is hardly exceptional.
Now this one I don’t like! I really dislike the muddled doubles where the spurs get jumbled and can’t push through the five sepals at the top of the flower. Aquilegias are named after ‘aquila’ meaning eagle for the claw-like nectaries and also columbines after columba meaning dove. The flowers do look like a ring of five doves but this one looks a mess. The colours are interesting though.
Some blue and whites have intriguing stripes in the petals and although you can’t really see it in this photo they are really quite unusual. I will take more photos.
Plain, pure white on freely branched, sturdy plants. Not ground breaking but nice in the garden
A satisfying combination of colours that mimics one of my favourite iris ‘Edith Wolford’
I don’t get that excited about doubles but this one is cute enough
Plain but bird like
The most remarkable of all are some red-flowered plants. They stood out from the start because of their bronzed foliage but as they have begun blooming they really look very odd. At first I thought they were freaky and nasty but as the flowers have matured I am beginning to like them. The flowers are solitary so the plants have a small bud count and the blooms face upwards or sideways rather than hang but what makes them unusual is that they have VERY small petals so the flowers are starlike. They are carried just above the foliage on compact but not dwarf plants. So although the flowers are small, overall the plant is really nice. I need to collect seeds of these I think
Beautiful or freaky?
Breaking news on Aquilegia Downy Mildew (peronospora)
In 2013 a new disease started to affect aquilegias in the UK and it was first seen in the National Plant Collection in 2014. It has become so severe that the Collection has been badly affected and may be lost. Like most downy mildews it is encouraged by excess nitrogen causing lush growth and by wet, airless conditions. It seems to have subtle symptoms at first but eventually distorts and kills the plants. I do not know much about it at the moment and suggest you look at the two links below if you are interested or if you have found odd things happening to your plants.
How sad that we have grown these lovely plants for centuries and now a disease has come along and spoiled the party.
I am a freelance Photographer born and raised in the Southeast. I have uprooted my life in Macon Georgia for a new life as an unlikely cowgirl in love with a handsome cowboy in Wyoming. I hope you enjoy my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming.