The earliest aquilegias, or granny’s bonnets, are swarming through our garden.
Their flowers range in hue and shape, from single to double, from off-white through palest pink to deepest purple, with the first yellows just beginning to open. Viewed up close, I find the frilly pale pink ones rather insipid, but en masse they do add an air of elegance to the border.
Some of my favourites each year are the purples, all self-sown here. Their colours range surprising widely, from the red end of the spectrum to the cooler blue-hued purples, with varying intensity.
One of the earliest bi-coloured aquilegias to flower here is this one in purple and white.
A dozen plants of Lime Sorbet that I raised from seed wander through the garden, I still love their cool green-kissed ivory flowers, rather shyly turned away from the camera above.
This dainty beauty, with its golden foliage and white bell-shaped flower, was bought as a tiny seedling from my visit to Touchwood Aquilegias last year. This evening I also spotted the first flower on one of the plants grown from packets of seed purchased at the same time, though I have not had the opportunity to capture it on camera yet.
Also in flower for the first time after being sown last year is this Aquilegia fragrans, with unusual pale flowers, blushed with purple atop deliciously dark stems with red-tinged foliage. Contrary to its name, it doesn’t appear to have any scent, but is nonetheless a welcome addition to the garden. I wonder where I planted out the rest of this batch…
But this year’s new stars are these delicious Ruby Port plants, a dozen of which swagger through the top border, their dark red flowers a perfect match to the foliage of the acer that stands in the centre of this small bed.
My mum gave me a single plant of this variety last summer that she had spare, its final flowers already fading away, and I planted it out and scattered its seeds throughout the border for good measure, knowing that this variety seeds true.
The river of dark red flowers that has sprung up this year, tall and stately, has exceeded my expectations. Aquilegias are one of my favourite plants, bridging the gap between spring and summer with style and flair.