This month’s flower is one I’ve loved since childhood and perhaps my choice is a bit predictable, it being a staple (along with tulips) of pretty much every Chelsea show garden I’ve ever seen (and certainly most of the ones I’ve liked) but I’m not going to apologise for that. It’s unashamedly romantic, perhaps sometimes even a bit twee but I love it, so there.
A.v. ‘Nora Barlow’ was one of the first plants I really fell in love with when I started gardening ‘properly’:
It grows in one of the rose borders which I stuffed with herbaceous perennials early on in my time at the towers. The other aquilegia I planted in that border is the dramatic ‘William Guiness’:
Good old William and Nora have been getting busy in the border and have had several love children, though I also suspect Aquilegia vulgaris may have been joining in at times (oh I say!):
They are happy in most soils and like sun or partial shade and will seed around, although the babies won’t ‘come true’ from their parents, you can see from the examples above (and take my word for it, there are lots of others) that the results are often interesting in their own right. Strict deadheading would prevent this if you wanted to (but I reserve the right to call you a spoilsport).
I grew some from seed that the packet claimed were a ‘Nora Barlow Mix’ (so they should have all had the spurless double shape which is so distinctive) and while they were double and very pretty, they weren’t a Nora Barlow type so I would caution ‘buyer beware’ when it comes to seed packets. I planted the results in my new border last autumn:
If I was a granny I’d be quite happy with one of these bonnets!