Happy New Year! Just to celebrate, here are tasters of three more plants we are offering for the first time in 2014. We are very partial to aquilegias and always try to have a number of varieties available each season: next year sees two new additions to the roster. We also have a liking for astelias and are pleased to be growing one of the best recent introductions.
Aquilegia Canadensis is, well of course it is, the Canadian columbine, though it also grows in the United States, enjoying a setting among woodland or on rocky slopes. It is an elegant and airy plant with divided ferny foliage and, in late spring and early summer, nodding flowers with yellow petals surrounded by crimson sepals with upward facing spurs. It will grow in sun or semi-shade and tolerates most soils. A few years ago we grew A. Little Lanterns, which is a bijou little version of the species, but we though we would give the full blown version a go this time round.
Aquilegia Clematiflora is a distinctive and rather different form of columbine, as the characteristic spurs are absent on the flowers which are more open and semi or fully double, hence the comparison with clematis. The flowers are usually pink, though coloration may vary, which makes it all the more exciting. We do like our aquilegias and this one is quite unlike most of the others. Whether clematis is the best comparison is another matter; perhaps it’s best to just enjoy it for what it is.
Astelias are feature plants with their dramatic evergreen sword-like leaves; those of Silver Shadow have a striking silvery tinge – in fact, it’s the best silver form yet (better than the more usually seen Silver Spear) and a good vigorous one, to boot, so will eventually form a spectacular clump. Stylish in a patio pot. It needs a sheltered sunny spot in fertile well drained soil and dislikes winter wet and extreme cold. If in doubt, protect in the worst weather or grow in a pot so you can enjoy it indoors in the darker months.
Rob & Joanna – January 2014