And a look at a few of the Aquilegias we have…
Hot, hot, hot, today, sun and blue skies over this part of Arcadia, and here – a glimpse of some of the plants and floral displays that caught my eye today. The Cutting Garden seems to be quadrupling in flower-power every week and this is just the start! Very inspirational and a clarion-call for me on some of my garden projects. Notebook out I think.
Aquilegias – the last group of photographs – Nora Barlow, Ruby Port, Black Barlow, William Guinness – got me to thinking who Nora Barlow was in particular. The ever helpful seedaholic website has some answers –
Nora Barlow is a modern name attached to this ancient type of “rose” columbine in which the sepals are doubled with an unusual greenish tinge. These types were illustrated in European herbals of the early seventeenth century and have been cultivated for over two hundred years.
The frilly pink & white double aquilegia `Nora Barlow’, which has become popular recently, might suggest an equally frilly namesake. But not a bit of it: Emma Nora Barlow (December 22, 1885 – December 1989) was a formidable woman, who died at the age of 104. She was a granddaughter of Charles Darwin, about whom she wrote a book in the time she could spare from raising six children, gardening, looking after horses, bird-watching and running the local Girl Guides.
Having studied genetics at Cambridge, Nora Barlow enjoyed hybridising plants and, although she was not the originator of this unusual aquilegia variety, she grew it in her garden (although her taste was generally for plainer flowers) and gave some seeds to the nurseryman Alan Bloom who named his commercial stock after her. She also gave her house, The Orchard, to the University of Cambridge in 1962. New Hall College for women was founded on the land.
Flowering in early summer, aquilegias fill the seasonal gap between the last of the spring bulbs and the main flush of summer perennials. ‘Nora Barlow’ is one of the more interesting varieties, producing nodding, spur-less, almost spherical heads 2 to 3cm (1½in) in width, composed of many narrow, pink and pale green to white petals.
Growing to around 80cm (32in) tall when in flower, it is one of the most popular forms and is highly prized for its bright, cheerful flowers and graceful and upright habit.
Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’ has been awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).