by Merylyn Condon
Aquilegias, ‘keen to promiscuously interbreed, and generous with their offspring’ said the holder of the National Plant Collection for Swansea in the UK. One might assume from Aquilegia vulgaris hybrids and cultivars from such a comment that the aquilegia is everyone’s worst nightmare as a weed in the garden, but I don’t think so. They are versatile, offering a wide range of colours, plant heights and variety in flower form. They are virtually pest-free, and will grow in a wide range of soil types. They are generally grown from seed and self-sown seedlings are easily culled if unwanted. ‘William Guinness’ (syn. ‘Magpie’) pictured below is a stunning plant with pleated double flowers in purple and white.
Favourites: It is hard to choose, but some of my best-loved aquilegias are ‘William Guinness’ (syn. Magpie), a large cheeky red and yellow spurred garden hybrid in my mother’s garden and a recent introduction, ‘Roman Bronze’ which has golden leaves and deep purple flowers. I chose these three from a myriad of other beautiful forms, and the door is open for you to explore the wide range of seeds available.