Aquilegias – promiscuity and more

Hazel Kaye retired from running her Nursery in 2008 but has continued to share her extensive knowledge by giving talks.

Ticknall Garden Club’s talk on October 14th was about the aquilegia and its families. When words like ranunculaceae and campanulaceae trip effortlessly off the tongue you know you are in the company of a real expert.

Hazel described clearly the sepal, petal and seed fruiting formation that showed that the aquilegia does indeed have many relatives. Her splendid photographs included foxgloves, lilies and campanulas.

The buttercup family, of which the aquilegia is a member, contained a wide variety of familiar flowers such as anemone, pulsatilla, clematis, hellebores and aconite which all had characteristics in common. They have many seeds with a short viability so need sowing as soon as they are ripe.

Aquilegias, also known as granny’s bonnets, come in many colours but left to their habit of promiscuous interbreeding will tend to dark blue or red in the end. They need to be confined to an isolated position if you want seeds true to type.

Hazel Kaye made botany easily understandable. It was her final talk before retirement. What a loss to gardeners everywhere.

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