A light and airy plant for the back of the border – a pleasant contrast to the heavy-leaved and large-flowered types which usually dominate the row next to the fence. The stems are slender and the dainty leaflets have the appearance of Columbine or Maidenhair Fern. The foliage is used for flower arranging and so are the large heads of tiny flowers. Most varieties need moisture-retentive soil, so add peat or well-rotted compost at planting time. Provide support for the stems and cut down in autumn.

VARIETIES: T. dipterocarpum bears 6 in. heads of lavender flowers with prominent yellow stamens. The basic details are height 5 ft. Spacing 2 ft.

Flowering period: June-September. If you have space for only one Thalictrum, then choose the variety ‘Hewitt’s Double’ (3 ft). The Columbine Meadow Rue (T.aquilegifolium) is earlier flowering, producing masses of fluffy flowers in white, mauve, pink or purple in late spring. Some well-known varieties are ‘Thundercloud’ (2.5 ft. deep purple), ‘Dwarf Purple’ (2.5 ft. mauve) and ‘Album’ (3 ft. white). The all-yellow Thalictrum is T. speciosissimum (5 ft).

SITE AND SOIL: Any reasonable garden soil will do if humus is added – thrives in sun or partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Divide overgrown clumps in autumn or spring, otherwise sow seeds under glass in spring.

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