Thalictrum speciosissimum

Thalictrum speciosissimum, a European relative of our native meadow rue, is a hardy perennial which brings grace to the summer border, where so many plants are stiff, if not positively coarse. A tall plant, up to 5 feet (1.5 m) high, it is all softness – soft, fluffy panicles of lemon-yellow flowers, soft blue-green leaves dissected like those of a maidenhair fern. Grown preferably in light shade, it brings an airy freshness to the garden at a sultry time of year.

Thalictrums are often happily associated with delphiniums; they seem as companionable as buttercups and daisies. At Kiftsgate Court, in Gloucestershire, they are grown with delphiniums and hostas; at Tintinhull, a small but cele-brated National Trust garden in Somer-set, with blue and mauve delphiniums and white herbaceous clematis. Another attractive species is T. aquilegifolium, a shorter plant with fluffy purple flowers and leaves like those of columbines. Thalictrums will grow in any good garden soil which does not dry out – the wild species are found in ditches and by streams. Plant them in groups 30 inches (75 cm) apart, working in plenty of compost or peat.

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