One of my favourite, and in some cases, the most statuesque of all shade tolerant perennials are those belonging to the genus Thalictrum. In actuality they appear at opposite ends of the height spectrum – the dainty and delicate ones, and the tall and showy species. Within a genus of approximately 130 odd species, there is surely to be one that will meet every gardener’s needs. For the sake of this expose, I will be focusing exclusively one the one that has made the most lasting impression upon me: Thalictrum delavayi ‘Splendide’
Over the years I’ve experimented with a number of the taller species, amongst them Thalictrum delavayi ‘Hewitt’s Double’ which sports fabulous fuzzy double flowers on stalks that rise between 2 and 2.5m in height. As with many of its Chinese or ‘Yunnan’ counterparts, it often requires staking in the garden, and is therefore better placed in an area that receives adequate sun on a daily basis! I’ve also dabbled with T. diffusiflorum and T. chelidonii, two rare and unusual species that are renowned for their larger than typical genus sized flowers. Of all of them, it is the ethereal beauty of T.d ‘Splendide’ that hold me firmly within its thrall!
A wonderful recent French introduction [T. delavayi x T. elegans] this beguiling beauty offers masses of blue grey lacy foliage with burgundy infused stalks bearing clouds of wonderful lavender infused dangling flowers. I am most impressed with the presence of it’s distinctly larger flower than those of ‘Hewitt’s Double’ that are of a brighter more luminescent hue as well! The accompanying photos depict a delicate presence thus far in the border, but one is advised to keep a close eye on its growth, as eventually it is going to top out at close to 3m in height. While most Thalictrum are tolerant of partial to dappled shade, I find that this charmer does best with morning and late afternoon sun. Adequate, consistent moisture with a rich humus soil is also beneficial. Hardy to Zone 5, it is important to clearly mark this beauty during its infancy in the garden. Luckily this beauty is becoming more readily available in hort commerce. Look for it this Spring at reputable garden nurseries.