Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria.

R. ficaria 'Brazen Hussy'

R. ficaria 'Flore-plena'

R. ficaria 'Collarette'

R. ficaria 'Copper Knob'

R. ficaria A pale form, maybe ''Primrose'

Some of the variety of foliage in my garden.

Some people are terrified of this little buttercup, and understandably as there are a number of gardens that seem to be over-run by this species. Just today A friend who spent the weekend in Montreal showed me a picture she took at the Montreal Botanical Garden of an area infested with a large leaved, course form of this species. My theory for the over-bearing habit of this plant in certain (usually older) gardens, is that they were planted with a less desirable sub-species. In Dan Hinkley's "The Explorers Garden", he mentions when discussing R.ficaria "Ranunculus ficaria subsp.chrysocephalus is more robust in every regard, rising to 1 ft. (0.3m) in height and bearing quarter-sized flowers to 1 in. (2.5 cm)",this may well be the plant that has given the smaller standard species such a bad reputation.
In my garden I've grown a number of the many cultivars of Ranunculus ficaria and they have all been very well behaved. In early spring they produce masses of glistening flowers in yellow, orange and white and depending on the cultivar, foliage of green, black-purple or with marbling of green,black and pewter. The most famous of these cultivars is 'Brazen Hussy', found and named by Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter, its shiny black foliage contrasting with the vivid yellow flowers make it a remarkable sight in the spring garden.
Being early spring ephemerals, the show is over for R. ficaria, at the end of May when it goes into dormancy.

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