Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'

Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’: The Delicate Beauty of Columbine

Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Nora Barlow’, also known as Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’, Columbine ‘Nora Barlow’, Granny’s Bonnet ‘Nora Barlow’, or Clematis-Flowered Columbine ‘Nora Barlow’, is a stunning perennial plant that captivates with its fully double, upward-facing, spurless flowers. This cultivar belongs to the Barlow Series, renowned for introducing the first Aquilegia vulgaris series featuring fully double, spurless blooms.

With its charming pompon-like appearance, ‘Nora Barlow’ adds an enchanting touch to late spring and early summer gardens. Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Nora Barlow’ is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, which also includes Buttercups, Larkspurs, and Peonies. This family is characterized by its showy flowers, which often have multiple petals and sepals. The flowers are typically pollinated by insects, and the fruits are typically capsules that contain many small seeds.


‘Nora Barlow’ showcases beautiful, fully double flowers in shades of pink with delicate white tips. The starry pompons create a captivating display against a backdrop of gray-green, ferny foliage. Each plant typically produces 3 to 5 stems in the first year, increasing to 5 to 10 stems in the second year. This upright clumping perennial reaches a height of 28-30 inches (70-75 cm) and spreads 16-20 inches (40-50 cm). While individual plants may have a relatively short lifespan, they self-seed prolifically, forming large colonies under favorable growing conditions.

Cultivation of Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’:

‘Nora Barlow’ Columbine thrives in average, well-drained soils and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is crucial to avoid poorly drained soils, as the plant dislikes excessive moisture. Rich, moist soils in part shade are ideal. The following subsections provide guidelines for the successful cultivation of Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Nora Barlow’:

Sunlight: Plant ‘Nora Barlow’ in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. While it tolerates some shade, adequate sunlight promotes healthy growth and abundant flowering.

Watering: Regular watering is essential, especially during the first year after planting. Maintain medium moisture levels and prevent the soil from drying out. However, avoid overwatering to prevent waterlogged conditions that can harm the plant.

Soil: Provide well-drained soil with average fertility. Avoid heavy clay soils and ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot. Amending the soil with organic matter improves moisture retention and overall soil quality.

Pest and Disease: Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Nora Barlow’ is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, it may occasionally encounter issues such as aphids, leaf miners, and powdery mildew. Regular inspection and prompt treatment of any problems are recommended.


There are several methods for propagating ‘Nora Barlow’ Columbine:

  • Seed: Sow the seeds in fall or early spring. Since the seeds require light for germination, scatter them on the soil surface and lightly press them down. Germination typically occurs within 3-4 weeks.
  • Division: Divide the plant in spring or fall. Dig up the clump and separate it into several sections, ensuring each section has roots and leaves. Plant the divisions in their own pots or directly in the garden.
  • Cuttings: Take softwood cuttings in spring or early summer. Cut a 4-6 inch section of stem from the current season’s growth, remove the lower leaves, and dip the cut end in the rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with moist potting mix. Place the pot in a warm, well-lit location and keep the mix consistently moist. The cutting should root in 4-6 weeks.

Additional Care Tips:

  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage prolonged blooming.
  • Divide the plant every 3-4 years to maintain its health and vigor.
  • Protect ‘Nora Barlow’ Columbine from frost in colder climates, as it is not as cold-hardy as some other Columbine varieties.
  • The plant is not favored by rabbits and deer, making it a reliable choice for gardens frequented by these animals.
  • ‘Nora Barlow’ makes an excellent cut flower, with blooms lasting up to two weeks in a vase.

With its grace, versatility, and delightful flowers, Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata ‘Nora Barlow’ is a welcome addition to beds, borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, shade gardens, or naturalized areas. Its ability to self-seed and create large colonies adds to its charm, ensuring a stunning display for years to come.

Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'
Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’

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