Douglas Justice took today’s photo and wrote the accompanying entry in the final days of last month.
Peter Wharton, late curator of the David C. Lam Asian Garden, collected seed of this fine, if floppy, species in 2006 in Sichuan Province, China, near Hongxi (Hung-hsi) at an altitude of 2780 metres. Thalictrum delavayi is not exactly rare in cultivation, but the double-flowered cultivar, 'Hewitt’s Double', is more often seen than this or other "unimproved" forms. Here the lax stems of the Thalictrum are supported and set off by a planting of Astilbe chinensis.
Thalictrum species (the meadow rues) are easy plants in the Vancouver area, and we grow about a dozen of the 120 or so different species in the Botanical Garden. These herbaceous perennials are common constituents in moist-to-wet meadows and forest margins throughout the Northern Hemisphere, as well as in southern Africa and parts of South America. In leaf and habit, they are somewhat akin to the related columbines (Aquilegia species): they have slender stems with alternately arranged, compound leaves, as well as leaflets in threes (which are usually lobed or deeply toothed at their apices). The flowers of Thalictrum are borne without petals and most are tiny, composed primarily of numerous stamens, and looking basically like little powder-puffs in yellow, white, mauve, pink or purple. However, some—like this species (and T. rochebruneanum, which was previously showcased in these pages )—have flowers with showy petal-like sepals.