I HAVE COMPLAINED RECENTLY about plants I’ve had forever that I wish would simply go away. A counterpoint: Thalictrum rochebrunianum, a towering meadow rue, has been here more than 20 years, too, and I sincerely hope it never departs my company.
This old-friend thalictrum is a Japanese native, but there are American species, too, such as the charming little rue anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides, with white blooms in spring near the woodland floor.
My summertime companion, though, produces lavish lavender 3-foot-wide sprays of tiny flowers, each with showy yellow stamens, on 10-foot stems that are painted appropriately purple (below) and dressed up with delicate, blue-green foliage that remind me of columbine. No wonder, since they are cousins in the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup family, as are delphiniums and clematis and Aconitum, among other beauties. A note about the height of my stalwart of a giant plant: All the references say it gets to 6 or 7 feet when blooming, but I took a tape measure into the garden: 10.
I keep reading that Thalictrum rochebrunianum is best massed, but on that point I heartily agree with Annie of Annie’s Annuals, who says:
“Ideal for rising above Roses and shorter subjects. Some say it’s best massed but my single plantings never fail to impress.”
Hey, my couple of plants—jutting up and looming above a winter-hazel shrub, Corylopsis spicata, that has been with me just as long–even looked good this year, when violent storms turned the stalks from decidedly vertical to horizontal (as in the photos). Bees adore it for its many weeks of bloom, and it even matches a pair of garden chairs (you can see one of them in the background, all blurry).
Easy, in sun or light shade, and hardy from Zone 4 or 5 to about Zone 9. Better still: Deer don’t eat it.