EARLY SMALL FLOWERED SPECIES
(THE ATRAGENES)

This group includes the well known alpina and macropetala as well as various other species and hybrids. All have the main flowering period in spring many will also flower intermittently throughout the summer. Many of the new hybrids are of complex parentage and for simplicity a letter A or M will be put behind each name to indicate whether it is nearer in flower shape to either alpina or macropetala. No pruning is required for any of these plants on an annual basis. The stems become entwined and it is much easier to cut hard back every few years immediately after flowering if pruning is required. The height is about 3m for all. Whilst all are happy to be grown with no particular aspect due to technical reasons related to how the flower is made the colour of the flower is much brighter if grown in full sun unlike many plants temperature effects flower colour. Beware of growing the reds especially in cold corners. All are hardy to exceptionally low temperatures.

Many of these varieties come from Sweden where Magnus Johnson has spent many years perfecting the range. 

NAME AND DESCRIPTION

ALPINA 
Wild species from various mountain ranges in Europe pale blue tepals with simple white centre

ALBO ROSEA M
Pale pink small flower with rose tinges foliage quite fine.

ALBIFLORA A
Simple clean white flowers with an elegant shape, what more could one want.

ALBINA PLENA. M
White semi double vigorous possibly the best of the double whites

ANDERS M
Light blue long tepals with a hint of pink. Named after the grandson of the hybridiser

BALLET SKIRT M
Good clear pink with very long tepals Flowers seem to be best on older plants.

BARBELLATA A
The Himalayan version of alpina flower colour variable but usually deep violet. Not an atragene but fits the catalogue well here.

BLUE BIRD M
Tepals long and twisted slate blue in colour with a white base

BLUE DANCER A
Long simple shape medium blue. A version of Francis Rivis I think

BRUNETTE A
Deep red brown simple flowers with well polished look. Occasional flowers throughout the summer buds as attractive as the open flower

BURFORD WHITE A
Creamy white often with distorted flower stems and flowers packed close together light green foliage.

COLUMBINE A
Very similar to some forms of the wild alpina in colour but slightly larger

CONSTANCE A
Deep beet root red , possibly the best available red form

CHIISANENSIS A
A specie from Korea which has pale yellow flowers often with flecks of crimson Much chunkier than many, with coarse foliage

CITRA A
A cross out of koreana in palest yellow like an English primrose.

ERIK A
A nice compact light blue form that is nice and simple in appearance

EXIMA M
Not my favorite but a shaving brush of tepals in a not too clean mid blue.

FLAMINGO M
Deep pink at the stem fading to white towards the end of the tepals well reflexed.

FLORALIA M
Mid blue fading towards white in the centre lacks the clean form of many

FRANCIS RIVIS A
There are two forms in cultivation. The true Francis Rivis has quite broad tepals in deep mid blue with white staminodes, the other version appears to be the same as Blue Dancer.

FRANCESCA A 
Named after my daughter a clear pink which holds its colour well in cold weather, much finer foliage than the type.

FRANKIE A
Deep blue form of alpina good looking flower

FUSIJAMANA A
A form of ochotensis found only in Japan with rounded shape and thick tepals in a rather muddy purple.

GEORG M
Deep indigo blue with touch of violet probably the best for summer flowering

G.STEFFNER M
Darker side of mid blue fading to a white centre. The flower parts are held horizontally giving a very attractive whole.

HELSINGBORG A
Deep blue violet glossy flower with a simple outline,very attractive

JAN LINMARK M
Long reddish purple tepals widely spaced, shows well. Always the first of the group to bloom here.

JAQUELINE DU PRE 
Icing sugar pink tepals with paler edges and a clean outline makes for a nice flower.

JAPONICA A
Another intruder but the right shape flower. Summer flowering specie with shining mahogany brown flowers leaves quite large and bright green

KOREANA A
A variable species tepals usually browny blue with yellow margins leaves quite large and coarse

KOREANA FRAGRANS A
A seed collection that turned out to have the most wonderful sweet cedarwood scent. Shiny red brown long narrow tepals.

KOREANA LUTEA A
Pale yellow form often later flowering in early May foliage again coarse.

LAGOON M
Dark violet blue at first lightening well with age

LOVE CHILD A
A named seedling of Chiisinensis with pale lemon tepals finishing in a delicately shape tip. Not the easiest plant to keep alive let alone thriving.

MACROPETALA M The original form collected by R Farrer in China in about 1914 blue violet in colour

MACROPETALA M
A form which has been 'improved' dark side of mid blue tepals quite long

MAIDWELL HALL M
Long mid blue tepals carried en masse make this one of the showier varieties and one of the easiest to grow also helps.

MARKHAMS PINK M
Dusky pink, suffers in the cold getting quite a blue hue

OCHOTENSIS A
Shall we call it the Siberian equivalent to alpina collected in Kamtchatka deeper blue than alpina and a much heavier flower.

PAMELA JACKMAN A
Oxford blue with white centre

PAULINE A
A good bright mid blue

PURITY A
White which has no density of colour I would best describe it as papery

ROSY O'GRADY M
Light rose tepals longer than many an attractive variety

ROSY PAGODA A
Clear light pink with a pale centre usually does well

ROSEA M
When I first saw this in Sweden I was impressed both by the shape of the flower and by the large size. It does not seem to appreciate our milder climate but possibly needs that really fast northern spring.

RUBY A
Lilac red no sparkle like the name would suggest, you must keep this variety warm otherwise the colour is very muddy.

SALMONEA M
An unusual colour reminds me most of dark tinned salmon different I suppose, foliage is very fine and noticeably different.

SIBERICA A
A white specie occurring at higher latitudes when happy is most charming

SIALIA M
A lovely concoction in light and mid blues possibly one of the best shaped of the collection

SNOWBIRD M
Lovely white flower with long tepals matched by pale foliage unfortunately it seems to lack vigour

TAGE LUNDELL A
Violet with a tinge of red brown has high sheen similar to Helsinborg

WHITE COLUMBINE A
Good solid white colour uncomplicated flower, but so difficult to grow well

WHITE LADY M
A relatively simple multiple tepalled form that has a charm of its own

WHITE MOTH M
Appears semi double colour good solid white

WHITE SWAN M
Slightly dirty white not washed in that well known detergent!

WILLY 
A what an unfortunate name for a pale pink tepals with red patch at base of each, Great plant

WISTERIA PURPLE A
Early flowering variety within the group ,pointed delicate tepals of, you guessed! I think that there is much more wisteria than purple!


This article was originally published on the web at oviatt-ham.demon.co.uk (Malcolm Oviatt-Ham, Cambridge), however that website is defunct at 2014. The copyright is with Malcolm Oviatt-Ham.

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