Corydalis solida ‘Purple Beauty’ is often one of the first Corydalis to appear above ground, usually visible by the end of January. As well as flowering in purple profusion right at the start of the year, it divides well, often splitting in three and building up a sizeable clump in no time at all. Being early to rise, it is also early to bed – it’s soft stems collapsing quickly; the fleeting beauty over before many other plants have even started growing.
‘Purple Beauty’ has arisen from a cross between Corydalis solida and the related Corydalis decipiens (a taxonomically elusive species that deserves a post all of it’s own). Corydalis solida is a common species in cultivation, whose natural distribution ranges from Central Europe into Russia. In the wild, it usually has a pale purple colour (although there is quite a lot of variation). C. decipiens is a species of unknown origin, thought to be a horticultural hybrid. It has been in cultivation for many years and has a strong purple colour. The cross between these two species results in an excellent plant with deep purple flowers over the usual soft ferny foliage typical of C. solida and it’s related species.
Here in Birmingham, I grow all of the C. solida cultivars in raised beds enriched with leaf mould every year. An oak tree provides shade at the tail end of spring, but for most of it’s growing period, the plants get full morning sun. I have found Corydalis to be quite forgiving of soil type, but moisture retentive but well drained soil seems to serve them well.
To explore further:
Corydalis solida is one of the most straight forward Corydalis species, and ‘Purple Beauty’ is a strong growing cultivar that adds a touch of class and interesting colour to the early spring garden. For me it is one my best growers: a reliable favourite.