Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) ‘Nora Barlow’

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This dainty little double-flowered aquilegia is a self-seeder over at my community garden. I’m not sure of it’s origin — we first noticed it years back and have been encouraging it to keep going ever since. Encouragement, when it comes to aquilegia is a breeze — it amounts to nothing more than transplanting them into safer spots away from high traffic areas and allowing them to produce seed pods. The plants do the rest. I have never started aquilegia seed indoors as some instructions suggest. They need a cold period to germinate, so it makes more sense and much less work to simply toss the seeds onto the soil in the fall and wait for them to pop up on their own when it warms up in the spring.

I have three types of columbine growing among the violets and wild garlic in the shadier side of my community garden plot, but I think this one is my favourite of the lot. I recently purchased seed for another ruffly, double, pink variety called ‘Pink Tower.’

This from a female who refused to make any associations with the colour pink for the first 30 years of her life.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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10 thoughts on “Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) ‘Nora Barlow’

  1. This flower is beautiful! I have started some columbines from seed this year. They’re not big enough to be transplanted yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed that will be this gorgeous.

  2. I love this photo Gayla – it’s one of my new favourites of yours! I’m a pretty recent columbine convert. I was always rather ambivalent towards them, but in the past few years I’ve really been starting to love them, especially the more unordinary varieties like this one you pictured. Now it’s on me “to-find” list.

  3. I love aquilegia so much and this is a beauty.

    I started a few varieties from seeds (indoors — I was so proud!) about 15 years ago and transplanted the 10 week old seedlings to my Mom’s garden while she was away visiting her own mom in Winnipeg. During our first phone conversation after her return home, she told me she’d been weeding the perennial beds. Aggghhh. Yes, she removed about half the freshly planted aguilegia. We laugh about it now. Sorry, longish story, but this plant is a sentimental favourite for this reason. Mom still has on her wall framed photos of the survivors (a pink variety with bonnets rather than ruffles — don’t recall the name).

  4. If you sow seeds in the winter months, the pots of seed can be left in the fridge for three weeks. This is enough to trigger germination and your seedlings will be ready to be planted on in the spring.

  5. Is there no end to your goodness! I planted seeds indoors in March, they’re all just now coming up (I wish I’d known about the fridge trick Barry mentions, of course the seed packets don’t mention that *sigh*); I *love* the one you have above, gorgeous! (it’s one of M.S.’ favorite flowers so I wanted to plant them here on the ranch). I’ve never seen the kind you shot above. Now I’m all newly inspired (again); and encouraged, I hope they grow as well here!

  6. Gayla – this is the year of the ‘pink’. Anything pink goes. I actually bought a pair of pruners (well, 2 pairs) that are bright pink! I found out that a lot of my shirts are pink too. And yes, I loathed pink for the first 30 years of my life.

    Now growing pink in the gardens is still something I’m a little terrified of. I’m anxiously waiting for the peonies to bloom to see how the pink feels against the purples & yellows & the plethora of greens that are curretnly abundant.

    The weigela is only 2 feet tall, so I don’t get a true sense of pink from that. But pink can be a good thing – reminds me to sit & reflect on the magic of my space instead of weilding my mattock in defiance of Mother Nature.

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