This week’s Herbaria is a tribute to columbine (Aquilegia) and some of its friends. There’s a lot going on in the garden right now, but chances are good that this will be the last week that they are all blooming at the same time and I was eager to see them assembled together as a collection.
Aquilegia are charming, graceful, meadow flowers that dance and sway in the breeze on long, thin stems. They are generally very profuse self-seeders, although I planted a deep wine colored double last year that broke the rule and did not reproduce or come back, period. [Shakes fist] Despite the rare exception, they are very easy plants to grow and the toughest of the bunch will succeed in surprisingly shady locations.
Aquilegia are a diverse group with plants in a wide range of forms, colors, and flower shapes. I tend towards the simple native types and the elegant double flowers. I am generally not a fan of the two-toned or very open flowers, although you can see that there is an exception in my collection. Of the flowers and leaves I have assembled below, there is one missing that I was not able to add here, a dark double called ‘Black Barlow.’ I put it in as a bare root early this spring and it will be another year before the flowers make an appearance. Plus, Davin moved it and I don’t know exactly where it is so I couldn’t find a leaf to include.
In the future I hope to add the native Aquilegia canadensis to my garden, but I’m waiting to get one in trade. I just can’t bring myself to purchase a plant that reproduces so readily!
This unknown red variety bloomed a few weeks ago. I bought it at a garden shop in early spring, but it did not come with an accurate tag. I almost didn’t buy it as I was saving space for ‘Black Barlow’ a variety I had been coveting for ages. But wouldn’t you know it, I finally came upon the variety in bloom a few weeks ago and it was too purple for my taste. The photos lied!
A gift from my friend Barry, these white flowers have little green spots on some of the tips that make it just a little bit extra special.
In addition to transplants (there are more that haven’t yet bloomed), I also grew a few aquilegia varieties from seed. They are tiny little things right now and it will be another year before they bloom.
How is it that spring isn’t technically through, and I am already anticipating next year?
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.
I found this bloom on a walk the other day. I’m not sure of the variety but it looks a lot like ‘Tower Light Pink.’
I wanted to say that the wild columbine is my favourite native flower in bloom around late May but even narrowing it down seasonally is too lofty a claim to make. Let’s just say, I like it very much, and leave it at that.