I am not sure when I became obsessed with Columbines (more formally know as Aquilegea), but I know I love the month of May because my garden is just brimming with flowers, especially columbines. I started with the native columbine for our area, Eastern Red Columbine. I am sowing more of these into the meadow this year and hope to see blooms from last years sowing. My specimen plant looks more pink than red after it seeded itself and who knows what may have occurred after the pollinators visited.
And there are so many varieties to choose from: Clementine, Origami, Pagoda, Barlow, McKenna to name a few. Every year I add more colors and varieties around the garden as specimen plants. I let my columbines seed so I am assured they will continue to bloom year after year. These plants are perfect for an heirloom or cottage garden.
Actually I don’t have a problem with columbines finding their way all over the gardens. Pollinators seed them from hither and yon and I am pleasantly surprised every year never knowing what columbines will appear where. In honor of those pollinators, in particular the bees, I am participating in Project Save the Bees started by Holly at Tasty Travels blog. The rules are at the end of this post. Enter here to win some great bee friendly seeds from Botanical Interests.
Once established, these columbines are not delicate; they are very hardy and provide seasonal interest even in the fall producing great leaf color. I have grown them in my zone 5 garden in poor to loamy and moist to dry soil; sun to partly shady conditions and they seem to love any combination. In drier conditions they need more water until established.
This white pagoda hybrid is stunning in my white garden.
Another pagoda variety, this one Rose and White. To get a picture of many of the varieties flowers, you have to lay on the ground, but it is worth it.
One of my very favorite ones is this Nora Barlow which adorns my front walk garden.
This stunner is Black Barlow and it is a magnificent dark almost black purple.
This one is actually called Dark Purple Barlow and is not as dark as the one above, but close.
Dorothy Rose is certainly perfect for a cottage garden. It has blooms within blooms and is especially attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.
My most prized is this Cameo variety. It is just gorgeous and blooms in the sunny dry front walk for weeks.
Special Note: Thanks to my friend Alistair who blogs from Scotland at Aberdeen Gardening for turning me onto a columbine I was unaware of ; Aquilegia Fragrans. I have ordered it and cannot wait to plant it this spring. It is Fertilizer Friday so stop on over to Tootsie Time to see who else is flaunting their flowers.
To win the seeds: Unfortunately I can only ship the seeds within the USA. To my international friends, I am sorry but international regulations make it difficult to share so perhaps you can also be part of the fun and give some seeds away as well in your area of the world. To play, “Bee” one of the first 10 comments to this post. Tell me your favorite flower that attracts bees. I will email you if you are a winner. I will be giving away cosmos, zinnias and bachelor buttons. Some new and unusual varieties. These certainly will attract bees in your garden.
~ Sweet Columbine ~
How tiny is your heart of gold
And layered skirts so gay
Dance for me my sweet columbine
Your pretty swinging sway
I’ll blow a gentile warming breath
And hum or gently play
As I sit and strum my golden lute
and dream the day away