Crazy for Columbines

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 ~

by adgray

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

41 comments

  1. Alistair says:

    Donna, you do have a host of beautiful Columbines. I always thought that I was not so keen on the doubles like Nora Barlow, however your photos have put me in mind to give them another try. Thanks for the mention today.

  2. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    You have such a wonderful selection of different Columbine! I love this plant as well. I have a few varieties in my garden. I would say my favorite pollinator flower is Sedum since it is drought tolerant and deer resistant. Two qualities that are important to have in my neck of the woods.

    • Donna says:

      How wonderful Karin. I will be in touch to send you some wonderful seeds for the bees. Glad you liked the columbines. I have several sedums as well but my deer sometimes eat them.

  3. Donna says:

    I too very much like columbine. They are such a delicate flower. Black Barlow is delicious. My all time favorite bee plant is the bee magnate, Caryopteris. One plant can have over one hundred bees at once. I raise the from seed and most every client gets one for free. Spread the bees!

    • Donna says:

      Donna, How wonderful. I have one Caryopteris that blooms but for some reason the rest I have planted have an issue…too much moisture perhaps…maybe you can give me more pointers where to best plant them. The one that blooms is in the hot dry sun…thx for stopping to see the columbines.

    • Donna says:

      Esther sorry to hear that…I have had to let mine go to seed every year to ensure they come back although the pollinators spread them to places all over too..

    • Donna says:

      I have a hard time keeping the natives going so I am adding them to my meadow a more natural setting. I have one area of amended soil (all clay otherwise) in a shady sot in the meadow. I am also adding plants behind the gazebo which stays shady and moist.

      • Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens says:

        I saw them in the wild at a nature reserve for the first time this spring. Although there were acres and acres of woods for them to grow in with all types of soil, drainage, and light, they were growing out of a perpendicular cliff side in dappled shade with very little soil mostly rock but a constant drip of moisture. I was amazed and suddenly realized why mine didn’t do well. It was a very specialized environmnet.

        • Donna says:

          they are a wildflower to our neck of the woods and I keep mine in a mostly shading, constantly most not wet spot…but since I want to expand them to another area, I have to be very careful…I bet you could try them again…they say you can cast the seed in early winter for best results…I missed that timing so will wait but have a few plants from a seller coming…

  4. tina says:

    Good morning! I love columbines. At first they would not grow and do anything in my garden-just withered and died. Finally I got a couple of good varieties that are quite at home here. Mainly a tall dark purple one. I always give away seeds to it and it is such a stalwart. They are wonderful plants.

    Okay, to enter your seed give a way. My favorite bee plant? I think cosmos have to have it. I couldn’t believe one morning walking around my garden and coming upon tons of sleeping bees-in the cosmos flowers. It was incredible. I posted on it too. It’s been a few summers but I still love the feeling of seeing and touching those bees sleeping on the flowers.

  5. Lavender Cottage says:

    I think columbines are one of the prettiest flowers for a cottage garden. I’ve not grown any of the Barlows but do have a soft spot for the Music series.
    The common name of ‘granny’s bonnet’ is sweet as some of them do resemble an old fashioned bonnet.
    Thanks for sharing all your varieties.

    • Donna says:

      I had forgotten about the common name and had only heard that mentioned one other time. Thx for stopping and sharing that and your love for columbines.

  6. Rosie says:

    Hi Donna, you know how I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts…so there’s this award being passed around for Stylish Bloggers, and I thought to myself, hey Donna’s got a style that I appreciate! So please do come and pick up that award from my newest post.
    Rosie

    • Donna says:

      Rosie how wonderful you think I have style. You have been a wonderful support and I am so happy to have the honor you are giving me. I will stop by the blog and accept.

  7. Karen says:

    What a wonderful collection of columbines! The doubles are so pretty, too…and to think they are so durable and make great naturalizing plants. I was never aware they came in so many beautiful colors.

  8. debsgarden says:

    Columbine is my all time favorite flower! I love the way they reseed themselves along the path in my front garden. I admire the foliage, and it’s always fun to see what the blossoms will look like.

    • Donna says:

      Deb, that is the true beauty and reason to grow columbines…to see them growing everywhere and being surprised at what color will emerge…I am glad you are a fellow crazy and enjoyed the post.

  9. Ficurinia says:

    Columbines are one of my absolute favorites too! I have so many and I always buy more when I shouldn’t be buying anything. Xera Plants has one called Dead Spider and I really want another one of them. (I neglected the other.) It is a grey color and the bloom is all curled up like a dead spider. It is actually really pretty.

  10. Cat says:

    You’re blessed to be able to grow such a variety of columbine! Here I can grow the native variety (yellow) and I’m thrilled. They are the first to flower in the early spring and they are so delicately beautiful as they dance on the breeze! I too love the fact that they show up all over the garden…the more the better. They are tough and not a bit picky.

  11. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    Hi Donna, I’m a big fan of Columbines too, patricularly the singles. I’m not sure how many of mine are going to come up again this year, but I have loads of seedlings and can’t wait to see what they come like. A bit like Hellebores really – you never know what you are going to get when they cross pollinate.

  12. Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings says:

    I love columbines too. They are such great little flowers and so good for the pollinators. I think I grew Black Barlow last year which for some reason reminds me of Kissin’ Kate Barlow from the book and movie, Holes. Congrats on being named one of Best Garden Blogs.~~Dee

  13. Holly @ Tasty Travels says:

    Hi Donna! Thank you so much for participating! You have some gorgeous flowers! I can see why the bees are happy in your garden! If you’re interested in my seeds, please email me or leave a comment with your email or address so I can mail them out!! Thanks again!!

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