Columbine bob and dance with eagle claw spurs and fairy blush
As ballerina skirts and satin frills swathe spring’s sunlit meadows…
Aquilegia, commonly known as columbine, swathes the British countryside and cottage gardens at this time of the year. It is, I think, my most favourite spring flower. As its clusters of soft scalloped leaves develop, its stems shoot up and begin to bud, and I can’t wait for its flowers.
The name Aquilegia comes from the Latin word: eagle – aquila. The petal shape is often said to resemble an eagle’s claw. Columbine comes from the Latin word for dove, and is said to have come from the flower’s resemblance to five doves clustered together. It’s also often called Granny’s Bonnet – for its nodding head and bonnet-like appearance.
Many years ago when I started gardening, I had a packet of Thompson and Morgan seeds – a packet which probably came free from Amateur Gardening magazine – and I planted them and tended them in my bedroom! I watched tiny seedlings push through my trays of soil and I raised aquilegias. They have rewarded me every year since as I adore my – now slightly wild and meadow-like – garden swathed in aquilegias every spring!
I love the way these flowers naturalise, the way the rain collects in their leaves like diamonds, and the way they self-seed and produce beautiful and variegated versions of their parent plants! The parents pushed up every year – I began with Blue Bonnet, deep purple spurs and petals with double white frills – and I was in awe as their later offspring threw out flowers with gorgeous green tints. I had single pink aquilegias with white frills and I collected seeds from dead heads out in the countryside to get dark purple single aquilegias. I bought a white, in bloom from a garden centre, and a pink spur-less double, and after that every variation have been crossbreeds from self-seeding.
They love the shade, but do brilliantly in meadows and woodland, growing and spreading easily. If you don’t want your named varieties to crossbreed, then snip the heads off when they die and don’t let them go to seed. Otherwise, let them be promiscuous and see what they gift you!
My favourites will always be the blues –
deep purples and blues with frills of green and white…
Early evening fairy blush… Delicate ballerinas with their frills and fairy hues…
Check out Beneath The Rainbow to discover my love of cottage garden and wildflowers, you’ll find them in Freya’s heaven – even aquilegias!
‘Freya opened her mind and allowed emotions and simple feelings of beauty flow through her. The feelings weren’t strong, or rich, just pure and simple, and Freya knew at once that all the flowers were vibrantly alive, not just with colour and scent, but with life of their own, each a simple, but divine entity.’
(Beneath the Rainbow – Lisa Shambrook)
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I think one of the lessons I am reminded of over and again is that, whatever the seasons throw at them, plants survive by faithfully doing, year on year, just what they were created to do. Oh that I could do the same 😊.
Love the quote from Beneath the Rainbow. I have promised myself I can read your books this summer on holiday in Cornwall. So looking forward to that.
I love the variety the seasons give us!
Another quote from Beneath the Rainbow: ‘She remembered Mum’s grief when the bluebells finished, but recalled how Mum always said it was sad when one season finished, but the next always brought another swathe of beauty with its own flowers.’
So true xxx
Bluebells feature in ‘Selkie’ – they are obviously evocative for both of us. It’s the flowers around at this time of year, big red poppies, the lavender about to burst into flower, peonies, that make me feel as though Mum’s last few months didn’t happen so many years ago.
Definitely evocative. Flowers can really bring memories back ❤
I love that way you love your flowers. I must look out for some granny’s bonnets and add them to my wild garden. A feast for the eyes.
Thank you so much, I adore them all so much!
And they’re perfect for a wild garden ❤
I love the name Granny’s Bonnet. Such a homey description. I believe I like the blue ones best as well, but they are all magnificent. ❤ ❤ ❤
The names are so good! Thanks, Tess xxx
You are more than welcome, Lisa. 🙂
I didn’t know this one, Lisa – I am only a young gardner… But I must say, I completely understand your fascination, my friend. It is absolutely GORGEOUS! I’m going shopping soon ❤ Thank you – fantastic snapshots!
Thanks, Ramona, I love taking pics of my flowers – it makes them last so much longer ❤
Beautiful photos! I got sent some Columbine seeds and sadly they didn’t take but you’ve inspired me to try again!
I hope they work next time, Icy! Mine self seed freely, and promiscuously, lol. But sometimes the seed packet is a dud. I’ve had lettuces from seed that did brilliantly year after year, then tried a new packet and nothing. It can be frustrating!
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