Aquilegia’s Spring Dance – The Ballet of Columbine and Granny’s Bonnet

Columbine bob and dance with eagle claw spurs and fairy blush
As ballerina skirts and satin frills swathe spring’s sunlit meadows…

Aquilegia's Spring Dance the Ballet of Columbine and Granny's Bonnet - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

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.

Aquilegia, blue, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Frilled blues – © Lisa Shambrook

The name Aquilegia comes from the Latin word: eagleaquila. 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.

aquilegia, the last krystallos, lisa shambrook,

© Lisa Shambrook

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!

diamond raindrops in aquilegia leaves, the last krystallos, lisa shambrook,

© Lisa Shambrook

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.

aquilegia, meadow flowers, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

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!

blue aquilegia, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

My favourites will always be the blues –
deep purples and blues with frills of green and white…

pink aquilegia, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Early evening fairy blush… Delicate ballerinas with their frills and fairy hues…

blue aquilegia, blue columbine, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow AD with public reviewsCheck 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)

In paperback or ebook on Amazon

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13 thoughts on “Aquilegia’s Spring Dance – The Ballet of Columbine and Granny’s Bonnet

  1. Julia Lund

    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.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

      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

      Reply
      1. Julia Lund

        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.

        Reply
  2. ramonawray

    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!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

      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!

      Reply

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