Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Columbine … The Star of the Season

What a week it has been – rain, rain and more rain – thunder and lightning and moments of glorious sunshine – great for the garden – not so good for gardening.  It is still too cold to put out the summer containers which are ready and waiting in the greenhouse but they are filling out nicely and hopefully will put on a good show – given the chance.  I have been working in there this afternoon; transplanting, potting on and doing some of the 1,001 jobs that need to be done at this time of year if you want your garden to look good during the rest of the year. 

But I haven’t come to tell you how busy I’ve been – I’ve come to show you pictures of the lovely Columbine.

garden posy - columbine, sweet rocket and chive flowers

Each plant has its time in the garden and now it is the turn of the Columbine (Aquilegia, Granny’s Bonnet).  Surely this must be the quintessential cottage garden plant.

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Columbines will self-seed, often putting themselves in places that you would never have thought of yourself.  You can learn from that.  Sometimes, you may even find a new colour strain arising in a seedling, which is a great thrill.  And by nurturing the novelty, you will be carrying on in the best traditions of the cottage garden.” ~ Anna Pavord.

flower posy - june

Columbines occur in open woodland or meadowland on wood fringes.  Their range of colour is not as extensive as the long-spurred relatives (which would be quite at home in a cottage garden), but they cover some pretty shades of blue, mauve, old rose, purple and white.  Beware of them – they are inveterate self-seeders.  They may be very pretty in flower but they will leave you with a scene of dereliction later.” ~ Christopher Lloyd. 

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“It doesn’t matter what you call them they are the stars of the season.  Even if you start off with the sophisticated modern hybrids, with elegant long spurs and vivid colours, their self-sown seedlings will gradually revert to the old-fashioned sorts.  Columbines are one of the mainstays of early summer.” ~ Helen Dillon.

aquilegia / columbine / granny's bonnet

These are just a few of the Columbine in my garden at the moment – the colours range from almost black to the palest of blues – their reign is very short, all too soon they run to seed – but, while they are flowering, I love their old-fashioned style, so delicate and almost exotic looking – orchid-like.  

Aquilegia - mixed colours

Each year I collect the seeds of a favourite colour once the seeds pods have dried out and sow them onto fresh compost straight away – they take a couple of years to form plants – that way I know I will always have a succession – they do self-seed quite freely and can be a nuisance but if  I remember I go round and snip the seed heads off so that the garden won’t be over-run with them.

aquilegia seed

Columbine is a symbol of foolishness based on the flowers’ resemblance to a jester’s cap and bells.  It was considered bad luck to give this flower to a woman.  It has many religious connotations too to do with Mary’s footsteps.  Shakespeare  mentions Columbine in Hamlet in which the tragically mad Ophelia collects it, although in this case it is taken as a symbol of ingratitude and infidelity.

Who would have thought that this beautiful little flower had so much meaning behind it – all I know is – I look forward to it appearing in the garden every year.

Elaine

55 comments:

  1. Elaine, they are stunning, the range of colors is so beautiful.

    I have a pale yellow and cream one from my Sister...hoping that the teeny tiny sprouts I see will be it coming back this spring once again.

    Jen

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    1. I too have a pale lemon and cream one which I have to say is one of my favourites Hope yours returns in the fullness of time.

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  2. I love Aquilegias and am very happy for them to be promiscuous and spread themselves around the garden. You never know what shade they will be which is half the joy. When I was young my favourite Cicely Mary Barker flower fairy was the Columbine.

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    1. I remember the flower fairies - I am sure I had a book of these illustrations when I was a child - hard to pick a favourite though.

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  3. They are indeed 'inveterate self-seeders' when we first moved here they were in one small patch of the garden and one colour only now they are everywhere and in several different colours. They are very pretty though and cheer up the garden at this time of year. Yours are lovely especially the pale blue ones:)

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    1. Sadly some of the colours don't come back the following year.

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  4. I love the columbine. I let them seed anywhere and everywhere. They are so discreet in their habit.
    I am always looking for the unusual.....one day :)

    Lots of interesting info and lovely soft images ..........

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    1. Some of the more unusual ones seem to be short-lived and even collecting seed doesn't ensure they will be the same colour.

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  5. They look lovely, I have a love hate relationship with mine, some years they have just taken over the garden, drowning out some of the other plants, but this year they are looking lovely and some different colours have popped up, not just the purple/blue.
    Amanda xx

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    1. I do like the fact that you never know what you are going to get or where they will pop up every year.

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  6. Me too. I have deliberately seeded them into gravel to give respite from the weeds that infest it the rest of the time. I have high hopes of some specially bought ones from Sissinghurst, not quite out yet, in pale lemon with long spurs.

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    1. I have a pale lemon with long spurs that is a particular favourite of mine too.

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  7. Such a sweet posy of flowers you've arranged. It is an absolute delight. You are fortunate to have so many of these darling little flowers from which to arrange and admire in your garden. I adore Columbines and have a few in my garden presently. I planted one a few years ago that is doing very well this year, Black Barlow. I've never seen anything quite like it. It is almost black and is double in form, spurless, and looks more like a miniature dahlia. I need to collect the seeds from it this year to insure it has a few little off-spring.

    I will be adding your beautiful blog to my blogroll so my readers can discover for themselves the delights of your charming blog and its author.

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    1. I do like the almost black ones - not a colour you see much in the garden - so all the more special for it. Kind of you to add me to your blog roll - I will return the favour.

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  8. Columbines lovely flowers of May. They seed themselves everywhere and I love it. Wonderful photos and quotes!

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  9. Your aquilegias are beautiful!!!! I hope that they seed in just the right places for you and keeping being gorgeous! xx

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    1. They are lovely and never disappoint.

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  10. I really enjoyed hearing the meaning behind the Columbine...how interesting!!! Though I must say I disagree with their idea of not giving them to a lady! Gosh Elaine!!! They are gorgeous in your garden! Just look at the mass of them!!! I would really like some for my garden and now I think I must go get some! Happy gardening and I hear you on the rain! We are getting a lot too! Happy Thursday to you!!! Nicole xo

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    1. Thanks Nicole - the weather is so changeable at the moment - you never know what you are going to get from one moment to the next - I guess it makes life interesting.

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  11. Oh, you've got such a lovely variety and they look so cheery this season. I'm enjoying your garden quote and am going to borrow one for a post soon.

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    1. Be my guest - I do enjoy a good quote.

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  12. I've sown some yellow ones this year which are just tiny plants at the moment. We have self sown hybrids popping up all over, I've never cut them - do they last in a case?

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    1. They do last a few days but even if they didn't well worth adding to a posy.

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  13. I loved your quotes here. Just as I do the columbine. Beautiful :)

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  14. The periwinkle colored columbine grows wild here in Colorado, most comfortably at 11,000 ft underneath the quacking aspens with thier stunning white trunks accented with black. there they bloom by July 4th, or Indepencen Day. Here at the garden spot, they grow wild too, self seeding in every nook and cranny. I haven't seeded any and have three varieties growing. My favorite is, of course, the periwinkle one. And I did not know thier folk history. They are far too beautiful to carry such ill will. No sun here in days. Generally a light hearted spirit, I am beginning to feel a bit depressed with all of the rain and grayness. Have great week, Elaine (PS I am loving your PINS.

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    1. I know they are your national flower it must be wonderful to see them out in the wild. Hope sunshine comes you way again soon - it just makes you feel a whole lot better doesn't it.

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  15. Ah yes the beloved columbine... endearing and prolific.
    I noticed something in my garden years back that the wilder variety cross pollinated by the bees with the newer hybrids of pink and yellow I had planted presented colours and shapes much different than the Mother plants they had come from the season before. Eventually they returned to the domineering shade of blue from the original plant over time...
    I shall hope this does not occur with yours!
    Susan x

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    1. Yes, sadly that it the case most of them revert back to their natural colours - nevertheless, still a great addition to the garden/

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  16. A most enjoyable post showing lovely flowers. Flighty xx

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  17. Dear Elaine- these Granny Bonnets are lovely. Mine are blooming right now too. They do red red but I am glad because they cover a bank along side of the road where nothing else grows well. Such beautiful pictures of bouquets. Always enjoy my visit with you. Have a great day. Hugs!

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    1. You don't see them out in the wild here but everyone seems to have self-seeders that are blown by the wind into everyone's gardens around. I am happy you enjoy your visits and I thank you for commenting.

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  18. Elaine meant to type re-seed. My mobile phone didn't like that word😄!

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  19. One of my favourite flowers Elaine and amongst the first that I ever grew from seed. You have some beauties there :)

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    1. Thanks Anna - it does seem to take a while to evolve from seedling stage to fully grown plant - but worth the wait I think.

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  20. Loving our aquilegias too, such pretty flowers and the foliage makes good ground cover from the more robust types.

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    1. I agree - I love to see them mixed in with other cottage garden plants.

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  21. Such wonderful photo's - a joy to see.

    The weather this week sure has been topsy turvey. We had the most terrific hailstones early in the week, the poor flora I did feel sorry for it ...

    The Bank Holiday weekend looks as if the weather may be better - I do hope so.

    Thank you letting us enjoy your wonderful flowers.

    All the best Jan

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  22. You have some really beautiful colours there, Elaine - love those blue ones - and I hope the self-seeders produce some new shades next year. I have some seeds to plant yet, hoping I'm no=t too late to get them started in the greenhouse. Maybe I will save some for next year.

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    1. The blue ones are a favourite - alas they don't always come back true to type which is a shame.

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  23. Dear Elaine,
    oh, I love them too! Pretty little things, like growing right out of a fairy tail!
    All my best and happy gardening
    Elisabeth

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    1. Hello - thanks for visiting and leaving a comment - nice to meet you.

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  24. This is a "Flower for Life" if ever there was one! "Self-seeds profusely" hardly does it justice. It's a good job that it looks so attractive, otherwise we gardeners would find it VERY annoying. For me, its best feature is its tendency to hybridise: you never know what type of flowers you will get next year.

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    1. I agree - never knowing what colours are going to show up every year is part of the pleasure of growing them.

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  25. They are a wonderful little plant aren't they, so delicate and so free with their seeds too.

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    1. I agree about the delicate but always surprising that they are so hardy.

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  26. Oh....I too look forward to them each year! Yours are such beautiful colours, so dreamy and romantic, they are such hardy little plants too, I rarely see them blown over or snapped by rain.
    I was laughing at Granny's bonnet, I've never heard that before! Some lovely, interesting legends attached to columbine here, I always enjoy learning a little more about a plants place in history. Some lovely quotes too!
    Here's to a wonderful bank holiday, filled with sunshine, that certainly woould make a change from this dismal weather we're all having!xxx

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    1. They are a delight to have in the borders and always seem to mix in well with other plants - I wouldn't be without them - that's for sure.

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  27. one of my favourite flowers and gosh how well they self sow ....one of my pink ones has produced a lovely cream coloured one this year ....lovely images.

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    1. They are still going strong here but won't be long before they start going over and a whole year to wait before we see them again.

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  28. Beautiful, especially in such subtle shades. Although I have seen much darker, brighter columbines in the park's herbaceous border this week, which would probably be too bold for a cottage garden.
    We have had lots of sunshine and showers, too, although no thunder.
    I think the weather is getting a bit warmer now (about time!) - so you may be able to get your summer containers out soon.
    All the best :)

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    1. Hi Pat
      The summer containers are out now - come what may - you can't cosset them forever!

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