Sic Transit Aquilegia
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), native to eastern and central North America, is another of my favorite flowers of late spring.
As someone once said, “Columbine are like candy, you can never have too much.” Wild Columbine flowers dangle like red and yellow chandeliers. The ferny blue-green foliage is attractive all year; even when the leaf miners leave their trails (which does not happen that often), it doesn’t bother me.
In our garden I have noticed a disturbing pattern, though. After a couple of years a patch of Wild Columbine is magnificent, the plants three feet or taller and covered with blooms in late May and June.
But after a couple of more years – they disappear. I strongly suspect that Wild Columbine are beautiful but not strongly competitive. If other plants cover the ground early in the season, the Wild Columbine will whither away.
Right now the only big patch of Wild Columbine in our garden is at the corner where the North Foundation Bed meets the East Side Bed. The Wild Columbine self-sow happily here as elsewhere as long as there is bare ground.
Currently they combine beautifully with Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) with Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) providing a backdrop.
Is the lesson here that in order to keep Wild Columbine I will have to periodically create little Columbine Safety Zones by yanking out their competitors?
What’s your experience with Columbines, Wild or otherwise?