Thoughts About Wild Columbine
The Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is at its peak in our garden right now. Judy took some pictures on Sunday that are much better than the ones I took and used in my Bloom Day post. So mostly I just wanted an excuse to show Judy’s Columbine pictures.
I do have some thoughts on the subject, though. A nursery catalog I used to read obsessively claimed that Columbine are like candy, you can never have too many. While my primary care physician would frown on the implication that one can’t have too much candy, I don’t think he would object to a greed for Columbine.
The dangling flowers put me in mind of red and yellow chandeliers. They are just too dang beautiful.
They also have minds of their own. We have plenty of Wild Columbine, just not in any of the spots where I planted them. Wild Columbine will pick their own places to live, thank you very much, through self-sowing. They seem to like a lot of moisture, having colonized a spot in front of a downspout where other plants have not had the desire or ability to settle in. They do not like competition from taller plants, however.
They do luxuriate in rich soil, growing well over 3′ in our garden. Reportedly, though, they are more compact and live longer in thin, sandy soils. On the other hand, being short lived isn’t such a problem given their propensity to self-sow.
Wild Columbine is a good wildlife plant. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The seeds are eaten by finches and buntings.
During our honeymoon, Judy and I camped in a place called Columbine Canyon in northern New Mexico. We saw lots of Columbines growing along a mountain stream near our campsite. They looked like A. canadensis, even though its range is not supposed to extend to New Mexico. Maybe it was just a very similar species – there are many Columbines native to North America. In any case, this could be another reason why I am so fond of this charming wildflower.