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.

DSC_0086The dangling flowers put me in mind of red and yellow chandeliers. They are just too dang beautiful.

DSC_0015They 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.

DSC_0089They 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.

DSC_0092Wild 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.


40 Comments on “Thoughts About Wild Columbine”

  1. Lovely photos of the columbine, especially the first one. I love columbines and have just replanted some today, but I agree with you, they always know where they want to go in the garden, and will make their way despite my plans!

  2. I also love columbine and I find that the wild grow much better than the fussy cultivars sold in the nurseries. They are now showing up in the back garden having made quite the trip from the front area. I am letting them have their way since they are just so pretty. Thanks for sharing Judy’s pics.

  3. I’m fond of columbines myself. I initially started with three and am down to one, but have ordered another. My hope is seeds from the current columbine will come up next year. Yours are lovely, but I’ve never seen a columbine that wasn’t pretty.

  4. Beautiful photos. My wild columbine is back (!) and lovely this year. It never seems to completely disappear but has never taken over like it did I-forget-now-how-many-years ago, I’m always looking for it in the spring. That sounds like the perfect honeymoon. 🙂

  5. GREAT POST! A good friend’s mother has quite a few of these and I have been tempted… SO, if I put them where they don’t like they will move? I have other plants that do that. At first I would move them back where they belonged, but then I started just making the beds bigger. OH, that is a good subject for a new post!

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