Aquilegias and working with nature.


“But I thought you hated those flowers” said my husband as I added a few aquilegias to a couple of jam jar flower arrangements last Friday.

“Well. I’ve changed my mind.”

Gardens never stand still, do they? And nor should gardeners. There was a time when I was irritated by blue or pink aquilegias springing up in my carefully designed planting scheme. It’s not that I abhorred them. I save that kind of vehemence for fuscias and municipal bedding. It’s just that they would pop up uninvited and spread into places where I wanted to grow something else. But now I’m embracing their abundance and looking upon their propensity to self seed as a gift rather than an irritation.

Aquilegias AKA granny’s bonnets or columbines have been a cottage garden favourite for hundreds of years. There are literally dozens of varieties. And if they do self seed you may not get a flower which is exactly like the parent flower. See what I mean? Constantly changing. They add a country feel to jars of flowers and the wide range of shades mean that there’s sure to be one that matches your floral colour scheme. If they do willfully decide to grow where you don’t want them, chop them down for the vase. They seem to love heavy clay and are happy in the shade. Cut them when some of the flowers on the stem have started to open and some are still in bud.

I’m a convert – so much so, that I’ve decided to sow a few different ones this year to add to the freebies – Nora Barlow, Black Barlow and Ruby Port.

It’s a lesson in life as well as gardening. Embrace what you’re given, work with it and you’ll make something beautiful.


You’ll find out more about aquilegias here


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