Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Awakening~GGW~Picture This Contest

Aquilegia canadensis

I had never heard of columbines or native plants when I moved to this house on a lovely October day 25 years ago. So, you can imagine my surprise the next spring, when I met my first columbines growing in the cracks of the flagstone steps in the back garden!

Aquilegia canadensis are quite astonishing flowers ~~ Downward facing, the red sepals and yellow petals elongate into a spur and right there at the rounded tip is where the nectar for visiting pollinators is stored. The nectar has a higher sugar content for those special high energy pollinators.
The pollinator's perspective

Oh, those pollinators...long tongued creatures like hawk moths and the bumbles appreciate the sweet goodness of columbines, "but, the increased sugar content in the nectar evolved to satisfy the higher energy needs of hummingbirds in early spring."* Specifically, the ruby-throated hummingbird, which depends upon Aquilegia canadensis for nectar during its migration north each spring.

Doesn't the word delicate come to mind when you see a columbine? It's not. Columbine is a very hardy plant and adaptable to a wide range of habitats...limestone cliffs, granite outcropping, rich woodlands and even roadside ditches! Here at Clay and Limestone, there has never been a spring without Aquilegia canadensis. Generations have flourished without much help from the gardener! Occasionally, I collect and scatter seeds where ever I want a large stand. Other than that, they manage beautifully on their own. What can you expect from a plant in the Ranunculaceae family! They do know how to reproduce.

Pretty purples, yellows and doubles have been planted since I became acquainted with columbines.
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Clementine'

But, my heart belongs to the species of almost any of the wildflowers that grace the gardens. If you haven't grown this lovely hummingbird and bee magnet ...let me know and I'll save some seeds for you.

Fran, please accept my humble photo for the March Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest...taken on a rainy evening last year with Mr I's Canon Powershot...not my fancy fuji!...It was dark outside and the columbine were wet from the heavy rains that always manage to arrive just in time for spring blooms.

Gail

Skirting the rocks at the forest edge
With a running flame from ledge to ledge,
Or swaying deeper in shadowy glooms,
A smoldering fire in her dusky blooms;
Bronzed and molded by wind and sun,
Maddening, gladdening every one
With a gypsy beauty full and fine,--
A health to the crimson columbine!

-Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863-1953)

*Columbine Natural History

55 comments:

  1. A lovely wildflower and a lovely photo. Best wishes with the contest.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love aqueligias too, in fact I believe they are impossible not to love. I remember the first one I saw too. It was in my mom's friend's garden when I was about 14 and she gave me some to take home. :) Good luck on the picture contest.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoy finding new babies of the Aquelgias in the garden. Sometimes it takes a closer look, thinking it might be red sorrel babies.
    Love the photo of the pollinators perspective. All are super photos.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My friends, I have no fantasies that this photo will even make the first cut! It's dark and not what most photos of awakening spring mean! But I did get to talk about a favorite flower!

    gail

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a lovely native flower, with its flowers, foliage and seedheads all looking good.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gail, Your photo may be dark (as you say) in the background, but your composition and stages of awakening are stunning! Good Luck! You capture the essence of the dance of Columbine! Happy Spring! Carol

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Carol! You are a fantastic photographer and the compliment means a great deal! gail

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love flowers that have that orangey-red color as in your third photo. Especially when they have a hint of yellow.

    Your photos are really nice.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think your picture is striking because it looks like the flowers are waiting to greet the day. Good luck with the contest.
    The native columbines are lovely. Do you think they would grow in the acidic soil of North Florida? If so, I would love to have some seeds.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think it's such a pretty picture. Columbines look so delicate and like you show they will come up anywhere. I have them just starting to pop up between a concrete walkway and stone edgers.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Melody, The USDA map shows it growing in all parts of Florida~I'll save you seeds.
    gail

    ReplyDelete
  12. One of my favorite flowers too Gail although I don't have this particular one. Most springs I start one or two new varieties. :-) Great plants and so hardy despite their delicate appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful image Gail. Columbine look delicate but they are so tough! And the hummingbirds always know when they are in bloom.

    You had a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered in your garden. :) You've done such a wonderful job with it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's beautiful! Love the black background!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lovely photo, beautiful post. I, too, love the columbines. I have the natives and many other doubles and such. I love my dark purple ones. So pretty to photograph. Now, if I could find them beneath this snow.~~Dee

    ReplyDelete
  16. The Texas Hill Country is too hot for most columbines but my Hinckleys manage in dappled shade and shoot yellow blooms in spring.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The wild one will always be my favorite too, Gail. Your shot is wonderful, good luck in the contest. I never realized the hummers enjoyed the nectar of these flowers, either, thanks for teaching something new and useful. :-)
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  18. Columbines already? Wow! So excited for you...they're one of my favourites, especially the native one. Your photos are wonderful, and I wish you the best in the contest.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This poem is a beautiful ode to the combine I love. I have them all around the garden. It is just emerging from the ground here. It will be a month or so before they get to blooming here. It makes me happy to see them once again. I hope you have luck with your shot for the contest. I think it is great how the columbine bloom emerges through every stage.

    ReplyDelete
  20. No, no they are last years photos and I've edited my blog to reflect that~gail

    ReplyDelete
  21. I truly love that Columbine and your photo is lovely. I planted several last year and don't see any sign of them in the garden yet. I'm not hopeful. H.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Gail.....I grow columbine each year and let them spread wherever they like. As you say bumbles love them, and so do I. We also have a native columbine. Sadly it is rarely seen in the wild.

    BTW I cannot imagine seeing a hummingbird feeding from a columbine, that must just be so magical......

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't know what I was thinking, but I didn't get Aquilegia canadensis planted in my garden until last year. I guess I was seduced by the variegated foliaged vulgaris hybrids. The simple species takes me back to my childhood, where they grew in an abandoned wildflower garden. Your photo shows off their elegant form.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Good luck with your photo! I was pleasantly surprised when I saw these growing wild in a local woods.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh, Gail! You're a contender here, honey! Beautiful photos--as always.

    Robin Ripley

    ReplyDelete
  26. We love our columbines, too. They come back year after year, sturdy as ever. And the delightful way that they hop around (that is, multiply) -- quite nice.

    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  27. Nice photo and columbines are such great flowers. They are so different and in so many different colors.Good Luck with the contest.

    ReplyDelete
  28. sorry I put the wrong address in my comment above. I will get it right this time.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I like all the photos Gail. I wonder how that native one you have would do in my neck of the woods. I've only ever tried the Hinckley (in Texas) but now I have soil and slightly moderated temperatures. I'd love to try some seed assuming I'd just have to scatter it. Thank you Gail!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Jean, You just have to scatter them and let nature take its course. They need a cold period and won't bloom that first year...I could send you a seedling or two? Interested? gail

    ReplyDelete
  31. How wonderful! I love Columbines! It looks so delicate and seems to advertise that it's so full of sweetness. I did sow them but no luck yet. I even tried refrigerating them with no use apparently.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love Aquilegias. Great photos! Mine is a woodland garden and I've been growing a lot of natives from seed but Aquilegia was put off until fall. Now I am wondering why I did that.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Beautiful photo, Gail and lovely Columbines. Makes me wish I could grow them -- maybe I will try again in a new shady space. Good luck w GGW!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Your Clementine is a beauty, Gail! And the first photo is lovely - a sleeping beauty is awakening.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I adore Columbine! Your photo is beautiful.
    The shape of those flowers is fascinating, isn't it?
    I can't wait to see mine again :)
    Best of luck with your entry.
    Happy Spring!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Just beautiful Gail! That's pretty interesting about the hummingbirds. I didn't start seeing hummingbirds regularly here until I planted agastaches. I love the foliage on columbine in addition to the flowers. It's elegant I think.

    Love your seed pod photo with the visible seeds. If you want try a columbine from out of your area, I could save seed from my Colorado Blue and maybe we could trade!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Gail, we love the columbines and have many, but they have become so invasive in our garden; the root system on some are quite deep and difficult to remove. lol Amazing what nature decides to do. Happy Spring!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Columbines do look delicate but as you say, they are tough, living in rocky soil and needing little water. I love the frilly pink.
    Marnie

    ReplyDelete
  39. Columbines are probably one of the first native plants I learned about. I got some in hastily cut clumps as divisions and they have thrived, so I never thought of them as delicate. Though not native in MI, I think I planted (why don't I know?!) some CO native (Rocky Mountain) columbines this year, too, A. caerulea. It's my niece's fault, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I just love the colombines. In fact it might be all I have for Wild Wednesday since nothing is in bloom here I might have to resort to showing possibles for next month? Ha! All I can think of. Clementine is sweet!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Monica, Aquilegia canadensis is native in Michigan...I'll save sees for fall sowing just for you! gail

    ReplyDelete
  42. Isn't it interesting how seeds can come up in the most inhospitable places while we struggle to have them germinate under our tender loving care in a well-cared for garden area? Your flowers are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Noelle, It's one of the mysteries of gardening! I shall remain a seed scatter for those reasons! gail

    ReplyDelete
  44. Beautiful, Gail. Little "wake-up" bells ringing. (The foliage is also an early spring show-er in my northern garden.) Perfect choice for the contest.

    Columbines are relatively dependable in my garden but, strangely, not the native A. canadensis! I've tried them numerous times, never to have them reappear. Perhaps like many columbines they're happiest where self-sewn. I believe they need some light for germination, so I must be careful when I mulch.

    ReplyDelete
  45. My favorite flower, Mine are pink to purple with ruffled white bottoms. I don't know the exact variety, as they were here when we moved in. When I saw them for the first time, they stole my heart. They reseed themselves and do especially well in the semi-shade and mulchy areas of my garden paths. The bumble bees love this plant even more than I do!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Beautiful photos.

    I remember Mama talking about wanting to grow columbines some 30 years ago or more. It was another 25 years before I saw native columbines growing.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Gail, My oldest daughter is in absolute awe of our native columbine.

    My fingers are crossed for the contest.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I am in love, I'm in love, I'm in love. With your Clementine. What a beauty!!!!

    I have Nora Barlow, and I am very excited to see if she blooms this year.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  49. I'm in love with columbine and though have many, have never seen 'Clementine', Gail. Lovely photos ... good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  50. I love your columbine, Gail...the shade of this one is wonderfully rich. I have a purple/white variety. I have 2 of the same plant. They do 'ok' in my garden w/some dappled sun/shade...but not spreading like I would hope, after a number of years in place. I used to have a few other varieties which never came back, so maybe I've been doing something wrong. Good luck w/the contest...I purposely shot some photos for it but did not get my post up in time...but it was fun, just the same;-)

    ReplyDelete
  51. How funny that I've never paid much attention to those seed pods and never thought about collecting them, even though they're some of my favorite flowers. So exotic looking - almost tropical!

    ReplyDelete
  52. It's a truly beautiful photo, Gail- I love columbines, too - grew like weeds in Illinois but haven't been able to keep any of them, native or not, alive here. You are inspiring me to not give up!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    ReplyDelete
  53. All Aquilegias are very pretty flowers. The downside is that, once planted, you have to like them - because once a plant seeds you will have them forever :-)

    ReplyDelete
  54. I love Aquilegia canadensis too, and I find no hybrid is as nice as the original!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Columbines are favorites of mine too Gail. We added a few canadensis here last year. I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom and spread.

    Good luck with the contest - your photo is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails