A Flower By Any Other Name 2015 – Aquilegia, Granny’s Bonnet, Columbine

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The Blues are probably my favourite.
The Blues are probably my favourite.

I realise that in the short time I’ve been here, this is my third post in as many years on these flowers. Obviously a favourite and one of the first perennials I planted at the Convent. I love these flowers. I’ve had the odd one in different gardens, but now this is “my garden”, they are one of my favourites. I add a few each year (and I’m sure I lose one or two) but also hope as the garden establishes that they self-seed and continue to flourish. The early signs are positive with some new plants emerging.

Unusually pale,but so delicate and a strong bush. I find myself now looking forward to seeing these flowers each year.
Unusually pale,but so delicate and a strong bush. I find myself now looking forward to seeing these flowers each year.

They are such beautiful flowers – elegant but also with a country cottage casualness about them. Once you understand Aquilegias, you can also appreciate the difference in flower structures. The plants die back to almost nothing during the Winter, then you start to see a cloverish growth which thickens and then long fronds emerge turning into these wonderful “bonnets”. With colours that can be from fragile pastels to strong blues, what’s not to love?

As the garden establishes itself, some plants are flourishing and others moving into the shadows. I hope my Aquilegias become “stayers”.

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Aquilegia, Granny’s Bonnet, Columbine – a flower by any other name…

The blues have always been my favourite
The blues have always been my favourite
Pure yellow next to the Grotto
Pure yellow next to the Grotto

I’ve loved Aquilegias for some years and always had a few in my garden. They have such stunning flowers but are also fairly hardy plants that self-propagate well by seed. Since being at the Convent and indulging a little more in different varieties now I have the garden beds and suitable conditions, I am loving these lovely perennials more and more.

Yellow with a touch of pink near the Grotto. Is that pesky ivy I can see making a reappearance?
Yellow with a touch of pink near the Grotto. Is that pesky ivy I can see making a reappearance?

They prefer dappled shade but seem to flourish in a variety of conditions. The flowers are so diverse in colour and quite spectacular for some varieties with towering spikes of flowers. The flowers last well and are also great cut for indoors. The old flower heads set seeds which are easily collected and resown. So the plants are great value, coming back year after year as well as providing new stock.

A gorgeous mauve out the front. So delicate a flower.
A gorgeous mauve out the front. So delicate a flower.

I have a penchant for blue and have opted for a few different varieties. It’s still pretty early in the season and I’m continuing to plant new varieties that haven’t flowered yet, but these pictures may give you an indication of why I love these so much in my garden and intend to make them one of the mainstays in the Convent garden. Somehow they seems so appropriate.

Pure white elegance
Pure white elegance
Dramatic red - you can see the spurred petals clearly
Dramatic red – you can see the spurred petals clearly