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  • Writer's pictureOrsula Adler

A colour for your shady corners - Aquilegia vulgaris

An amazing spring plant - it can be found the right spot for it in any garden. Even if you have a formal, cozy/cottage garden or just a small balcony Aquilegia sp. can make you smile for a few weeks in the early season. Also called columbine or granny's bonnet – funny names – this specie is a native European one and it’s a flowering herbaceous perennial plant that can grow 1.2 m tall. The usual height is 70 - 80 cm especially if you grow them in a pot/container.

This is a semi-shade loving plant but it can tolerate a sunny spot also. The only disadvantage of more sun would be a shorter flowering season. So if you find a shady/semi-shady gap in your garden this can be a lovely color for that area. The moist shady positions it is it’s favorite so.

Furthermore, this is a no maintenance plant – maybe - the only maintenance would be to cut it back once a year so you can generate nice green growth after the leaves are going to be yellow. If you deadhead it – you encourage new flowering but living in a busy life, this plant is perfect as it will take care of itself.

Most articles will recommend good quality soil but I tried in very different type of soil and it does really well – even in simple garden soil, I planted some 2 years ago in clay soil and that comes back very nice too. So don’t be afraid to try it even if you know that you are not plants person – BUT try to focus to get the wild versions, not a new variety. Aquilegia vulgaris is really a hardy and easy to grow plant. They are self-seeding easily. This is very good if you have a large garden, you don’t have to buy new plants. Also if you don’t want new baby plants just pick up the tiny ones in the spring or cut the flower head when it finished flowering.

The new baby plants will have different colours.

The flowers come in very different colours: in shades of purple, blue, pink and white. It can be single colour or bi-colour, single or double flowers. Some of the cultivars can be short lived, behaving as biannual but most of them are living much longer. The varieties I grow are still happy after 4 years 😊

They are usually start to bloom in spring - early summer (April - June).

The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees. So if you think to create a bee loving corner you definitely have to include this little beauty.

Where to plant it?

Well...after we were talking about the position and soil…now we can go to the landscape side:

They look lovely in borders, rock gardens especially in a woodland garden.

It grows well with rhubarb also.

It can attracts birds and as we already discussed bees – so if you want to encourage native gardens it’s a brilliant choice.



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