Even though I am a day late for Wildflower Wednesday, I wanted to show off my native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. I bought this last spring from Polly French in Shelburne Falls. She has been propagating wildflowers for many years to fund her conservation efforts, but this year she realized it was time to put the propagation beds to bed. Because of her there are many, mostly spring blooming native plants in gardens throughout our hill towns. I had never seen this color combination before I visited Polly’s garden. It is not fancy like the garden hat hybrids, but it is so unassuming and charming. It is growing strongly and has even seeded itself. Soon there will be a little community.
This columbine (not quite open today) was given to me many years ago by a dear friend. It has been moved here and there, but now, under the Mothlight hydrangea it has created a whole community of columbines. It seems to have found this shady, well drained site to its liking.
The name Aquilegia comes from the Latin aquila for eagle because to some the flower looks like eagle talons. Of course, some think the flower looks like a jester’s cap and bells, making it a symbol for foolishness. Long tongued insects search for nectar in those long spurs or tubes with the golden stamens. For me the this modest native columbine which looks so fragile, is sturdy and lighthearted. I like the idea that it might be the cap of a very pretty jester.