Thursday 1 May 2014


The Aquilegia is a very self-confident, rather obtuse plant. If it wants to grow, it can grow just about anywhere (including places you don't want it to grow), but if it doesn't want to grow it certainly won't. Last year I tried to grow a couple of varieties from seeds that a friend had sent me, but despite using up the entire contents of both seed-packets in two staggered sowings, not a single one germinated. At the same time, I have hundreds of the darned things popping up all over the garden. These latter I presume are the offspring of some plain pink and blue ones which I allow to grow alongside the house in a place where nothing much else will survive (poor soil and low levels of light), though I never let them get big enough to be really sure.

Two years ago, a blogging / facebook friend called David Ford sent me seeds for this very pretty variety of Aquilegia:

David's Aquilegia, photographed by David on his own plot

Much to my relief (and surprise) I managed to grow some of these last year. They didn't flower, but they did grow big enough to survive the Winter, and this year they have flowered. In fact they are at their best right now. This photo was taken in my garden just a few days ago:

Despite the poor light (a gloomy, rainy day), I think you can see that the seeds have come true and have produced plants very much like their parents. I like them so much that I really wouldn't mind if this plant self-seeds profusely!

Nearby is another Aquilegia import. This is one I brought back from my MIL's house the year before last, as a root-division of a mature plant. It has pink flowers, but the pink is a lot deeper than the rather insipid ones that I already had (referred to above).


This stunning red and yellow one, with long "streamers" (seen here in a photo from June 2013) is not yet flowering, so I have this to look forward to still. It was grown from seeds sent to me by Diana Demiyah in Malaysia.

I know that Aquilegias hybridise easily, so wouldn't it be nice if the deep wine-coloured one from David got together with the red-and-yellow one from Diana and produced something new and amazing? 


  1. one of my favorite flowers!

  2. Lovely photos of yours Mark and thank you for the comments it is so gratifying to see my efforts in sending the seeds rewarded by your skill in growing them.

    1. Thank you David. I would be delighted to return the favour if I can.

  3. I love the one that David sent you seeds for, such a beautiful colour.

  4. I had no idea that Columbine could act that way, but I am glad now to know. I've always had it come back & spread, but suddenly, several years ago, all of mine but one variety just didn't come up. And didn't come back ever. And though I've planted new plants every year since, I still seem to only get the Blue Barlow back. There are a lot of plants that have come up this year, including in areas where I don't have the Blue Barlow, so I am crossing my fingers. They should be blooming any day now.

  5. Lovely Aquilegias! Sometime I think they always grow where I don't want them to! They quickly develop strong root and are very hard to pull out. Cutting off the wilted flowers or immature seed pods is a reasonable thing to do to prevent them self-seed.

  6. I'm guessing it's like primroses etc and the seed is best sown fresh.

  7. When I was a kid the columbine was my favorite flower. Well the Colorado columbine as that is where I grew up. They are so lovely popping up under rocks in the mountains. Of course that one is blue and white. Here where I live the native columbines are red and yellow, much like your last photo if not quite as showy. It would be really pretty if you could get a blue and yellow one. But I've never seen that in a columbine before.

  8. I do like Aquilegias, one of my neighbours has some lovely purple ones & I am hoping for some to cross over into my garden. I sowed some seeds last year & only one came through, it is in a pot in the back garden with some buds on it now so fingers crossed it will be the colour it was on the packet.

  9. The aqualegias are so beautiful! A pleasure to go through your photographs.


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