May 9, 2015
Columbine are one of my favorite spring plants with their interesting flowers and makes the perfect addition to any garden or landscape. Columbine are fascinating plants. The foliage is reminiscent of maidenhair fern, but the flowers are the main attraction. The flowers are suspended on thin, wiry stems, and either turn up or nod down. A notable feature of the columbine flower are the spurs attached to each of the five petals. These spurs resemble an eagle’s claw for which the Latin translation is “aquila” which is related to the columbine genus name, Aquilegia. These spurs are thrust backward and create a counterbalance that allows the flowers to nod and bob with the slightest breeze as if floating on water. These Swan series Columbine flowers are an interesting landscape addition. The yellow is bright and cheery, but I like the bi-colors of red and white, blue and white, and pink and yellow. Though these plants look fragile, they really are tolerant of many environments. Planted in full or partial shade, columbine will thrive and flower profusely. This plant likes good loamy to gravelly soil, and a rock garden is a favorite. In north Mississippi they are perennial while in the coastal counties columbine should be used as spring annual color. Not only does the columbine add beauty and interest to the landscape, it also attracts wildlife. The colorful spurs are filled with sweet nectar and are magnets for hummingbirds and butterflies. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.