Aquilegia are an easy to grow, spring flowering perennial whose common name is Columbine. Aquilegia have delicate, nodding flowers which can be single, as illustrated far left A. vulgaris, double illustrated center A. 'Nora Barlow' and multi coloured illustrated right with Aquilegia 'Swan Lavender' a real favourite.
Aquilegia require very little attention and are not fussy about their growing conditions, making them a green wheelbarrow plant showing they are easy to grow. Aquilegia have attractive leaves at the base of the plant, with a long stem supporting delicate flowers as shown in the images. The image far left shows the Aquilegia 'Swan lavender' with variegated Euonymus, and a deciduous yellow rhododendron, R luteum (which is one of the few scented Rhododendrons,) which makes a lovely bright yellow spring combination.
Aquilegia tend to self seed, and if you do not want them popping up where they are not wanted, it's best to remove the seed heads. In common with some Hellebores, the flower heads hang down, which can make it difficult to see the delicate beauty of the flowers. Although the foliage on Aquilegia fades and dies back, they are not a true herbaceous perennial, as they do not die back completely to bare earth in the winter.
After flowering, the foliage becomes pale and is best cut off and the plant will grow fresh foliage in late summer /autumn. One advantage of Aquilegia is they flower reliably year after year. Aquilegia vary in size on average, they grow to around 60-70 cms, which suggests when growing Aquilegia they are best placed in the middle of the border in terms of height.
The foliage of Aquilegia is attractive, with delicate leaves illustrated below right.
There is a scented variety called Aquilegia 'fragrans' which has white /cream flowers. There are many varieties to choose from and all Aquilegia flower from flower from April, to June, depending on the variety.
If Aquilegia is not the plant for you check out summer flowering plants, spring flowering plants, scented plants and climbing plants for more ideas.