Columbine, the perfect but tough garden nomad
- Nick Castle
If you go and look in English gardens in the spring, you will frequently come across Aquilegia vulgaris. Our neighbours on the other side of the Channel do love this spring bloomer. Which is not surprising, as they are beautiful garden plants that can self-sow and keep popping up in different places. The Columbine is not called a nomad for nothing. The wild form of the plant always has dark blue flowers and occurs sporadically in our country and Belgium. In the Ardennes and very rarely in Limburg, it is still possible to encounter a true wild Columbine. In other parts, ‘wild’ Columbines are escaped garden plants.
Sowing and transplanting
The Columbine only flowers a year after sowing and is not winter hardy. The easiest way is to sow them in a propagator or in pots in the summer. The strongest specimens can then be planted out in early autumn. There is then a good chance that they will flower in spring. The Columbine is not fussy when it comes to soil. Ordinary garden soil is good enough, a little sandy is fine and if the soil is rich in humus, the Columbine will be right in its element. The Columbine is not very demanding on other points either. Since this nomad can self-sow, it is clear where it prefers to be located. If it has its pick of the bunch, it will go where the sun shines in the morning, but where there is shade in the hottest part of the day. It is therefore advisable to plant the plant out in a desirable spot straight away.