Aquilegia

Columbine

This genus deserves its lofty names, which mean “eagle” and “dove,” because its intricate flowers have been said to resemble birds in flight. Beyond the symbolism of the flowers, the finely textured, widely varied species possess a gracefulness that is likely to carry you to heights of enjoyment. Whether delicate dwarfs or bold, long-spurred varieties, Columbines are characterized by fernlike three-lobed leaves. They are best suited for naturalizing in a semishaded woodland, but the smaller species will thrive in a rock garden with some shade.

Traversing the subalpine meadows of Europe’s Alps and Apennines mountains, this tall arresting species flaunts nodding dark purple blooms with short spurs and prominent yellow stamens that stretch well beyond the rich-as-velvet nearly black petals. Strong lanky stems anchor the mesmerizing blooms, while the handsome glaucous greenery provides contrasting foliar hues for Hakonechloa m. ‘Aureola’ and Lysimachia ‘Aurea’.

Blooms April–early June

Size: 18" – 20" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 3.

<i>Aquilegia buergeriana</i> ‘Calimero’

Dangling like delicate Japanese lanterns, the plum and soft yellow blossoms are topped with wispy, tapered spurs that curve inward. Like an ideal small-space ornament, this compact Aquilegia offers a demure mound of foliage and arresting colors.

Blooms May–mid-June.

Size: 8" high x 8" – 10" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Discovered by Kansas’ Dyck Arboretum of the Plains and introduced by Jelitto Seeds, this superb softly hued gem is shorter than its wild eastern cousin. The nodding, small spurred blooms dress up with pretty pink outer petals, encompassing a buttery yellow corolla. All this floral loveliness tops refined 3-lobed ferny foliage that can be nestled amid Asarum or Helleborus.

Blooms May–July

Size: 10" – 12" high x 10" – 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 3.

<i>Aquilegia chrysantha</i> ‘Denver Gold’

Bathed in brilliant golden yellow hues, fragrant extra large blossoms, some reaching over 3 in. across, achieve an elegant grace note as long tapered recurving spurs stream from behind. Promising a repeat bloom with attentive deadheading, the blithe open flowers are borne on well-branched stems above a compact ferny mound of lobed bluish green leaves. The native species, Aquilegia chrysantha, wanders throughout the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, while this robust Plant Select introduction brings an illuminated show to woodland gardens, the rockery and even a cut bouquet.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 15" wide.

Zone 3/4.

As if in flight, ‘Yellow Queen’s long outward-curving spurs trail behind its cheerful, bright yellow flowers. Soaring on tall slender stems above bushy and bluish green, fernlike foliage, the upfacing, fragrant blooms are good-sized and abundant. Owing its vigor and floriferous nature to its wild southwestern cousin, Aquilegia chrysantha, this cultivar makes a sunny partner for the lush purple leaves of Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 2-1/2' high x 15" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Promising plenty of nodding vivid blue-violet flowers brightened by white centers, this sturdy Columbine forms a tidy low growing mound with lobed deep green foliage. Nestled along a stone wall or garden path, ‘Blue Angel’ bestows enchanting detail.

Blooms April–early June.

Size: 8" high x 10" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

<i>Aquilegia</i> ‘Kristall’

In the woodland garden, its lengthy stems display large, pure white long-spurred flowers. For a spirited combination of blue and white, try planting this elegant cultivar with Brunnera ‘Dawson’s White’.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 2' 0" high x 15" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Aquilegia rockii</i>

Some 75 years ago, Joseph Rock gathered seed from this elegant beauty in China’s Szechwan kingdom. Elevated on stems that mimic a dancer’s grace, the pendant flowers are richly colored in deep lilac shades. White-edged corollas enhance the large, short-spurred blooms above a pleasing foliar mound.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 15" – 20" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Hailing from central Asia, this splendid species beckons us with large, dazzling deep blue flowers described by short spurs and clear white corollas. The nodding, hummingbird and butterfly friendly blooms reside on graceful 14 in. stems above a cold-hardy blue-green mound of glaucous rabbit- resistant leaves. Happiest in fertile soil and coastal sun, or bright shade elsewhere, A. sibirica can be tucked into troughs, rock work or alpine gardens.

Blooms May–June

Size: 14" high x 10" – 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 3.

Exhibiting the easy elegance that assures Columbine‘s well-known charm, exquisite short-spurred, double flowers dressed in deep ruby red hues rest atop long, sturdy stems like lazy nodding bells. Sumptuous against a winsome clump of bluish green ferny leaves, the blooms create an intoxicating color echo when combined with Epimedium x rubrum’s red blossoms and the dark foliage of Heuchera ‘Blackout’.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 2' 0" – 2-1/4' high x 15" wide.

Zone 3/4.

A shining star of the cut flower trade, ‘Blue Barlow’ prances elaborate fully double deep violet-blue blossoms—upward-facing, spurless and nearly 2 in. across—on tall lithe stems. Gray-green divided foliage shapes a tailored lacy mound below the plush, long lasting Dahlia-like inflorescences that everyone adores, especially hummingbirds and butterflies. Ideal for bright dappled recesses, this uniquely beautiful Columbine appreciates well-drained, compost-rich soil and a cut back after the blooms are spent.

Blooms May–July

Size: 2-1/2' high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 3.

A merry union of speckles, splotches and streaks in Irish green, chartreuse and golden hues embellish each marbled leaf, rendering no two alike. Spurred deep purple pendulous flowers, poised on tall slender rosy stems lend splendid dark accents. Deemed the most treasured of variegated Aquilegias, this colorful Jelitto Seeds introduction gilds a shady nook, while a hard trim after blooming refreshes its leafy clump.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 2' 0" high x 15" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Aquilegia vulgaris</i> ‘William Guiness’

‘William Guiness’s dark purple blossoms skirt snow-white corollas, lending dramatic contrast and an element of surprise. Deeply incurved spurs stand sentinel over each nodding bloom, which rises 2 ft. on lean steady stems from a leafy bluish green mound. Set this dark knight near the gilt foliage of Campanula ‘Dickson’s Gold’ for a captivating union.

Blooms May–June

Size: 2' 0" high x 15" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Aquilegia vulgaris</i> ‘Woodside Gold’

We grew this unusual cultivar from seed, and its intensely golden springtime foliage gradually transmutes into light yellow summer garb, imparting a bright glow to darker garden corners. Gorgeous bicolored blue and rose blooms heighten the display while the deep greens of Pulmonaria ‘Benediction’ and Omphalodes ‘Joy Skies’ furnish an invigorating contrast.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 18" – 2' 0" high x 12" – 15" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

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Saturday Strolls & Plant Chats 2018!


Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Our featured plant: Achillea 'Hella Glashoff'

Amazing Achilleas, Invigorate your summer plantings!

Amazing Achilleas…. These sturdy, dependable perennials produce small indivdual blooms that populate broad, flat flower heads, lending welcome horizontal elements to any garden bed. Ideal for bouquets, fresh or dried, the long-lasting blossoms range in color from alabaster to soft yellow and gold, as well as terracotta, pink and sassy red. Cut back their flowers in midsummer and enjoy a fall encore! Spicy scented, attractive fern-like green or gray-tinged foliage cloaks their strong straight stems. Slowly spreading and somewhat drought tolerant, Yarrow seem to thrive on neglect. They can handle low soil fertility plus coastal wind and salt spray. Be sure to check out our diverse on-line Achillea selections!

Invigorate your summer plantings.… A few simple maintenance techniques will help plants appear fresh throughout the upcoming dog days of summer. The addition of a chipped bark mulch or well-rotted compost, applied as a top-dressing, not only reduces water requirements, but generally makes it easier for plants to maintain perky looking leaves and vigorous habits. A July or early August trimming of long-blooming perennials, such as Nepetas and most Geraniums ensures myriad flowers that will keep on coming ‘til the first frost. Featured in this newsletter, you’ll find the fabulous plants that caught my eye as Boobah and I took our morning walk through the nursery and adjacent display borders this past week. Hopefully, you’ll have room to ensconce several of them in a well-traveled spot. Happy Digging!

Digging Dog's August 2018 Newsletter Link

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