Garden Life
Columbines (Aquilegia caerulea and A. vulgaris) are plant genuses from the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). They are also closely related to the clematis.
These popular spring-flowering plants (May/June) love nutrient-rich, calcareous but humus-laden garden soils which are not too tightly rooted by rival plants. They do not like permanent sun, and require warm half-shade and alternating shade locations, for example in front of shrubs. Columbines like “to stretch their legs”, i.e. they do not do well if located too close to other perennials. They also self-sow best if they have clear space around them. The garden columbine (A. vulgaris), with its curved flower spurs, is smaller at a height of 50 cm than the larger flower bed columbine (A. caerulea, long, straight spurs), which can reach 80 cm depending on the variety.
To sow: From March to May in loose, fine-crumb flower bed soil, at a good distance from each other and half a centimetre deep. At 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, the seed will germinate within three to four weeks. Later, thin out the young plants so that there is a 25 cm distance between each one. They will flower for the first time in the year after sowing in May/June.
Tip: Cut off the flower stems with dead flowers on, and the plants will flower again in autumn. However, leave the ripened seed capsules on the plant in case the columbines can self-sow from their location.

Picture: © MIMOHE -