July 23, 2014
This plant, Aquilegia canadensis--common names, Wild Columbine or Eastern Red Columbine--is following me wherever I go this spring/summer. Do you ever get that feeling? That you're seeing the same plant everywhere?
I haven't left my own state this growing season, but I've been in the north, the south, and the middle sections of Wisconsin--in shade and sun and dappled-in-between. Places with sandy soil, clay soil, and loamy soil.
This native Columbine seems happy in just about every location--even growing out of rocks, as I mentioned in my last post. It's reblooming in a new pollinator garden I helped establish--out in south-facing, bright sun at the edge of a farm field.
I've noticed Wild Columbine for most of my life, of course, but this year seems to be an especially good year for it and I seem to be particularly in love with it.
One especially nifty aspect of this plant, which I didn't realize until recently, is that it competes quite well with our non-native, invasive Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). During a hike in one of our state parks earlier this season, we noticed an overgrowth of Garlic Mustard.
The only other plant of significance in the forest understory was Wild Columbine. If you have a stubborn patch of Garlic Mustard, perhaps Columbine can help reclaim it.
A. canadensis is native to most of North America east of the Rockies, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It's cold-tolerant, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, and moisture-tolerant. The blooms seem to be the perfect invitation to birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds--and I've seen them all enjoying its nectar, pollen, and seeds.
A larval host for the Columbine Duskywing butterfly, this plant readily reseeds, and most sources say it's best propagated by seed. It also readily hybridizes with other Columbines, which can yield some interesting color combinations. Some gardeners complain that it can be somewhat invasive.
When we first moved to our current property, we had a patch of Wild Columbine, but for some reason it disappeared. I recently added some back to the garden. I'm a big fan.
I'm also linking in with Gail's Wildflower Wednesday over at Clay and Limestone. (I made it just in time to call it a Wednesday post!)