by Sue Dingwell
The native columbine is an obvious choice for those desiring spectacular beauty people will enjoy while attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and Hawk moths to their gardens, as well as providing food for our early spring bees. This easy-to-grow flower is sure to please. The native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, is in bloom now and blooms continuously until the end of May and even into June some years. Graceful bell-shaped flowers in red and gold end in backward pointed tubes, or spurs, containing the sought-after nectar. It is the larval host plant for Columbine Duskywing, but is not a favorite of deer.
Wild columbine will thrive in partial shade and mature plants can take full sun if they receive adequate moisture. It is a short-lived perennial, meaning each plant will live for several years; but columbine re-seeds itself readily, so new ones are always coming along. Seedlings can be left in place, planted into new spaces, or shared with friends. The leaves, in dense mounds, stay green throughout the season and provide textural interest with their three-lobed divisions. Ask for Aquilegia canadensis by its scientific name to enjoy the benefits of this striking native wildflower.