The Columbines have definitely been intent on increasing their numbers this spring. And why wouldn't they? It always helps to have enough dance partners attending the annual spring fête. Many showed up this year to create a dance well worth watching as it unfolded for days on end.
Columbines will always have a pride of place in my garden. I love the way they appear wherever their hearts' desire. The fun part is that one never quite knows what colours they will be – from pale yellow and white flowers one spring, lovely blue flowers appeared the next.
This year, the
dark mauve/blues predominated with a few magenta and shell pinks emerging as well.
As with all flowers in my garden, the conversations between the Columbines have been entertaining and have made for some fascinating eavesdropping.
They love the way their name originated and enjoyed hearing me read to them from Marina Heilmeyer's book, The Language of Flowers (p. 20):
There is no clear explanation for the Late or Middle Latin name aquilegia the monks gave to the columbine. The term may derive from the Latin aquila, the 'eagle', because the spurs of the flower resemble an eagle's hooked beak and talons. The shape of the bloom's nectar gland does slightly resemble a dove, hence the English name columbine (from Latin columba 'dove'). This in turn led to the flower of the columbine taking the place of the dove as the symbol of the Holy Ghost….
The plants quite like knowing that they were planted in monastery and castle gardens alike, as early as the twelfth century, both for medicinal purposes and for their beauty.
When I told them of their importance as a protection against evil spirits and as an aphrodisiac, well, they were most content.
Of course, they said, we could have told you that just as easily. They were quite aware, said they, that people saw a pentagram in their flower shapes and that's how their ability to keep evil at bay originated.
They also were delighted to discover that William Morris had a particular fondness for them, planting them in his gardens and including them in his designs.