It is peak season for columbines (aquilegias) in the garden right now, so here are some pretty pictures of them.

I have a somewhat ambiguous attitude to this plant. On balance, I like it. It has pretty flowers (which the bees like), attractive foliage, and it flowers in that gap when the bulbs and tree blossom are over, and before most of the summer flowers have got going. It is not at all hard to grow, in fact, most of the plants in the garden have self-seeded. We seem to have a large genetic diversity, giving a wide range of colours; they do not seem to revert quickly to the original blue colour of wild aquilegia vulgaris.

The main downside of these plants is really the same thing as the “easy to grow” upside: they spread themselves about the garden with great enthusiasm. I try quite hard to remove any seed-heads before they ripen, but I never get them all, and, as a result, I am forever weeding out aquilegia seedlings. And if you don’t get them as seedlings, a mature plant has a huge tap-root which is extremely difficult to extract from the ground — much worse than a dandelion. Still, at this time of year I am prepared to forgive them their faults.

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