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Perfect for cottage and woodland gardens, old-fashioned columbines are available in almost all colors of the rainbow. Intricate little flowers, they are most commonly a combination of red, peach, and yellow but also blues, whites, pure yellows, and pinks; they look almost like folded paper lanterns.
Columbine thrives in sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plants tend to be short-lived but self-seed readily, often creating natural hybrids with other nearby columbines. If you want to prevent self-seeding, deadhead plants after bloom.
Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
1-2 feet wide
how to grow Columbine
more varieties for Columbine
'Blue Barlow' columbine
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Blue Barlow' has interesting, shaggy-looking double flowers that dangle over finely divided foliage. Zones 3-8
Aquilegia canadensis bears red-and-yellow nodding blooms. It has ferny foliage and grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
Aquilegia flabellata is a dwarf type that grows to only a foot tall with flowers rising several inches above the fan-shape blue-green foliage. Flower color ranges from sky blue to almost purple. Zones 4-9
Aquilegia McKana Hybrids is a strain of large plants with a broad range of flower colors -- blue and white, red with yellow, pink, purple, and maroon bicolors. They have a long season of bloom. Zones 3-9
'Melba Higgins' columbine
Aquilegia 'Melba Higgins' grows 24-30 inches tall and bears midnight blue flowers on blue-green foliage in midspring. Zones 4-8
Rocky mountain columbine
Aquilegia caerulea, the state flower of Colorado, is native throughout much of the Rocky Mountain West. Its spurred blossoms are most commonly blue-and-white, although a pink-and-yellow variant is also available. Zones 3-8
'Spring Magic Navy and White' columbine
Aquilegia 'Spring Magic Navy and White' produces bold blue-and-white flowers on a compact 14-inch-tall plant. Zones 4-8
'William Guiness' columbine
Aquilegia vulgaris 'William Guiness' shows off bold flowers that feature white centers and dark burgundy-purple spurs. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
Aquilegia chrysantha is native to the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and bears yellow flowers in spring over lovely bluish-green foliage. It prefers light to moderate shade. Zones 3-8
plant Columbine with
Phlox are one of those bounteous summer flowers any large sunny flowerbed or border shouldn't be without. There are several different kinds of phlox. Garden and meadow phlox produce large panicles of fragrant flowers in a wide assortment of colors. They also add height, heft, and charm to a border. Low-growing wild Sweet William, moss pinks, and creeping phlox are effective as ground covers, at the front of the border, and as rock and wild garden plants, especially in light shade. These native gems have been hybridized extensively especially to toughen the foliage against mildew problems; many recent selections are mildew-resistant. Phlox need amply moist soil for best overall health.
No fall garden should be without toad lilies. These Asian curiosities bloom with orchid-like flowers that demand a close look, when the garden is winding down in fall. They do best in light shade in humus-rich soil that retains moisture, and are suitable for borders or less formal parts of the garden and among shrubs gradually becoming large clumps. Some self-seed but not aggressively.
Foamflower is a plant for all seasons. In spring, the charming flowers light up even places under pines in dry shade. Its evergreen lobed leaves, in a wide assortment of shapes, patterns, and markings, form healthy clumps that look good all growing season long. Use them at the front of borders as edgings or accents, or plant them close as groundcovers in lightly shaded woodland gardens. High-humus soils are excellent, but foamflower is easy to please.