Some couples have a song, some have a special date location, we have a flower.
In honor of Andrew’s and my wedding anniversary this week, today I’m talking about beautiful Columbines (Aquilegia)!
How We Fell in Love (with Columbines!)
Our introduction to the flower was simple: a former teacher of Andrew’s shared photos of Columbine’s from her garden and the two of us were instantly enraptured by its lovely shape and vibrant blue colors. Add in the fact that this flower could be grown right here in Maryland and we were smitten! We decided right then and there to use it as inspiration for our wedding colors (blue and white with yellow accents) and to plant some in our future garden.
As far as symbolism goes, Columbines are perhaps not the best flower to have as a relationship flower as in some cultures it represents foolishness and adultery (oops!) but as with many symbols, meaning changes depending on who you ask. The ancient Greeks attributed Columbines with Aphrodite, goddess of love, and in Christian tradition, it represents doves and the holy spirit. So if you don’t like one meaning, look for another!
We started our Columbine from seed indoors in the winter of 2016. To start the germination process, Columbine seeds first need 3-4 weeks of cold so we refrigerated the seed packets for a few weeks before planting (this process is called cold stratification). They started germinating in the second half of March and we transplanted them outside in the middle of May along with our other seedlings.
In there first year, the Columbines often had yellowing leaves (I think we had a tendency to water them more than they needed) and they didn’t produce any flowers, which is normal for year 1. We also didn’t have any problems with leaf miners, a common pest for Columbines, which I attribute to the fact that they weren’t exposed to outdoors until late after eggs were already laid for the season.
We’re just getting started with year two but at this point, our Columbine plant is in full bloom (nicely coordinating with our wedding anniversary!). Buds first started to appear on our Columbines in mid-April. Brimming with excitement, I watched those buds like a pot of water yet to boil and finally, finally, the first bud popped open on April 27.
Since then, we’ve noticed that the flowers are very short-lived, lasting only a few days before losing its petals, however while we’re diligent about removing spent blossoms, the plants keep producing more on a daily basis.
This year, we have also noticed leafminer damage on the leaves. From what I’ve read, this damage shouldn’t kill the plants but it does mar their beauty so I’ve been cutting off the affected leaves, which is the control method I’ve most often seen recommended.