Saturday, 28 May 2011

Off with their heads!

Poor old common Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris). I'm very mean to my purple Aquilegias - come the end of May just as the poor dears are setting their seeds, I chop off their heads. I have had this thought in my head for a few years now that if I cut down all the purple ones, I'll encourage all the pretty other colours - the whites, pale pinks, deep reds - to grow instead. Invariably the blooms are still smothered in white-tailed bumble bees when I do this so I leave the tub on the lawn like a big vase until the bees had had their fill. This means they set their seed and I now have a trail of Aquilegias along the footpath from the garden to the compost heap where they have dropped their seed on the way.

Lovely Nora Barlow is allowed to seed to her heart's delight. She has a dwarfing effect on the mixed up offspring that results so they don't tend to fall over and sprawl all over the garden like the big thuggish purple ones. We affectionately refer to any that we fancy as Nora Barlow offspring as 'Gary Barlows'.

There were hundreds of white-tailed bumble bees on the blooms yesterday as I was snipping away. Aquilegias are a major feature of my garden at this time of year and the bees are obviously doing well on it. I tried to count but gave up in the 150s. They are friendly little bees and don't mind sharing a bloom. I leave the stiff stalks behind to support the peonies which are tight-fisted buds at the moment.

Finally a bee movie - I took a picture with the camera on the wrong setting and this was the brief result - a buzzy little bee.


  1. My thuggish aquilegias, like the geraniums, are mostly a muddy pink, and terribly prone to greenfly. I may behead them this very day!

  2. They get everywhere, don't they? But I can tolerate them. We have infestations of foxgloves and nasturtiums as well. You can tell we live on the nursery slopes of gardening.

  3. Aquilegias i can tolerate. It's borage which I can't be doing with. It seems to spread by very deep roots.

  4. Like you, my garden is totally taken over by aquelegias at this time of the year - I love them. Strangely enough I do not have a single blue one apart from some blue rock ones. Some of them are really beautiful - single and double, but I too am cutting off some heads although the bees do tend to hybridise them but maybe that is part of their charm.

  5. Love your Nora Barlow, and her Garys! It is the favourite columbine I have in my garden at the moment. Like Rachel, too many of mine are a muddy pink. Glad you visited my blog and left your kind comment, because I have been able to discover yours!


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