With the May rains came the columbine invasion. It happens every spring, and you never know where they will pop up next, but this year they have excelled themselves and are everywhere: over the back fence in the guerrilla garden, in the front bed beside the main road, in the paving outside the kitchen door, along the top terrace. And in all shades. They are very promiscuous. I’ve also grown some species aquilegias from seed, and this year they are flowering for the first time. I’m now wondering if they will ‘co-mingle’ with the local wild bunch and produce even more lovely shapes and shades.
Now meet the cultivated bunch: the first three grown from seed from an aquilegia specialist grower, and the last one a plant ‘rescued’ from an abandoned allotment plot. The yellow varieties seem to gently flower all through the summer.
The columbines do as they please in our garden. Over the years they have moved in from who knows where, and done much replicating. I have made only one deliberate introduction which is a lovely lemon one saved from an overgrown plot at the allotment. Every spring we have additional variations in the indigenous colour scheme, this season’s new shade being white with hints of mauve and purple. We also have various pinks, deep violet, burgundy and ivory and some of them have now moved into the front garden that sits beside the road so who knows where they will be off too next. A world invaded by columbines – well, why not?
So here are some garden views – inside back and outside back (guerrilla garden), and lastly our roadside bed which I feel could now serve as a reference plot for the Haphazard School of Cultivation. I’m not sure what the poppies are doing there – shades of Heinz tomato soup. Ah well. They’re looking very jolly – a spot of light relief from Lockdown-itis.
I’ve said before there’s a lot goes on in our garden that has little to do with me. This month’s aquilegia/columbine/granny’s bonnets invasion is just one of them. Year after year they self-seed and appear in subtly new colour variations. Sometimes the mauve palette predominates, sometimes the pink and claret. This year there are several white ones with mauve hints, and also some new salmon pink ones that have chosen to grow in amongst the Gloire de Dijon climbing rose which is just about to break into blooms of the very same shade. Makes you wonder if the Grannies have more than bees in their bonnets. I mean, did they plan this?
Out in the guerrilla garden (between our back fence and the field) the Grannies are growing in thickets. They have also crept round to front garden for the first time this year, though last year I did plant a species yellow one out there (a plant rescued from an abandoned allotment plot) in hopes that in time it might mingle with the residents and create some new shades.
And then besides the Granny’s Bonnets, there are the self-gardening Welsh poppies, forget-me-nots and perennial geraniums (which also mingle and change colour). Soon there will be foxgloves and corn cockles, and if we’re lucky, the opium poppies may visit us again. When friends ask us if we’re going away, we always feel a touch bemused. With so much going coming and going outside the back door, why would we need to?
Whenever we can, we sit on the bench at the top of the garden, stare at clouds (though there wasn’t a single one this morning when I took these photos), listen to the racketing of rooks, the keening call of buzzards, watch the jackdaws fly over, hear the garden buzz, observe the wood across the wheat field as it changes in shade and texture day by day, exchange greetings with a passing walker on the field path. And we think – this is a good place to be; a very good place.
Well they look like pagoda roofs to me. But the other interesting thing is that these bumble bees are breaking into the flowers through the rooftops, drilling into the nectar stores at the end of the flower tubes. This, I learn, is a habit of short-tongued bees, stealing the stash from the long-tongued bumbles (Bombus hortorum) who usually visit columbine flowers more politely, using the front door.
Roof Squares 17 Please drop in on Becky – for a very novel roof, and a brilliant round-up of everyone’s roof offerings
Today over at Lost in Translation, Paula’s Thursday’s Special theme is minuscule, which is a word I often have problems spelling because it comes in two versions, and that then leads me to make up my own. Anyway, I instantly thought of pollen grains, which made me think of bees, and of the small busy world of pollen gathering that goes on all spring and summer, mostly unnoticed by us humans. And so since I believe we cannot think of bees too much or too often, given the valuable work they do for us, here’s another bee snap.
I am also grateful to Pauline at Memories Are Made of This, who in today’s post also has bees on her mind, for reminding me a few a weeks ago in one of her comments that Granny’s Bonnets is another name for columbines or aquilegias. So there you have it – bumble bee in my Granny’s Bonnets, but not in my actual bonnet, although my other half would often beg to differ on that statement.