The flower form resembles an eagle’s claw, hence the probable origin of this name from aquila the Latin for eagle (Ranunculaceae). Columbine. Hardy herbaceous perennials for the herbaceous border and rock garden. The flowers and leaves are very dainty. Unfortunately they are inclined to be short lived in heavy wet soils, but they are easily increased by seed. The flowers appear in May and June in a wide range of colours from yellows and creams to blues and reds and purples. The garden hybrids have been raised from various species, e.g. the long-spurred hybrids from A. longissima. ‘Mrs Scott Elliott’s’ is a well-known strain, and more recently there are the McKana Giant hybrids, with larger flowers and long spurs.
Species cultivated A. alpina, 1 foot, flowers blue, white centre. A. atrata, 9 inches, purple-red flowers. A. bertolonii, 6 inches, flowers deep violet-blue. A. caerule ,2-i feet, flowers pale blue and white; various named forms, such as ‘Blue King, `Crimson Star, candidissima (Snow Queen), pure white, cuprea (Copper Queen’) coppery, ‘Dragon Fly a dwarf strain in various colours. A. canadensis, 14 feet, pale yellow. A. chrysantha, 2-4 feet, golden-yellow. A. clematiflora hybrida, 11 feet, spurless flowers in pink and blue shades. A. discolor, 3 inches, blue and white flowers. A. flabellata, 9 inches, white, tinged pink; var. nana alba, 6 inches, flowers white. A. formosa, 1i feet, yellow or yellow and red flowers; var. truncata, smaller flowers. A. fragrans, 14-2 feet, white or purple fragrant; needs a sunny sheltered position. A. glandulosa,1 foot, lilac and white flowers. A. helenae, 11 feet, blue and white. A. longissima,2 feet, long-spurred yellow flowers. A. skinneri, 2 feet, crimson flowers. A. viridiflora, 9 inches, green and brown, fragrant. A. vulgaris, the common columbine, 1-21 feet, various colours and forms including the very double flore pleno, sometimes known as Granny Bonnets.
Cultivation The requirements are sun or partial shade and a loamy soil enriched with leafmould and not too heavy or dry. Dwarf species, grown on the rock garden, need well-drained soil and full sun. Plants do well on chalky soils. Seed is sown in May or June in the open, in August in a frame or the plants may be divided in spring or autumn.