Despite our best efforts as gardeners, at duplicating what we see in nature, and improving upon it with our own combinations and patterns, there is something wonderfully majestic about observing a favourite plant in its native habitat.
Such was the case a few weeks back, when I saw a beautiful stand of Aquilegia canadensis, the Canadian Columbine, on wooded and rocky outcrops along Twiss Road, just north of Burlington, Ontario.
The self-sowing tendencies of this plant were evident with several plants established on various levels of the outcrop, as well as in an actual row alongside the road. In my garden, I let it do its thing amongst Hostas, ferns and Martagon Lilies.
I've long been enamoured by this plant, preferring its grace and subtle beauty over the larger-flowered modern hybrids. Phillips and Rix state that it is pollinated by hummingbirds.
More recently, the dwarf strain 'Little Lanterns' has been very impressive, as well as the newer 'Pink Lanterns'.
Interestingly, Jelitto and Schacht record several forms of the species: "albiflora with white flowers, flaviflora flowers entirely yellow, and phippenii sepals pink, petals yellow" which must have been used to create the newer seed strains.
Here's to dirt under your nails.
Mark, the coolplantsguy