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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Aquilegia Origami: Nature as Sculptress

What appears to be a paper flower, folded, cut, and assembled in an arts and crafts class, is, in actuality, one of my favorite spring and early-summer perennials. Aquilegia Origami, especially the blue-white variety that I have grown ever since it was first introduced, stops me in my tracks every time I pass it by. Even after so many years of watching it grow reliably, my imagination is still boggled by the fine sculpturing of its white interior petals. Sometimes, I will stand and stare for long periods of time because I cannot believe that nature is responsible for such an exquisite form.

Although the plant is not tall, it reaches 14 to 16 inches in height, its upward facing petals, measuring 2 to 3 inches across, allow the visitor to appreciate its beauty with ease; no crouching or bending is necessary. One is encouraged to touch the petals with the eye to sense what might appear to be sleek, smooth paper. This is a lengthy blooming perennial that lasts 12 weeks in the garden on the first flourish. On occasion, it will re-bloom with a smaller second output in August.

The image above is a shot of the original plant, now clump-like, that I acquired many years ago. It has spawned several new plants by self-seeding and was repeatedly propagated by division, an action that stresses the plant until the following season. Gardeners who are not partial to blue should look for the red-white, pink-white, yellow-white, or white-white varieties. However, my experiences growing these color combinations have left me unimpressed because all proved to be short-lived. In my growing Zone USDA 4b, the blue-white variety remains the hardiest of all.

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Reader Comments (5)

So many plants that I no longer have because of my small space. I have had many Columbines at previous homes and did welcome their nodding flowers. I must find some space for all of my past friends!


August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGatsbys Gardens

What a beautiful flower. There must be a place where I could add it to my garden! I'm adding it to my wishlist.

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Wildflower gardens are considered a low cost alternative to high maintenance gardening. Many wildflowers prefer poor soil and neglect, making them ideal for tough to maintain areas of your property.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

An absolutely stunning flower. I am certainly going to try and grow some in my garden next year.

August 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Drummonsy

That flower is so pretty. Especially the colors. Violet and white is a great combination.

September 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDouble Glazing

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