2017 Harvest

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Barlow columbine

Two years ago I bought Barlow columbine seeds, "Black Barlow" and "Rose Barlow" to be exact. Now after 2 years they are finally blooming.

European columbine(Aquilegia Vulgaris) can be found as native plant in many gardens in Croatia. That was not the case in my garden. My garden was built on previous forest ground so I had to plant them to spread. I got my first Columbine bush almost 15 years ago from mums colleague. Columbines were always a part of her garden and she gave us one root. Out of that root I now have whole field of columbines.

Old columbines with new ones in left corner
Old columbines on lower part of hillside
I thought it would be the time to bring a new variety of columbines in the garden so I bough seeds of Black and Rose Barlow.
Black and Rose Barlow and cultivars of Aquilegia Vulgaris.

Both Rose and Black Barlow are a bushy plants with flower stems that can reach from 60-90cm. Like full sun to part shade and clay to sandy soil. Don't require a special soil pH. They grow equally well in neutral, acid or alkaline ground.
Like every columbine they are mildly poisonous so deer and rabbits won't eat them. They can survive hard and long drought, will not bloom but the rosette will remain healthy. Columbines attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Pests that can affect them are aphids, caterpillars, sawflies and in very moist springs they can develop leaf fungal diseases.

My columbines:
I grow my Columbines on our house retaining hillside. The hillside was built out of residual materials(sand, stones, small bricks) and then covered with clay soil. May not be the perfect place for many plants but Columbine seem to like it. They get good amount of clay soil and under they have good drainage.

Rose Barlow
Black Barlow
I noticed that my Columbines aren't really the size written in characteristics. Stems are much taller. Some reach 1.5m(59in). Also instead of ultimate spread of 0.5m(19in) mine are 1m(39in) right now, so if you plan to plant them have in mind there is a possibility they will take much more space than written in characteristics.

Dog for scale 
I also noticed that my columbines are full of bumblebees, but no bees. There are plenty of bees in my garden right now, but they seem to avoid them and concentrate on blackberries and black locust. Bumblebees on the other hand pick only columbines.

Stems have a nice amount of flowers, each 5-8. Rose flowers have nice colour, but I expected black ones to be a bit more darker.
Rose Barlow flower colour
 The colour looks like purple actually and comparing them to my previous dark purple ones seems they are the same. Flower shape reminds me of small Dahlia flowers.

Black Barlow 
Dark purple European Columbine
The conclusion:
As much as people prefer Barlow Columbines for their fluffy flowers I have to say that I like more my old European varieties. Colours of flowers are much stronger, and for some reason Columbines with "a little skirt" on them look much more elegant to me.

Little skirt on European columbines

 Another thing that bothers be a bit is leaf size, A meter spread is using much space in my garden and it kills that thick flower veil I get when leaves are smaller.

Now I can't wait to see what combinations I'll get next year when the two varieties mix with my old columbines.


  1. I just LOVE those colors. The flowers are so full--quite different from a regular columbine but very pretty indeed. I'm sure the big size makes an impressive display!

  2. They come in suchj a wide range of size, colour and shape and seem so easy to grow - such a versatile plant


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