This month I have chosen Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris).
There are masses of wild flowers about this month. I toyed with the idea of featuring Campions which are very common and there are several species to look out for, White Campion, Red Campion, Bladder Campion and Ragged Robin to name the commonest ones. Then I thought about a Lizard Orchid which I saw on a trip to Angles sur Anglin and because it is so stunning and weird I have already put a page about it on this blog. I have yet to write up the page on Angles sur Anglin which is also stunning but it is featured in every tourist guide to Vienne and Poitou-Charentes. I must say though that it fully justifys the tag of being ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’ Does anyone know how many villages are blessed with that accolade?…. Too many I suspect.
So why the Columbine? Wel, l I have only seen the wild version growing a very few times and recently (in the last 20 years) I have only seen it once- the one in the photo which was growing by the roadside near Mauprevoir in Vienne. It was very lucky, because the vegetation along the side of the road had recently been cut, but the guy driving the tractor had obviously been so impressed by this small group of about 4 plants that he had cut round them and left them in all their glory so I too was lucky to see it. They stood about 1.5 m tall and were covered with large dark purple/blue flowers. They were amazing.
Now my Father used to have Aquelegias in the garden. They were a wishy washy purple and grew about 0.5m or as he would have said a couple of feet high. They had reasonable sized flowers but were easily overlooked. These will have been bred by gardeners from the original wild stock and yes I know you can get other varieties that are red, red and cream. purple and yellowy cream etc etc. But I contend that none are an improvement on the original that I saw near Mauprevoir.
Then last Sunday I went to Parc de la Belle ( another blog page I have to write up soon) which is near Gencay and is incidentally well worth a visit and there I spotted some of the wishy washy purple Aquilegias and it confirmed what I have been going on about. Why did they bother?
For help identifying wild flowers then have a look at my Wild flower ID pages.