Today’s plant is a cultivar of the Mexican Columbine (Aquilegia skinneri). It’s got a very colorful name to match its gorgeous appearance, Tequila Sunrise. Here’s a pic:
This flower stopped me in my tracks as I was looking for plants for a client’s new garden. The garden is in a lightly shady area near a gazebo and surrounded by evergreen plants. I’m installing plants to light up the area and this color was perfect to mix with the fantastic foliage colors in the palette. Some other plants in the garden are an upright Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), Summer Gold that’s supposed to have nice golden summer foliage. It looks great now, but I’m anxious to see how the color holds. I’ve also included some Hostas; a golden one called Zounds and a blue one called Big Daddy. The plants that will really echo the color of this columbine are some Heucherellas (intergeneric hybrids of Tiarella and Heuchera) called Stoplight and Alabama Sunrise. The Heucherellas I’ve been watching at the JC Raulston Arboretum have been looking great year round. I’ve also included some green plants to show off those colorful plants. I can’t wait to watch this garden fill in.
These spurs differ quite a bit among species and correspond to specialized pollinators. Pollinators have to reach way in to get the nectar. Of course, the plant charges for the meal, pollen from the long stamens gets on the diner to be spread around to other plants and facilitate cross pollination. I wonder what the hummingbirds in this garden will think.
The genus is more diverse than I thought, check out this UCSB scientist’s research on the evolution and diversification of species. Our own native species is C. canadensis with smaller red and yellow flowers. The spurs on these are much shorter. Most columbines seed around nicely. My mother has some lovely blue ones naturalized in her garden–she does help them along by spreading the seeds around a bit. I wouldn’t expect this hybrid to come true from seed, but I won’t be disappointed if it seeds around.