‘Aquilegia’ is obviously one of those words that would, if you were to come across it in the middle of a sentence, instinctively inspire panic and cause you to sort-of-pronounce-sort-of-skim across it. Luckily this pretty perennial is also known as a ‘granny’s bonnet’, which makes us laugh a bit because it sounds like both an old-fashioned euphemism and particularly tough, particularly niche skill to pull off (a gymnastic move? some sort of yo-yo trick?)
Anyway, they’re found mainly in meadows and woodlands across the northern hemisphere and are most recognisable due to the nodding, spurred petals that droop daintily from their stems. In our increasingly long-list of far-fetched flower comparisons that this column seems to be accruing, we can now add both ‘aquilegia’ (from the latin for eagle, because its flowers apparently resemble an eagle’s claw) and its third most widely used name, ‘columbine’ (from the latin for dove, because those same flowers supposedly also look like a cluster of five doves). Whether you can make this imaginative leap or not, we think these meadow-dwellers bring a wonderfully subtle sense of the great outdoors to any arrangement.