Columbine are beautiful and intricate flowers found in many gardens in so many different colors including blues, whites, purples, reds and even yellows. I have found that they are fairly easy to grow in my New York garden though they haven’t come back after many years so I think I will plant some new ones this spring.
One of the coolest things about Columbine is their naming. The plant’s botanical name is Aquilegia—derived from the Latin word Aquila which means eagle—because the shape of the flower petals resemble an eagle’s claw. The common name Columbine has a derivation that is equally fun. Columbine comes from Latin for dove, because the inverted flower resembles five doves clustered together. Both evoke such lovely imagery.
As for their symbolism, again Columbine are fascinating. In the 17th century Columbine was first dedicated to Freya, the Norse patron goddess of love and fertility. Later it became associated with The Virgin Mary as Christianity became more prevalent. So you decide whether you want the sensual flower to symbolize temperance or seduction ☺.
Airily poised in the garden bed,
Delicate saffron, white and rose,
With gossamer petals lightly spread
The columbines flutter upon their toes.
Wait, till the moonlight sets them free!
They’ll stir, they’ll shake off the dew, they’ll go
Dancing, dancing (but you’ll not see–
You’ll be too busy asleep to know).
Someone surprised them once in May,
Glimmering ivory, gold, and pink,
Dancing under the moon. That way
Columbines found their name, I think.