Columbine blooming in cultivation. Our backyard!

A few years back we collected Columbine seeds in a zip lock bag and tossed them about the backyard Philadelphia rowhouse garden, the crevices of the concrete alleyway and about the local urban landscape.

Having observed Columbine for sometime we have noticed that it likes to grow in rocky areas. Out of cracks. In Marianna Florida, we saw it growing out of a limestone outcrop, signaling its affinity with alkaline environments. Its spindly stems and compact leaves suggests a degree of drought tolerance as well. All of these things indicate that Aquilegia canadensis is well suited for urban environments.

This is perfect for our situation where we are trying to create a hummingbird friendly environment that is not dependent on feeders. The plants are now growing and thriving in the alley and have adapted well to the concrete crevasses and nooks. The Columbine also provides beauty to the landscape. Complementing the Hummingbird friendly Columbine in our block is the Coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens (major wheeler) and the straight species Campsis radicans, the trumpet vine.

Lastly, it is notable how majestically the red flowers contrast with the grey concrete blocks of West Philly!


Before we get into the Mayapples, this stunning Redbud tree welcomed us at the entrance to the mayapple forests of West Fairmount Park.

On the North side of the Horticultural Center

In Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, the Mayapple ushers in Spring with large patches that cover the hillsides of the many ravines. The plants open up like an umbrella and give way to a bright white flower. Lowering my view to below the canopy of Mayapple leaves, I am greeted by a vast, but miniature Springtime forest. The robust waxy flowers shine when the sun hits them, if the plants are situated on a steep enough slope. Most flowers remain hidden in the shade below an often dense canopy of leaves.

Podophyllum peltatum

Mayapples with a Beech tree just north of the Recycling center, below.

Mayapples with Spring Beauty

Above, Trout Lily, often found growing alongside Mayapples in Fairmount Park