image by Dave Goodwin: Photobucket
Known as aquilegia and columbines, granny's bonnet gets its name from the shape of the blossom. The state flower of Colorado, this perennial does well in a shaded garden or woodland setting, but they can grow in full sun in areas with cooler summers. Granny bonnet can take several years to get started in the garden, but once established, they will spread with little effort. Preparing these flowers for winter requires as much effort as growing them.
Remove spent blossoms if you do not want the granny bonnets to drop their seeds. Clip the flower's stems to ground level. Unless the plant is diseased, add these stems to the compost.
Allow a few of the seed heads to remain so the seeds can mature. These flowers self-sow, and if left alone, what begins as a small patch of granny's bonnets will eventually cover a large area of the garden.
Water the granny's bonnets until the end of the growing season. They require moist, but not wet, soil. Do not allow new plants to dry out in the hot summer.
Remove the old growth on the granny's bonnets as they die off. Cut these parts of the flower to ground level. Use a plant marker to indicate the location of the flowers to prevent accidentally disturbing them during spring planting.
Spread a light covering of mulch or dried leaves over the granny's bonnets' bed. This not only keeps the soil moist and warm during the winter, it also enriches the soil.