I can’t tell you why I like Aquilegia so much. I’m generally not a fan of frilly flowers. Perhaps I like it because, though the flowers look delicate, the plant is tough as nails. This particular specimen is growing in what used to be the driveway—a hopelessly compacted combination of clay and rock, dry as a desert most of the time—and is all but shaded out by the pittosporum behind it. It thrives, and has even seeded itself into other places in the old driveway.
Or maybe I like it because, in the Eastern US where I grew up, the native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, attracts hummingbirds and hawk moths. Here, the bumble bees visit it, but little else. Apparently, of the 60-70 species of Aquilegia, several have evolved exclusive relationships with particular pollinators.
Whatever the reason I like them, the flowers make me smile every time I pass them.