These flowers always remind me of growing up in the Rocky Mountains where in the the spring they would bloom in the most amazingly harsh places and as long as there was moist soil, they prospered. They looked like prairie maidens bobbing in the spring breezes wearing bold colored bonnets.
I planted several Aquilegia (Columbine) from seed last year and while they produced the rare flower and developed a small base of leaves, it was not until this second year that they seemed to come into their own. The flower with its spurs at the back of the flower head are what make it interesting. Sometimes the spur curls and sometime it thrusts it pointy ends upward like swords. The leaves are also a beautiful blue gray and carpet the flower bed almost like a maiden hair fern when the flowers are finished blooming. If various colors are planted near each other they will cross-pollinate and produce some surprises! They are hardy, reseed, and not difficult to grow and in my yard I just ignore the leaf miners that appear in summer and pretend the mosaic they create on the leaves is art.
Years ago Native Americans ate the flowers even though the seeds and roots are poisonous. I will not deadhead this year and see if my flowers spread gently in their space. There are over 70 species and I should give the names of the ones I planted...but I cannot remember!
My research says the name came from the Latin columba which means dove and it is because they are said to look like a gathering of doves, not a huge stretch of imagination, although the flowers above look like ball gowns. It was also believed that lions ate them and thus resulted the myth(?) that rubbing ones hands with the plant would make one courageous. I am going to ignore the folklore that it also represents fallen love.