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lovely, quirky columbine

I don’t know much about columbines, other than that they are now famous for Colorado. But when I started hunting for seeds, I suddenly saw the name everywhere. In spring many nurseries were carrying small starter plants of columbines and I had no idea what the flower even looked like. I asked my favorite nurseryman about them and he said he’d always had trouble with columbines so this made me think right away that they were fussy plants from another part of the country, or the world.

I was pleased to discover there are a few kinds that are native to Texas. I found one of them, “Hinckley’s golden columbine”, which grows in the southwestern woodlands and ravines between New Mexico and Texas. The other was a lovely pink and yellow kind which I forgot to write down but from pictures might have been what’s known as “Wild Columbine”. Thankfully I found them on a day I was shopping specifically for shade and part-shade plants. I have this awkward space in an already awkward large bed that gets almost no sun until the late afternoon when it is all sun, of the worst kind, especially in summer.

The bed has become a series of flowers, some short-lived and some not, that can take the heat and sun of the summer. This one awkward part of the bed, however, gets no sun, since there is a large pecan tree right in the middle which shades this one corner.

Heck, why not a columbine, which I read was made for woodlands and shade. I could kill myself for not taking photos of these while they were blooming; now they’ve gone to seed in the last 2 weeks and I won’t see them again (hopefully) till next year. They certainly have personality. No one ever knows what they are, but are always drawn to them with their spiky crowns (or sometimes they look like wings) and weird floating papery blooms.

Since I can’t put my own photo up, here are links to some lovely photos of the two varieties I planted:

Hinckley’s golden columbine

Wild Columbine

The 2nd is a lovely yellow flower with light red wings. Neither of these are anything like the hyped-up columbines of catalogs. As with anything, the originals are usually not as big, not as vibrant, not as not as… but I am quite happy with them.

I bought two different varieties, and have since read that columbines freely inter-pollinate, so who knows what kind of flowers I’ll get from the seeds which fell to the ground. Today I went out and cut off the seedpods, which look like baby twirly horns (not out of style with the rest of the flower).

It’s easy to pull off each pod and crumble the seeds out. Who knows what color these will produce but now I have my very own seeds for next year. Maybe I’ll have orange? hmmm.