Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Alpine Blue Columbine

Even though for the next few weeks I'll most likely be posting sporadically, (due to my insane workload at work), I did manage to get out for a bit tonight after work and take a few shots of some flowers just coming into bloom. Despite the damage caused by the late cold spell in April, a lot of things are really springing back into life and taking off!

This striking, almost true blue beauty is one of our Alpine Blue Columbines (Aquilegia alpina), a species we discovered several years ago in one of the better local garden centres. Since our success with Columbines has been sporadic over the years, and we've come to the sad conclusion that the genus is relatively short-lived, we tend to try to plant a few new ones every year. Though they are reputed to be good self-seeders, they also have the habit of fraternizing freely with other species of Columbine, so plants from seed won't necessarily return true to the original parent. That's by no means to intimate that any volunteer sports would not be welcome --how could you ever have too many Columbines?-- but if you want the blues to remain blue, it's probably best to keep them planted a fair distance away from other colors you might have planted elsewhere in the garden. In our experience, they have a very extended bloom period (provided they don't get scorched in the heat of July and August) and there have been years where they have bloomed non-stop right up until frost. But that's been the exception, rather than the rule, so we just content ourselves with enjoying the show while it lasts.

If you're a fan of Columbines, you owe it to yourself to seek Alpina out and give it a prized spot in your woodland garden or a semi-shaded position elsewhere in the border. In a normal year, they come up early and start blooming very quickly, though of course this year that has been delayed by a few weeks. Our four specimens are just beginning to bloom now, so we're hoping for another extended bloom time this year ... though that remains to be seen, we're nonetheless delighted to see that they survived the deep freeze and are thriving now ...

P.S. Make sure you click on the second photo if you really want to get up close with this one ....

P.P.S. Just realized that this is officially post #100 here at Urban Oasis ...

5 comments:

NDD said...

Nice photo! "Up close" on this Columbine really shows it off nicely.

Thanks for all the great info! It's always fun to learn more about our "bloomin'" friends.

olivia said...

fraternizing freely ... I love that! LOL

These are great - blue columbines. I have never seen blue columbines except for here in your garden. I've got the pink (of course) and purple/cream which is very nice. They're starting to come up now -- the leaves are out.

Hang in there IVG ... and make sure your chocodraw is fully stocked. Oh, I fear the return of the cubicle now that a/c weather has returned, so make sure you have a warm sweater handy.

Hi NDD!

Family Man said...

Hi IVG.

Those are so beautiful and they look so delicate.

I had forgotten about your freezing cubicle that Olivia mentioned. Get that sweater and do slack when possible.

Family Man said...

Oh! I forgot to mention. Congrats on post #100.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there, fellow curmudgeons! Aren't these guys magnificent? Believe me, well worth hunting for as a blue addition to the garden ... and they're becoming more common these days (we got these at a local grocery store plant hut!).

But of course, every time we learn of a new blue flower we're always eager to add it to the garden ... it's really hard to find true blues out there unless you really obsess about it! (And we DO!) Some thrive, others don't. But we keep on trying ... and you know you'll see the successes here all in due time!