Let's talk about Columbines.

newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)May 14, 2010

I already ordered afew of the Swallowtail yellow ones from High Country Gardens and I am looking elsewhere at other types. I honestly don't know hardly anything about Columbines as I only had one plant afew years ago. I do know that I really loved the flowers.

So locally at the nursey with the Lupines they had some called the Songbird Mix. From what I gather many of those colors from that type are very polular. I didn't get my act together early enough so they had only the white left so I didn't buy.

But I saw nice ones at American Meadows. The blue from the Songbird mix. Another called Colorado Violet and White, some doubles and McKana columbines.

So I would like to learn more about Columbine. I am not sure what to buy. They are all pretty LOL!! Thanks.

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I have a couple. I have to plant them in the shade here, and they do very well even under the big Oak tree.
I have a red and a purple and I have a pink one too. They are early bloomers, and I have got to split the purple up since it had at least a hundred blooms on the clump this year.

Colorados state flower.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 1:34PM
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midnightsmum (Z4, ON)

Well, I seem to have collected a few. lol. It wasn't planned, really.

Well, I thought I had a lot more pics!! In addition to these, I have Magpie (vulgaris), Hensol Harebell, the 1st pic is Nora Barlow, 2nd I think, is Biedermeier mixed; I also have a short-spurred, unnamed white, a double pink that I can't identify, you get the picture.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 2:36PM
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I also would like any info on columbines that I can get :)

I winter sowed some seeds this year that I got through the Hardy Plant Society. I didn't sow the seeds until the beginning of March and they took over a month to germinate. I plan on planting them in a mostly shady area of my garden where I hope they reseed for me. (I don't typically mulch this particular area so I hope that helps). My full/pt sun beds all get mulched and I think that would eliminate the reseeding effect since any plant I have that's supposed to reseed itself doesn't in these beds.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 2:43PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Here they are easy to grow from seed. They mildew badly, so the foliage looks awful and must be hidden. It's too bad, because they have pretty foliage otherwise. I cut off all of the foliage several times a year, and it doesn't seem to phase them, but it probably shortens their life-span because they end up disappearing eventually.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 3:50PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I read somewhere that they like partial shade. I don't or didn't think they are a woodland flower as I think of them as a meadow flower. But what do I know!

Mildew would not be a problem here as long as I know they are prone it it. I will just hit them with the roses fungicide when I am already spraying. I know years ago my zinnias always got mildew. Not these days. I have lovely clean zinnias until frost. Just because I hit them with the fingicide when I do the roses. They don't even need that much.

Andrea- Why are you concerned with reseeding? Aren't they perennial? So should come back without the reseeding anyway.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 3:59PM
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In my experience they are short lived. Mine lived 2 years. I am trying to get away from perennials that I have to replace all the time. They will reseed themselves though, but I only ever got 2 seedlings.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 5:05PM
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hosta_house(IL 6)

Hi Rita, I bought Biedermeir and Grandmother's Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden plant sale about 8 years ago

and this one I saved whn my church sold their property and the new owners were going to level the building and site

I have found that after flowering the leaves do become unsightly as they get attacked by leaf miners and they do disappear after a couple of years but they reseed and new plants come up everywhere.I have them planted in a shaded area that gets some dappled sunlight and I save two envelopes of seed heads every year, I use one to seed areas I want them to come up in and give the other away.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 5:42PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

So, do you still have any of the original plants left? If you get seedlings don't they look different from the mother plants? I want to pick and choose my colors. I have some dappled sun areas I bet they would look lovely in.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 5:55PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I have only a few columbines left. I have the native, both "regular" size and dwarf which don't mind sun but are very early bloomers. They re-seed happily. I had the pink grannies bonnets pictured above but the renovation knocked them out with the mess....however I planted some at church where they multiply happily. Tried to grow the blue this year with no luck? And a few years ago in full-hot sun there was a yellow grown from seed, native to Colorado which bloomed in sun almost all summer. Seemed to like drought fine too. It was gorgeous, with HUGE flowers.
Semiaquilegia also does very well here too. A pink/plum/red spurless type that is pretty.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 6:36PM
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roper2008 (7b)(7b)

This one is a McKana Columbine. Has many blooms. I have very hot
sun all day. The pink fades some in my garden. Very pretty, would
recommend McKana.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 6:57PM
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From what I read they do like part shade to full sun. They are subject to cross pollination so the seedlings do not always mimic the mother plant. I also read that they are a short lived perennial so I would suspect they'd die out after a few years without re-seeding.


Here is a link that might be useful: Columbine Info

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 7:04PM
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I have been growing mine for probably 20 years. I dont know if the original is still there or not. But I ony started with one, and have several now, and have never been without a bloom. They all look alike, however I havent grown another for a cross anyway. I did sow several seeds this fall tho. i want some of the frilly ones.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 7:32PM
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FlowerGardener(Z4 MN)

Columbines have been growing here for years. Some are the wild variety. I planted lots of others that I picked up over the years in garden centers when I saw something that caught my eye. They are not long lived but do cross and reseed so I always have some each year. I like the fact that they cross there has never been one blooming here that I didn't like guess I like the surprise factor as far as color and shape goes. I do remember planting Nora Barlow which still shows up here and there looking like NB. A double pink was very pretty and I will watch this year to see if there are any of that type of double. There will alway be some columbines in my garden they are so pretty when blooming, when they finish I let them go to seed and then cut back whatever on the plant that is not looking good...Betty

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 8:30PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Like others, I have no idea if I have the original columbines in the garden anymore. But I have LOTS of columbines from self-sown seeds. Most of them are blue, purple-blue, white, pink or dark red. They are just getting ready to bloom now. In the north alley garden they are the dominant underplanting for the honeysuckles on the fence. These pictures are from previous years because it'll be a week or two before they flower this year.

A closer view of a patch showing the dominant colors:

They grow in either sun or shade for me so are one of the plants I use to tie the sunny front garden to the shady back garden. They do get ratty-looking as the flowers finish and seeds are ripening. I let the seeds ripen then cut them down low. New, fresh foliage will grow and seeds will sow as I'm cutting the old foliage down and removing it. So, if they're short-lived, I never notice :-)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 8:42PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I love that alleyway! Just gorgeous.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 8:55PM
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midnightsmum (Z4, ON)

Tammy - that looks like Hensol Harebell! It is an oldie, and comes true from seed. In my experience, the vulgaris, like the Magpie and the Wm. Guinness do not, entirely. Some do, some turn to a gorgeous dark purple. NB so far comes true. The Biedermeiers also seem to. I have never had problems with mildew, but definitely have had leaf borer. A spray with soapy water usually works, and here in the new gardens (fingers crossed) it hasn't been a problem. They are right on the cusp of blooming here, so can't wait to see what I have this year!


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 10:18PM
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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

Gorgeous pictures, everyone!


    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 11:30PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Woodyoak, that's beautiful! I love these columbines!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 11:44PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I only grow A vulgaris and as others have said they cross breed like crazy. The range is much like woodyoak's in colour and there are also various degrees of doubling. There are frequently purple and white doubles which look like Magpies but they are so promiscuous that it is not really worth trying to pin a name on them. In my climate they grow best in the open and tend to dwindle in the shade.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 6:04AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, is that photo from this year? That alleyway is looking spectacular! You did a great job with it. Funny that some of my columbine look very similar to yours. The colors are very close. You have more whites and pinks and my blue/purples seem to be edging out the others as you can see in the photo below. I'm planning on deadheading the blue to try to get more pink and white seedlings because I enjoy them more.

My favorite columbine is the 'Dragonfly'.....

I'm hoping to get reseed that the bicolor will be true.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 6:19AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I forgot to say that ours are growing in part sun, facing east with a tree to the west of them, so they get about 4 hours of sun. They reseed a lot. We don't have much mulch around them. I really enjoy them!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 6:39AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

PM2 - no, the pictures were from last year as the columbines aren't blooming here yet. I like the long spur pink one in your picture. Mine are all short spur ones. I should add some long spur ones to see how they'd do. Somehow I think they'd be out-competed by what I have now.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 8:44AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

I love them.
Yes, they are short lived. But I have so many come up from seed that I am not sure which are the older plants. I friend on TXGW calls them hussies. They do cross pollinate, so you never know what will bloom next.

I scatter the seeds when they are dry. I figure if they were in the wild that's when it would happen. I know Mother Nature knows better than a label.

Other than hinckley's gold and the native red, they are not supposed to do well here, but so far I have had good luck with them.

I bought a package of seeds and scattered them, so no clue on names. I had a pretty white/cream that crossed with some of the red.

I think this purple is Winky

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 10:43AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I love columbine too. My particular favorites are the variegated and gold leafed cultivars. And 'Lime Sorbet' since it has awesome green tinged buds.

I agree that they can be short lived, especially in very moist areas of the garden, where they seem to rot out easily. It is fun to see what the product of cross-breeding columbine, one of the neatest was a cross between my grandmother's old pink and 'Lime Sorbet'. It was a semi-double pink with the most intersting color of purple at the base of the buds.

If there is a special columbine that I want to stay "true" I plant it in an isolated spot and collect seed every year just in case one dies out.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 1:01PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

So many great pictures of columbines here, keep them coming!

I was at my favorite local nursery today and looking at columbines. They had lots of them. They are past peak bloom there but still you could see what the flowers looked like.

I discovered by looking at the different types that I love the kind with spurs while not much caring for the no spurs types. They just didn't look "right" too me. Not fitting my preconcieved notion of what a columbine flower should look like.

The didn't have any of the McKenna or Songbird series types though. Those I figgure are the ones I will truely like. But I did find two that I really liked. First off was a little cutie with big flowers called CALIMERO. A dwarf form growing 8 inches tall. The leaves are smaller than some of the columbines and the flowers are duskie purple outside with a solft yellow inside. Really very, very pretty. They came in small pots so I bought 5 of them.

Next is one (and I bought only one) in medium sized pot called LITTLE LANTERN Columbine. It has a label with American Beauties Native plants printed on it. This one said 10 inches tall. The flowers are a light wine red outside and wine and yellow inside. The shape of the inside is different from the other one I bought. I think its really pretty too. Label said attracts hummers and butterflies.

So this is the start of my Columbine collection.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 1:33PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Little Lantern

Calmimero. See how it has that long pale yellow trumpet inside? I thought it was very pretty.

Here are the two of them together. See the one pot is much bigger than the other.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 10:33PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody, your alley looked gorgeous last year, I hope you will post photos when the columbine bloom this year. I would think that if you get the longer spur aquilegia, you can always keep them going with seed. I have winter sown in the past and aquilegia are really easy and get good germination. I am thinking of collecting some from my dragonladies and winter sowing them next year. It will be interesting to see what I get. If they don't come true, I can always buy seed I suppose. I'm also going to take out a few of the blue/purples that are too prolific and deadhead the rest of them.

Plantmaven, that is a pretty solid yellow. The flowers look very large with long spurs.

Loving everyone's photos!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 6:01AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

PM2 - I don't winter sow but I'll have to look into sowing some of the long spur ones directly into the garden and see how they do.

They still aren't quite in bloom here yet and the honeysuckle vines on the fence aren't fully leafed out but the north alley doesn't look too bad today. Looking west:

looking east:

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 4:21PM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Columbines are one of my absolute favorite flowers. A few years back, I had several different kinds, as you see in the pictures:

Then my mailbox came down (wood bees), the columbine got too much sun and they all died out. Except they didn't! Two years later, the pinks ones returned and I now have three plants.

They do get some leaf miner damage but since it doesn't effect the health of the plant, I leave it be. As everyone has said, they do seed around. And they're happiest in cooler temperatures - last summer New Jersey turned into Seattle as it was cool and rainy pretty much all summer and my bloom period was much longer than normal.

Either deer or rabbits eat every bud this year right before the flowers opened, but I sprayed and I now have my usual show.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:25PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Wow! How can it be that I have missed this whole group of beauties!? I always thought they were a shade plant and I don't have much shade, so I have passed them by. I may have to relook at them

Woodyoak and plant maven - your photos are spectacular!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 8:06AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Woody that alley planting seems to fit that space perfectly. I see white dicentra at one end. I just added some to the garden last year and I am very happy with it. The white is such a sparkling white and they bloomed a long time. Thanks to you, I added that Honeysuckle Harlequin last fall and I am pleased that it came back this spring. It was a tiny plant. Right now it is behind another plant that I can't move until next spring, so I'm not expecting much growth this year, but next year, it should be great.

I think sowing seed into the garden should work too. It will be interesting to see what kind of germination you get from direct sowing.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 9:46AM
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Nancy zone 6

I have several columbines, for some reason I have no pictures right now. I have the Nora Barlows, pink Bonnets, Blue Songbird, red & white winky, Chrysanta. The long spurred ones are my favorites, with Chrysantha being my very favorite. It is one of my taller ones, I love the way the flowers are so much taller than the foliage. They look a bit like butterflies fluttering over the plant.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 12:03PM
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Here is a pic from this spring...Lime Frost...I love the marbled foliage on wine-red stems, and the deep purple flowers are just wonderful.

I also just did a post on my little blog about my experience with "Tequila Sunrise" and how variable the plants have been in my garden this spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 1:06PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Here is the Little Pocket Garden with the Columbines added and all planted. There are 6 of the Songbird Series mixed colors and the five CALIMERO that I bought locally planted there.

At the very front of the garden are my new Sedums planted eary this spring. In the middle and what you see blooming and some Siberian Iris leftover in that garden from when I started it last year. And way in the back are my first two lupine plants.

Different angle of everything. I think this garden turned out very well.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 7:26PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Swallowtail Columbines I planted last year from High Country Garden look to be a big sucess. They are coming up nicely this spring. The one plant of the Little Lantern is also growing and doing well. Those really small ones, Calmimero I don't see any sign up yet this spring and they should be up. But the ones of The SongBird Series are also growing and look good.

I want to get more Columbines for a different spot this spring and will most likely go with more of the Songbird Series. They look so pretty in pictures. I hope all of mine bloom this spring.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 4:05PM
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This shot is from a couple years ago. It's Texas Gold. I have a lavendar one that I saved seed from when we moved here from Colorado in 2000. I always try to save some seeds every year just in case. I also have white one and a pretty blue one, names escape me, but none of the others gets as tall as this one.

I was talking to another gardener about them and he said that they look best in Spring if you cut them way back in the fall, so I tried that. But in 2009 I lost the one in the center of this bed. The one on the left survived though and I don't cut them back so severly anymore.

Most of mine get full sun for part of the day and mottled sun the rest of the time. Never had the afternoon wilt problems with them the way many other plants do here in West Texas. Cheryl

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 8:04AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Cheryl- Those are very pretty and a great color.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:06PM
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I think they are so pretty, but I have also found them short lived. I had several and got 2 seedlings from them. They died within 2 years.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 6:25PM
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For those of you frustrated with them being short lived and not reseeding for you - just buy seeds. At $1.50 - $3.50 a pack, for 25 -50 plants you get a lot of bang for your buck! Spending $5-$15 per plant at a nursery seems silly after you get them rolling. They are the first perennial I ever grew from seed, but they are easy.

You dont get flowers the 1st year from seed (or at least I don't), but if you sow a package of seed every year, you end up with consistent beauty. I have clumps of them growing throughout my shade gardens and they are one of my very favorite plants.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 8:19AM
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lavendrfem(z6 CT)

I also love columbines and find that they're very easy to grow from seed...they just don't bloom the first year. At the end of the season, mine get the light-colored veins from leaf miners, but they don't harm the plant. They come back every year and have even reseeded in the gravel path along the bed.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 8:28AM
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Does anyone know a columbine that blooms the first year? I have tried these over and over again but have only had four plants make it though our miserable summers and bloom. I had one yellow one for three or four years, but the other three only bloomed once. I think they were Music series, but I have also tried Nora Barlows and McKanas and didn't have much luck. I get a good sprout rate and the plants look great until summer when they just disappear.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 2:58PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I came back from my errands at Home Depot today with two purple and white Columbines. It doesn't say on the tag which type they are but they are quite tall so I am guessing McCanna hybreds.

I plan to plant columbines in this garden bed were I just have some spring bulbs. I will put them in the back, near the porch. I need more but they only had the purple and white and I want to get some other colors.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 6:36PM
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I planted mine from seed a few years ago,and they come back with babies every year.As the seed heads dry i pick them and send some to my sister in N.Y. state,and sprinkle some around other gardens in my yard .I love them.

If i like something,like the op said i buy the seeds and plant them,and if they come up,i'm a happy camper,if not,i didn't lose much.I'm not afraid to try anything when it comes to gardening,especially if i like it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 6:26PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Columbines I planted last year have just started flowering. These are SWALLOWTAIL from High Country Gardens. They are always yellow.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 4:20PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Swallowtail Columbines

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:55PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Another picture.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 7:55PM
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I'm reviving this post, because I've learned so much in reading this post about Colubines. After 2-years of WSing I finally have 4 that have survived the summer. The ones in partial shade are larger than the 2 in full sun. I found white swirls on them this summer, I thought it was a snail? My seeds are in the frigerator. I had no idea as to how beautiful they are until this post.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Glad to see this old thread revived as I missed it the first time round. I love columbines altho do take them for granted. Altho the flowers are very pretty I appreciate them as much for the foliage which with some is almost bluish-green. I've bought the odd one altho mostly just allow them to self seed so they come and go and bloom in various colors. I weed out more than I keep and have given away many 'babies'. Last year I moved many, hopefully according to the colors, altho time will tell.

Here's one of my favorites.

This was a happy surprise a couple years ago.

This is Columbine Aquilegia canadensis or the common wild columbine.

I had bought a Black Barlow but it disappeared, then this dark one appeared. I think it's a cross as it's not as full petaled as the Barlows. I think the singles are more hardy than the doubles altho probably should buy a few more to see if that is true.

A few more pics at this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: My columbines

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 11:33AM
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