Tuesday, April 3, 2012
This is the Columbine – in her true blue presentation she is Colorado’s state flower. She is high born, gracefully cascading down the slopes of the Mighty Rocky Mountains in a radiant stream of sunlit elegance. This little lady stands in tribute to endurance and charm. Grown in some of the coldest regions of the our mountain range, she can tolerate a late freeze or snow. If you plant a bed with different shades of Columbine they will cross pollinate, and the next season you will discover that they appear varied in subtle and lovely ways.
Native to the rocky earth of Colorado’s High Country they aren’t particular about soil. I do amend my soil every season with organic compost to steel them against the one thing they won’t experience in a cool and often rainy Rocky Mountain spring – heat. Sunday at the beginning of April it was 84 degrees here on the Eastern Slope. Today it is snowing and 32 degrees, yet my little Columbines stand like sentinels armored in lace and looking skyward for a break in the clouds. Nonetheless, transitioning between a very cold winter and an early summer will stress plants, particularly the wild flower.
Columbine likes her water. I water her as often as I water the Rose. In the two to three weeks of triple digit heat in a Colorado summer I see to her watering more often.
Even though they can be bought bear root, they are usually grown from seeds or starter plants, and spread through broadcasting. Columbine’s roots are neither invasive nor destructively tuberous so she can be grown near other plants and will not disturb their food and water supply.
It has been my experience that her preferred companion plants are the Agastache, some species also indigenous to Colorado, and the Lily. Because of the many, many colors of Agastache it can be chosen to compliment Columbine’s hues and multiplicity of hues.
It is generally believed that the Columbine is a spring bloomer – sun to partial shade – this information is found on bags of dry root, seed packets and with containers of starter plants. These instructions do generally refer to life in the wild as opposed to closer and more meticulous care in a garden. My Columbines live in the sun, with only evening shade, and with proper deadheading, watering and feed they bloom well into mid-summer.