Monday, May 19, 2008

Well, They Were Almost Free

Considering my recently chronicled difficulties in growing columbines in this garden, I'd not want to waste money buying any more. However, I was just given a twenty dollar gift certificate to a local nursery. I picked out two large heucheras at $10.99 each. On my way back to the checkout counter, these two columbines: Winkie Double 'Red And White' and Winkie Double 'Dark Blue And White' caught my eye, and I just had to take them along (no mean feat since I now had to carry four plants in my arms). I figured I could use my gift certificate to pay for the columbines, and I'd pay for the heucheras out of my pocket; thus the columbines were essentially free. Besides... I think they winked at me.
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We bought a couple of winkies last year but they didn't come back this year. They don't seem to be as hardy as the regular columbines. Just as well, I found them to be a bit cutesy - even my better half wanted them out of the planting bed.
There are always plants winking. Today there was a pink lewisia and a great looking tiarella.
And then there is the question of where do you put it.
Ki... rats, so I'm going to kill these too... oh well, they were free.

Philip... can you grow lewisias? I kept one going a few years but think the winter wet got it.

Good luck with these, Don. Years ago we tried the 'Barlow Hybrids' (which these appear to be) and they failed miserably to take hold, so we just gave up on them.

Since then we've gone entirely to the simpler single blooming forms and have had much more success, especially with the 'Alpine Blue' (Aquilegia alpinum) and some of the more common single varieties such as A. canadensis though we do have a couple of purples whose names I forget. We've also concluded that they really don't like a very rich soil and do better in average to poorish kinds, but we continue to experiment. I think the trick may be to plant them closely together so there's ample opportunity to self seed, because I suspect they're just not a very long lived perennial to begin with. Just the observations of a (less) frustrated Columbine grower here. :-)
Judging from others' experiences, perhaps that's why they were winking! (Or perhaps they were blinking until you picked them up...) I'll be curious as to how they do for you. You seem to have a way with the exotic!

(By the way, my large potted lamium that I planted last fall in a supposedly more favorable spot, with soil amendment, etc. HAS NOT returned.) Go figure. "Everyone ELSE can grow it!" (Sounds like a stretch to me.)
IVG... in my first garden, alpinus seeded evetywhere. i think my present garden is just too shady and crowded for columbines, but Tower Blue seeds around, and its a double. the Barlows were kind of ugly, so no loss there, I think.

Shady... I'll give a followup next spring, but I guess I don't have my hopes up, considering others' experience. Lamiums are another of those plants that seem to go all over or go out.
Columbines are one of the easiest cottage garden plants. They are very easy to sow. Just get some seeds and start them in pots and then plant the small plants where you want them. Or just scatter some seeds around where you want them.
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