20 May 2011

Flora Focus: Columbine

This is a columbine.

If I hadn't just proclaimed oleander my favorite flower, I'd say this was my favorite. So I'll just say that I love love love columbines and was thrilled to learn that they're drought-tolerant and City of Austin-approved. Columbines are the state flower of Colorado, so of course they have a special place in my heart. (That's also why I love Coors. No, wait...state pride only goes so far.) That said, Texan columbines are a bit different from the ones you see in Colorado. When I think of the Colorado state flower, this is what comes to mind:

(Photo from here.)

They're a couple of inches across and look...well, like regular, healthy flowers. By contrast, our red "Hill Country" columbines are about an inch long (there isn't much "across" about them) and look sort of anemic:

The tag sweetly described the upside-down flowers as "nodding":

Our yellow columbines aren't in bloom, but some yellows I saw last weekend on the Inside Austin Garden Tour were a bit bigger (and less nodding) than the reds, so we'll see next spring.

But back to our columbines. We bought three reds and three (bloomless) yellows and planted them on either side of the walkway leading to the front porch:

We're still lacking a walkway (it's on the list), but the columbines are seem to be taking pretty well:

Hopefully next spring will bring an explosion of both red and yellow columbines.
The red closest to the house has grown a lot since we planted it, and there has been a steady stream of flowers...albeit tiny, anemic, drowsy flowers....

Since columbines are one of the few flowering drought-tolerant perennials that (I hear) actually thrive in the shade, if our barberry bushes don't do well in the sun-less nook in front of the bunny room, it would be an easy decision to replace them with more columbines.

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