Lovely Columbine

A few years ago (2009), Jason and I went to Colorado for a summer vacation over the week of Independence Day. We went to a Wilco concert at Red Rocks and from where we were, we could see fireworks popping up all over the Denver metro area. At the same time, we watched a light storm move towards the fireworks. Truly electric. One of my favorite things to have experienced with Jason. I don’t have a video or a picture – but I don’t think they would have turned out as impressively as the experience actually was. The anthemic beats of Wilco pounding into the rocky mountainside, pulsing in our bodies with fireworks exploding in the distance chased by lightening. It was astounding.

The next day, we went on a hike into Rocky Mountain National Park – I forget the name of the trail, but I’ve done it a few times before. It’s long, and beautiful. Off to the left side of the trail, I spotted Columbine blooming. It’s one of my favorite flowers. She’s so explosive-looking, but so delicate, too. I saw that pretty purple bloom, and knew that I had to have some – sort of my souvenir from that trip – my little backyard firecracker.

FF>>to 2012, and my quest to grow Columbine has led to much frustration and misery. I started with a packet of mixed seeds – no idea what I was going to get. And I rationed out those seeds. I tossed some out into the ground, and put some into pots. The ones in the ground were too easily forgotten and neglected. The ones in pots popped up perky little plants pretty quickly. They grew and survived the first winter, and I hoped for blooms. I just knew I was going to have blooms! No blooms. Ever the impatient gardener, I bought the dark purple Columbine pictured below.

Dark Purple Columbine

Dark Purple Columbine - purchased in gallon container from a big box

I bought a few sister plants like it, but planted them in the ground, and they have thus far not returned. I don’t think that this moutain-loving flower likes our thick, suffocating clay soil. Over last 3 years, I’ve planted about 5 directly into the dirt, mixing in compost, mulch, adjusting the height of the root ball a little higher than the ground so her “feet” don’t get wet, etc. They just aren’t coming back. But, in our cedar planters, this little purple one got happy.

And those little seedlings?


this is all I saw for those 3 years. Beautiful leafy green plants. But NO flowers. And then this year…

columbine bud - last Saturday

columbine bloom - this morning

Water those leafy greens! Just look at her! I have a few others that will now enjoy some renewed attention. I love surprises like this!


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