Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Columbine of the rocks...

I've struggled for years to grow Aquilegia scopulorum, and finally this year it grew and bloomed marvellously. Of course, so did they prosper for all my friends. In the top picture a fine clump is blossoming on Jon Lawyer's exquisite crevice garden. Below it's blooming away for Bill Adams, owner of Sunscapes, in Pueblo.
Botanists are tempted to lump this into our Colorado columbine, but it must surely represent an ancient (and stable) intermediate between A. jonesii and A. caerulea. As you would expect of something of hybrid ancestry, it is enormously variable: I remember climbing to tundra on a central Nevada peak and finding hundreds of them growing soboliferously on a slope, in every pastel shade with white petals. And I recall the tiny, deep blue gems on a high, limestone scree on the Aquarius plateau.
Something about this spring has inspired our cultivated specimens to grow and bloom like crazy and set heavy seed (notice the pods on the plant in the lower picture)...or maybe we are developing strains that like cultivation.
Whatever the cause, this sprightly, miniature columbine is the gem of the genus for gardens, and is well worth seeking out in nature (to admire) or a nursery (to buy). And of course in your garden (to worship).


  1. I haven't never seen this little jewel before. Thank you for posting about it - it's divine!

  2. Glad you like it: looks like we'll get lots of seed if you need some! It does best in a trough or crevice garden, however...


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