Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some plants just make life easy

Columbines are easy to get along with. Need a bloom for shady places? Columbine does well in partial or open shade. Full sun is fine too. Dry places are good, poor soil and rocks are ok. Colors come in white, red, orange, yellow, blue, pink, wine, and even black. Hummingbirds love them and hummingbirds have very good taste;)

Pinky Winky makes a denser, shorter plant and the blooms face up and out. The Winkys come in several colors and in doubles.

Columbines tend to wander about my garden. Here one year, there the next. I never mind. They are a slender plant that seldom shades out neighbors. They change too, sometimes sporting white and then no white at all. They grow amongst the iris and the roses. I'm trying to persuade them to grow with the foxgloves and the nicotiana.

Tall bearded iris with blooms as lovely as any orchids.

Iris multiply like bunnies. You have three the first year and twendy-three two year later. They aren't difficult to divide but I do tend to put it off. The yellow iris below is one of my favorite. I find iris are ridiculously easy to care for, in fact they need almost no care at all. Give them sun and don't plant them in a wet spot and they will live happily ever after.

Maintenance Note: For those of us who love Autumn Joy and similar sedum but who hate the late season flop--now is the time to prevent it. In May or early June, I cut the stems back by about one half. This results in the plants maturing with a shorter stature which isn't as likely to lay down. The tips that are pruned off can be stuck into growing medium or even into the garden and they will root and make a new plant. If you wait too late to cut sedum back they may not bloom.

Many taller perennials can be treated in the same way to reduce height and help them stand straighter. The blooming schedule is usually a week or so later than unpruned plants.


troutbirder said...

Mmmm. Now there is an interesting and useful idea for my floppy sedums. I love columbines and they are perfect too for my woodland edges

Rose said...

This is my first year for columbine in my garden, and I love it! I'm glad to know it is low maintenance, though I probably could have guessed that--mine have survived Tarzan's digging all around them:)

I'm all about low maintenance, and every year I say I'm going to cut back the sedum in early summer, but I can't quite bring myself to do it. Maybe I will get brave enough this year.

Your iris are beautiful, Marnie; I wish we could have met this past weekend...but perhaps another time.

Moonchild Dancing! said...

Oooh beautiful! Can I plant Iris' in the fall as well or is it best to wait until Spring? And, then if I plant new plants in the early spring will I still get blooms the same year? Columbines are really beautiful as well. Awesome information!

Sherri said...

I grew up with wild red columbine. If you look at the top of the flowers there are little honey sacs. We used to nip them off as kids and eat the honey. I have a double blue-purple columbine in my garden and you just reminded me I need to dig that up before we move! Have a great day!

joey said...

I adore columbine ... you're ahead of me regarding blooming bearded iris but I've already pruned my sedum. Lovely photos, Marnie ... happy 'gardening' June!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Troutbirder, columbines are the perfect woodland plant.

Hi Rose, try it with one sedum. Tear the lower leaves off the cuttings and stick them into cups of potting medium. Later this summer you'll have lots more sedum to plant.

Hi Sherri, I've heard that but I haven't tried;)

Thanks Joey, it is odd, sometimes you blooms are ahead of mine.


Beth said...

I planted a columbine late last year (off the "sales" rack). It is a Clementine Rose and I am pleasantly surprised how lovely it is already this year. It's right on the cusp of blooming and it's filled out beautifully. It's so nice that I purchased the Clementine Blue and am looking for the Rose Salmon too. I was happy to read about their versatility on your blog!

Unknown said...

Wonder if Columbines would work here. If only my Irises would bloom and great Sedum tips.

oldcrow61 said...

I like columbines as well. They don't seem to ask for much and are very pretty. The iris's are beautiful.

walk2write said...

Thanks, Marnie. You've managed to post about most of my Midwest garden favorites. I want to try them here in FL but am too cheap to buy any and risk losing them to the intense Florida summer. Maybe I'll find some sedum and irises on Freecycle, and at least I'll try sowing some Columbine seeds this winter. That tip about pruning the sedum is great!

flydragon said...

Columbine is one of my all time favorites. I'd love to have at least one of each color and shape:)
I didn't know about cutting the sedum. I put a large metal ring around mine in order to keep it standing upright. It works, but I wouldn't mind if it was shorter and stockier. Maybe I'll try cutting mine next time.

Lona said...

Your columbines are just gorgeous and the white iris is such a standout for your garden. Beautiful.

BeadedTail said...

We had columbines when we lived in Colorado but haven't seen any out here. You reminded me just how beautiful they are. And irises remind me of my grandma so I always love seeing them!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder Marnie. I do this with my Cushion Spurge after it blooms and it gets nice & bushy. Your Columbines are lovely. I have one lonely little plant that is planted in filtered shade that is suffering. Hmmm...guess it isn't happy. :(

beckie said...

Marnie, the columbines are true beauties. You have lovely colors and I know how they can change from year to year. Mine were growing well at the end of last summer, but didn't come back this year. They had been there several years so I don't know what I did. I am going to replace them with some new colors.

You are so right about iris. If only they bloomed all summer they would be the perfect plant. But I enjoy them while they are here. I love your white, but that yellow is gorgeous!!! (Hint,hint) :)

Would have loved meeting you at SF, but maybe we will get to some time soon.

Kathleen said...

Great advice on the Sedums Marnie. I just bought "Stonecrop" last year ~ I will go out and cut it back now. I SO hear you about putting off dividing the iris. I need to do that job in my garden too. I think I don't do it because I have trouble finding homes for the cast off's which I don't understand at all. Like you said, they are so easy to care for, why wouldn't everyone have some?! I am going to use a waterproof marker and write on the foliage what color they are so I don't get them mixed up when they're all dug up.
The pink columbine photos are wonderful (but you know that's my favorite color!)

Nan and =^..^= said...

Your columbines look so lovely and so abundant! We just have a few...

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beth, Clementine is a wonderful name for a columbine and pink is my favorite.

Hi Darla, can't remember if I've seen any columbines in Florida bloggers gardens.

Hi OldCrow, those are good reasons to love them. They are very hardy too.

Walk2Write, another Florida blogger was wondering if columbines were hardy that far south. Do they sell them in Florida garden shops?


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Flydragon, just cut back one and see how you like the effect.

Hocking Hills Gardener, welcome and thank you. White iris are a stand out and blend so well with everything around them.

Hi BeadedTail, I know they grow wild in Colorado. It must be beautiful.

PerennialGardener, I wonder why it isn't happy. Sounds like a nice spot. Perhaps it will reseed and create a larger patch for you.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Rainbow Mom, I meant to answer your question before. You can plant TB iris now or later in the year. The rhizomes are so tough they can be transplanted almost anytime before the ground freezes.

Beckie, I'll send you a couple yellows. How about a black and a lavender stripe?

Hi Kathleen, I have forced so many friends to take iris they run when they see me coming. I can't stand to discard a healthy plant. Pink is my favorite columbine too.

Hi Nan, columbines are short lived but usually seed around enough to keep a few growing.

sweetbay said...

One can't have too many Columbine or Iris in the garden. :)

Q said...

Thank you for the sedium hint! I will go prune this afternoon.
I have native columbine in my front shade garden. I do love them. Nice self seeders.

A Wild Thing said...

Is that the reason for my sedum drop, here I been blaming Scratchy all along...ha!

My entire cottage is surrounded by purple iris and out in my field I have planted different colors here and there, to resemble ancient plantings left when the homestead was torn down.

You can always tell where the farmhouse stood by the little groupings of iris left behind.

My iris are gorgeous this year, they grow really well in this sandy soil and I think the cool damp spring helped.


Gail said...

Hi Marnie! How very never have to worry about columbines they are carefree and beautiful...I just noticed the Autumn Joy sedum has begun to flower! Next year I will cut it back in April! The problem with dividing iris is what to do with the divisions! There are always way more then we think there will be;) gail

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Marnie, your garden looks wonderful--I missed updates on garden blogs while at Spring Fling almost as much as I missed what was changing in my own garden! :)

sweetbay said...

Marnie, you asked about the Purple Penstemon -- I'm not sure I've seen Hummers feeding on it, although it sure is a bee favorite.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Your blooms are beautiful Marnie. I love your yellow Iris and Columbine. How unusual for it to wander about your garden.

Is Miss B. on vacation?

beckie said...

Marnie, didn't mean to sound like I was begging(well kind of!) but I would love some iris. I even promise to share some with Rose. If you do send some, I will be glad to pay for postage. Thank you!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Marnie, Thanks for worrying about me. I am ok. I have just been on a fast track and I probably won't be able to post until this weekend. I have tried to get a post up but it sounds so jerky, just like life is right now. Ha..

Love your iris. Mine are finished blooming. That is all except the japanese iris and my wild iris.

JC said...

I have never had any actually grow in my yard. My sister though had them and they looked so pretty.

~~ On my Pay It Forward blog, you were just a question right ? I didn't put you on the list. Go back and comment if you want to do it ... ~~~

Like usual, all your photos are Purrfect !!!

TC said...

Columbines are quite unique and pretty. But did you know about the toxicity of the roots of columbine. I wouldn't consume any part of this plant.

Iris are one of my favorites, they're so elegant. You wouldn't think they'd do good as a driveway entrance plant, but mine take a beating with road salt in winter, and my snow plow scraping gravel onto and them, and scraping it off again when snows are over. They bloom year after year.

Gayle@Mountain Moma said...

Thanks for the tips Marnie, I will have to try that!

Pat said...

Love the Pinky winky and iris !!
I have tons of sedum and yes they flop,flop and flop. Is it too late to cut down to a few inches?
Never did it before and it would be wonderful if I could do it now !

Roses and Lilacs said...

SweetBay, you are absolutely right;)

Sherry, columbine are about the only plant that reliably self sows for me.

Sharon, it sounds so pretty. You're right iris and daffodils always mark the places where old farmhouses stood.

Hi Gail, I cannot force my friends to take anymore and I can't just throw them away;)


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Monica, I'm enjoying your photos from Spring Fling. I wish I could have been there.

Hi SweetBay, maybe it's blooms a little early for hummers.

Hi Morning Glories, Miss B wasn't able to collect any juicy gossip last week. I guess all our wildlife must be behaving themselves.

Beckie, I am so happy to find another, I mean gardener who actually will accept some iris. All my friends won't speak to me I've dumped so many iris off on them.

Hi Lisa, I didn't mean to bother, I just worry when friends drop out of site.

Thanks JC.


Roses and Lilacs said...

TC, I promise not to munch on any columbine roots. I know what you mean about tough iris. I threw a bunch of rhizomes out last year and this spring they grew, laying on their sides on the concrete barn lot.

Hi Gayle, good luck.

Patsi, not too late. I haven't finished cutting mine back. Cut back some by one third and see if that is enough to control flop. Pull off the bottom leaves of the cuttings and put them in a pot to root.


Pat said...

Thanks sooo much Marnie.
Didn't know that just the leaves would produce a plant. Will Do !!!

walk2write said...

Marnie, according to, Aquilegia canadensis will grow in the panhandle, which is where I am. No, I've never seen columbine in any garden center, but if it's not a plant that grows somewhere else in Florida, it probably wouldn't show up here. I think the retailers (smaller ones, of course) get their stock from wholesale growers in S. Florida or southern Alabama. I think I'll try growing some from seed next spring and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling us about the Autumn Joy. Mine is already leggy and drooping. Your pictures are very pretty. I've never planted columbine or irises. I do want some of both.

ShySongbird said...

What a wonderful blog you have here, I don't know how I have missed it before, it really is lovely!

I love all your photos, the flowers and birds are beautiful and thank you for the great tip on Sedums. I gave up with them some years back because of the 'big flop' but having read your advice I think I shall try again.

I too love Columbines and like you say they grow so easily, which is always welcome ;) I do wish the Hummingbirds would visit my Columbines, but of course that will never happen here in the UK!!

Teresa said...

I've heard that cutting back chrysanthemums now is advised for the same reason. I have never planted a Columbine yet they show up in one or two places in my gardens as lusty volunteers. In fact, I picked a pale pink and a mauve one to tuck into a bouquet today.