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by stone


02/07/2012 in gardening, shade garden, Spring Garden

columbine sending up bloomstalk

As I’m seeing the columbines beginning to send up bloom stalks, I believe the time has come for a comprehensive post.

I first posted many of these pics at the myspace shade group, they took down the forum posts last year, I need to put this information back up.

Columbine is a great plant for the edge of the forest.columbine seedbed

Light requirement

Columbine do need some sun… Plant in part sun to part shade in GA, in northern states, columbine has better tolerance for sunlight, and may thrive in a sunny location.


Columbine do best planted from fresh seed…. meaning collect when ripe & replant immediately.

I’ve found that in my area, columbine do not self-sow worth shucks. I need to sow the seed in a seed bed similar to carrots…. Sow the seeds on top of the soil
I spoke to someone about sowing columbine seed recently, who couldn’t understand why her seeds weren’t coming up… turned out that she was giving them a good Christian burial…
blue columbine

Bloom time

Columbine bloom the next spring after a summer sowing in Georgia.
They are a short lived perennial, living 3 to 7 years, but their ease of propagation, make them well worth planting.

Set columbines out before blooming…. In the autumn when the columbine plants are large enough to handle, or in the spring before blooms open. Survive-ability dramatically declines after the blooms open.

This includes container-grown columbines… Which typically die after being decanted from those pots… It may take a month or two… My experience is that nursery-grown plants don’t usually survive being planted in the garden.

columbine bed

Localities found

Columbine can be found growing wild all over the continental US, and over much of Europe and Asia. This has led to a ton of cultivars as they love to cross with each other.

If columbines haven’t done well in the garden at your house, it may be time to plant a local variety. In Texas, there is big yellow flowering plant, and we all remember the Columbine school named after the blue flower growing in the Colorado mountains. On the Eastern side of the country, there’s a dainty pink variety (red and yellow)…

After planting a local columbine, the other nursery columbines will cross into the local population, and retain some of the previous characteristics while gaining the ability to survive in the existing climate.

I posted about landrace cultivars recently, which discusses developing locally hardy plants.

water requirements

I have a population of columbines that were grown without a drop of water in my droughty Jeffersonville Georgia garden over a number of generations, and when I carried the seeds to another garden in Macon GA, the seeds from the earliest bloomers were selected over a number of generations… Leading to drought hardy early blooms… in theory.

Last year was as dry as it’s been yet, after a number of increasingly dry years. In my new sand-hill garden, the vegetables all died, but the columbines weren’t bothered… I may be on to something.

lotsa colours of columbines

Spreading some mulch can be helpful in controlling weeds, and helping the soil to retain moisture.

mulching the columbine

Cultural difficulties

After columbine bloom, the foliage gets ratty…

Nothing you can do, summer is when columbine send up new leaves. I’ve found that while columbine is relatively pest proof most of the year, the new leaves are attractive to the local predating deer. Don’t allow them to graze the columbines! The deer will kill them!

An egg in a blender full of water will usually suffice to keep the deer off the columbine. I use a watering can to sprinkle the mixture over the leaves. I’ve seen a loop of poultry netting over the columbines used with success, the drawback is having to live with the wire…

Speaking of wire…
When attempting to grow from seed in a yard plagued by squirrels, and worse, armadillos, a bit of chicken wire stretched over the seed bed can be just the thing…

chicken wire over bed

I’m partial to columbine, and after growing these easy ferny March-bloomers, I’m sure that you will be hooked as well.

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by stone

2011 Summer pictures

01/05/2012 in gardening, native plants, Summer


(part 3 of a 4 part series)

Summer is a time of bright colours and critters and weeds.

Being in a drought doesn’t prevent flowers from blooming. There were endless blooms in the watered gardens, and even the unwatered xeriscape gardens were bright with blooms and pollinators.

Eventually, some people did get some relief from the oppressive heat and endless drought with popcorn showers, and the rest of us saw clouds, and felt teased.

But even when the rain passed us by in favor of the neighbor’s garden, the clouds and cooler temp for an hour or the rest of the afternoon, were a blessing.

On to Autumn

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by stone

The Berries of Autumn

09/13/2011 in native plants, shade garden

This post covers shrubs in the shade garden… Tree fruit will be a separate post.

Euonymus americana L.


(Euonymus americana L.)
A beautiful native shrub that grows naturally in the forest, needs protecting from bambi’s voracious appitite… If you want to see the berries.



Callicarpa americana L.

Beautyberry bush

(Callicarpa americana L.)
Another native that grows naturally in the forest in middle Georgia.
This bush is fairly resistant to Bambi’s depredations.



Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr.

Sand Holly

(Ilex ambigua (Michx.) Torr.)
Another bush that the deer seem to leave alone, the sand holly is native to middle Georgia, but less widely seen around Macon, It’s natural habitat is in the sand hills to the west.




Jerusalem cherry

I found this interesting bush growing wild inside the Macon city limits, thriving happily in the forest, an apparent escapee from a garden from a much earlier time. There was a chimmney standing nearby… but the home and garden was long gone.

Jerusalem cherry is an import from South America, but a well-behaved one, and probably would not survive the winter in a cooler zone.

I’d previously understood that the cherries would make a convenient exit strategy, but in reading wikipedia, apparently these berries aren’t deadly… to humans… Doesn’t sound like a very pleasant experience, though.

Perfectly safe from deer, And therefore another good choice for an area plagued by these pests.

All of these bushes do very well in a Middle Georgia shade garden without a drop of extra water.

This endless cycle of drought in which we seem to be trapped, the well simply won’t put out enough water to keep our gardens happy, it becomes a case of getting the well drilled even deeper, or growing suitable plants….
I think that drought proof natives makes a better solution.

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