My Sister’s Columbine

my sister's columbine

my sister's columbine

One of the better aspects of gardening comes from sharing seeds and plants, especially when the plants bring to mind thoughts of a loved one far away.  This happens in my gardens every spring when my columbine bloom.  You see, they are not really my columbine … the seeds originated in my sister’s northern California gardens.  Now my sister’s columbine have firmly established themselves under my care.

columbine bed

columbine bed

Their main base is under a large oak tree where they share a shady, stone-walled bed with ivy, Japanese fern, a few violets and lily-of-the-valley, and a handful of early daffodils.  Each spring, the pale-pink blossoms of my sister’s columbine draw my attention away from the computer screen and toward their home outside my office window.  As the flowers sway in the breeze I’m reminded that as long as my sister and I share our love of gardening, we will never be far apart.

potted white penstemon flowers grace a gargoyle

potted white penstemon flowers grace a gargoyle

This year I dug up a few columbine volunteers for transplanting elsewhere.  But rather than moving them to a more permanent home right away, I potted a couple of plants to brighten our shady back door.  Digging up ‘extra’ perennials and using them as potted deck, patio, and porch plants – as in the photo above where potted white penstemon offset and soften a gargoyle statue – is an economical way to extend your garden dollar.  It not only helps to thin established perennials, but using them as potted plants brings aspects of the garden within closer view.  As long as you have used care to dig up the root ball, or in the case of columbine the long feeder root, and keep the pots watered, most perennials can easily be transplanted to an in-ground spot once the blossoms have passed.

I usually have numerous potted perennials – purple coneflower, penstemon, lamb’s ear, thyme, mint, and bee balm to name a few – laying in wait on my porch or deck.  Sometimes I’ll sink these wayward plants – pot and all – into the ground to temporarily fill in a newly planted area.  Other times I keep them in an inconspicuous spot until I pick their new home.  Often I share them with friends and neighbors.



I may share some of my potted sister’s columbine, or just tuck them into a new shady spot at the back of the house, but as long as they are in bloom I’ll keep them close, so every time I enter and exit my house I have my sister saying hello.


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Filed under Gardening, General, Seasons, Techniques

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