When I decided to post tidbits about Texas native plants in honor of Native Plant Week, I thought to myself, “Bummer that I won’t have any photos of the lovely spring bloomers.”
Off I went, deciding which plants to profile according to what I currently have in my gardens that is interesting. I’m puttering in my front garden and a yellow thing catches my eye. Oh my goodness!! An infant Hinckley Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana) bud. (It could also be the Aquilegia chrysantha–only your friendly neighborhood botanist can tell for sure.)
I can’t believe my eyes! Columbines are cool season plants, blooming in Central Texas from March through May, sometimes into June, depending on temperatures and rainfall. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of any of my Columbines in full spring regalia, but if you don’t know what this beautiful native flower looks like, click on the Hinkley Columbine page of the NPIN: Native Plant Database and you can see several. All the literature that I’ve read says that Columbines bloom “rarely” in the fall. I’ve never seen it happen in my gardens–until this week. You can see in my photos, the burned leaves and stems of the Columbine (need to prune those…) and indeed, several of my Columbines died this summer.
This is a different plant and I missed the bloom. Again, note the summer-singed leaves.
Fried Columbine isn’t an unusual outcome of the Texas summer. Often, the plant will go dormant and then re-surge with the fall rains and cooler temperatures.
The two plants with blooms remained fairly robust during this Summer From Hell. Even so, the blooms are not the lush, extravagant blooms of spring, but a bit small and puny by comparison. The blooms are about two-thirds the size of the springtime beauties and the normally dramatic spurs…seem a little timid. Still, I’m thrilled to see Columbine blooms in October.
So far, I’ve had a total of four blooms.
Has anyone else experienced this nice gift in their gardens?