Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Grandmother's Virginia-Bred Columbine in Daniel's SoCal Garden

If you read my recent post dedicated to The Fuzzy Bottom Gals, you already know that I was happy to see columbine plants growing from seeds I'd given to Daniel growing in his yard.  These seeds came from plants my grandmother grew on the family farm in Virginia where my father was raised.  I spent a lot of time there when I was a kid, and I remember this columbine as a beautiful and unusual part of her flower garden.  I've never seen this variety in any other place in the world.  I don't know if the columbine still grows on the farm, but I do know that against all odds (and a major shift in climate) it's taken root in Southern California.

Daniel's photo of my grandmother's columbine in his yard last year.

After I mentioned the columbine seedlings in my post, Daniel sent me a reminder that the columbine I saw sprouting along side his carrot seedlings were not grown directly from my grandmother's seeds.

The original seeds came to me via my mother, who had saved seeds from my grandmother's plants almost twenty years ago.  My mother has been growing my grandmother's columbine all this time and saving the seeds from year to year.  Several years ago, my mother gave me a 35mm film canister full of the tiny seeds that she'd saved from plants she's been growing in her yard.  I tried to grow them without success, but I had so many of them that I also gave some to Daniel.  He had better luck with his.  The plants came up in his yard two years ago, although they didn't bloom that first year.  This is normal for columbine plants, and the second year they bloomed beautifully in Daniel's yard.  He took this photograph you see here last year.  And he saved the seeds.

This year he planted those seeds in his wheelbarrow and we'll have to wait and see what happens.  I suspect they won't bloom this year, but next year... watch out.  It looks like Daniel has quite a few plants growing and it will be fun to see what the flowers look like when they bloom.

I remember my grandmother's columbine as having a flower that looked like a beehive, but these look more like the traditional columbine shape.  The color, however, is exactly the same as I remember it.  A dark, vivid purple that's much richer than the usual varieties of columbine I see in our local nurseries.   It gives me great pleasure to see these plants in Daniel's garden and to know that my grandmother's columbine survives in at least two places in the world.  I suspect it still grows wild on the family farm, but I haven't seen it there in years.  Of course, I rarely get to see the family farm during columbine season.  But seeing these plants grow here in Southern California is a great treat for me.  And a comforting reminder of home.