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Monday, March 31, 2008

A charming volunteer

Sometimes plants pop up in your garden and you wonder where they came from. Most often it's a weed, sometimes it's a charming wild flower and every now and then it's a total mystery plant.

When we built a garden around the slope on the back of our pool, we had to bring in several truck loads of soil. Instead of getting top soil from a place that sifts and screens the soil, we were able to get it from a perennial farm right up the street.

The soil was mostly compost, there were still pieces of wood chips in it, lots of sand and a quite a few stones. I had to remove the stones by hand but it was still well worth the effort as the soil was free of cost to us.

One day I noticed a little volunteer plant growing in the bed. It had foliage like a Columbine but much smaller than any I had in my gardens.

The plant grew quickly into a nice little clump and then began to bloom. It's been there 3 years now and has self seeded all along that rock wall. My only complaint is that the seedlings do not like to be disturbed or transplanted. I've only had success with one or two that were moved when they were teeny tiny.

Taking a good photo of the blooms has challenged me as my point and shoot digital camera has too wide a focus and so far I haven't gotten it to focus on one individual bloom. Still, I hope you can see how charming this little volunteer is.

Has anybody seen a Columbine similar to this?


Cinj said...

Gorgeous little plant. I'm not great with plant names either so I guess I'm no real help! I've had this happen too, it's always nice to get a "free" addition to the garden.

Frances, said...

Lovely little plant. Is the foliage evergreen? Could it be some type of corydalis? Nan Ondra at Gardening Gone Wild and Hayefield is an excellent plant identifier, she helped me with a weird little fern that came with our property. Maybe she could help your if one of the commentors cannot.

kjohnson said...

Hi Melanie. I love when surprises occur in the garden!

David Perry over at A Photographer's Garden has a recent series of posts on taking up close photos of flowers. Very informative and I have been trying some of his suggestions.


Nancy J. Bond said...

I don't know what it is, though it looks familiar, but it is a sweet little flower. :)

tina said...

nope, but it is sweet. Better to get dirt from a perennial farm than from where I got mine. I have SO many onions growing out of it! urrrr! No onions in any of the other beds so that is what it is. I can't believe people sell bad dirt to gardeners like this.

Nan Ondra said...

I'd guess it is Semiaquilegia ecalcarata. Essentially, it's a spurless columbine. Very cute!

Gail said...

I thought it might be a corydalis myself because of the leaves, it is a cutie...


Melanie said...

Hi cinj, you bet, a freebie to the garden is always a great thing.

Frances, I was pretty sure it wasnt' a corydalis but read on and you'll see that you're not far off the mark. You were right about asking Nan, she hit the nail on the head!

Kjohnson, doesn't David have some excellent photos and tips! I used to love photography with my old camera but I need a better digital before I feel the same now.

Nancy, it really is sweet, it has one of those "happy plant" natures.

Tina, I'm almost afraid to admit that I haven't had an onion problem. At least, not yet.

Hooray Nan! Frances suggested you'd know this baby and she was right! You really are amazing, I'm so thrilled to know that I have Semiaquilegia ecalcarata but don't ask me to pronounce it!

Gail, I thought it was a native plant but after Nan's ID I googled it and it doesn't come from the American continent. How crazy is that!

tina said...

Don't be afraid-shout it big-no onions in my lawn! or garden!

Gail said...


Don't you love finding out what it is? It is a cute plants.


mightymatt1313 said...


2greenthumbsup said...

Hi Melanie,

At my last house I planted several columbine varieties. Over the course of about three years I had tons of little volunteers. They liked to sprout up in the dry creekbed. I guess that's where their seeds ended up. If I was very careful about moving the river rocks to expose the whole plants I was able to transplant them successfully.