Dependable Perennials– Peony and Columbine

In spring, greenhouses feature the latest new flowering plants and gardeners are eager to plant them. If the new introductions are perennials, perhaps they will grow again next year in local environmental conditions.

What a comfort though, to see perennials emerge from dregs of winter in one’s own yard, years in a row. What a comfort to have some dependable perennials that have beautiful flowers, grow well in this region, perform most years, require modest maintenance, and draw pollinators early in the season.

Peonies are perennials of the genus Paeonia that are found in Asia, Europe and Western North America and grow widely in temperate climates such as this region. Usually the herbaceous perennial blooms, dies back and grows again next year for decades in sunny, somewhat protected areas.

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Peony was described in 1830 but in ancient China, the flower was used for its flavor in cooking. Petals can be added to salads. In summer, an underground stem develops buds for the following year’s shrub. Peonies are grown as an ornamental shrub and for cut flowers.

Double, and single peony, like the one above, are the most common flower forms.

Columbine is a common name for the genus Aquilegia, a hardy perennial found in woodland meadows in North America. Also deciduous, columbine propagates from prolific seeds produced by its flowers.  Columbine refers to the flower shape that may resemble five doves in a circle.

Spurs of the flower, behind the petals, contain nectar and are an early favorite of hummingbirds. Leaves are a food source of some pollinators. Columbine can tolerate dry conditions and poor soil and are easy to grow.

Columbines reach about a foot tall and are often placed near the front of a flowerbed.  As cut flowers, they last well in an arrangement. What fine early blooms for the table.

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Thank you for visiting Plant Exchange Blog where we feature plants of the Northern Plains and people who grow them. Happy Spring celebrations for all!

 

 

 

 

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