Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flower of the Month

Most of us are aching for Winter to end, longing for Spring show signs of new life. I am getting anxious, like all of the other gardeners in Blog Land to get started in the garden. The weather in Northern Colorado is cold and dry with plenty of wind. As we leave January, the weather people say that January is a dry month and promise us more moisture in the coming weeks, with March supposedly our wettest month. Until then bloggers are keeping themselves entertained and satiated by posting beautiful photography of seasons gone by. I am no different. Wanting a fresh springy look for the Garden Spot, I chose an old favorite, my Colorado Columbine, the states official flower for my banner to welcome visitors to The Garden Spot.

Aquilegia caerules became the official state flower in 1899. In 1925 the state legislature passed more  legislation protecting what they called a rare mountain flower, making it unlawful to dig or pick the columbine in the wild. Likewise it is also unlawful to pick the flower on private property without permission of the owner. The law makes it Colorado citizens’ duty to protect this rare flower. For more information of state flowers, check click here, then write about your state flower.

My grandparents built a cabin where grandma called the foothills west of Denver. They cut the logs for the little cabin on an antiquated sawmill that grandpa had acquired from somewhere. Relatives helped build the little log cabin that became the center of the family gatherings. Located in a quiet, peaceful little valley called Beaver Brook, the cabin became a family refuge where families traveled an hour or so from Denver on weekends to just simply play. Grandma named her little paradise Shangri La. I can still hear the clang of horseshoes echoing through the thin mountain air, along with the whispering pines mixed with joyous laughter. Grandma would take her little brood of grandchildren on walks through the woods, teaching them the names of the wildflowers, telling stories, and instilling in her grandchildren a passion for nature, respect for the wildflowers, and a love of the beauty of life. She taught us to love and respect the beautiful columbine along the path in the shade of aspen trees. So I grow Aquilegia caerules not only because I love it’s graceful beauty and periwinkle color, but because each time I pass it in the garden I am reminded of my grandmother, wonderful memories, and our beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain wooded forests.

A perennial now commercialized so that both seeds and plants can be purchased at garden centers, the columbine is an easy keeper. Planted in shade underneath aspens here at the Garden Spot, it blooms earlier—about mid-June—than it’s mountain cousins that bloom in around 4th of July. It readily self seeds, so new plants are easily transplanted or left where they sprout to naturalize a woodland scape. Add some moss rock and other wooded plants and a mountain retreat is just outside your door. In the wild, they grow in large quantities amid the aspen groves, which mean that they are at about 10,000 ft. elevation. 

Aquilegia caerules has been hybridized to a number of varieties and colors, and while I do have other varieties, none are as outstanding as the state flower. Go to the USDA’s web site to learn more about this beautiful Colorado native. What is your state flower? Do you have it growing in your garden?

 Will we get moisture this week? We shall see. Have a good week. 


  1. The aquilegia is one of my favourite garden flowers - in the UK we also know them as columbine or granny's bonnet. They give the garden a very natural look - I have never seen them in woodland though - it must have been wonderful growing up where you did - you obviously have very fond memories of the plant.

  2. Hi Ann, Your header is gorgeous. Love the combination of white and purple.

    I'm taking a blogging break as I shall be leaving my little 'paradise' and moving closer to you; Texas sometime this year. Thank you for your support all these while. Btw, my daughter is asking about the availability of horses in Texas. She must be thinking of Sundance. Anyway, no more new pets for me. It's heartbreaking to leave my dogs behind. I am hoping to bring at least one of them with me if quarantine is not required. Would you know?

  3. Thank you for your positive words, Ann. Do you have an e-mail add that we can keep in touch? We shall very likely be at Little Elm or Frisco. More than 200 miles away from Austin. Hubby works in Plano. I've checked both Texas and US sites. No quarantine seems to be required. Thank you for your confirmation. I am targeting to move in August when the new school term starts.

  4. I'm really hoping my aquilegia self seed. The more the merrier. The deep red coloured plant is my favourite but they're all nice. It's great when a plant is linked to childhood memories, makes it even more special.

  5. I love the colour of your columbine bloom! I don't have any columbine but have looked at them every spring at the garden center. I just don't have room for anymore plants. I live in New Brunswick,Canada and our provincial flower is the purple violet, a wild native plant that grows in wooded areas and in grass too. Thanks for visiting me. Blessings, Pamela