A First Prize in the category of
Longest Blooming, Hardy Perennial Self – Sowers
Easy, long flowering friends can be found among the many perennial choices in the plant world. Among the handsomest of hardy, long blooming plants, these two enthusiastic Corydalines are willing to volunteer whether the locations are easy or difficult. Once planted, either of them will sow themselves ever afterwards into places where it is unlikely that more ‘cultivated’ and well behaved things could manage.
There are 300 or more kinds of Corydalis in the world, but in our Zone 5, these two particular forms excel by covering themselves with beautiful tiny flowers for the whole summer into fall wherever they find modest hospitality. Their lacy foliage, standing 12 to 18″ tall, remains fresh throughout the garden seasons with minimal tending, and they reliably return each year for a new summer-long show.
The lovely white cousin, Corydalis lutea alba, has a slightly shorter flowering season, but you can still count on 4 months of continuous ivory decoration on a beautiful plant.
My Best Friends in the Garden.
Why So ?
Whenever a part of the garden is ‘color quiet’, these Corydalines can take up the slack, providing color and beauty in much the way that non-hardy, decorative annual plants do for our zone 5, but without any fertilizer or special treatment.
These willing Corydalines are perennial, self sowing and bloom in their first year from seed, so you only need to buy them once, ever.
In the wild they are opportunists, frequenting disturbed areas. For difficult or unfilled locations or circumstances, where few plants that are pretty for a long season can reside, their beauty and reliability recommend them as useful partners for your landscape life. We have many disturbed places in our personal worlds. Lots of our streetsides, driveways and narrow side yards could do with a little color and freshness. With the help of a few Corydalis, working corners of your gardens, doggy favorite spots and other busy places that get trampled from time to time can be flowering continuously until some happenstance arises. As soon as individual victimized plants are taken away, the babies nearby will carry on as if nothing had happened, and your most modest or difficult places will still be pretty.
I sometimes think of these easy friends as place holders, and let them be where they like until I need that spot for some other plant.
If you can give the parents of either of these kinds a particularly good places to get established, they will be happy to sow their babies into improbable spots nearby. If there is light ¼ to ¾ of the day, in a place that doesn’t get too hot and some water comes in from somewhere, they will be well pleased. These self sowers especially like places where they can nestle up with stone or even asphalt. They are not fussy about the quality of the earth they reside in, and will plant themselves in the vertical crevices of dry stone walls, ornament ledge gardens, string color along foundations and cluster beside steps.
Your principal annual tending task for Corydalis will be taking away the extras each year.
You decide whether to enjoy, move, share or simply subtract the surplus.
They look so nice for so long wherever they are that I have to remind myself to be ruthless, or soon there will be too many of them. If you practice subtractive gardening, and so stay ahead of their enthusiastic reproduction, you will be rewarded with landscape pictures that always have beauty and color – in places that otherwise would not.
Click on these links for some more long blooming prizewinners , and on this next one for some more good choices, as well as further information about establishing and caring for long blooming, self sowing plants.
The original parent of all my Corydalis lutea alba was given to me by Lincoln Foster, a man who many consider to have been the Father of Rock Gardening in this country. The stone walls around his shady parking area were beautifully decorated with Corydalis lutea, but due to the self sowing habits of these Corydalines, he kept such colonies far away from his other alpine plants. His book Rock Gardening : A Guide to Growing Alpines and Other Wildflowers in the American Garden still stands as an excellent resource for Alpine plant information, beautifully illustrated by his wife, Laura Louise Foster.