Corydalis and then Some

Warmer weather has finally reached NE Pennsylvania and within days buds are swelling, sprouts are showing, and the earliest spring bloomers are putting large swathes of color into beds which have spent the last few months exploring black and white themes.  Finally I can take those nice leisurely garden tours and not have to harass the same old snowdrop shoots every few hours, looking to see if they’ve changed at all.  New things are coming on faster than I can keep up with and all I can say is it’s great 🙂

corydalis solida

Sitting on the front porch step is my favorite way to take in the front garden.  Right next to the step is where I plant many of my smaller treasures, but in the past couple years the pinks and mauves of Corydalis solida seedlings have started to crowd out just about everything else.

Depending on what the thermometer does we’re just a few days away from bunches of hyacinths and the earliest masses of daffodils, but for the moment Corydalis solida dominates the front garden.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’ spreading out along the street border.  It’s a lot more pink than I prefer but after months of brown and snow who cares.

I’d have to look, but it’s only been a few years since I planted about 15 tubers each of pink ‘Beth Evans’ and redder ‘George Baker’, and from there on they’ve exploded across the garden.  They seem to enjoy the better-drained garden beds, in particular spots where other perennials will come up and cover them after they go dormant in a few weeks.  Restraint is not something I think of when these come up, and if you’re of the type who prefer a more ordered garden I would highly recommend avoiding them.  Corydalis solida does its own thing and if they’re happy in your soil you’ll have them showing up everywhere.

corydalis solida

A weak attempt at adding named varieties has left me with just one survivor… and possibly a bunch of just-as-good seedlings.  Keeping named plantings “pure” requires much more diligence than I chose to pursue so of course I just let them go.

In a few days all this color will fade away and the plants will quickly ripen seed and shrivel away to disappear underground for another 11 months.  If I’m on top of things (which has NOT been the case so far this year) I’ll dig a few of the more crowded clumps and tuck them in to all kinds of new territory… or just do it accidentally in August when I dig up a shovel full of the little round yellowish tubers.  In the meantime here are two other surprises from the earliest of spring garden.

primula denticulata drumstick

Drumstick primrose (Primula denticulata) were a steal off the late fall clearance rack.  I have no idea if they’ll last more than a year, but right now I’m thrilled by how early they are and lucky I was to find such well-grown plants. -Thanks Perennial Point!

Near the shelter of the house the hyacinth have started.  This wimpy, washed out pink is my most exciting hyacinth ever since it’s the first to flower of a bunch of seedlings off the clump to the left.  Six or seven years is all it took which sounds terrible but since I never did a thing for them other than leave them alone it hasn’t been bad at all.

hyacinth seedling

Pink.  My favorite color.  Still it’s my firstborn hyacinth and I love it, and look forward to seeing how it develops over the next few years.

So that’s it.  Spring is exploding so that’s really not even close to what’s going on, but like you I’d also rather be in the garden versus on the computer so off I go!  Hopefully after missing most of yesterday for all kinds of events, and today for more events (and plenty of rain in the afternoon), something valid gets done in the garden before the work week returns, but you never know.  I’m fine with just sitting around taking it all in.  Plus, as I discovered yesterday, parts of the compost pile are still frozen so I guess we’re still just starting.

I love the start.  Have a great week!

23 comments on “Corydalis and then Some

  1. Paula says:

    I love the Beth Evans you sent. They’re larger than George Baker and noticeably brighter. I haven’t had spreading from George B. or the other successful Purple Bird. Maybe Beth will be a more prolific seeder?
    Being a distracted gardener I may notice them going to seed, win the midst of doing something else, stop and promptly dig and transplant a few, and water in. Quick and easy.

    • bittster says:

      Deep down I know they must at some point set seed, but as of yet I’ve never seen it happen! They go from flower to seed to dormant so fast I always miss it. I’m sure some spring soon you’ll see a little forest sprouting, if not I have plenty of others to share 😉
      I will be more brave about moving them. Of course I missed sorting them out this year already!

  2. Pauline says:

    I hope my Corydalis solida spread like yours! I have had a few seedlings from the purple coloured C. solida but none from Beth Evans, I’m hoping for lots more. So glad spring has arrived with you at ;last.

    • bittster says:

      I hope you see seedlings soon as well. I’m always amazed at where they come up, I wouldn’t think to plant them there yet there they are!
      I looked out the window this morning and saw my first fritillaria m. open. Two weeks ago we had snow, now this garden has practically caught up to yours! Amazing how quickly things go once started, I just hope we get some more time to enjoy the tulips!

  3. March Picker says:

    Happy Spring! Just planted my first corydalis (flexuosa) and am eager to see how they do. Yours look great and the abundance wouldn’t bother me one bit.

    • bittster says:

      Lucky you! I’ve admired flexuosa many a time, but word is they don’t like the summers here on the East coast. I think it far prefers your corner of the map. Hope it does well!

  4. Chloris says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how quickly your garden goes from dead of winter to full throttle spring. I love Corydalis and make no effort to keep the colours separate, I just love how you get carpets of shades running from red to pink to lilac to purple. Your Beth Evans clumps are very impressive. Funnily enough George Baker never does very well for me, I suppose it is just too promiscuous. And Primula denticulata in bloom as the same time as mine? When only yesterday you still had snow. I expect it will be roses tomorrow and day lilies on Thursday.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, it’s a bit unnerving to see my favorite part of the year barreling by so quickly. Here it is six days later and the corydalis are completely finished while the first tulips are opening. Working in the garden yesterday I could see sunflower seedlings becoming noticeably larger as morning passed into the afternoon, and of course they’ve all come up in the wrong spot. Hopefully cooler temperatures will slow it down enough to enjoy.
      My George Baker does well enough but I’m fairly sure it’s not the real thing. Unless they grow right next to each other I can barely see a difference between him and Beth. Come to think of it Beth may also be an imposter but like you say, it’s barely worth the time to keep the colors separate.

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Happiness is a garden full of spring ephemerals. Your Corydalis is gorgeous. I have only the native yellow one. It seeds itself all around the garden beds. I just love it. I a surprised that your primroses are so beautiful. They look quite happy where you have them. Enjoy this spring weather and blooms.

    • bittster says:

      I shall enjoy my primula while they last since I’m 90% sure they will follow in the footsteps of all the other special primrose I’ve planted. That would make them annuals of course 😉
      I was driving along a section of road that I don’t get to most springs, and was thrilled to see a corydalis look-alike, squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis). I actually thought it was a corydalis until I got home and looked it up. Of course now I need to keep my eyes open for a chance to add these to my garden… and the yellow one as well!

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    I remember your corydalis from last year, just as spectacular this year. A friend gave me a seedling of Corydalis cheilanthifolia many years ago (after asking me repeatedly ‘if I was sure’ – she did try to warn me) and now I have hundreds popping up everywhere. I have no worries about yanking them out by the fistful, as I’ll never eliminate them. Good thing I still admire their silvery, gray-green foliage that beads raindrops beautifully. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Corydalis cheilanthifolia showed up here one spring but of course I managed to lose it, even though I fell in love with the foliage. Every now and then I worry about releasing these corydalis into the garden since they spread so easily into wooded areas, but then I look at the wooded areas and decide I prefer corydalis to garlic mustard, so…
      Plus you can’t beat all that color which comes up on the second warm day of spring!

  7. Hooray for spring! I have corydalis coming up but none has bloomed yet. I do have some daffodils blooming, though. The very earliest ones.

  8. It looks so gorgeous and spring-like in your garden. Warmer temps and rain predicted for much of this week here. Hope tonight’s overnight low of 28 degrees is the last of winter.

    • bittster says:

      Yuck. We have a forecast full of rain as well, but no frost predicted for the next 10 days. Actually it’s looking downright warm, and I hope that’s not a prelude to some kind of nasty late spring freeze.
      Look at me, always the optimist…

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Love the corydalis. Laughing at the image of you harassing the snowdrops.

  10. Christina says:

    It’s good to read that spring has arrived; I really don’t know how you survive such a long winter. But it does all catch up very quickly, the Corydalis are lovely, the perfect plant that flowers and then disappears!

    • bittster says:

      Christina I have to tell you that I finally broke down and tried to grow a few of the anemones indoors under lights, and even managed to get a few blooms! They’re far less pleased with the growing conditions compared to your plantings, but I’m quite happy to have a few to grace the Easter table. Next year I might just stick to enjoying yours online though 😉

  11. I have a lot of the yellow Corydallis. I’ve become a fan. I also like the white ones and would love to have some of the blue. Glad that spring is finally arrived in your neighborhood.

    • bittster says:

      The blue corydalis are far more trouble for us mere mortals. They seem to like a cool summer, mountain or coastal climate, and that’s not at all Pennsylvania or Illinois. I’ve been trying though…. but based on the fact there have been no posted pictures, I think you can guess what my success rate has been 😉

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