It’s Corydalis time!

To say I like Corydalis very much would be an understatement. The delicate, ferny foliage and early, colourful flowering of many species, make them wonderful spring harbingers.
Quite a few tuberous species are easy to grow in the garden in our cold climate (I usually don’t fuss around with pots, except for seedlings): C. solida especially, but also C. caucasica, C. packozy, C. cava, C. bracteata and probably few others.

Corydalis solida seedlings

Corydalis paczosky seedlings

The same applies for rhizomatous species like C. nobilis, the Pseudofumaria group (formerly C. lutea and C. alba), C. ophiocarpa, C. incisa; also the North American Capnoides sempervirens.

Corydalis nobilis seedlings

Corydalis incisa and C. ophiocarpa which were grown under lights are already advanced.

I agree it is much easier to buy plants (if available), but for a fast increase of the personal collection, growing from seeds is the better option, not to mention cheaper. They germinate very well if sown fresh or after moist storage. Sowing asap and keeping the pots outdoors (i.e., a warm/cold treatment) is the best option (by asap I don’t mean next day, the seeds sown up to about a month after collecting are OK even if not kept moist).
All you have to do is sow, cover the pots/trays with a mesh and keep them in a partly shaded area; water once in a while. For the winter, place in an area that usually gets covered in snow (or where it is easy to pile snow on top) or a cold garage. By spring they will start to germinate.

For the more adventurous there is also the option on sowing the seeds directly in the garden, reproducing their natural way of multiplying; the seeds are dispersed and buried by ants which feed on the elaiosomes, for which reason, in time they will show up in various places around the garden.

Same applies for Claytonia or any of the other spring flowering species that are best sown fresh: Dicentra, Hepatica, Erythronium, Anemone quinquefolia, Sanguinaria and so on – more about all these soon…

See more Corydalis pictures below in the related posts.

Wildlife Wednesday – Ode to the bumblebee

Finally some warm weather (then cold again…warm). However, spring is here and in the past couple of weeks Corydalis and Dicentra cucullaria, some of the first here, have not only flowered but started to set seeds! Watching the Corydalis solida and Dicentra cucullaria flowering and the bumblebee hungrily foraging them, I realized that I was awaiting its apparition as much as that of the first spring flowers.

I won’t get into details on the bumblebees since I am sure they are well known; this is for sure the mother queen which is busy building the future colony. Of course, Corydalis grown from seeds will always come in various colours :)

Corydalis solida and bumble bee1

Dicentra cucullaria and bumble bee

Note: The wiki stub on Bumblebees is excellent if someone needs an extra read:

And a few more images, since last month I had a very short post on Robbie, which seems to get into a territorial dispute with the cardinals lately.

Cardinal and robin

A lady bug sleeping(?) on Narcissus flower

Few other images taken in the wild recently: a solitary bee on Cardamine, woodland hawks (maybe Cooper’s  Hawks)  and an unknown insect (for now) on the spring beauty flower (Claytonia caroliniana).

Yes, spring beauties are all around!

I hope everyone enjoys them, their garden and the outdoors, and will join in the wildlife celebrations hosted by Tina at My gardener says.

The thought of bloom

“Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom…” – E.B. White

After a bad last year for Hepaticas, and the unexpected collapse of H. nobilis var. japonica this spring, there is joy in seeing the first Hepatica americana starting to bloom.

Hepatica americana flowering

Hepatica americana flowering – with the blooms there comes the thought of seeds

Thoughts of bloom & seeds are also extended to Corydalis nobilis, Corydalis solida – purple and red and many, many more to come…


Quote from a lovely E.B. White poem to his wife:

To My American Gardener, With Love

Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom,
The seedbed is the restless mind itself.
Not sun, not soil alone can bring to border
This rush of beauty and this sense of order.
Flowers respond to something in the gardener’s face
Some secret in the heart, some special grace.
Yours were the rains that made the roses grow,
And that is why I love your garden so.

Corydalis solida

Corydalis wins the race

As predicted, with the flowers starting to open today, Corydalis has won the flowering race! A little snowdrop, who quietly tried to sneak away the prize taking advantage of the cold and snowy weather yesterday, was disqualified. He innocently argued that he didn’t know about the race’s rule (container grown plants only)…

The Flowering race

Although the snow and ice persist in the shady areas, in a few containers the early spring flowering species are up and ready to go!

The flowering race is going to be a tight one this year. The contenders are: Corydalis solida – listed as the favourite, followed shortly by Dicentra cuccularia and an unexpected outsider – Hepatica nobilis var. japonica.

Ladies and Gentlemen: there is still time to place your bets! A few cold days with possible flurries are in the forecast before the finish line. Choose your favourite and place your wagers.

Dicentra cuccularia

Dicentra cuccularia

Hepatica nobilis var. japonica

Hepatica nobilis var. japonica

The favourite of the race

Corydalis solida - purple

Corydalis solida – purple

In sync – Corydalis solida

Corydalis from the Greek ‘Korydalís’ meaning ‘crested lark’

Someone lucky enough to go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains in late April-early May would be surrounded by multicoloured masses of Corydalis solida – Fumewort (or ‘brebenei’ in my native tongue). There is a great variation in flower colour from white to pink and purple and actually the best forms of C. solida on the market today trace back their origins to Transsilvania (Romania) and Penza regions (western Russia).

This year, in sync, the ones from our garden are blooming at the same time:

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'

The renown Corydalis solida ‘George Baker’ (from Gardenimports – I am not really sure if it is the real thing but still a good red form)

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'3 An ephemeral at superlative – it appears fast, as soon as the temperature raises in the spring, and then disappears quietly after a few weeks. But for the brief time when it flowers, it will fill your heart with unconditional love for the years to come. The deeply divided ferny foliage and long spurred, tube-shaped flowers are equally adorable providing fast and easy the much needed burst of colours after our long winters.

C. solida purple

Corydalis solida – in its usual purple form (from Lost Horizons)

Corydalis solida

They also make for very good photo-subjects after rain

C. solida ‘Beth Evans’- is a large-flowered form, with pink flowers; slow to increase.  They are very delicate when in active growth; to be moved, mark their place and lift up the small tubers (bulb-like) as soon as they go dormant or in the fall.

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’ (from Fraser Thimble Farm)

Due to its ephemeral nature it is oferred mostly by specialized nurseries/mail-order operations. For part shade and moist conditions when in growth, then it prefers to remain on the dry side for the rest of the season. I particularly like them planted close to ferns or  japanese grasses where they fill in the space just perfectly in early spring. They interbreed easily and will seed around if happy forming multicoloured colonies.

Best not to be a purist when it comes to Corydalis solida!

This is just a small glimpse of the Corydalis solida world – there are many other named varieties. I already wrote about other wonderful Corydalis species – do not be afraid to become a corydaphill!

Note: If someone doesn’t know it, the absolut Corydalis guru and bulb expert is Janis Ruksans from Latvia – on-line catalogue here: Rare Bulbs