The Daily DuBrule
Nora Barlow has been hanging out at Natureworks for over 20 years. She is a very unusual columbine, a true double with pink and white starburst flowers. Not that she has been in the same place all these years. Columbines are short lived perennials but if you let the seed pods ripen and then scatter the seed where you want them, you will always have them somewhere in the garden. Not all columbines come true from seed. Often the seed is a mixture of many parents. That's why I don't understand how the only columbine that ever self sows in our gardens is good old Nora Barlow.
When I design gardens, I usually don't leave a large space for columbines. I add them afterwards, to embellish the garden. The leaves on columbines get ugly in June as the leaf miners tunnel inside the foliage. I simply wait for the seed pods to ripen, cut off and sprinkle the seeds, and then cut the ugly foliage to the ground. The plant gets new leaves later in the season AND I see the babies popping up everywhere. The lesson here is don't expect columbines to add much in the way of foliage structure to your garden. Love them for their flowers and learn to recognize the seedlings. If you do, you may have them appearing in your borders for a couple of decades like I do.