my vanishing corydalis solida: simple division?

corydalis-solidaW ILL WHOMEVER MOVED MY CORYDALIS SOLIDA please confess? This charming creature, the recent star of my spring-ephemerals slideshow, declined to show itself the last week or two, as if it had caught a case of stage fright. I knew where it lived: It had been there for years, a big, juicy clump. But then I saw something, or actually 17 somethings at last count, that look like the former beauty, but in miniature, strewn here and there across the yard. Who moved my Corydalis? Who?

I’m casting my vote for chipmunks, who seem intent on redesigning the garden, morsel by morsel. They especially like to move things like small bulbs (crocus, for instance, which I now have in one-sies in the oddest and most remote places) or little tubers like those of Corydalis solida (ditto). The photo shows it where it bloomed last year with Pulmonaria rubra (red) and Hylomecon japonicum (the yellow blurs at the back).

This rock-garden treasure jumps up out of the ground, blooms, and disappears in a month or so each spring, and never gave me any trouble in semi-shaded spots (by which in this case I mean sunny in early spring but somewhat shaded in the hot months). Besides the lavender one I grow (grew?) there’s also a blush-colored version appropriately called ‘Blushing Girl’ available through Seneca Hill, and a pink one named ‘Beth Evans’ at White Flower Farm, and I have read about but never seen a white one and a reddish. The listing at Thimble Farms, in British Columbia, includes about 20 Corydalis, including six strains or varieties of solida; I have never ordered from them, but am now sorely tempted. Thimble Farms is apparently a specialist in rare things, which could mean big trouble here. Oh, dear.

Corydalis solida grows to just under a foot tall…but again, spends most of its time each year in absentia, underground. Here at A Way to Garden, it is apparently spending time above ground, too…in transit from where I planted it to where someone else did (we are talking 50 to 200 feet away). Just wait till I catch the thief in the act.

  1. Randy says:

    Oh those pesky little chipmunks! If had to choose between squirrels and chipmunks I would choose the latter. The squirrels have been leaving the plants alone this year, but they keep throwing the mulch on the lawn with their digging. Good to hear from you, Margaret. I hope you are enjoying spring!

  2. Country Gardener says:

    I feel your pain. Love this plant too. We have chipmunks here, but they have not discovered this treasure yet. Still working on the crocuses, I expect.

  3. Leslie says:

    I don’t think it is only the chipmunks moving things. My corydalis self-seeds with abandon which is wonderful. I have the straight species and the cuktivar George Baker which is the reddish one. Both seed. Do you grow c. orchreleuca? Of all it is my favorite! I shal have to check out your listed sources.

  4. You neglected to mention Odyssey Bulbs as a source for choice corydalis, which is where I got my C. solida ‘Blushing Girl,’ ‘Pink Splash,’ and ‘Nettleton Pink,’ as well as C. bracteata. I never did get to see the bracteata, as the following spring revealed a vole runway straight to the label marking its location. So if yours are merely scattered and not missing, consider yourself fortunate. C. solida has a reputation for seeding itself about, so some of your new little ones could be seedlings.

    By the way, is C. lutea also up for you? I see no signs of the plant a certain gardener gave me last August.

  5. margaret says:

    @Leslie: As of today, there are 21 plants (many of them more than 100 feet from the original, which does not exist at all anymore, apparently). So I am not thinking seed dispersal, as they are all dug-in pretty well and of decent size. Hilarious.

    Yes, I do have C. ochroleuca (which Digging Dog sells, BTW).

    @Kathy: Thanks for the great source reminder…have not shopped there, so big help. I agree some are perhaps seedlings, but there is evidence of monkey (chippy?) business and digging.

    As for C. lutea, just starting to show, yes. Give it a week. We may need to try again; there is plenty.

    @Dan: Yes, back from vacation. :) Tx.

  6. Kathy says:

    My C. lutea and corydalis Solida are both up and have happily seeded themselves throughout my garden, many in very pleasing locations. They seem to pick spots were they do exceedingly well. Both are long time favorites. I also tried six Hylomecon japonicum after seeing them on your website. I love them.

  7. Deanna Z says:

    I had a yellow corydalis in a different state that was one zone warmer and it would pop up here and there in other locations as well. I just let it be. Mine wasn’t the same flowers as the nobilis though, may be lutea. I love the feathery foliage.

  8. margaret says:

    @Susan: Jack has been put on a diet today. His bowl contains (instead of kibble) a small note that says “Our cat is on a diet,” meant to alert anyone who enters and gets sucked into his web NOT to feed him. Hunting is good in spring, I keep reminding him.

    @Kathy: Lutea (bright yellow), a favorite of mine for 20-plus years, is a prodigious self-sower. Love it. SO glad you like the Hylomecon, too. Great!

    @Deanna: I love the feathery foliage of all the “fumitories,” as the relatives of bleeding heart (Dicentra) are called. Great minds think alike!

  9. Brian G. says:

    I put a good 10 or 12 Oriental Poppies in a bed in fall of ’07 and as soon as the ground thawed in late March a chipmunk moved in and ate them all from the bottom up! They are cute, but lethal.

    Gentle reminder, you promised to update us on any new hellebores that may show themselves. Anything new?

  10. Jayne says:

    My three original clumps have disappeared over the years, and thankfully seeded elsewhere. Seems they love to pop up around the rocks on my hilly slope! As yet, the offspring have not rivaled the size of their parents as mature plants…interesting…

  11. GartenGrl at Cool Garden Things says:

    I have noticed that this plant does a disappearing act over the years…maybe it just likes the woods best.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, GartenGrl. I am starting to wonder; maybe you are right. For so many years it sat happily in one spot…and now….oh, my. See you soon again.

  12. Debby says:

    Grammar note: Opening sentence should be Will whoever… Whoever is the subject of the clause; therefore nominative case is required.

    Ants move seeds around too…

  13. Jim Kraus says:

    Seneca Hill is no longer in business, lost a great place when the nursery closed. Allowing CORYDALIS to go to seed should help to keep them going in the garden, but the colors will tend to shift, mostly towards purples.

    1. margaret says:

      Yes, Jim, I was very saddened when Seneca Hill closed, too. I see that White Flower has a pink one now…and the bulb catalogs sometimes offer it. My offspring are all lavender-ish in color.

  14. Lorie says:

    Three days in a row of 90 degrees; now a frost/freeze warning…every blessed thing that emerged appeared on steriods and then was “over”. There were swallowtails looking for ANYTHING to sup on. It’s a matter of savoring the moment and going with the flow. Just never been a “season” like this.

    1. margaret says:

      Here, too, Lorie. I am in Round 3 of that — three hard freezes after that wacky near-80 weather. What a mess! And where in the world is the rain? Crazy.

  15. Conni cross says:

    Hi Margeret,

    Was searching for a source for Corydalis solida, and found you. Not a surprise though! How does your garden grow? Glad to read your marvelous narrative , it’s been too long. I’m still at it, and them some……… Happy spring

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