December 23

A Very Long-blooming Perennial

The little white corydalis, C. ochroleuca, is sure to be flowering by the first of April. In its quiet, charming way, it continues to bloom without a pause through spring and summer and fall, usually, finally, giving up the ghost some time in late November. But here it is late December, and, despite a night or two when the temperature dipped into the teens, one small clump at the foot of our kitchen stone step is still in flower. We have had such peculiar balmy weather to start the winter that spring shrubs and perennials are spurred by the warmth into plump buds and even flowers.

But the little corydalis is in a class by itself, flowering valiantly throughout the growing season.  It is a charming plant for stone walls, rockery, and gravel, liking shelter and a little shade, seeding about when it is happy, coming up in different spots each year. The leaves are typical of the corydalis family, blue-green, delicately scalloped and fern-like, and the flowers droop in clusters of tiny trumpet with yellow throats. C. lutea is a yellow form, more commonly seen than the white.

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