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  • Betty Girardeau


If you do a Google search using just the word Columbine, the page that comes up deals solely with the Columbine High School massacre, April 20, 1999. How sad! I bought two of these plants on one my first trips to Biltmore shortly after moving to Tennessee fifteen years ago. They sort of bloomed the first spring. Then, for whatever reasons only they really knew, they totally disappeared from my garden...until this spring when, out of the blue, a huge clump developed which is loaded with buds and blooms. The pink one survived. Where has it been all this time? It seems to be living up to its plant lore as a symbol of fortitude, courage, and endurance. This lovely wildflower has a very long cultural heritage that encompasses pagan religions as well as Christianity and Western and Asian cultures. The Celts believed columbines symbolized dreams and visions, while the Greeks and Romans thought they symbolized love. Austrians see the flowers as representing five doves flying in a circle. The flower comes in many colors, too, each of which symbolize everything from royalty, to passion and purity and courageousness. With so much meaning attributed to Columbines, it is really too bad that the major word association for it is such a horrific happening. My plant has shown some surprising and amazing resiliency, and I guess that is the best message of all. I didn't focus this shot all that well, as the flower behind the main one is in better focus. But maybe that is OK, too. In my garden it's often the hidden flower that becomes the more surprising one that eventually takes center stage for awhile. Certainly my clump of resurrected Columbines have been that this spring.

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