Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A suite of white sweeties. Ensuite!

The Whiteness
"the muffled rollings of a milky sea; the bleak rustlings of the festooned frosts of mountains; the desolate shiftings of the windrowed snows of prairies" Herman Melville, Moby Dick (Chapter 47)

Cyanchum ascyrifolium
It's been over half a century since I read Moby Dick, but I will never forget the chapter dedicated to the color white. Next to the interminable rant on the name "Nicholas" in Tristram Shandy, this has to be the most idiosyncratic and lengthy monology in literature. The absolute whiteness of this perennial brings that chapter to mind. I noticed this week that white flowers are everywhere in my garden right now: is it Nature or is it me?
Cyanchum ascyrifolium
 This rarely encountered Asclepiad from Western China has been blooming for a week and looks to continue for some time. I first saw it in Allen Bush's exquisite Louisville, Kentucky garden and had to have it. It took a few years to track it down, and it's taken a few years to reach this size--I'm smitten and hope it goes on forever: you can read more in a fine writeup on the Plant Lust site.

 Ironically, this seemly and lovely gem is closely related to a noxious weed that appropriately comes in nearly pure black: Vincetoxicum (or Cyanchum) nigrum. Nature has a sense of humor.

Thalictrum tuberosum
Always a thrill when this blooms again: the humor of petaloid meadow rues is not lost on anyone.

Polygonatum hirtum
Of course, most polygonatums are white flowered: this can stand in for thge rest--a rather spready little plant, but I wouldn't be without it!

Phlox pilosa 'Alba'
Unfortunately, half the size it was last year: better try it in a different spot!

Beta trigyna and Rumex scutatus 'Silver Shield'
Two little known and outstanding woodland plants--the Beta is not quite white YET--but will be in a few days. I love its sculptural presence. The sorrel is a must have! Super presence in shade, and not weedy like its cousins. And it just glows in half-light.

Daphne oleioides
Still a few days from peak--I saw this everywhere at higher elevations in central Greece and also in Turkey a few years ago.

Papaver annomalum
Two flowers--don't panic! It's not a monster (monsters are yet to come...). I seem to have found a spot where this delicious poppy persists and spreads! Yay!

Dicentra formosa 'Purity'
I was shocked to see this for sale at Lowe's a few days ago. I love all Dicentra, but this gorgeous albino is one that blooms on and on and tolerates a pretty marginal dry shady spot.

Dicentra formosa 'Purity'

Escoberia sneedii v. leei
A treasured gift from Sandy Snyder, who sold her home and relinquished a lot of gems. She drops by every week to help propagate things in my nursery, and can enjoy this and many other goodies I've gotten from her over the years.

Dianthus sp.
There are a number of frilly white pinks. Love them all (and their fragrance!)

Allium maximowiczii
A recent acquisition from Arrowhead Alpines, a really stunning little gem that keeps on blooming and blooming.

Echium albicans
Brand new--a gift from Bill Adams of Worth growing for those leaves alone, but the picture he sent of the flower was stunning!

Plantago nivalis

You know you have a problem when you realize you have a half dozen species of plantains already--not counting the weed in the lawn. This one is a keeper.

Alopecurus lanatus
One doesn't expect to see a grass with silvery white leaves. I was first given this by Kurt Bluemel in the early 1980's. I killed it time and again, and finally found a spot it likes. Not impressive to most visitors, but a plant redolent with associations for me--especially since seeing it on the tundra of Ulu-Dag, the Turkish Olympus in 2016.
Saxifraga 'Rex'
I've always wondered if this floriferous hybrid was named for my recently deceased friend, Rex Murffit--of Victoria, British Columbia. He was a great connoisseur of silver saxifrages.

Orlaya grandiflora
Misleadingly dubbed 'Minoan lace': I was disillusioned to find out it grows in NORTHERN Greece, not on my ancestral isle. This is a must have annual: never enough!

Rhododendron 'Northern Lights'
Not quite white, I know--but close! My azalea has reached the eaves of the house...over twice the poredicted height of 3-4'.  Oh how they lie!

Dictamnus albus 'Albus'
One of my all time favorite perennials that is dotted all over my garden (mostly pink forms). The ones on exposed, xeric spots all froze to the ground this April during our ridiculous late cold snaps, panicking me. They eventually sprouted back--but plants in shadier spots or moister gardens were unfazed--go figure!
Dictamnus albus 'Albus'
A closer shot of the European species to compare with its Central Asian cousin below.

Dictamnus angustifolius 'Albus'
The shape of the flower and carriage of the foliage is a bit different. I'm intrigued how botanists separate D. albus from D. caucasicus from D. angustifolius--since the range of the genus is pretty much continuous from the Balcans to Kazakhstan.

Tanacetum densum ssp. amani
The flowers are yellow when they open, but the rest of the year this indispensible groundcover is silvery white.
Nicotiana alata 'Alba'
I think I prefer the white Tobacco flowers to other colors. We never have enough of these in pots.

Verbascum bombyciferum
I definitely have enough of this ghostly mullein: I pull out dozens--maybe hundreds--but each year they find a new spot to congregate.

Mentha longifolia
I keep trying to eliminate this, my favorite mint. But it possesses the irrepressible and rude root-spread of all mints. Surely there's a corner I where I can let it run riot?
Agave albopilosa and Espostoa lanata
Succulents can sport whiteness--the tufts of white on the recently described Agave always attract attention. And the Cactus is the epitome of whiteness (as is Mammillaria plumosa, which I sliced on the right hand side of the picture).

Cowania mexicana
Not so much white as a sort of yellowing ivory. I know we should call it Purshia, but Federick was such a rascal!

Verbascum bombyciferum variety obscenum
Several wooly mulleins have gone rogue this year.

Salvia cyanescens
This stunning Turkish Salvia has run riot at Jan's home in NW Denver. I keep transplanting them to Quince, and finally one deigned to remain.

Onopordon acaule x acanthium
Everyone should have a signature weed. Mine is Onopordon acaule. But I'm rather fond of the truly noxious O. acanthium as well--and last year they obviously did hanky panky, and I have a number of intermediates in the garden.

Onopordon acaule x acanthium
They are rather freakish, I know. My ex-wife didn't have much patience for spiny plants--or succulents for that matter. Ironically, she wrote a pretty wonderful book about Hardy Succulents during our divorce. She would also say that "white is not a color" which was really not the main issue leading to the dissolution of our marriage. Although it might have been a factor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

High Spring

Dianthus microlepis
All year long I look forward to the brief weeks in late April and early May when the rock garden and woodland explode with prismatic colors. And then it's over: how many graceful springs will we experience after all?

Iris cristata 'Navy Blue Gem'
This came from the magicians at Joe Pyeweed's garden loaded with buds and bloomed for nearly two weeks--instantly becoming my favorite cristata!

Arum maculatum 'Leave a bit'
I dug up the heart of my clump of Lord's and Lady's for a friend and this year there seem to be twice as many in bloom and scattered about: the more you give the more you get!

Tulipa hageri
This stunning tulip has gradually suckered all over my alpine meadow and now dozens bloom for a week in early June and the whole shebang disappears in a week or so. The strange bronzy-red color is unique. I am astonished this isn't grown more.

Tetraneuris herbacea, Aquilegia x saximontana and Allium henrickii
One of my favorite vignettes..

Erugeron sp.
I have a couple dozen fleabanes (and keep adding more)--Colorado has to be the epicenter of this enormous genus. Now if I only knew what species they all were...

Adiantum venustum
I had another big clump of this I dug up and shared with a class of almost 100 people at the Gardens last year: I wonder how many of the pieces have lived on for them? This is more than enough for me--it's a bit of a spreader!

Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum'
I remember when this was first introduced decades ago and thought to be difficult and tender. It's now almost a commonplace--but I still love my little colony on a shady slope. It's had more names than Elizabeth Taylor.

Gentiana acaulis 'Alba'
I have got to move that onion away from this little treasure!

Itirs cristata 'Montrose'
Another new gem from Joe Pyeweed: a stunning albino cristata: I must ask Nancy Goodwin if it's hers as the name suggests--it would give it added allure.

Acis (Leucojum) nicaeensis

The new owners at Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery were selling this at a ridiculously cheap price a few years ago--and I got a half dozen clumps I put here and there. Most have persisted (to my surprise) and it has become a new favorite for me. This year I added A. autumnalis and A. rosea from Arrowhead Alpines (hefty little clumps for a very decent price): let's hope they make it as well!

Papaver anomalum
I always thought this was ephemeral--almost monocarpic until I accidentally planted it on a sunny slope in soil it must love: it's clumped up and self sown and graces my garden for months with these gorgeous bobbing poppy flowers. That's the sort of thing that makes a gardener very happy!

Iris 'Dardanus'
The first arilbred to bloom this spring...

Zigadenus (Toxicoscordon) venenosus
Rather common on the Great Plains, this reputedly poisonous bulb (I'm not testing to be sure) came to me from a lot being developed in north Denver by Mike Bone, my friend and colleague. They light up my little prairie like beacons in May.

Allium karataviense
One doesn't usually think of onions as crevice garden plants--this one planted itself and looks rather winsome!

Saxifrage and primula trough
The silver saxifrage were the rage in Vicgtorian England when no end of hybrids and selections were made. I always knew I was born in the wrong century,

Paeonia officinalis (double cv)
A gift of Michael Barbour--an incredibly talented local gardener who lives in Golden. Plants that come from friends have double value.

Geranium macrostylum
The Central Asian cousin to Geranium tuberosum, another plant from Arrowhead alpines that I notice I've tucked in a dozen spots in my garden. It finally deigned to bloom for me: perhaps they all will as they settle in (it HAS been a while since I got them--about time). G. tuberosum bloomed too--couldn't find the picture to prove it though.

Ramonda myconi
One of my two sad little ramondas: I have a goal to grow many more over time: love these little gesneriads. I have lots of Haberlea, which I notice I haven't photographed this year. I have a gnawing little fear that Hemiboea isn't coming back, however...

Phlox bifida
I can't remember where I got this VERY different form of P. bifida. Not nearly as cleft as the form I have grown most of my life and have inexplicably not planted in my garden. Must change that!

Anemone obtusiloba
Less than a year ago I admired this on the summit of Baimashan pass at over 14,000'.  Thanks to Far Reaches Farm, I have it now! Let's hope it stays around!

Aster pattersonii
Mike Kintgen grew scads of our fabulous miniature alpine Aster that I've only seen on Mt. Goliath and Gray's Peak in Colorado and which botanists have lumped with the huge, biennial lowland Aster bigelowii. I assume their DNA makes them seem identical, but I'm not fooled. The generic name has hopscotched all over the alphabet--I'm sticking to Aster.

Pediocactus simpsonii
Our most precious cactus--so common all over the Colorado Rockies right up to 10,000' if you know where to look.

Pediocactus simpsonii
Supposedly the same species, from the Aquarius plateau. Not quite the size of a quarter, this was planted in this trough in 1986 and blooms prodigally ever spring. I think it deserves at least subspecific recongnition.

Pediocactus simpsonii
And they come in yellow (ish)! This is a comparative giant.

Iris bucharica 'alba'

Iris scariosa
Taken in Jan's garden: my huge clumps have somehow disappeared. I must nurture it back. My own collection from Kazakhstan. Easternmost of the bearded irises.

Iris henryi
I grow four clones--all subtly different. Near the top of my list of favorites.
Iris henryi

Narcissus x cantabricus
Sold chaply under a cultivar name: this is an easy doer..

Paeonia mlokosewitchii

Tulipa cretica 'Hilda'
The big surprise of last fall was finding this Cretan endemic from the high White Mountains where my grandfather was born and grew up. I imagine him picking these as a kid. So grateful to Brent and Becky's selling this so cheaply!
Iris ruthenica 'Tall form'
Shocked to have this show up: apparently sold by Laporte Avenue Nurseries--this is a giant of the species, which usually blooms at ground level: enchanting!
Iris cristata 'Navy Blue Gem'
I know I already showed this....still blooming a week later!
Ranunculus gramineus

Gentiana acaulis

Fibigia macrocarpa
A little known gem. I must save seed!
Hosta 'Kabitan'
I have a little collection of miniature hostas--I can see why people would want to collect them--I may need a few more!
Itirs cristata 'Montrose'
Another repeat--a star among my novelties!
Itirs cristata 'Hidden Mystery'
So glad to have a nice array of crested iris: these are among my favorites of the spring--although inevitably it rains when they're in peak bloom and they all nod.

Allium maximowiuczii
A wonderful new acquisition from Arrowhead: it's acting as though it grew for me forever! And I hope it will. Must research it--the name suggests Central Asia--where I was supposed to go this last month. Quarantined so to speak in my home and garden wasn't exactly punishment: I've relished this spring as I have few! And my garden has benefited from sequestration! As has yours, I bet!

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