Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spirited Spears

I think the first foxtail lily to "take off" at the Gardens was Eremurus himalaicus in the Rock Alpine Garden: a few plants were planted early in the 1980s, and the years their buds weren't frosted (the Lower Meadow where they grew is a frost pocket) they were spectacular. I inadvertently scattered seed (after cleaning seed) in the woodland area behind the Alpine House where it germinated and a few years later a much happier colony established itself from that chaff. Sandy Snyder was the one who really first mastered these fabulous horticultural explamation point plants: I recall visiting her once fifteen, maybe 20 years ago and being dazzled by the yellow foxtail lilies. "You must have hundreds" quipped I..."237" responded she. Very Snyderian that exchange...

Sometime in the last ten years the horticulturists at DBG began putting them everywhere: gigantic E. robustus and E. himalaicus both in the Perennial Border, the steppe in Plantasia filled with E. stenophyllus, and a bunch of hybrids in the Grass Garden and the Watersmart Garden. And many more.

Pictured above is Eremurus 'Cleopatra' in my home garden in front of a purple leaf smoke tree. Do I really have to wait half a year to see these again?

A highlight of this past summer was finding Eremurus in the wild in Kazakhstan. We even obtained ripe seed of several taxa...Perhaps I might post pictures of these (I warn you they will inspire great yearning to thunder across the endless steppe in search of them, flags flapping in the wind, your pony straining and the trumpets blaring...)

One thing I know: one can never have enough money, love or foxtail lilies...I'd better check out some local nurseries and see if I can pick out a few more before winter settles in with a vengeance.

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