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Showing posts from February, 2010

Fleeting friends...

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It looks pretty dowdy...
The picture below shows Pulsatilla pratensis in a better light--the backlight making the shining hairs glow, and the tulip cheers things up a tad...
But the second picture doesn't show the nearly black flowers...why write about P. pratensis near the end of February? When the first crocuses are open at my house, and hellebores and Adonis amurensis blooming, not to mention the first gaggle of snowdrops (in their multifarious sizes and splotch shapes). I gotta tell you, this interminable winter has taught me we need to do a lot more to liven up our winter landscapes. But spring is around the corner: most years at least a few pasqueflowers bloom in March. I remember one year one bloomed in February in the Rock Alpine Garden. There are dozens of species names out there for Pasquies, and there are actually some really different kinds: I can't grow the alpine giants at all thus far (alpina, apiifolia or occidentalis) though I would love to. And it's hard…

Prairie sensitivity

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Like venus-fly-traps, Mimosa pudica is a classic "wow" plant that teachers love to show children: after all it MOVES when you touch it. Since it's a tropical weed, it is quite sensitive to frost and must be kept moist. Few people realize that Sensitive Plant has an extremely similar looking cousin native to much of the southern Great Plains which thrives on heat and drought and cheerfully survives subzero cold. The genus Schrankia boasts several species which come into Colorado, although I have only seen them growing wild in Texas and New Mexico where they are quite widespread and abundant. They make a trailing groundcover that can cover a meter or more of ground in a summer with their ferny, delicate looking leaves. Like their tropical cousin, these close quickly when you brush against them (the warmer the weather, the quicker they close). The stems are bristly with fine prickles that might make some fussy gardeners nervous. Not me. I absolutely love this plant.
I hope w…

Passion of my life, naked poetry, mine forever!

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A week or so ago Peter (Panayoti!) Podaras came by for a visit on his way to California: Peter is from Connecticut originally, although has spent most recent decades in New York. He is a gardener and hybridizer par excellence. He was startled by our sunny, brash weather. The snow may be blowing this morning, but virtually all of January was sunny and quite warm. Pete couldn't stop talking about our shirtsleeve winter weather.
It's no surprise that plants that evolved in sunny winter climates are evergreen (or perhaps more often ever silver): the Watersmart garden, shown above, is perhaps Denver Botanic Garden's most stunning showcase of the showiest drought adapted plants combined in superb vignettes. This is no surprise, since Lauren Springer Ogden did the initial design and it has been honed and polished by Dan Johnson, two stellar talents.
I have taken photos from this vantage point almost every month of the year (especially in the showy spring, summer and fall months). …

Paradise

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There are not many public gardens in North America that dazzle in the week between Christmas and New Years. Of course, "The Huntington" (which to almost anyone with taste and judgment in America refers to the Huntington Botanical Garden) dazzles any and every day of the year. Ironically, the botanic garden there plays third fiddle to the library (numero uno) and the art gallery (numero dos) which I find very funny. You see: I am a bibliophile who has many thousands of books and prides myself on my bookishness. I love art (and own over a hundred original artworks) and yet after a dozen visits to San Marino, I have never stepped foot in either their hallowed Library, nor their august Art Gallery: why visit simulacra when you've got the Real Thing in the garden? They have a dozen or more of the finest gardens in the America as well. But everyone knows their Desert Garden stands head and shoulders over not just their stunning collections but every other garden in North Ameri…

I doubt he'll be reading this...

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My son. Jesse. Isn't he a handsome dude? I doubt that I spent more than a few minutes (if that) fantasizing about having children or worrying or thinking about them before I got married. It wasn't an option, really. I had no intention of having kids. They came with the turf (or marriage contract: Gwen made having two kids a condition of getting married). My eldest--Eleni--is 22 (I launched the blog when she moved out on her own) and now my younger son will be 18 in about a month.
I suppose there are parents who are detached or resent or hate their kids. Most of us are enthralled and enslaved and abashed and humbled by their mere existence. And there are kids who are truly cursed who take advantage of their parents' doting upon them.
My kids, thank God, have thus far trod lightly upon my heart. They have given me enormous joy and pleasure and their childhood has literally whizzed past me. Their co-existence in my homes would be hard to describe to someone who…

What's wrong with this picture?

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As Jan and Jesse and I whizzed into Mancos, the lumbermill caught our attention, but then one of us noticed the sign and the moment had to be preserved. This was the day or two after Thanksgiving when we spent a magical few days on the road to Durango to visit our buddy Jeff Wagner and his estancia (now smothered with unbelievable quantities of snow, we hear), but then it was in early wintry glory. We visited Mesa Verde and Fort Lewis and FINALLY saw Pinus strobiformis (Colorado's rarest and most majestic native tree--more anon) in the wild...very productive coupla days...


Speaking of contradictions, this past Sunday evening the three of us, along with Peter (Panayoti!) Podaras went to see Avatar: the current movie phenom. I may be the only American who has never seen Gone with the Wind, Titanic, the Godfather nor Star Wars, so it was something of a sacrifice to succumb to this bout of popular culture, but as a botanist/horticulturist I was told it was incumbent upon me to check ou…