Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's a mystery...Draba that is.

There is a very small, very select group of congnoscenti who like drabas, and an even smaller coterie who seek out white drabas. I confess I belong to both idiosects. Drabas come in yellow, egg-yolk yellow, daffodil yellow, plain old yellow and white. Each day this time of year yet another species of draba pokes open a blossom, like prying open a sleepy eye, to see if perhaps there are any pollinators foolish enough to be out there already.

I obtained the draba above as Draba dedeana, which I am quite sure it is not. I have grown D. dedeana several times as a matter of fact--a lovely thing--and it is much coarser in foliage. This thing makes an incredibly dense cushion almost as diminutive in rosette as D. bryoides. I have seen white Draba oreibata on Mt. Borah, and Mike Kintgen collected seed of D. oreadum on the Atlas Mountains of Morocco: lovely indeed, but not my wooly cushion. I grew a wonderful white dwarf from Wyoming whose name I have forgotten, and the tiny, white-flowered D. handelii, And there is the universal native white D. fladnizensis: all are little treasures, to be sure. But this monster is extraordinary. It blooms from March to May and sets lots of decorative seedpods that seem to have viable seed (although it has not self sown). It is certainly one of the best of hundreds, nay thousands of kinds of plants in my alpine garden. And do I know what it is?

Perhaps you do: if so please let me know. I hesitate to give away cuttings without having a clue what to call it.

One of the occupational hazards of being a rock gardener is getting misnamed or simply novel plants that no one has ever heard of. It's a tough hobby, and I'm glad I can live with mysteries! I would welcome more on this order of cuteness!

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