Showing posts from April, 2011

Daft for Daphnes

I remember fifteen years ago or so when my ex (that's Gwen Moore) started buying every daphne she could get her hands on. I thought she was a tad daft at the time: do we really need that many daphnes? They are expensive and come as tiny rooted cuttings. Of course, with time, you realize that's the only way to grow daphnes.

And grow they have! the last ten years they have been sheared repeatedly by Laporte Avenue Nursery, By Sunscapes, By Mike Bone of the Botanic Gardens...and a few others too. Hence their delightful compactness. They would bloom quite well...and then last year no one came. They had enough cuttings from their own plants, perhaps. I reminded them in the springtime, but everyone was too busy. I reminded them again in the fall: big projects at all these places precluded the yearly haircut. So my poor daphnes spent a year unsheared...

And they liked it! In the picture above, the small white one on the left is Daphne x hendersonii 'Ernst Hauser' (A hybrid of …

Iris bucharica: treasure from Bokhara

I believe I obtained my first Iris bucharica from Cruickshank Nursery (do they still operate I wonder?) in Canada nearly a half century ago. Even back then I was a little nutty about irises and grew many well I no longer do (not everything progresses!), although I have to confess that in most spheres of my life, reality has far outpaced my fondest expectations. My first few irises prospered in Boulder and formed clumps--eventually about like what you see above (although I just took that yesterday in the Rock Alpine Garden).

Above is one of many incredible plantings of Iris bucharica throughout Denver Botanic Gardens: this one in the Lilac garden (a bit of an understatement that name: it contains lavish collections of daffodils, irises of all sorts, peonies, daylilies, phloxes and all the garden classics grown to amazing perfection by Ann Montague, one of the most talented horticulturists I've ever had the privilege to know: and I get to work with her every day!)...there are simila…

True blue

I don't think I have ever met anyone who doesn't like blue in flowers, and I have met a good many people who are crazy about it. Meconopsis, Delphinium and Gentian are three genera that have a sort special cachet for their true blues. And all three have their "issues" that make them somewhat problematical for many to grow them. Meanwhile, Veronica spreads vast mats and positive carpets of true and dazzling blue, and no one seems to notice.

There are pink and even white veronicas, and they have their place. But most veronicas are a clear, pure blue. And most are very accommodating. The genus (including a few bona fide weeds) seems to really thrive in Colorado, and I have written for Fine Gardening and elsewhere about some of the commoner sorts.

But right now the queen of the genus (or one of the royalty anyway) is in peak bloom in my garden, and I thought I'd share a picture of it: Veronica bombycina var. bolgardaghensis is a rather long name for such a compact pla…

Coming full circle: Iris orchoides blooms for the first time in my garden

Juno irises have enjoyed quite a vogue for some time in Britain: the Scottish and Alpine Garden Society journal's have scrumptious pictures of huge clumps in full bloom on show benches. You must go to considerable lengths to grow a juno iris in a pot. We have almost the same climate in Colorado that juno iris experience in Asia, so mine are just planted out in a dry garden. Fortunately, they seem to like it. I received this as a seedling several years ago from Beaver Creek greenhouses, and it has finally built up the stores to bloom.

I collected seed of several forms of this iris last autumn in Kazakhstan: It is an act of faith to grow these from seed, since they can take five or more years to bloom. It is worth the wait. I photographed this gem in several qualities of light: which one do you prefer?