Showing posts from June, 2011


Just a few days ago, as I hiked Gregory Canyon west of Boulder, I saw the common sulphur flower in its full glory. This is Eriogonum umbellatum v. umbellatum, the type form of the most universal of western buckwheats. There are those who don't like yellow in the garden: to them, I say "fiddlesticks" or "phooey!". Nature loves yellow, and lavishes it everywhere...There are dozens of subspecies of just this one species of buckwheat: I've grown nearly a dozen in my day. But these two forms are the ones that have stuck by me longest.

Here a month ago is the Western slope subspecies of E. umbellatum, var. aureum, in Wildflower Treasures garden.

This picture just taken a week or so ago shows why this is one of the great groundcovers: thrives in Denver with no supplemental water, but certainly loves it when it gets a bit. In a week or so this will turn a burnished orange, with reddish tints. Even the plant in seed is stunning. And of course the mat turns a burnish…

Flocks and flocks of phox

Few spectacles enchant me more each spring than the masses of creeping phlox that carpet the steppe, prairie, meadows and tundra of the West. Everyone knows the Eastern phloxes--the ones sold at every garden center. There are a half dozen species (or less) found east of the Mississippi, and these are pretty well known in garden centers and are certainly revered among rock gardeners. The dozens and dozens of species of Western microphloxes are another matter: they are wonderfully treated in a brand new monograph by Jim Locklear (do check out the hyperlink if you don't know this modern classic)...

But I have a quibble with this book: Jim lumps this luscious phlox shown above (and below) with the straggly Phlox longifolia found universally in the west. I don't deny they are related (after all, Twiggy and Dolly Parton could well be cousins). But for gardeners, Phlox grayi is THE Western phlox. These pictures were taken on the green roof (for Heaven's sake) at Denver Botanic Gar…

Dark beauty

Iris barnumae v. barnumae

Iris 'Oyez'

Various Arilbreds on East Ridge

There is a problem area in my garden we've dubbed East Ridge: not many choice or interesting things seemed to grow there because of the deep sandy soil and extreme dryness until one day when I put an arilbred on the slope. It waxed and thrived so (something arilbreds don't often do) I realized I'd inadvertently discovered a perfect spot to collect this marvellous group of plants. Two years worth of bonanzas from the Aril Society international, some trades and purchases, the slope now has dozens, maybe even a hundred or more plants established.

For the last month or more I have had the delight of watching a parade of aril and arilbred irises bloom along the length and breadth of East Ridge. The show is not over yet, but it's past its peak. We were blessed with incredibly cool, often rainy weather this past month, so the flowers lasted and lasted. One blossom lasted a whole week!

Although I am a d…