Thursday, June 23, 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 burnished red all winter long.

The common sulphur flower is anything but common in its utility: it is a rare plant that delivers such a long season of glory for us, requiring so little attention or fuss. And it delivers gold in spadefuls. It always comes into fullest bloom around the solstice, reflecting the shimmering brilliance of the very sun when we enjoy the longest days and hours of golden light.

Yellow flowers? I say Hallelujah!

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