Showing posts from September, 2011


A year ago I blogged about Salvia pachyphylla (pssst! You're supposed to click on where I said "blogged"...I have a hyperlink that will call up that very blog). I am publishing this blog for several reasons: first off to show you the very same plant growing at the Gardens at Kendrick Lake exactly one year later. Several things should stand out if you compare the two pictures:

1) they were taken at different times of the day, so the plants look really DIFFERENT, even though I swear on a stack of bibles it's the same individual.
2) This is one hell of a clone. Definitely deserves to be propagated and named. (Hint).
3) The aster in last year's picture is missing: Greg Foreman tells me some yahoo dug the sucker up (i.e. stole it). I think that is a very sad commentary on humanity.
4) One of the greatest things that have happened in my life is to be party to the introduction of such stunning plants to general cultivation. Life is good: even though jerks steal plants.
5) Gr…

Scare the shepherds! Colchicums!

Colchicum "Big Sucker"
I read somewhere that the Spanish call Merendera pyreneica (now Colchicum pyreneicum) "Espanto pastores" ("Scare the shepherds") because when they begin to bloom it means snow is not too far C. pyreneicum bloomed last week, and I forgot to take a picture of it, but I have realized that just as you can spend years going through classes, noticing that one who always would sit in the back, and then suddenly one day you realize you are in love, so too have I fallen in love with these diaphanous, predictably vigorous and utterly wonderful Colchicums! No, it's not really its cultivar name: I am not sure which big sucker is blooming like crazy under the Crabs here at work. I have something similar lighting up my garden here and there: I can tell I will be figuring it out soon (love leads to enlightenment you know...)

Of course everyone knows 'Waterlily' I planted three many years ago and these are now huge clumps…

I know very well I could not

I have been writing a few too many memorials in recent years. I suppose when you enter your seventh decade (a grim way of saying I'm 61 years old) you can expect to lose friends. Most recently, it was Andrew Pierce, a much loved and ubiquitous presence in our regional horticultural scene, and most importantly to me, my friend.

If you click on that link you can read a short tribute I wrote in another Blog I contribute to about the man, or a very cursory allusion to a few of his contributions to my workplace. No memorial can capture the true essence of the day to day interactions over the years that accrue to create a friendship.

How could I begin to encapsulate nearly forty years of interactions with an individual with whom I had nearly daily contact with during much of that interval? When the terrible telephone call comes, and you choke back the tears and start philosophizing, you try not to be too overwhelmed with the reminiscinces that begin to jostle your memory. Andrew bringing …


I was labeling slides from this past summer and saw this iconic image of my work place (an icon in and of itself): I'd already forgotten the day I took it. But it is fresh enough a memory that I can recreate the day and remember something about it, other than the floriferous border and classic conservatory shot. The angle and the composition is better than any others this year: this is a keeper I shall use in talks. It will become a symbol, as it were, of a symbol.

The Rocky Mountains (Horseshoe Mountain in the Mosquitos to be precise) and Jan Fahs, my girlfriend. Two of the most pervasive icons in my life: I live in the shadow of the Rockies, and watch them morning, noon and evening every day. Jan is the one I spend most time with and have chosen to be my companion. Both loom large in my life, like the Pantocrator in a byzantine chapel. Large icons indeed!

I took this picture of Iris missouriensis a few months ago on a fishing trip with my two kids (my own personal symbols). Each…

Basking in the glow (still)...Suncrest Nursery

It's been over a week now, but I'm still basking in the glow of a really fabulous visit to the Bay area...judging by the amazing crunch of people at the rent-a-car complex, everybody else in America knows what a great destination San Francisco is (I couldn't believe the lines). In fact, as I was waiting in the Budget line two very impatient foreigners tried to cut in front of the patient American throngs. Of course, they had to be Greek...they stormed out (probably looking to see if they could find a shorter line elsewhere), but came back later with their tails between their legs, so to speak. I struck up a conversation with the husband: the Greek-American wife was here on business (American diplomatic service, actually!), he a tag along for vacation...he had a Cretan accent, I asked him where he came from. Wouldn't you know, it's a village not far from my father's birthplace, the beach town of Kalives where I spent many an enchanting weeks as a kid. Of course…

Plant heaven: Annie's Annuals...

I briefly mentioned Annie's Annuals in my last blog...well, that was cruel! If you do not know this unbelievable nursery, well, you are still in the Dark Ages and might as well go drink some Grog. The name is misleading: of course, they offer what has to be the most amazing selection of non-traditional annuals (i.e., what you could get from Park Seed Co. or the like) in America, and probably beyond. Things like a full range of California, Mediterranean and every other kind of poppy imaginable, really hard to get treasures. But they have all manner of perennials, bulbs, shrubs, trees and succulents: you name it! Don't expect anything common or humdrum: Annie grows only the best!

There are delightful display gardens everywhere, and containers galore...the next few images are to tantalize you with some of the specimen plants blooming late summer. Namely, a fabulous assortment of buckwheats...

Drool on!

I think just about everything at this nursery is grown at this nursery, mostl…


Seedpod of Magnolia hypoleuca

I finally looked up the words of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah! and I confess, they are a complete disconnect from k.d.lang's haunting rendition of that classic which I was privileged to hear from the artist herself at a Botanic Garden's concert early in August. What does this have to do with California? The soaring harmonies of that song somehow colored my month, a scorching August culminating in a cool week in the Bay area. I shall share a few treasures of that week (during which you should have the golden notes of the song soaring to give you a sense of the utter quiddity of things...the textures of time are evanescent. Prose, rough to the touch, only hints at the magic of the moment. I nevertheless will try. Hallelujah!

Magnolia hypoleuca (see?)

Quarryhill has loomed big in my life the last few years. Bill McNamara (it's CEO and mastermind along with the late Jane Davenport) have created a stunning concatenation of East Asian plants (all of …