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Showing posts from October, 2011

I can almost smell the pungent...

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... aromatic tang of the karoo in my nostrils when I look at this miniature gem: Arctotis adpressa has haunted me for nearly two decades. Unquestionably the hardiest of its genus, I first found it forming a huge mat (2 m. across!) on top of Hantamberg, in January of 1994: I scrounged a few dubious looking seedpods, and of course, they did not germinate. I found it again here and there along the Roggeveld plateau, where it is not terribly rare..but always in off season until a decade or so ago when I obtained some fresh seed that grew for Bill Adams of Sunscapes, the only nursery in the world that propagates and sells this that I know of (except, of course, for a few garden centers in the Denver area that buy this from Bill).

I am sure as I type this that tens and thousands of mats of this are blooming gloriously in the high Komsberg, on the ridges of the Niewveld mountains, on those magical high places of the High Karoo where I have spent just a few days now and again, and which nevert…

Improbable crosses

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Can an alligator really have crossed with a waterlily and planted its progeny in the Chihuahuan desert? There are those plants that have a certain manna. You can't really call yourself a rock gardener until you have had your first feeble flower on blue Meconopsis, your giant wands on Saxifraga longifolia, or killed a few Eritrichium or Dionysia! No self-respecting Irisarian would be without an Aril iris or two, or clumps of Iris tectorum in the woods...and let's add a few clumps of 'Beverly Sills'. For us succulent types, there are a number of "touchstones": one surely is those outlandish Chihuahuan cacti that look more lizardy than cactoid: Ariocarpus fissuratus is surely one of these...


As President of the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society, I need all the street cred I can muster. I know, I know, I may have invented Delosperma for all intents and purposes as a garden plant, and I have grown a few hundred (or thousand) hardy succulents in my day, but it&…

Three wild and crazy guys!!!!!

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I don't have a CLUE who took this. I suspect we must have taken the picture in Mexico, on the fateful trip Paul Maslin, Baldassare Mineo and I all took to collect the Chihuahuan phloxes way back in October of 1981--almost precisely three decades ago. It was about the time that Steve Martin and Dan Akyroyd invented those intrepid Brothers, although I daresay we were seeking Mexican phloxes rather than American foxes...our taste was nearly as brash in retrospect.


I scanned a hundred or so old pictures like this of friends and acquaintances that I would like to bring out of the land of boxed transparencies into the new digital realm.

The pictures have brought forth a tsunami of remembrance and nostalgia. There I was at 31, relatively svelte. Of course, Baldassare is still svelte and remarkably similar nowadays (he no doubt has a hoary portrait in his closet). Little did I imagine thirty years ago that this would be the last big trip I would take with my mentor, Paul, and that a few yea…

Rage! Rage! Against the dying of the light! Celebrating endless autumn....

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Fireworks goldenrod in the O'Fallon Perennial border a few weeks ago: what a great plant! And what an amazing autumn: on and on and on it goes...ordinarily we would have had at least one, maybe two dustings of snow by now and hoar frost at least. They predicted hard frost tonight and tomorrow night, and now maybe not. Gotta love Colorado! You NEVER know what to expect!


Found this self sown sporeling of Pellaea atropurpurea growing on solid Limestone in the Rock Alpine Garden a few days ago. I wonder if one out of 100 visitors notices (despite the fact it is at eye level)....maybe one out of 1000? Would you?



Many is the year this Hosta tardiflora would have been fried by now. Come to think of it, Bergenia ciliata right next to it shows a bit of damage, so the Rock Alpine Garden (which is a frost pocket and gets the first frost anywhere in Denver) has been kissed by the Frost goddess...but not enough to fry this yet.

I blogged about this elsewhere, but can't resist yet another …

Last Love

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Love at the closing of our days
is apprehensive and very tender.
Glow brighter, brighter, farewell rays
of one last love in its evening splendor.

Blue shade takes half the world away:
through western clouds alone some light is slanted.
O tarry, O tarry, declining day,
enchantment, let me stay enchanted.

The blood runs thinner, yet the heart
remains as ever deep and tender.
O last belated love, thou art
a blend of joy and of hopeless surrender.

-Fyodor Tyutchev




I remember when the horticultural staff at Denver Botanic Gardens would practically dance snow dances to hasten killing frost this time of year: they were so tired of dead-heading annuals, I suppose, and were waiting for...what? Death I suppose? Nothingness?




Winter may have it's threadbare appeal...but don't we have time enough for that? Although Tyutchev undoubtedly had an aging couples romance (rather like Antonio Machado's Guiomar poems)--love so deep, so tender that young love pales by comparison...It is a bit dramatic to say …

Hardy in Cortez? Salvia guaranitica? Get real!

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I took this picture last Saturday at the truly amazing home and garden of David and Pati Temple who live in an enchanting and remote canyon 16 miles from Cortez. The plant is Salvia guaranitica, native to warm temperate and subtropical South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil specifically). It is generally regarded as marginal, even in Zone 7 (maximum lows above 0 Farenheit). This plant has survived 4 winters here and come back strong (as you can see it is a husky individual). Yes, yes, I know...it's on a south wall, and it is Southwesternmost Colorado. But they do get winter, and last winter was fierce!

I should not have been so surprised that this made it for the Temples: we have grown Salvia uliginosa for years in Denver, which has a similar range in nature. Needless to say, I asked them to save seed for us to work on this seemingly hardier strain....


While I'm showing off the Temple's Salvias, it would be wrong, wrong, wrong if I didn't post this pic…

Gem of a garden

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A cloudy, blustery day in October is hardly the time to visit or photograph a garden, but there are those who are up to the task! I had visited Lisa and Drew Bourey's gem of a garden a half dozen years earlier (in September that time) and was anxious to see it again. Like all plantsmen's gardens, this one is multidimensional: I can only imagine what it must be like in the magical months when there are hundreds of flowers everywhere. But autumn has its compensations, like the heavy fruit set on the Pyracantha espalier!


Durango is not just in Southwest Colorado, it is a beacon in the Southwest! I think this may be one of the great gardening climates, judging by the astonishing array of plants not just in the Bourey garden, but everywhere. What impressed me most about this area is that the plants LOOK good right now after a very hot summer: the cool nights at the relatively higher elevation are no doubt part of the reason. And more reliable snow cover. I love the melting tones o…

Zillions of zany zinnias!

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"...to set budding more later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease
for summer hath oerbrimm'd their clammy cells."

Ode to Autumn, John Keats

We rarely have mists although mellow fruitfulness is apropos. The last few autumns we have had such a promising beginning: I have all the windows open (it's 5:30 AM) on October 5--it is almost summery in coolness with just a nip of fall. Although cooler weather is predicted in a few days...

My last blog showed a sumptious Salvia at the Gardens at Kendrick Lake (that Lakewood wonderland I have not yet truly done justice to on this blog--I just show snippets here and there of the many treasures there)...that garden is quite spectacular this time of year with literally dozens of plants in full glorious bloom. None are more lavish in their display than our modest Zinnia grandiflora,



I say "our" advisedly: the late Andrew Pierce, whom I have eulogized recently, insisted that he and I introduced this to…