Showing posts from January, 2012

Disaster! Time to move on...

I know it looks fetching here: a solid blue cloud of aster flowers in late summer. Aster x novi-belgii 'Wood's Blue' was undoubtedly another pick of the great Portland Nurseryman who also developed the well known rooting hormone. I met Ed several decades ago when he was at his prime, and his summer aster has provided quite a few years of delight. The problem keeps spreading and spreading. And the flower show is just a tad too short to justify the real estate.

So this year i shall be removing it. Not an easy decision! Does a week or two of cloudy blue splendor justify fifty weeks of blah? If I had several acres of garden, I might be happy to create a vignette combining this with a few other thugs in a sort of battle of wills...

For now the matted mass of foliage is still out there, and I am contemplating how and when this spring to do the dirty deed: as lovely as it looks in the picture, I can't really pawn it off on anyone else around here where it blooms for suc…

Gnomic poem on Facebook...

Watch your thoughts
They become words

Watch your words
They become action

Watch your actions
They become habits

Watch your habits...
They form your character

Watch out! Your character
becomes your destiny ...

Πρόσεξε τις σκέψεις σου
γίνονται λόγια

Πρόσεξε τα λόγια σου
γίνονται πράξεις

Πρόσεξε τις πράξεις σου
γίνονται συνήθειες

Πρόσεξε τις συνήθειές σου...
γίνονται χαρακτήρας

Πρόσεξε το χαρακτήρα σου
γίνεται η μοίρα σου...

Consonance: walking in step

Our body politic may be hopelessly polarized, but our gardens can provide a salubrious model of how opposites can conmingle. Here a rare and obscure daisy from the Eastern United States (Marshallia grandiflora) is happily sharing space with a cool green African Galtonia viridiflora. The delicate tracery of lady fern behind (Athyrium filix femina) completes a cool midsummer idyll. I think that is Athamanta turbith in the picture below, yet another good companion (this time from Eurasia) in this vignette.

These pictures were all taken two summers ago in the Rock Alpine Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens....I feel comfortable posting these because they all date from the times (ever receding into the past) when I did much of the design and gardening in this area. These plants have comingled and persisted here--waxing and waning over the decades--with a sort of quasi ecological balance belying their ancestry and associations in Nature.

Marianne Moore tells us the poetry is real frogs in imag…

Tempus fugit

Sandy Snyder has been scanning old transparencies and recently sent me this one, threatening to post it on my Facebook page. I know my tennis shoes are pretty shabby, and my beard is shabbier, but having one's image posted when one is half the age, and a good deal slimmer than I am now... NOT a problem!

I am much more interested in what is around me. First off, not one in many billion people would probably notice that the picture is flipped horizontally. I notice that sort of thing (of course the Rock Alpine Garden was my virtual Universe for several decades...I ought to know it (although I worry about it almost not at all with Mike Kintgen at the helm nowadays).

I am mostly amazed that there is a flourishing colony of what must be Primula reidii at my feet. I could never dream of growing that hardly anywhere I garden nowadays: it needs super fluffy soil and a cool root run, of course. Now the competition from other plants, not to mention tree roots, shrub roots and compacted soils…

Farewell, Oh Virgin Mary

Shakespeare may have said that "parting is such sweet sorrow". There is a great resonance to poems and songs that express that sorrow, and this is the anthem of Constantinopolitan Greeks, throngs of whom left Istanbul in the last century.

For those of you who read this blog for plants, you might as well skip it. In the depths of winter I stroll down various paths, (or should I say sokakia?)...And in my imagination I return to where my ancestors possibly five hundred years ago trod the narrow passages of Constantinople.

If you are the least bit curious, you might want to listen to this anthem to a lost culture: don't get me wrong. Despite my Cretan ancestry, I am far from being a Hellenic jingoist who destests all things Turkic: I love Turkey and Turks and all things Anatolian. And there is something hauntingly Anatolian about this song, a sort of farewell anthem that so many Rums sing and sang as a memorial to a world that is no more. As my name derives from Panagia, and s…

Remembrance of plants past...Schivereckia

I have recently begun scanning some of my old transparencies (a depressing task at best) and I keep finding plants I once grew that have somehow disappeared from my garden (and other gardens I know as well). Here is the first of these lost little lost souls (plants must have souls: they deserve them more than we do). Schivereckia podolica is not likely to make the short list of most people, and certainly never classed among the best alpine plant by any means, nor has its demise kept me awake at night. But as I look at these faded, nostalgic pictures of plants in my old garden twenty years ago, where it persisted for many, many years (and produced enormous quantities of seed) I realize how evanescent things are. If a plant like this can disappear, what hope is there for us, or civilization for that matter? This is not a fussy plant by any stretch of the imagination.

OK: I admit a white flowered plant that blooms in April is about as novel as rain in Portland in the winter, or wheat in …

Rosulate, Roseate but not a rose!

Dudleya cymosa, near Springville
There is something about rosettes: the sympathetic symmetry (surely not all have fibonacci sequencing?), the rotundity...something there is that likes rosularity. Nature certainly seems to--at least in some of her more challenging ecological environments. This first picture was taken two years ago this March in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills, near our friends' Susan Eubank and Paul Martin's wonderful mountain homes. I collected seed of this plant in the Yuba River canyon with my buddy Ted Kipping twenty years ago on my first field trip with Sean Hogan (I knew there had to be winter hardy forms of Dudleya). Since that time I have grown dudleyas in three gardens for years....but now I suddenly am bereft! Encore cherchez la rose!
Physaria alpina on Horseshoe Mt.
This lovely boutonniere grows only on two mountain ranges in Central Colorado. It was only described to science in the early 1980's, how strange that I and so many others walked by…

First flower of the year: Titanopsis calcarea

Titanopsis calcarea, photographed 1-4-12 at Quince Garden, Denver.

The first flower of the year was actually Rabiea albipuncta, which was in full bloom on 1-1-12 in the rock garden along the north side of the parking lot at Timberline Gardens. Of COURSE I did not have my camera with me. But Woody Minnich did, and photographed it and some day perhaps I will get a picture from him...meanwhile, you shall have to settle for the image below, scanned from a transparency I took decades ago...

I suppose there are fussy gardeners addicted to gargantuan floral effects (you know the type: peonies, lotus flowers, colocasia...anything gigunda) who might find this tiny, warty, scrunched up little plant a tad homely. Even those luminous lemon blossoms would not melt their bloated, overblown fleshy-flowery hearts.

I read once that Titanopsis was discovered when a botanist sat on a limestone boulder and felt it give a bit with his butt. There is no way of tactfully saying that, so I am being vernacular. …

Brave heart

Since this is my 200th Blog posting, not to mention the first of a new year, the selection of which plant to feature borders on the fatidic. Should I pick a flamboyant petaloid monocot (an Onocyclus iris perhaps?)....or some flashy steppe denizen? A Penstemon or Acantholimon (my avatar after all). I fret and decide to scroll through my albums. Not far into the "A's" Adlumia floats by...for that's this image that is so similar to our beloved bleeding hearts (Dicentra). If Botanists can lump Belamcanda or Pardanthopsis into Iris, one wonders how long it will take them to make Dicentra swallow up Adlumia: to the casual eye of the gardener they certainly seem every bit as close...let's see if a botanists rises to this bait.

So why Adlumia? This monocarpic vine of the Eastern hardwood forests forms a lacy rosette year one that is charming in its own right. The second year it starts to climb, and if there is a post or plant nearby it can clamber over, soon it will reac…