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Showing posts from April, 2012

Common as dirt: lilacs and Caragana.

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A wise Coloradoan knows better than to speak of the spring before midsummer: we are in the midst of the earliest and most floriferous spring ever...and still three or four weeks from the average date of last frost (our last hard frost was over a month ago....so we are talking a SEVERE variance!). What to make of it all?

Lilacs are blooming their bloody heads off: who cares? You can almost gauge the age of a neighborhood by the prevalance of Lilacs in Denver: older neighborhoods have the most. Of course, they get frosted every few years, and singed most years. But this year...THIS year, they are blooming like mad. These are pictures taken at my girlfriend, Jan Fahs', house in NW Denver.

I have rued the fact I can't seem to grow Daphne genkwa, whose main claim to fame is that it looks like a small lilac! Except it doesn't apparently smell....I mean--HELLLOOOOOO! What's the big deal? I have a thirty foot row of giant blue lilacs at my house and each time I stroll along the…

Alpine treasure trove: Laporte Avenue Nursery

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Gentiana verna form in a seed pot.
There are many blessings to being a gardener in Colorado, but I count as chief among these the relative proximity of Laporte Avenue Nursery, one of the greatest alpine plant nurseries in the world, and much much more. Owned by Kirk Fieseler and Karen Lehrer, they have grown thousands of plants and list hundreds of kinds of plants every year on their wonderful website.


Where else in America would you be likely to stumble on what must be Primula stuartii, a mythical plant from the Himalayas, blooming contentedly?


Here are flats and flats of Draba dedeana from Spain, a fabulous cushion plant I have grown once or twice...but not like this! Needless to say, I have a few more in my garden this spring to enjoy thanks to Laporte! They are mail order (still time to sneak in an order), but more and more they do wholesale shipments in our area, supplying the fabulous garden centers of Colorado with some of their choicest morsels. They are open by appointment to…

San Francisco Flower Show and random thoughts...

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Rhodies galore! Always fun--especially for color starved people like me from the Great Plains. This is reason enough to fly to California in March (although I was there to speak to California Horticultural Society and conduct some other business). I have been lucky to visit quite a few of the great flower shows of the world including RHS's gonzo July Hampton Court (which dwarfs Chelsea Flower Show incidentally), and of course Philadelphia Flower Show where I have judged about once a decade forever, and the impressive Pacific Northwest Flower show where I judged last year...

As a dutiful blogger, I should be giving you the names of all these gardens: needless to say, there were a dozen, maybe two dozen gardens: a cottagy one, some with trim hedges, the one brimming with Rhodies, Japanesey ones and naturalistic ones...the usual gamut. None quite to the standards of the astonishing abandoned nursery at last year's Seattle Show.



There has to be one in every group...the wierdo in …

Small azure irid

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It is barely April, and the crocus season is almost over this year! We are weeks ahead of schedule, although this evening it is chilly and snow is predicted for the morning...so a brief glimpse back Crocus sieberi in Sandy's garden a few weeks ago...widespread in Greece and Crete, I particularly love this tricolor form which was once rather dear, but has become quite inexpensive lately: I must remind myself to buy a few more hundred to plant next Autumn for my meadow !



In Greek, κρίνο (=crinum) can certainly be used for the Amaryllid it is applied to in Scientific nomenclature. But in fact, it is used for most any small wild petaloid monocot. It is applied to irises and lilies as often as Amaryllids...so stretching it to apply to a crocus (even though that is a common Greek name today as well) is not unreasonable! I find it charming that the song that propelled Nana Mouskouri to superstardom in Greece, namely Nikos Gatsos classic "Athina" sums up the vast, sprawling metr…

Viva sweet love!

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For the last few years spring has been a long drawn out affair, with Japanese Quince blooming in late March and April and the crabs in late April and May...but every so often we get a hurried, crazy spring when they all bloom together. I recall the last time this happened was seven or more years ago and then we get this sort of, well, rather peculiar mix of colors in a few gardens here and there...I rather look forward to it. If there is one time of year when clashing colors can almost get away with it is in springtime...speaking of which, every spring I re-recite and relish one of the many fine spring poems by e.e. cummings: you must chant along with me now:



sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love
(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)
lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there's nobody else alive
(such a sky and such…