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Showing posts from September, 2012

Sage advice

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When it comes to sage, it's easy, man: YES, yes and more yes. The season ought to be winding down, yest Salvias keep chugging along. I took the picture of the pink jobby above a few days ago at Santa Fe Greenhyouses, where I was visiting David Salman. Yes, the nursery is closed right now, but there are  a wealth of goodies still there in stock beds, borders and in the greenhouses. This pink selection I found there is a selection of S. pratensis or S. transilvanica.


I have recently joined in praise of the Texas muhly, 'Autumn Embers'--a form of Muhlenbergia reverchonii first collected by Lauren and Scott Ogden and sold for several years by Santa Fe greenhouses (High Country Gardens), here ablaze next to anther sage--Salvia grandiflora 'Nekan': both essential in my book.


What plant can challenge and match the blue of Salvia patens, still blooming prolifically in the Promenade walk in front of the Orangerie at DBG, where I took this picture last week. I understand th…

Burning Bush: Salvia Darcyi?

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I have referred to Salvia darcyi glancingly in many posts over the last few years. Perhaps it's time to grasp the thistle (so to speak) and acknowledge this uber-sage, this conflagration, this burning bush of garden plants. Just a few days ago, Mark Kane (an old gardening friend and great horticulturist) commented casually as we strolled past a planting of this sage at DBG) that he was with Carl Schoenfeld and John Fairey (of the famed Yucca Do and Peckerwood Garden) in 1988 in Nuevo Leon when they first collected this taxon: at the time they thought it was Salvia oresbia. A few years later James Compton and William D'Arcy accompanied the Yucca Do meisters to the same spot, and the plant was subsequently named (or renamed?...I am not sure Charles Christopher Parry's collection ofS. oresbiain 1878 might not be the same plant incidentally--which would wreak a bit of nomenclatural havoc...)


I obtained starts of this from Salvia guru Richard Dufresne shortly after it was disc…

Iconoclasm: the urge to purge (in gardens too)

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What does a sixth century mosaic have to do with present day gardening in America? The connection at first blush is tenuous--but first let me say that this impeccable mosaic, nearly 1600 years old, is as fresh and perfect and precisely the way it has looked from the day it was finished. I hope one day I might have a chance to visit the Monastery of St. Catherine's and gaze up (as Crusaders did six hundred years ago, as monks have continuously for nearly two millenia) at this startling depiction of Christ's transiguration.

What haunts me about this mosaic is that it is only one of what must have been thousands of similar mosaics that would have decorated churches and cathedrals at the time across the empire of Justinian...the so-called Byzantine empire ("byzantine" is a word invented by a Frenchman a few centuries ago to characterize the latter Roman empire based in "Byzance"--i.e. Byzantium--and old name for Rum (the proper name for Constantinople, the Pol…

Second Spring!

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OK, ok...the colors are different! Instead of Giotto pinks and blues we have these Rembrandt reds and Dutch gold--but we all know that autumn can blaze and burn in ways that spring can only dream of! I took this picture just a few hours ago in twilight on West Ridge, the native xeriscape on the west end of my garden I hae planted a dozen greggii/microphylla type salvias in every imaginable color (pinks, purples as well as the more familiar scarlets, but also oranges and yellow). The reds have lasted years, we shall see is the others are well hardy enough to survive the winter soon enough...


I have likely posted this picture before--this is Westridge in June several years ago--nice enough. At first, if you look at the September state in the next shot (from almost the same spot!) it seems rather stark...but keep scrolling down...

It may appear monochromatic--and texture is its strong point--but the brash light of late morning does make the xeriscape contrasty: check out the weeping Art…

A Suite of late summer sweeties...

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My new favorite grass is this blowsy head of hair, growing at the Garden at Kendrick Lake (source of endless marvels)...it is Arrhenatherum calamagrostis. I think this is the form Lauren Springer Ogden brought back from Europe and introduced through High Country Gardens...this time of year it's just another tawny blond, but through the long summer months it is a chartreuse dream--at least 20 million times better than the vastly overrated, overplanted and just plain annoying 'Karl Foerster' grass (yes, I know..it has it's place: next to Perovskia down the street in my opinion!)...Tear all them suckers out and replace them with this hotty, I say!


Not  nearly as as dazzling a blue as its close cousin Clematis heracleifolia (whose foliage does not look like any Heracleum I've ever grown incidentally)...this paler, more nodding Japanese cousin is nevertheless worth growing in its own right...here on the Montane Slope of the Rock Alpine Garden (that endless treasure tro…

Aroidiana: three more delightful weeds...

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I can almost hear my friends in wetter parts of America groaning! Pinellias! Panayoti! You have GOT to be kidding...these are ineradicable weeds for many of you I know. That's punishment for living where gentle rains soak your landscape on a more or less regular basis...for those of us who live on the godforsaken steppes of America (they're simply awful--stay where you are) we can grow these things just fine. They are even a tad, well, picky (we have to put them in shade, in places we actually commit to watering. If not...bye bye! The one above is Pinellia pedatisecta, which I enjoyed finding on top of Confucius grave. Quite literally...in Qufu, Shandong province to be exact. I do have it seeding here and there--just enough to share with friends. It is green flowered, like most pinellias--if you do not like green flowers, have a good long chat with your therapist and get over it.


This is public enemy number one: Pinellia ternata...it has the famous bulbils in the axils of the…

What the world needs now....is NOT another yellow daisy...

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And yet...I did collect a pinch of seed! We grew this for years at the Gardens, but I think we renovated the garden it grew in one too many times: this is a picture of Heliomeris multiflora (long known as Viguera multiflora), a widespread composite of the Southern Rockies found in a wide range of xeric habitats from near desert up to montane meadows--this picture was taken in the carport of Kerry and Laura Kaster's wonderful home where we spent the weekend...(that's my sweetheart Jan, by the way, doing her Vanna thing.)


The forms we grew in the past seemed to have squinnier flowers: this one was nearly 3" across! It is one of those strange plants that may be perennial--probably short lived. If you put it where it is happy, you will have more than enough. Forever.


Of course, the aspen were turning...and we saw many other flowers at Yampa River Botanic Park, which I will discuss in another place, at another time...if you check back, perhaps I shall even hyperlink it here..…

Hint of autumn

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Naked lads, Naked ladies, Colchicum, fall crocus--whatever you call it, when it emerges the gig is up: you know the hot days are numbered.

There are large drifts of these at Denver Botanic Gardens, and I have a handsome clump at home as well...I remember as a child walking past a decrepit wall garden a block or so from my house in Boulder that was a weed patch much of the year, but every fall burst into glorious bloom (the whole schmeer with those giant lavender-pink goblets....

Goblets indeed, filled with autumnal memories and toasting the dying sun.