Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Odd couples. Unique pairings. Kooky combos.

Lovers of perennial borders are always seeking out wonderful ways of combining plants. Rock gardeners are notorious for their love of the cameo shot: and I'm a culprit in this arena. I have taken tens and thousands of mug shots of plants...finding two together in my image collection is a challenge--and when you do, what strange and mysterious things result.

I don't believe I have flaunted this one on this blog before: Paeonia cambessedessii was just moved from this spot (where it has not bloomed quite as well since I took this picture four or fice years ago.) And the Gentiana acaulis dwindled in this spot--but the Daphne cneorum 'Album' behind is bigger and better than ever, thank Heavens! This patriotic combination caused just about every visitor I led to it to glare at me with envy. Those are the moments gardeners live for.

Where else will you see Allium schubertii combined with BOTH Monardella macrantha AND Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'? I take credit for the picture, but the combination is Dan Johnson's in Yuccarama at DBG--tucked behind a wall where few sensitive souls are apt to see it and swoon. If they do, they are apt to fall into the prickly arms of
Yucca rostrata.

Don't look for either of these plants at Walmart, incidentally. The Sempervivum is 'Gold Bug'--one of the yellowest of its motley tribe. Those single rosettes are framing Rhinephyllum sp. --possibly a new species that I obtained from Steve Hammer of the Sphaeroid Institute. This miniature combo is primo every day of the year (although the Mesemb only blooms for five or six months). It is a dainty morsel that answers the question "why build a rock garden?"...

I took this picture in early July of 2009 on an enchanted trip to Kazakhstan led by the indefatigable and magnificent gentleman Vladimir Kolbintsev [possibly the best all around naturalist I have ever known, and a boon companion] for Greentours: the picture was taken on a remote corner of Mongolia (the only place we visited in that country not overgrazed--too far from any villages you see)...and the plants are a monstruose form of Rhodiola rosea and the ubiquitous Eritrichium pauciflorum of that area. Such is the stuff dreams are made on (for plant nerds anyway...)

Another unlikely (but wonderful) combo: Trollius altaicus rising out of a slightly less monstruose clump of Rhodiola rosea....

I finish with the most outlandish combo of all: myself and my girlfriend Jan Fahs--the beauty on the right (in case you were wondering--next to the beast on the left) at the Fete des Fleurs gala last summer at Denver Botanic Gardens.

I shall probably still take mug shots of alpines and rock plants...but I shall also try to find companions for them--for plants no less than people do not exist in a vacuum. And they often look (and grow) much better paired. I can attest to that!


  1. Panayoti, Your blog continues to increase my vocabulary.


    1. Sometimes I think it's less a blog than a conversation between the two of us, James (except I do know just how many lurkers there are out there--love them "Stats"). You at least speak up!

      I love long (or short) strange words, it's true....I confess I thought this one was a tad restrained.

  2. The picture of your peony reminded me of this tree peony in China.



  3. Love her skirt! You two make a handsome couple.

  4. You are too sweet, Pamit--thank you! Jan's Kimono was borrowed from a colleague (who keeps it on his wall!)...

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