Sunday, December 30, 2012

Out phloxed...Ending the year on a sad note...

Phlox 'Mary Maslin'
Let's make next year better! I have known for some time I would have to eventually write this post, and I suppose the last day of the year is appropriate. 30 years ago the Mexican phlox that my friend Paul Maslin (and I) brought into cultivation were reaching their apogee. There were a dozen or more clones making the rounds...some propagated in prodigious numbers for a while. Everyone had them. And eventually just about everyone lost them. Above is 'Mary Maslin', which Paul named for his wonderful wife who passed away in her mid nineties a decade or more ago. Paul died in 1984--he would be sad indeed to know that most of his phloxes would one day be nearly extinct. Or possibly extinct.

Phlox lutea 30 years ago at Denver Botanic Gardens

The yellow one still persists in the wild, at least. And on the fringes of cultivation...Above you can see how well it once grew for us. I thought it would be a keeper!

Phlox 'Tangelo' 30 years ago at DBG
I know a few people who still have 'Tangelo'--maybe we can bring it back from the brink...
Phlox 'Vanilla' last year in my garden
'Vanilla' which ages a pale yellow is quite vigorous still--the one that has lasted the longest..

Phlox 'Arroyito' 25 years ago or so: grown by Homer Hill (R.I.P.)
Home Hill loved this miniature that showed up at his place. It bloomed all summer. I have a real sense of loss when I view these...I remember Homer once had flats and flats of this.

There is the man: my buddy. Paul Maslin. Look five or so feet in front of him and to the left--you can see some of the scarlet and orange phloxes that filled that patch of prairie five or ten miles west of Cuahtemoc: notice the outlines of the hills behind...and compare them to the shot below.

We believe this picture was taken from roughly the very same spot as the one before. It's worth looking back and forth between them a few times. That is the story of the modern era: the wholesale pavement of all that is charming and picturesque under asphalt and cement.The curlicue and fastigiate cypresses (or are they junipers?) are small compensation indeed.

We have relinquished too much as we've overpopulated our planet. We must re-engineer our economic system--a pyramid scheme at best. We must somehow come to grips before we destroy and lose and compromise the things on planet earth that really matter: the magnificent fields of wildflowers.

We only found the bright orange, scarlet and crimson phloxes in one spot--and that spot is paved wall to wall to perdition.

New Year Resolutions:

        1) Join Zero Population Growth
        2) Send a check to Planned Parenthood
        3) Re-join the Sierra Club
        4) Propagate rare plants I grow that may be lost to cultivation
        5) Try to raise my own integrity a tad so I can be self-righteous without squirming too much

I would like to be positive and cheerful: those who know me know I tend to be. But I believe we cannot be naive, or dishonest or spend all our time whistling in the wind. Nature shall persist long after humans have bungled and blasted ourselves to oblivion. But I would like both Nature and Humanity to not just persist, but thrive. And for humanity to quit overpopulating, and even shrink our numbers a bit, and figure out how we can have our cake and eat it, dammit!

How have a Happy New Year! (Drink one for me and maybe a couple for the lovely Maslin phloxes--who knows? perhaps there's even time to salvage a few?)

P.S. I've done an album on this blog showing a variety of phloxes--these as well as lots of Western phloxes that are still wonderfully abundant in nature. (Just don't tell the engineers).


  1. I have hit this blog by chance and wow, I love it. Happy 2013 for you and being a professional horticulturist myself 2013 must be a year of more exploration if not far but on the doorstep.

    1. Thanks for your kind note! Many of the greatest treasures lie on our doorstep. But oh! the call of the wild!

  2. Your before / after Chihuahuan desert grassland shots from near Cuahtemoc are a sad transformation, but the norm of what much becomes in our region...but not all. I'll post something on a new development or two in the region, in spite of some rabbits.

    Those are definitely Italian Cypress, about the toughest conifer for Abq to El Paso...ones in the latter place are about as nice as any I've seen even in Calif or Italy, and our mature ones are nothing to sneeze at.

  3. That is tragic...just terribly sad. Even worse is the fact that most people would actually consider that "progress". Until people realize what they are destroying to have yet another freeway, things will only get worse :-(

  4. Panayoti,

    You just might be able to get Mary Maslin from these guys (if you can read German).

    I could not locate a source for Arroyito. In "High and Dry: Gardening With Cold Hardy Dryland Plants" Bob Nold wrote it is a hybrid with sublata. It might be worth trying the cross to see if Arroyito can be reproduced.


  5. Very interesting to get this sort of sad perspective on favorite wild collected plants that have mostly been lost, a lot of us forget that some things can be very ephemeral, enjoyed for a time, hopefully loved and appreciated, sometimes lost. I've had my share of plants I loved and ultimately lost, and have little prospects of ever being able to grow again. Maybe it does help somehow to be cultivating some rarer plants that are now extinct in the wild, but I doubt my efforts contribute much in the scheme of things. If you can't preserve the habitat, such plants have no real future being returned in situation. In the meantime, I'll take my joy in having a Deppea splendens 'Cristobal' still blooming on New Years Eve.

    Thanks for the interesting post, good luck with trying to preserve these cultivate there. And totally agree that reducing our numbers could only help the rest of the planet's biodiversity. Hopefully we will get it together before it is too late. I've been enjoying your posts, even if I don't often comment...
    David in Berkeley

  6. As sad as it is the world will keep changing around us. As gardners and lanscapers we need to spread our knowledge and seeds to others. Buy from nurseries that are better and hire landscape architects and landscapers that promote native or, water thrifty,and wildlife supporting plants.
    Wildlands are as close as our backyards.

    PS amazing phlox!

  7. Great piece Panayoti! I remember the first offerings of the Maslin selections of P. mesoleuca coming from Siskiyou Rare Plants nursery starting about 1990. They had 'Arroyo', 'Mary Maslin', 'Paul Maslin; 'Tangelo' and 'Vanilla' on offer for $5.95 each but the 'Maslins' were $7.95. There may be some of these cvs. lurking in a rock garden in S. Arizona. Who knows?
    As for the eco note: growth almost always has a corporate homogenized dynamic. Corporations call it quality control. Its the friendly fire of development, I suppose.

    At any rate, make sure to take lotsa cuttings and passem 'round.

  8. Thanks for the note, Grahame! Siskiyou persists, but I believe they have lost the phlox too. They had tons all through the 80's--and were the largest mail order purveyor...but in our area large wholesale nurseries were selling them cheaply in plugs across the country! Strange world we live in. As for Corporations--what a mixed blessing THEY are. Makes me want to build a mud hut at times.

  9. Thank you for your beautiful heart conscience, Brother. Love to all...


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