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Showing posts from May, 2012

Lily love and a moral epigraph

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Few plants better exemplify the predicament we are in: I suspect that wood lilies were probably never that abundant (they are as tasty for deer as they are for cattle): but I suspect in presettlement times they probably occurred in far greater numbers than they do today. I have seen these here and there in Colorado--perhaps ten or fifteen spots along the Front Range, although they are said to occur beyond. I have also seen them on moist swales in prairie near Choteau, Montana: I nevertheless suspect their numbers in the Southern Rockies are finite: thousands, perhaps...not the millions that may or may not have once occurred.

One thing is certain: people do love and pick them as assiduously as the deer, and the riparian habitats where these are found are optimal spots for all sorts of human activities from towns and farms to ranches and ranchettes...we are undoubtedly the primary cause for the rarity of Lilium philadelphicum var. andinum.

These two pictures are of plants in my home g…

Cactus: great plants and an AWESOME new book...

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First..the plants! This is Echinocereus reichenbachii (although I would still like to call it E. albispinus), a distinctive race of the polymorphic lace cactus that comes from Oklahoma (that much overlooked, flown-over and insufficiently appreciated state full of treasures: I will be telling you more about Oklahoma in another blog to come..) This spectacular gem bloomed for me three days ago. The flowers last only a few hours. The Japanese celebrate Cherry Blossoms not only because of theri beauty but because of their transience. I celebrate cactus flowers for the same reason...Hossanah!


 Not all cacti are spectacular: this is a highly local species from the Big Bend country that has proved very hardy: Echinocereus chloranthus is basically our local green flowered hedgehog on steroids, but this is its first blooming for me. I got the plant from Agua Fria nursery in Santa Fe--added reason why I am so pleased to admire and photograph it. Many plants I grow I value as much for the nurs…

Perennial annuals...

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Everyone eventually grows Larkspur (Ajacis consolida), which is the ultimate annual that comes back with a vengeance. Tony Avent famously says that "that friends don't let friends grow annuals" (something I don't necessarily agree with)...I find myself growing more and more annuals each year, and none delight me more than those that come back on their own. Self sowing annuals are potentially a bane in the garden if they become too rambunctious, like larkspur, Rudbeckia triloba. Even Nigella and bachelor's buttons can truly overwhelm a small space without some judicious thinning early on...

But Orlaya grandiflora (photographed in Mike Kintgen's incomparable garden) above is very seemly for me: I show his plant rather than mine which are smaller, and more dispersed and not quite so photogenic! I recall seeing this brilliant white umbel in the wild in Greece some time ago, and love to lacy look and its unthreatening nature in the xeriscape.

 I took an awesome …

Spigeliosity. Spigeliousness. Spigelicious.

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I took this picture Monday morning at the central square of Fayetteville, Arkansas: not many downtown's boast extensive perennial borders full of unusual plants, but that city does. And what plants! I've known Spigelia marilandica for 30 years (and killed my share of them) but  here they were growing prolifically and combined artistically with Hakonochloa macro-aurea...
And then I mosey on over to the Botanic Garden of the Ozarks (at the edge of Fayetteville), very young but lovely public garden...and in their native section, what do I see? MORE Spigelia. In fact, it had self sown rather excessively in this garden (there were big clumps here and there, some of which should REALLY have been removed...if you know what I mean). But I didn't have the gumption (or the space in my car) to ask for one...
A slightly more closeup picture. It LOOKS tropical doesn't it? this is an outlier of the tropical family Loganiaceae (which is nevertheless related somewhat more distantly…

Spike

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I have friends who like the daisy form in flowers, and those who shun daisies and only approve of posies (took a while to figure out what a posy flower was)...then there are those bedding plant folks who seem to want everything to be a sort of mound, rather like rock gardeners and their buns and cushions. And then there are spikers: usually tall, slender folk who like things long and lanky like themselves. Rob Proctor  eschews dumpy little annuals, and always goes for tall willowy thing. Most penstemons (like this rather squat little P. alamosensis) fit into this plant body type pretty well...and who doesn't love penstemons?

 When I say spike, Eremurus are realy what fit the bill: here is E. fuscus which I grew from seed nearly twenty years ago. When we sold our last house, I dug up no end of things (like my senescent non-flowering clump of this) and divided it: now I have nearly a dozen blooming clumps...a success story!


 This is an exemplary spike, one of Bob Nold's signat…

Cactus ticky tacky

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What is it about cacti that makes otherwise sensible people a tad tacky? The Cactus Shop somewhere in Utah or Nevada may have moved, but the happy Saguaro (staring at the burning trash can) is permanently there to remind us that this is the West with a capital "W"!
And here a cement subspecies of Saguaro has infiltrated the otherwise impeccably tasteful garden of Bill and Sandy Snyder. I don't blame the statue--what  a great garden to hang out in (I do it frequently)...but Cement?
There are many who say they hate cacti. And the stems and pads are not all that user friendly, to be sure...Here Coryphantha sulcata perks up my garden on and off all summer long with these heavenly chalices of gold. Some day perhaps I shall track it to its native hills in the Great Plains of Texas....

The land were "Shenandoah, across the wide Missouri" was composed is inceasingly a site for tchotchkies and wind mills, and endless slag heaps. I am amazed that so many Westerners are…

Euphorbs: mixed messages...

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Exhibit number one: Euphorbia cyparissius 'Fen's Ruby'--a plant I brought back from a March visit to Chanticleer many years ago. I wouldn't want to be without this plant, and it is likely I shan't ever be without it (it is determined to stay put)...although it was recently removed from the Rock Alpine Garden for its unbridled exuberance...but between a wall and a rock or along a path, I find it is relatively easy to subdue. The Euphorbia clan is decidedly a mixed bag. Some are irrepressible weeds, others are rare as hens teeth. It's the weeds I'm concerned with.... Exibit two...Euphorbia nicaensis: looks just a tad weedy doesn't it? In my experience, it sees little and spreads modestly from the root...been waiting for a seedling to commandeer...In another garden perhaps it is a thug. For me, it is a prize. Although it has the typical chartreuse charms of the genus, I find its form to be pleasing and it has fall color to boot. Alas, it is has a local l…