Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Utah hurrah at U

Landscape Arch, Arches National Monument, Utah
My very first palindrome![Almost, anyway.] I've blogged so much I have to Google each new topic to be sure I'm not repeating myself (too much) and no, I apparently have not featured Landscape Arch before which is somehow remarkable since I make at least biennial visits here and have for decades: for a rock gardener, after all, this is something of a holy site. Actually--much of Utah qualifies as holy land, and not just because of the L.D.S. presence (that's Mormons for you ignorant gentiles!). Utah is exceptional for so many reasons that as a neighboring stater, I could go on for pages. It hogs the lion's share of the Canyonlands--which we Coloradoans smugly refer to as the "Colorado Plateau". Utah is chockablock full of rare and absolutely gorgeous plants as well as common plants that are uncommon talk talk--let's get down to some brass tacks and see what I mean:

Penstemon utahensis
Now I know I HAVE blogged about this little bugger before, and will not repeat myself except to say it is the most astonishing of penstemons, and needn't belabor the point...Utah has a lot to be proud of...

I'm spending the last of four days at the Utah Nursery Associations terrific Trade Show and winter get together which I attended once before ten or so years ago: it's a good sized conference in that there's more than enough in the way of exhibitors so you never get bored, good attendance so you are busy enough but not so thronged that you are too overwhelmed. Although there were a dozen presentations I would have liked to attend (I only heard one of Whitney Cranshaw's four talks: that man is a living, breathing National treasure--and he's all OUR'S in Colorado! Unless the damn Smithsonian steals him away the way they did Kirk Johnson!)...but I did attend two really good presentations on Plant Introductions modeled somewhat on Plant Select: Stephen Love of Idaho State University gave a really good presentation on the tremendous work he has done at the Aberdeen station on native plants of the Great Basin: his program is due to launch in 2014 and I recommend you to monitor and help him any way you can: it's simply outstanding work!

And I attended a wonderful talk by Jerry Goodspeed and Richard Anderson of Utah State University on their Plant Introduction program that is due to launch this spring named Sego Supreme. They do not have a web presence yet, and their main cooperating nursery Pineae has not bothered to list their exclusive yet (these little glitches will undoubtedly be cured)...but the program is legit, and I suspect that with encouragement and support, it will prosper. Jerry and Richard are brimming with knowledge and enthusiasm, and I could tell they have marshalled great resources to collect and study native plants at Logan. You can bet I will be heading their way soon to check out their field trials, and visit the Bill Varga Arboretum at the Utah Botanical Center, named for the indefatigable and amazing retired prof who has fueled so much enthusiasm for plants in Utah for decades. So-called "retired" Bill is now directing the foundation of the American Heritage Center (if you click on the link you can actually hear the rascal in his current role)...Bill was at the Trade Show all right, hawking plants for Teton Trees where his son works--another great nursery of that area!

The real message of this blog, however, is to tout a book:

Jerry Goodspeed and Richard Anderson brought a box or two of their brand new field guide which sold out in a matter of minutes to this very interested audience: I was lucky enough to get a copy, which I cannot recommend enough. Of course, it is not meant to be exhaustive. But it certainly features most of the most conspicuous native wildflowers. The Worldwide Web offers many fine things, but there is something that a concrete, tangible field guide with its pliable heft on your hands that no computer can mimic. And this one is very cool (even though I can't find the name of the damn thistle they posted on the front cover (reason enough to buy the very reasonably priced book in and of itself: so glad they didn't pander with a columbine or paintbrush!)...I could go on at length about the VERY useful maps within this book, the precise nomenclature, the stunning pictures and excellent repartee--just buy the danged thing! They sell it all over the web and your bookstore ought to have it (tell 'em to buy it pronto if they don't---I shall certainly harrass our gift shop at DBG)...

Finally, let me say that I adore the state of Colorado. I am so honored and privileged to be a native son...but the greatest thing about Colorado is that we touch six magical states--each of which I love in its own way--but Utah is defnitely our closest botanically and physiologically (sorry, Wyoming--I love you too), and one I am most tempted to live in...along with New Mexico of course! Although come to think of it, there is a heck of a lot to be said for our three Plain (but not plain!) sisters to the east: Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma!...

I end with an image of a tree in Utah, and a quote from Chuang-tzu that says it all.


  1. Dammit. I missed this because I was laid up with a fractured hip about 30 minutes away. I had just about convinced myself that I didn't miss anything. Sigh.

  2. P.S. I'm pretty sure that the flower on the cover is Monardella odoratissima, and not a thistle. Could be wrong, though. Wouldn't be the first time.

  3. I shall stand corrected (and embarrassed, Susan)if you are right. If they'd only more clearly labeled it I wouldn't have made a fool of myelf1 It's an inspired choice if so!


  4. Sounds like more fun! Though "intermountain" seems only applied to the great basin, and that above 37N latitude, in meaning all of NM and AZ from the Rio Grande west, and TX west of the Pecos, all fit, too. In central NM, there begins a connection to Utah's land, look and plants...very interesting to me.


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