The Andes: the last great hold out for Colorado horticulture!
|Bolax glebaria in an old book print|
A photograph taken in 1885 on the expedition of the H.M.S. Challenger on the Falkland Islands (or Malvinas--as your political persuasion my fall!)...a century and a half later, this Bolax glebaria has grown for decades in Colorado gardens, but precious else from the Andes or South America...why is this the case? Twenty years ago I was preparing for my first trip to South Africa--a place where equally few plants had proven hardy--but I had a hunch. Well, we have a hunch that South America may likewise prove to be a wonderful source of garden plants!
|Montiopsis (Calandrinia) sericea|
|Montiopsis sericea (with Oxalis squamata in the background)|
I end on a positive note...
Karen took cuttings of this a few years ago, and has produced numerous husky plants which are now prospering in many local gardens: so not everything is doom and gloom.
On July 27, two of the leading authorities on South American alpines and steppe plants are giving a dynamite seminar at the lofty and cool (and beautiful) Castle at Cherokee Ranch, one of Colorado's most beautiful venues. There are short tours of the castle, and some hikes in the amazing country nearby with panoramic views of Denver below and the stark spine of the Continental Divide: the two Marcelas who are presenting are filled with Latin fire: I believe this will be a historic occasion which will usher in a wonderful new world of hardy plants for our gardens.
My colleagues Dan Johnson and Mike Kintgen have taken several trips to research South American plants, and we have tested many that are in commerce--some day I predict our gardens will be full of gorgeous Phaiophleps, Rhodophiala and Azorella...not to mention mouth watering Alstroemeria and Calandrinia galore. The scenery and biodiversity of the Southern Andes is mind boggling--do join us at Cherokee Ranch next week...
Or if you are in the Steamboat area on July 20, the Marcelas will be speaking at the Trillium House at Yampa River Botanic Park at 3.30PM.
They are also presenting at the Gardens at Spring Creek in Fort Collins on July 25. You must make a reservation for that one too, however.
I was thrilled hearing the two of them speak Tuesday evening here at Denver Botanic Gardens: their depth of knowledge and passion for their work (and the delightful delivery) was over the top. Don't miss them!