Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gee! More blasts from the past...(thanks Ann!)

Galtonia regalis on Mount-Aux-Sources
Quietly encased for nearly twenty years, Ann Frazier has liberated this picture of Galtonia regalis (Thank you John Grimshaw for the identification) I took on an early trip to South Africa. On August 21, I have three enormous plants of Galtonia candicans blooming beautifully in one of my perennial beds--the first time I've had these at Quince St. It amazes me that plants so lovely and accommodating (and inexpensive in the trade--and easily grown from seed) are still so little known and seen. 

Pulvinate Gazania on the Roggeveld
I collected a smidgeon of seed, that did not germinate. This densely pulvinate Gazania was quite common quite a few places around Middelpos. I have never seen it on Silverhill's list, nor anywhere of the hundreds of tantalizing gems I have seen in the high, cold central parts of the Karoo that should prove to be super garden plants in the dry west. When will this show up in a garden, I wonder?

Gazania krebsiana on the Roggeveld (closeup)
We have managed this--albeit not in this wild form (which only blooms once in March and April for a few weeks and lays fallow the rest of the year.) This was superceded by the even more stunning and reblooming 'Orange Peacock' (re-named 'Tanager' by Plant Select), a form tracing through Sahin seeds to a Kirstenbosch release back in the 1980's....I think we lost this wild form. Come to think of it, I haven't seen 'Tanager' in a while.............hmmmmmmmmmm...I think that's one of the reason we take pictures!

Gazania krebsiana at DBG (notice the Narcissus) This bed long gone...
This was the first year we grew this successfully--way back in the 1990's...the berm where this grew used to separate the Cutting Garden from the service yard at DBG: all of this has utterly and magically disappeared--and this very spot today would be hovering some ten feet or so above our new Bonsai pavilion area...

Gazania krebsiana from a distance near Middelpos (Roggeveld)
I shall never forget catching a glimpse of this in the distance when I was in the lead car (of six or more vehicles) crossing the Roggeveld. The Indigenous Bulb Society was on its annual October foray into the Roggeveld--and the last thing they cared about was Gazania: I insisted we go check it out--and I noticed they all hauled out their cameras and took lots of pictures too.  I convinced the Saunders to go back in a few months to collect seed but this entire field had been plowed. It turns out, as in Namaqualand, many of the best flower shows in South Africa actually occur on the fallow years between the sowing of wheat or Rye (hence "Roggeveld"--the "Rye Field")...duh!

Gazania krebsiana closer up
I don't think we need a commentary on these next few...

Your's truly in 1998: splendor on the Gazania...

Gentiana acaulis (albino)
I grew this from seed, and had it for a long time--until I divided it at the wrong time and it burned to a crisp!
Gentiana froelichii
One of the most challenging European gentians to grow: I managed it a year or two--and fortunately took a picture. This one hates heat.

Gentiana gelida
Another picture to taunt me: I grew this pale cousin to septemfida for decades--I had huge clumps here and there, and collected literally tens of thousands of seeds each year. But eventually I moved away from this garden, and neglected to re-grow the plant.

Gentiana sp. near Dali, Yunnan
(Photo by Edward Connors)
Some of my most treasured pictures are not my own. Ed Connors is one of our Trustee emereti at Denver Botanic Gardens, and a former chairman of our board who invited me on many trips as his botanical "side kick"-- which introduced me to many places I would never have had a chance to see such as the Swiss and Austrian Alps, and northern Italy to name a few! He accompanied me on a trip to China, which I left early due to being summoned back to America when my mother had a stroke. I missed the chance to go to Dali as a consequence (and many other spots) but Ed took pictures for me and gave them to me...this one of Gentiana melandrifolia (I think) made me especially happy.

Gentiana paradoxa with Dyssodia above and Zauschneria beyond
I never got a decent picture of the first clumps of Gentiana paradoxa I grew at Eudora--but this one serves to remind me that we are probably responsible for the introducing this plant to wide culture because of how well it grew for us there: we had no septemfida nearby, so we were able to offer true seed through Rocky Mountain Rare plants. I suspect most plants in cultivation might trace to these clumps! Notice the power of microcliamte--the Gentian on a north slope, the Dyssodia and Zauschneria (xerophytes) look to be near, but are on a hot southwest facing slope--making a lovely color contrast. These ought not to grow in proximity!

Gentiana newberryi closeup
I'm pretty sure this came as plants to the Gardens from Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery. This Sierra endemic is often an icy white color--I'd love to grow this good blue once again....

Gentiana newberryi

Gentiana saxosa
I can't believe we grew this New Zealand gentian so well back in the 1980's--some even lived over to do this again! We must try these once again...

Gentiana verna (pale form in Switzerland)
Ed Connors (again)
I did not have a camera when Ed and I stumbled on this in the Engadine. He obliged me and gave me this picture later of this strange pale blue form of the star gentian. He and I took the chairlift a day or two later above Pontresina: in my dreams I sometimes relive that hike--looking down at acres of blue gentians and pink alpine azalea floating by below us. We walked down that trail on a sunny late summer day--If Paradise is not like Pontresina I shall probably be content to settle in that other place I shall end up in...
Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
For many years this wonderful hybrid geranium graced this crevice. One year it was there no more--but we have proof! We should try and recapture this....

Geranium drakenbergense in Lesotho
The gravel wasn't so pink in reality: there are so many high alpine geraniums in the Drakensberg--but this cousin of Geranium magniflorum in Plant Select....they look suspiciously similar...hmmmmmm.
We don't have this though....

Geranium drakenbergense in Lesotho closer up

Geum coccineum in the Rock Alpine Garden
I'm not sure we're growing this today--although it was surprisingly adaptable and long lived...

Gilia caespitosa a Eudora
I don't know how many times I have combed the cliffs above Teasdale looking for the type locality of this gem (and never finding it). Everyone I know has found it. But Betty Lowry sent me a pinch of seed, and I did grow it for a number of years. What can I say?

Gilia caespitosa and Verbascum dumulosum (and Ptilotrichum spinosum) Eudora garden
Would I love to reassemble this cluster of cushions in primary colors...

Gladiolus dalenii in the East Cape
We have never grown this form of G. dalenii. Twice I collected seed thinking I had it, and every time it turned into the following. The east Cape dalenii is really big and speckled and wonderful and likely very hardy.
Gladiolus saundersii at DBG
This is in cultivation: I like to think from seed Jim Archibald and I collected in 1997....

Gladiolus splendens on the Roggeveld
This incredibly graceful plant was photographed in October on the Roggeveld, near Middelpos. This is an area that gets severe frost most winters--and lots of snow at times. It theoretically should be hardy. But it is winter growing, and is often seen in California gardens. Which I find rather annoying. We've been growing it in the greenhouses at DBG. I hope one day we will find a way to grow this outdoors where it belongs!

Gynandriris anomala (now Moraea contorta) on the Roggeveld
An abundant gem of the Roggeveld--very similar to the Mediterranean G. sisyrinchium. It's growing in some California gardens--but theoretically should be a hardy plant...

Oh well...a few more morsels from the past. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I do reminiscing of what we had, and lost mostly! And what we must seek out again!


  1. Panayoti, I saw many different varieties of Geum coccineum when I visited the Chicago Botanical Garden. They are very lovely.

    I tried to grow Gilia caespitosa. I managed to get a few seedlings. Unfortunately I planted them in my limestone crevice garden. I did not realize their native habitat was sandstone. Unfortunately, my seedlings did not last long in alkaline soil. I will have to try again this time planting them in a pot with sandy soil. It would be hard for me to grow them in the garden because my soil is alkaline. It is often hard for me to locate habitat information on species available only from seed.



  2. I can't imagine the Gilia needs acid soil--sandstone in the West is usually impregnated with lots of lime. It's just a very fussy plant is all! It was a miracle I grew it once relatively well. Never succeeded since.

  3. Hi PK,

    The Galtonia is G. regalis: green, not glaucous, broad recurved leaves are key characters: plus it is endemic on Mont aux Sources and G. viridiflora doesn't grow there.


  4. My head has exploded. Great post, PK.


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