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 elsewhere...talk 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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fifty shades of brown

 
I might have labeled this post "the fifty shades of gray" since gray (or grey) is just as prevalent a color this time of year on the steppes...but I understand that name has been preempted by a soft-core pornographer. In have actually stolen this title from Jan, my girlfriend, who coined this memorable paraphrase as we flew home from California a few weeks ago. Her utterance was not meant to be complimentary. Brown has a terrible P.R. problem: ask the next fifty kids what their favorite flower is and I can pretty much guarantee you that almost all will opt for red, yellow, blue in pretty much that order. Likewise with adults--although depending on which circle you inhabit, the responses could be "mauve, chartreuse or taupe", or "green, lavender or pink"--we mature beyond the mere primary to the increasingly recondite in this long life of our's.

You cannot live on the steppe--or at least not happily--unless you come to fancy brown. Not just Cordovan like the shoe polish--but the entire broad spectrum--which I aver is as rich and diverse a range as any shade can proffer.  The picture above (and those below) were taken a few years ago on an autumnal hike at Roxborough State Park half an hour south of Denver more or less. Really--anywhere in the interior American West, much of Asia, Africa or the Pampas or Patagonia--or much of Australia for that matter--is basically a symphony of browns [not just in winter].



russet brown against the jaundiced brown of prairie grasses...and the dark brown green of the forest patches--the puffy white sky and blue stains of sky are the only things that can't be somewhat tinged with brown this time of year...


 
Blazing Star (Liatris punctata) comes in a silvery brown, with golden brown behind...let's check the Dictionary for synonyms: Thesaurus.com gives us

amber, auburn, bay, beige, bister, brick, bronze, buff, burnt sienna, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, copper, drab, dust, ecru, fawn, ginger, hazel, henna, khaki, mahogany, nut, ochre, puce, russet, rust, sepia, snuff-colored, sorrel, tan, tawny, terra-cotta, toast, umber 

It's almost worth re-reading the list: not many color names are this evocative! I must admit each year I fall a little more in love with the many browns, and resign myself a little more willingly to winter's blandishments. Only thirty six shades, perhaps you can help come up with a few more?
 
 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ex Africa semper aliquid novi: the "dark" continent

Basotho herden on the Black Mountains
 
Of course, all Humanity ultimately emanates "ex Africa"... I suspect most anyone who stumbles on my blog knows that "out of Africa there are no end of novelties" according to Pliny--and on Martin Luther King's holiday on a toasty January day when an African-American Barack Obama is sworn into his second term, I would like to pay tribute to the most magical of continents...

I love both North and South America for certain, and Eurasia is grand in every way. I'm sure Australia is just peachy, but Africa is where the last of the vast herds of ungulates that sustained and co-evolved with early humanity still persist in a few last strongholds.

Kniphofia caulescens (albomontana) on Oxbow, Lesotho

If I had to name two of the most gorgeous spots I have ever botanized on Planet Earth, Oxbow (above) and Sani Pass (below) would surely be in the top ten. You can glimpse the incredibly protean and variable Kniphofia in another of my blogs. Notice the throng behind the big clump!

Alpine meadow on Sani pass filled with Helichrysum album and Rhodohypoxis
I'm thinkiing I should dedicate a whole blog to the meadow where I photographed this--at 9000' or so on Sani Pass--I have no end of vignettes I have taken there over the years, each with a different assortment of treasures: there must be literally hundreds of species of choice alpines growing on that spot, one more beautiful than the next. I have been enormously privileged to have taken six trips to South Africa over the last few decades--and these have constituted some of the most wonderful days and hours of my life. Of course the impetus for these trips was largely due to researching hardy succulents.
 
Delosperma 'Fire Spinner'

And this one is the kicker...'Fire Spinner' has created quite the stir this year (another blog!).  Although I have not found this remarkable species in the wild yet, I can't help but wonder if Delosperma 'Firespinner', introduced by the Plant Select program will be the last surprise "ex Africa"? I truly doubt it!

Policy wonks predict that Africa (currently the poorest Continent economically--excepting perhaps Antarctica and Greenland...) is poised in this century to utterly transform much as Asia has in recent decades. The population has burgeoned enormously in the last century--and great growth will have frightening costs for the environment--even as it creates opportunities for young Africans: life is a double edged sword.

What does this have to do with Martin Luther the King (as my pre-school daughter used to call him), or Obama for that matter? Not much--perhaps. Except that these two figures who have done so much to galvanize and transform perceptions about African Americans in our body politic share with the many plants I treasure from their ancestral continent a sort of majesty and capacity to dazzle and summon, perhaps, some deep, evocative--perhaps atavistitic--memory in many of us of our very origins on the steppes and acacia covered savannahs of Africa--the "dark" continent that shimmers..

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pterribly good scabious....the petite Pterocephalus

Scabiosa caucasica
 
There is something charmingly old fashioned about scabiosas: the homespun shape of their nosegay flowers flowers (lilacs, purples, smouldering gray blues), looking for all the world as though they’d been fashioned at a quilting bee. There are a host of stately scabious—like Scabiosa caucasica—that grace all self respecting perennial borders and even a good many xeric Mediterranean sorts that are perfect for the xeriscape. Let's not even mention Cephalarias, the Goliaths of the Garden, begging for some David with a spade to take them out! There are a rabble of relatively compact, long blooming scabiosas that are often planted in rock gardens. Some of these have been among the most beautiful of rapacious weeds I have ever introduced to the Rock Alpine Garden. Let’s just say, anything labeled S. lucida or S. columbaria should be approached with great caution and a bottle of roundup handy. There are forms that are incredibly cute, compact, evergreen that bloom from spring to fall and will soon fill every nook and cranny of your garden with their progeny. Caveat Emptor!
 
And then there’s Pterocephalus, a genus closely allied to Scabiosa, only proffering everything a rock gardener’s heart could desire. These form silvery or woolly or deeply divided bright green mats that spread slowly to cover a large area in time. Their flowers are typical scabious, sometimes produced in considerable quantities throughout the warmer months. This genus encompasses plants with a variety of sizes and shapes: there are coarse Pterocephalus that abound in the higher reaches of Asia. Many are weedy looking and unattractive. We shall ignore these… Thus far I have grown three miniatures that are among my most treasured alpines. A fourth shimmers and hovers before me in my imagination, like Dulcinea did for Don Quixote, like a holy grail. We shall get to that one in a minute…
Pterocephalus depressus
The first species I saw was in the garden of Eric and Mabel Hilton, famous alpine growers who lived above the Severn near Bristol in the west of England. Eric’s expansive garden had hundreds of treasures, including a large mat of Pterocephalus depressus, which I subsequently discovered came from Morocco. I never dreamed that there were that many hardy plants in Morocco (except for Atlas daisy—the exception that proves the rule). I had to have this plant. Eric came to visit me a year later, and brought a rooted cutting along as a present. That cutting has given rise to all the plants of this wonderful groundcover growing in America today, I am quite sure.
 
The foliage on this species is the deepest pinnatifid (deeply cut in English) and a brighter green than the other two species I grow. The flowers are an especially lovely dark, dusky rose color—very Victorian don’t you think? It blooms and blooms and blooms, making a perfect picture all summer long when we desperately need color. My original plants put in my old house on Eudora in 1986 have spread over a meter in extent. The old stems have become veritably bonsai-like, woody and gnarly and very picturesque. This has taken over 20 years—a testament to the toughness of this plant. It should be in every Colorado rock garden. Since it is easily divided and roots with ease, there’s no excuse for you not to have this gem!
 
Pterocephalus parnasii
The Greek species (Pterocephalus parnassii) named for Mt. Parnassus where I looked for it in vain, is by far the silveriest foliage of the three—very hairy and gray. I find this the trickiest of the three kinds I grow: it’s good to keep this in propagation. It seems to be especially intolerant of too much water. It has typical dusky, scabious flowers of a pale lilac pink. They are nicer than they sound. This blooms primarily in the spring, with only an occasional late summer flower. I wish I could find a perfect spot to grow this. I keep it four or five years, and then it tends to fade away—probably wanting to go back to Greece where the winters are a tad milder? It is worth the effort to tame it. It has gone by various other epithets, such as P. perennis, so do not be fooled when you look for this one. It is a classic alpine well known in the literature.

Pterocephalus pinardii

 
Not so its Turkish cousin, Pterocephalus pinardii, which seems to have only been recently introduced from Turkey. This is quite variable in my experience: unlike the previous two, which probably only represent a single clone that has been in cultivation for many decades, most plants of P. pinardii are grown from wild seed, and we are seeing the whole spectrum of variability in this that one would expect of a wildflower from brightly colored to dull individuals, fast spreading mats to clumping forms, and foliage in many shades of gray green. It seems to be exactly intermediate beween P. parnassii and P. depressus in some ways, but well worth growing in its own right.  While not as indestructible as the Moroccan species, it is tougher than the Greek (as one would expect of those roughhousing Turks!).
 
But here is a fourth species I have never grown—although I have germinated a few seedlings that damped off, come to think of it. That is Pterocephalus spatulatus. This has smaller, smoother edged leaves than any of the species mentioned thus far. It makes intensely tight mounds and mats on the harshest limestone cliffs and barrens in the high Cazorla Mountains and elswhere too in Andalucia. Spain. The color of the foliage is blindingly, brilliant white with tomentose hairs delicious to the touch, delicious to the eyes. No I do not eat my plants, so I don’t know if it’s delicious to the palate. The flowers are bright pink, and there is no doubt this is the crown jewel of the genus. 

I have trod upon it and admired the gnarly mats in its native National Park. Not far away, dozens of bright purple Crocus serotinus lay wilting in the noonday sun, dug up by wild boars who ate their corms in the night. Giant, windswept misnamed Austrian pines grew gauntly here and there nearby. I searched and searched in vain for a single seed to take back as a memento, and was skunked. I thought I heard a little chuckle as I turned to walk away—probably just the Spanish wind whistling in the Spanish Pinus nigra  
 

 [Adapted from a short piece originally published in Saximontana, newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Comparative gardening

A horticultural sonnet (Heaven forfend)...
[Proceed with caution]
 
 
                                                         I gaze about my modest yard and sigh

                                                        (I don’t have half the budget of Versailles).

                                                         I bow to Nenuphar on bended knees

                                                         (My pond is not size of Giverny’s)

                                                          But if I had a brush like Claude Monet

                                                          I’d paint my lily, not a stack of hay!

                                                          My list of plants is not as long as Kew’s

                                                          Ask me for cuttings though: I shan't refuse!

                                                          Try as I may I’ll never be half the trixter

                                                          That Christo was when he embellished Dixter

                                                           Nor will I reach the height of old Filoli

                                                           Where amber light in March is almost holy

                                                           And yet I love the limits of my garden

                                                           As much Beatrix did her own Dumbarton.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Summer thoughts in midwinter

 

The temperature today is approaching 60F (we're talking January 9!) and the same tomorrow...so you can't really blame me for thinking about summertime: and what says summer better than Echinacea purpurea? This is one of my all time favorite "artsy" shots I did in the Birds and Bees garden at Denver Botanic Gardens years ago....I am so lucky to work there!


Another overall shot in that wonderful garden...here with a typical mix of annuals, Kniphofia--you name it!

 

The contrast of bright blues and oranges, the cool lavender pink of coneflowers and the fiery yellows and oranges of composites or torch lilies--this is summer at its best! We have Agapanthus aplenty in several gardens, but never enough for my taste!


A sweep of Agapanthus 'Headbourne hybrids' in the South African garden...these look pretty much identical to Agapanthus campanulatus ssp. patens I've seen all over the Drakensberg...the most reliable hardy agapanthus in our severe winter climate. Although sixties in January--with toasty sun and the Rockies shining brilliantly in white in the distance--is more like Heaven. But they are predicting near zero temps this weekend.....Ugggggghhhh!  Quick, let's go back to summer thoughts!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The OTHER ice plants....

Bergeranthus katbergensis
Bazeball may very well have bin bery bery good to Chico Escuela, but Delosperma bin berry berry good to me too. So much so that I fear Mr. Delosperma may be carved on to my tombstone. But there is more to hardy ice plants than merely that wonderful and seemingly bottomless genus of delight and confusion. We have had several dozen genera of Mesembryanthemaceae (or Aizoaceae or whatever they're being lumped into nowadays) make it through our very harsh steppe winters. One genus that gives me no end of delight is Bergeranthus--concentrated heavily in the Southeastern quadrant of South Africa, mostly in the East Cape, this genus seems to be enormously cold hardy considering that much of their range is warm temperate at best. We've had a half dozen or more survive--but the two toughest seem to be B. jamesii below and that stunning gem above. Did I mention that these bloom for months on end? and they are dead easy to propagate from cuttings or seed? Why are they virtually unknown in commerce? Beats me.

Bergeranthus jamesii
I actually found Bergeranthus jamesii growing on harsh pavements in the Tarkastad mountains where some very hospitable South Africans put Jim Archibald and myself up for two nights and showed us all around their property. The huge mounds of Haworthia marumiana growing near this had no seed--and plants could not be legally exported...we still need that one! We looked vainly for Delosperma dyeri that day in 1997 but had to wait another four years till that came into our ken...but the Bergeranthus was worth it! Did I mention that I was just sent a very husky specimen of a pure white flowered form of this plant? From Germany no less. Facebook has produced quite a few goodies for me: the naysayers are missin' out!


 s"Aloinanthus" hybrids
 My good buddy Bill Adams of Sunscapes Nursery pretty much invented x "Aloinanthus" group: although I believe Steve Brack at Mesa Gardens had grown a hybrid between A. spathulata and Nananthus sp. for years beforehand. Bill was the one who started hybridizing and producing some stunning intermediates you can find in his catalog. Do check it out...

 x "Aloinanthus" hybrid
Here is that initial Brack hybrid (above) which you can see is very close to the Aloinopsis spathulata parent (below)
Aloinopsis spathulata
The poor genus Aloinopsis has been tormented a bit--some of the rounder leaved, yellow flowered ones diverted into Deilanthe...there are a dozen or more taxa in this group, one more adorable than the next--they deserve their own Blog...heck, they deserve their own temple! But we must sample a few more delights...


Stomatium sp.
 
I am remiss not to mention that the first genus of ice plants I actually grew outside was not Delosperma, but Stomatium: a Danish born nurseryman named Alf Jensen, who supplied Denver Botanic Gardens with rock garden plants way back in the 1960's and 1970's propagated a Stomatium which he grew outside in Golden and sold it long before anyone in America had a clue what delospermas were...one of the stalwart volunteers way back then (whose name I forgot--a rather innocent middle aged lady who was not much of a gardener had planted it in her gardens, and assured me that it was hardy: I probably said something like "Listen, ice plants are not hardy outdoors--believe me")...there is a rich irony in this....sic transit gloria mundi...We have probably grown fifteen or more different stomatiums outdoors successfully in Denver. Some are humdingers.

Rabiea albipuncta
There are a bevy of Rabiea that look suspiciously similar to one another you can get from Mesa Gardens. They are all worth it: they probably have the largest flowers of any hardy ice plant. This one bloomed for me last March--although I saw one blooming on January 1, 2012 at Timberline Gardens (don't ask what I was doing sneaking around there on New Year's Day)...

Rhinephyllum ex Cyphe, Richmond
 This is my current nomination for gem of the year: I planted it two years ago this spring--it came through last winter in flying colors, and bloomed pretty much nonstop from April to autumn frost. It is a tiny morsel--perfect for a rock garden. Alas--it does not have a species name. Maybe it's new to science? Time will tell..
 
Ebracteola wilmaniae
 I have featured this once before on this blog, and tell the whole story: look it up if you care to--it's worth revisiting. My plant back then was much more modest--it has turned into quite the lush thing--and what flowers! It blooms for a long time. Bill Adams found a white sport which he is propagating and will probably sell soon: what wondrous times we live in!
Hereroa calycina
It only blooms at night. but the flowers are quite large--and it makes a wonderful large tuft of rubbery foliage that seems indestructible: This has become one of my very favorite ice plants. Many the moonlit evening I look out over my rock garden and see clumps of it here and there (I've spread it about) with those refulgent shaving brushes wide open to the midsummer moon--glowing glowing in subdued but reverent radiance to Luna....the goddess of lovers, madmen and gardeners. If you made it through that sentence you get a big shiny star!

Ice plants have indeed "bin beeeeerrrry berry good to Panayoti". Plant more and they'll be good to you too!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Petite in size, pleasure aplenty! (and..oh yes, a little Clematis clamoring...)

Oxlip (Primula elatior)
I'm not sure why...but I have never blogged about Plant Select--one of the most wonderful things I've had the privilege to participating in over the last quarter century (it's probably nearer 30 years old as a program actually--but who's counting?). If you are not familiar with that wonderful research/marketing/educational phenomenon, do click on my highlighted hyperlink and browse the website: it's well worth your time. They have launched a new initiative called Plant Select Petites that is near and dear to my heart: I have spent much of my life growing small plants in containers, rock gardens, xeriscapes and have always felt these needed to be promoted better...others in the program thought so too, so much to my amazement and delight a whole new facet to this program has been born. It is being launched with three of the greatest plants imaginable: if you do not grow oxlips, well now is the time: Plant Select has dozens of wholesale nurseries participating and I suspect there will be as many oxlips out there this spring as in some English meadows! The one above was photographed in my garden where it is duking it out with Nectaroscordon siculum (another great plant). There's something about that pale yellow that melts the heart (it is a tad like melted butter, come to think of it--something close to my chubby little heart). I rate this the toughest primrose in our harsh steppe climate.

Heuchera elegans--very similar to H. pulchella
 I have probably 50 pictures of Heuchera pulchella--all of them transparencies and I confess I don't scan. I take to Walgreens and have THEM scan. No time for that. There are several dozen adorable heucheras that festoon cliffs all over the American West (and East for that matter). I know Dan Heims has cranked out no end of gorgeous foliaged hybrids, but I am pure at heart and like my wildlings unadorned (most of the time anyway). By the way, that is Primula capitata below the Heuchera in the picture--NOT a good primrose for our steppe climate (it died minutes after I took the picture).  Heuchera elegans is Californian, but looks remarkably like the wonderful miniature championed by Plant Select that I first collected seed of nearly 30 years ago on Sandia crest. I have a sneaking suspicion a lot of the germplasm out there may trace to that collection...(not that I'm proud of it or anything). You'd think I'd have a friggin' picture of it if that were the case, though.
Scott's clematis (Clematis scottii)

I could write a gospel about Clematis scottii--one of America's greatest native plants. I've been horribly infected with the Clematis virus (a fatal condition I'm told--everyone who has it eventually dies). But you die very happy. There are a dozen or so Clematis in the Viorna section found across America--most of them excruciatingly rare, and all of them horribly wonderful and disgustingly desirable. Scott's clematis has been lumped with C. hirsutissima by myopic botanists, who probably have astigmatism and possibly cataracts. It is its own wonderful thing, and incredibly variable. Do check out the positively lascivious pictures of it on the Plant Select galleries--my nasty shot of a particularly dark and sleek specimen was taken at Laporte Avenue Nursery--the holy grail of great Western wildflowers and the best alpines imaginable. That nursery is responsible for not just this clematis, but a cluster of the best native clematis getting into cultivation--and a heck of a lot more. I have blogged about them before, and am likely to do so again--they are the premier specialty nursery in this quadrant of the Universe, and you have not lived if you have not placed a gigantic order from them. If you don't do so pronto, they'll be forced to quit business and run for Congress instead (and raise your taxes substantially). It's cheaper in the long run to order plants.


Clematis mandshurica (Plant Select wannabe)
That's it for petites...now for the petty part (were you aware that petty comes from petite?--your etymological lesson for the day). Since I know certain people whose names I dare not mention, but who have a great deal of influence with future choices in Plant Select (notice how crafty I'm being, changing font color to distract you)...actually read my blog pretty regularly I figure this would be a GREAT opportunity to promote yet ANOTHER Clematis...(by the way, notice that sign in the lower left corner of the picture above--isn't that stick figure falling under the "Caution" a kick?)....

Clematis mandshurica was introduced to our regional scene at least (maybe nationally) by Harlan Hamernik from one of his jaunts to inner Mongolia...he was the co-founder of Bluebird Nursery and also Wild Plums...This Clematis ROCKS! You ought to know about Clematis paniculata (a.k.a. Clematis ternifolia) which is widely grown in commerce, and which also blooms quite late in the year (late August onward) and spreads rambunctiously...well, mandshurica has been synonymized by some of those same eye-challenged botanists...and I confess it does look somewhat similar--only imagine that THIS clematis starts blooming in late spring and lasts all summer! Imagine, moreover, that it doesn't swallow up your garden: my ten year old plant only grows about 9 feet tall each year (dies to the ground in winter)...Now are those winning traits or what? Only problem is, of course, that no one grows the rascal (Bluebird dropped it: "no interest"). Can you think of a better candidate for a research/marketing/educational program to adopt? Well...as it happens, I can think of one other one:


Clematis fruticosa, the only truly shrubby Clematis, also introduced by Harlan
Oh yes...there was ONE other one too....
Clematis hexapetala, yet another Hamernik gem from Inner Mongolia
And come to think of it...there was just one more...
Clematis fremontii--another Bluebird introduction

Clematis fremontii--in glorious golden seed much of the summer...

I'm sure if you have made it to this last sentence, you too may be terribly infected by that Clematis virus...the only cure is to acquire another score or more of those most glorious of vines, and perhaps acquaint yourself with the Roger Brewster Clematis collection where they grow over SEVEN HUNDRED Clematis and realize that by contrast, your's-truly is not just petty--but finally PETITE!