Monday, February 3, 2014

Plants of the Botanics

Clintonia andrewsiana
My last blog posting was a sort of general overview--mostly of the Asian garden with just a glimpse or two of the enormous rock garden. This post will be some vignettes from that amazing garden--just a smattering of the hundreds of plants in bloom in late June. Any time from March to October you will likely be greeted with hundreds of kinds of flowers there--but even in the winter months I've found lots to see. I know no other garden anywhere with a greater variety of choice plants grown more artistically: this first vignette has a half dozen, though the pink Clintonia from California and Oregon (usually regarded as rather tender) was the main object. It is one of America's great flowers--which one rarely sees in gardens in its native country (outside California anyway)...

Chiastophyllum oppositifolium
This graceful Caucasian grows well in Denver as well--although I notice that we sometimes lose it in extreme years. I would love to see this in the wild one day.

There are wonderful spreads of many dwarf salix--such as Salix herbacea

This is supposed to be a patch of North American erigeron (which it doubtless is--it shoudl bloom in a few weeks) but meanwhile if you look carefully you will see a mass of seedling orchids--Dactylorhiza-spp.-which are everywhere in this garden--mild and very welcome weeds!

The label (which I am not sure I buy) and more Dactylorhiza

Thymus serpyllum 'Annie Hall'
Most of the plats at Botanics are wild species. I am pleased that they include the occasional cultivar, however, like this fine thyme.

Sisyrinchium californicum, if you can't read the label!

Labeled Allium cyaneum, this doesn't quite accord with most of what's in cultivation.

Whatever it is, this onion is spectacular: I've not seen it elsewhere. Mark McDonough weighs in that this most closely approximates Allium cyrillii.

A particularly luminous blue Linum: I believe it is Mediterranean (neglected to write down the name, sorry!)

A closer look at the same

A poppy of the rupifragum complex with flax--a great combo!

Phlomis italica
The Jerusalem sages are becoming special favorites of mine: I have read about this, and now that I've seen it at Botanics, I shall have to try it, although it does have a tender look about it. It speaks volumes to see so many Mediterranean plants thriving in Edinburgh: the climate is quite maritime there compared to our windy steppe.

 And to prove the point, here's a lusty Cistus: there were several, and not just the bone-hardy C. laurifolius.
Pyrethrum coccineum
This mass of painted daisy was rather pale--I have a hunch it might be from wild collected seed (always a priority at Botanics).

Salix uva-ursi
Surprisingly similar to the European Salix herbacea, this stunning mat of an American alpine willow caught my eye. This is a new one for me.

Mossy saxifrage coming up through Haplopappus glutinosus

Yet ANOTHER Cistus, growing here in the Caledonian north!

Papaver spicatum
I recall seeing this poppy on other occasions at Botanics, obviously one of their favorites too. A very distinctive Turkish species, this is not one often seen, with its plush silvery rosettes and spicate flower clusters (it's also known as Papaver spicatum). I find that peach color to be very appealing,

Dianthus carthusianorum
The rock garden is on such a scale that these husky cluster-headed pinks fit right in.

Campanula collina
A very bright selection of this Caucasian classic, nicely showcased next to a boulder.

Saxifraga cf. paniculata
A saxifrage growing atop a rock, as they are meant to do (but rarely found so in gardens).

Hylotelephium anacampseros
Botanics have gone completely over to the dark side, and embraced Hylotelephium for the tap-rooted, Mesic sedums. This one seems somewhat intermediate in habit--a distinctive species.

Linum suffruticosum

Linum suffruticosum
Surely the most stunning planting ever of this tiny, Southern European flax. I have grown this on occasion (as L. suffruticsum var. salsaloides 'Nanum')--but not like this. Seeing this makes me yearn to try it again and plant it on a wall where it can spread!
Dactylorhiza gone wild
Something tells me that the orchid was serendipitous: that sort of effect can't really be planned.

Helichrysum (syn. sibthorpii) virgineum
I would have expected this famous paperflower from Mt. Athos to be in bloom in late June: the seasons don't always jibe between our continental climate and Edinburgh.
Philadelphus sp.
A wonderfully graceful mock orange in the Alpine nursery yard--this one with nodding flowers. The foliage looked very much like our native microphyllus--but the flowers were distinct.
Closeup of the flowers

Thymus quinquecostatus on a wall in the alpine yard
Acanthus syriacus
This is one of the most striking bears breeches which thrives for us as well in Denver.

Phlomis anisodonta
Yet another striking Jerusalem Sage, one I've not seen before, with plush foliage. I suspect this one may be quite hardy. Must look it up!

Tanacetum haradjanii
I finish with this frilly clump of a plant we do not have: This name was attached to Tanacetum densum v. amani which we love was collected by Peter Davis, who began his career collecting seed for the Alpine Garden Society in Turkey and ended it by completing the classic nine volume Flora of Turkey published by the Botanics. It would be good to grow the proper species to show the difference--the one we have and call Partridge Feather, is one of the finest ground covers imaginable. Yet another link to the Botanics.


  1. It's like a glimpse into heaven just before the realization hits you that you won't be going there.


  2. You are young enough, and flights from Chicago to Edinburgh are cheap enough, I am sure you will get to Heaven! I'm not rich by any means, and have managed it quite a FEW times: and it's worth a sacrifice! Keep the faith...

  3. I'll remember that next time my neighbors' dogs break through the fence and trample my seed trays or as I walk past another neighbors' brightly painted cutout lawn ornament portraying a woman bending over.



Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive