Thursday, May 8, 2014

High Spring

My rock garden first week of May

 All year I look forward to the few fleeing weeks from the middle of April until early June when every day a whole army of new plants emerges. Of course, when that time comes, there's a mountain of work to be done, weeds everywhere, activities non-stop (and always something disastrous usually happens to liven things up), house guests, and of course the day to day routine of keeping things more or less together. And outside every window the garden beckons. The view above is what I saw this morning (all right: it was a few days ago--but almost the same as this morning, except two flowers on Molly the Witch had already fallen apart...)

Paeonia mlokosewitchii
 She only lasts three or four days at best for us in windy, sunny and captious Colorado. But during those days one must make obeisance several times each hour.

Draba bryoides "Imbricata"
 I have oodles of seed grown Draba rigida, which is supposedly the same thing--they are even more congested, but none have grown with this vigor or age--it's over a foot across and over 20 years old! And a pretty good answer to "why have a rock garden?"...

Pyrrhosia sp. unfurling new fronds: yay!
 Last summer, when Tony Avent breezed through my garden, this was the only plant he really desired. And guess who forgot to gather spore? This year I shall. Given to me by Harlan Hamernik--he collected this in Inner Mongolia and is undboubtedly going to be the hardiest Pyrrhosia.

Pediocactus despainii closeup
 This flower is almost the size of a quarter...

Pediocactus despainii in a trough
 This whole plant isn't much bigger than a quarter.

Pediocactus simpsonii ex Wyoming
 Pediocacti have been blooming for me since March (the ones in sunny, hot spots first, and these finally in cooler microclimates). This is my national cactus, b.t.w.

Pediocactus simpsonii v. indraiensis
 A distinctive white form from Idaho.

Tulipa 'West Point' (Lily Flowered type)
 I must remember to order a lot more of this: the Lily Flowered tulips tend to perennialize, and few plants are showier. I love their fluted shape--like something you'd see in the Topkapi...

Allium akaka
 I bought this thinking it was an American, and put it in my native bed. Meanwhile I lost those I had elsewhere, so this stays...

Tradescantia tharpii
 My favorite dayflower, bar none. Very wooly as it emerges, also comes in pink...

Adoxa moschetellina
 I love monotypic plants. And this one is mono-familial. Andrew Pierce once showed me a patch growing near where he and Gina lived in Evergreen--so I shall think of my dear departed friend each time I admire this plant--which came from Darmstadt Botanic Garden in Germany...each plant we grow bears this sort of happy burden of associations--even such a modest, B.I.O. morsel as this (that's Botanical Interest Only, if you hadn't figured it out yet)...

Phlox alyssifolia
Don't know what possessed me to plant this in this trough. but I'm glad I did (and so is the phlox--at least so far). I remember treading acres of this with Kelly Grummons near his ranch a decade or more ago...
Townsendia parryi
Who cares if it's monocarpic. This self sowed generously in the old Wildflower Treasures Garden, may it rest in peace...

Stomatium agninum

I realize the color is odd on this: I took it at dusk and photoshopped it a tad. Can't believe it came through so well. I got this from Huntington twenty or more years ago and eventually lost it. I got it again last spring (bought a big pot of it!) and divided that pot into two. Both pieces are ready to divide kind of plant.

Townsendia spathulata fully open, with Eritrichium howardii

You can see the townsendia closeup in the previous blog. As well as the Eritrichium.

Veronica thymoides var. pseudocinerea
Another plant with wonderful associations: collected in Turkey by Jim and Jenny Archibald almost 40 years ago, I obtained my first start from Betty Lowry--one of America's greatest gardeners.

Los tres amigos
The picture was taken ten days ago or so: but had to revisit one last time. Three glorious hybrid daphnes in peak form--who knows how many more years they will maintain this balance, like acrobats almost, at the very summit of the garden. They're my three "amigos" who make the month of April a daily delight...the pale on the right is Daphne x hendersonii 'Ernst Hauser', 'Anton Fahdrich' in the middle and x shytleri 'Money-Coutts' on the lefthand side. Reverse the order below...

From the other side

Erythronium albidum at DBG
Not in my home garden--but I did plant these (there are a few of my old plants persisting at the Gardens still! (although Mike Kintgen has added throngs of fabulous new stuff everywhere)...
Iris pumila

I seem to have a thing about dark purple iris--more below... This is the first of the beardeds to bloom--in early April.

Iris henryi at Quince
It's interesting to compare what may be two different clones of the same species above and below. It is very tiny, and very cute, don't you agree? This should be a mainstay for fairy gardens (although you'd have so many of the dang fairies around you'd have to buy a fairy swatter)...[Had to put in that tasteless joke for my friend Pat who may or may not read this]...

Iris henryi at DBG

Iris 'Black Baby' at Jan's
 Of all the S.D.B. Iris, this seems to have the most vigor. The somewhat un-P.C. name is embarrassing however. Here in Jan's unwatered hell strip. Below at my home garden.

Iris 'Black Baby' at Quince
Iris barnumae & Tulipa batalinii
 I yearned for years to obtain this stunning iris from Western Asia, growing alongside another Western Asian tulip (and a Turkish veronica, Veronica cuneifolia to be exact)

Iris barnumae
Iris 'Penninah's Provocation' (I mistook this for 'Rivers of Babylon' which just opened up next to it--the paragraph below was based on that premise!
 Several dozen Arilbreds are beginning to bloom: I shall perhaps blog about those. But the first and foremost is this stunning hybrid by Mr. "Colorado Iris", Lowell Baumunk. He has named quite a few of his hybrids names that are very close to my heart--what a treat it is to have this great photographer and hybridizer nearby. Do check out his Website. You will see what I mean!
Iris 'Penninah's Provocation'

Iris minutoaurea
After the sublime, we shall end on a petite note: two measly flowers (a few more came on) of the OTHER tiniest of iris. Finally had it bloom again: I once had big clumps at Denver Botanic Gardens which melted away over the decades. A plant is only truly "growing" for you once you share it widely and the nurserymen sell it! When I posted this on Facebook, the redoubtable Hans Hansen posted a picture of HIS plant--with seemingly hundreds of flowers smothering the clump. I was content to have my squinny little two for now...says he, casting about for a place where he can move HIS clump so that one day it might challenge Hans'! Who says gardeners aren't competitive! Acquisitive and this time of year, delirious!


  1. So jealous of your Eritrichium howardii!

  2. I like Adoxa. I saw it on a visit to the Catskills. The flowers look like little watch towers.


  3. I love Iris season. I wish my Molly-the-witch was a solid yellow, but some pink creeped into mine. It's its first year flowering so I only just discovered this. Still, better to have a blushing Molly than none at all. Interesting that your P. despainii's flower is whitish; mine is the orangey/salmon-color. I got only a blurry photo of it this spring.


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