Monday, May 19, 2014

The greatest landscape designer in Denver...

Penstemon angustifolius
I shall never forget the first time I drove by this garden a year ago: I noticed the sheen of white and wondered what it could be: the white was an almost contiguous mass of white evening primrose (Oenothera coronopifolia) which you will glimpse among the following pictures. I simply had to trespass (I have subsequently knocked on the door many times: I don't think they live there all the time). Among the primroses were an number of other choice wildflowers including the penstemon, which is the primary subject of this blog. This is near the top of most penstemaniacs "top ten" list due to the intensity of the aquamarine flowers. It causes me a certain amount of consternation to think this once grew by the untold million in my neighborhood before we paved the place over and landscaped with bluegrass and junipers. Who could have planted and designed such an amazing replica of our native prairie in my neighbor's house?

Penstemon angustifolius
 It had to be a landscape designer of great talent who would know how to establish such thick stands of primrose and intersperse them with the blue penstemon...and then it occurred to me, perhaps the owners simply instructed their builder to NOT disturb the prairie around their house as they built it and they've simply kept it mostly weeded and allowed the good stuff to other words, the designer I allude to is not one of my many Landscape Architect and Designer buddies (who were perhaps hoping I might be promoting them!), but the Supreme Designer--God or Evolutionary Biology (for you heathens)...These twp may be be proved to be synonymous one day...

Penstemon angustifolius
Martin Walsh, intrepid Himalayan explorer and Irish garden designer in the distance, can vouch for the beauty of this spot. Notice the snow along the north side of the house: left over from the previous weekend! And we're having 80F days this week--typical Colorado extremes.

Penstemon angustifolius
The colony goes on and on--each plant a slightly different form or hue.

Penstemon angustifolius
On a slightly overcast day the color is really day-glo. Some are just coming into bloom...

Penstemon angustifolius
I think you can tell I'm enamored of the little punk. I live less than a mile away and have a dry garden: you'd think I could replicate this!

Penstemon angustifolius
Maybe this was my favorite clump...

Penstemon angustifolius
Or the even lighter color on this one...

Senecio fendleri
The evening primroses are just coming on, but Senecio fendleri is at its peak--a wonderful golden yellow to contrast with the blue and white.

Penstemon angustifolius
The top part of the picture shows how the three plants in greatest bloom all seem to have their special center of abundance...
Rhododendron 'P.J.M.'
The owners of the lot have a rhododendron by the front door--as if to highlight the enormous contrasts within their garden.
Senecio fendleri
The plants are so elegantly grouped you can almost believe that it's been deliberate...

Senecio fendleri
The Senecio is really quite fetching close up--and variable.

Lithospermum incisum
There were only a few puccoons--but robust specimens. A challenging plant for the gardener...

So when (I wonder) will we see the landscape architects and designers coming up with gardens this "sustainable" and lovely? They can take a page from this one...that's for sure!


  1. I've always wanted to grow Lithospermum. How lucky for them to have a chance to preserve a small slice of prairie.

    1. I've grown both Lithospermum incisum and Lithospermum canescens. They are both definitely worthwhile plants. I posted a picture of Lithospermum canescens in the wild on google+.



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