Snapshots from a Foothill's Shangri-La: a little disseration on "Discovery"*...
|Calypso bulbosa in a mat of twinflower|
ανακαλύψω means "I discover"--a wonderful thing (I'll bet you didn't know that). If you read this blog in its entirety, you do will "ana-calypso" a few things about me...For instance, I have always wondered how Jamaican music commandeered the nymph who seduced Odysseus? And how did she become an orchid? The first question: of course, Wikipedia informs us that it's a garbling of the "Efik" "ka isu" which means 'go on!' and Ibibio "kaa iso" 'continue, go on'. Who knew that a little circumboreal orchid could become synonymous with "Continue" in two rather obscure Carib languages? But what of the nymph? Wikipedia is mute. Calypso bore Odysseus a child--another discovery!
Looking for this was the purpose of this excursion...Harold Taylor (immediate past president of the Denver Orchid society) told me he knew a close-at-hand location for it when I spoke to the club last winter. I casually said "I'd like to see that location" at the time, and my request was not lost on Harold. (More about him at the end).
|Draba streptocarpa I believe...|
|Senecio integerrimus var.integerrimus|
I don't recall ever seeing this Senecio this low before (having trouble calling it Packera: no doubt having eaten one two many burgers at Alferd G. Packer grill in the U.M.C. Colorado insider joke--sorry). Incredibly, USDA does not show this as occuring in Clear Creek or Gilpin County (this location is on the border of both: do I get two county records?)...
By the way, USDA does not show this as growing in either Clear Creek or Gilpin county. Do we get a star?
|Sambucus racemosa Elder|
|A bevy of Violets...|
|Sasparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)|
|Antennaria parvifolia (?)|
|Harold marveling at the woods!|
|The woods are lovely dark and deep...(but unlike the poem, not snowy, and not at night!)|
|Saxifraga bronchialis at base of mysterious slope.|
|Saxifraga bronchialis ssp. austromontana|
|Second moody shot of Arnica..|
|One patch of oak fern...HUGE!|
|Gymnocarpium disjunctum (Rupr.) Ching|
|Copy of Ansel Adams' photo of the same...|
|Thermopsis and Erigeron compositus|
|Erigeron compositus var. discoidea|
|Harold Taylor among his penstemons|
I am rather pleased with this picture of Harold--who guided me to this new spot barely 20 minutes from Denver so full of treasures. He has just retired from his last career--he has had several after graduating with a Ph.D. in Mathematics--and each and every one of them was fascinating to hear about on our too brief a field trip (he taught at Colorado School of Mines and Coors Brewery to name just two highlights). He showed me his greenhouse full of orchids, and I was given a piece of a particularly choice and rare one to bring back to Nick Snakenberg for DBG's collections (so my half day field trip wasn't just a junket as my colleagues no doubt thought! It was functional!)...
|Penstemon brandegei |
A good man to know...and one of his loveliest jewels is the penstemon he's nestled in: Penstemon brandegei is found in north central New Mexico and south central Colorado. It has been lumped by myopic botanists into both P. alpinus and P. glaber--which I don't buy. It is surely one of the most spectacular native plants in our state--which is currently missing from my own garden (and probably Denver Botanic Gardens too I reckon). It would probably make a superlative Plant Select introduction if we didn't already have the somewhat similar P. mensarum (which blooms a month earlier, however)...and yes, I know Penstemon strictus 'Bandera' is ubiquitous in Colorado plantsmens' gardens (hardly known elsewhere)--but more blue-purple in color than this. This is the penstemon as far as I'm concerned. And I hope he'll get some seed for us before he scurries southward!
*You may not have noticed I put an asterisk after the title of this post. This is a disclaimer I should perhaps have put in the first sentence: I am very much aware that the USDA map database is not definitive: there are herbarium vouchers deposited in dozens if not hundreds of herbaria across the globe that may document the species occurrence in Clear Creek county that I so blithely dismiss in my account. But I wouldn't bank on that!