Thursday, December 18, 2014

Paradise regained! Laporte Avenue Nursery Redux

Lewisia tweedyi at Laporte Avenue nursery

I have blogged about Laporte Avenue Nursery before...and I suspect I shall do so many more times in the future...Kirk Fieseler and Karen Lehrer who co-own this nursery are not just dear friends of mine, they're two of the leading lights in my favorite realm of alpine gardening--and they've not gotten their due in my opinion. I just visited their nursery last week--and was enchanted with what they are up to. but I found a lot of pictures I took last year of their nursery (and there are a lot more) at peak bloom time, which is something to behold. Rare plant nurseries are wonderful at all times, but in April and May they're beyond wonderful!

Silver saxifrages in bloom (for sale)
 They grow everything well--from rare dwarf conifers to all manner of alpines. They're the go-to place if you want a good assortment of saxifrages--essential rock garden plants that have likewise not had their due in recent years. What a range of colors!

Karen Lehrer and Iris tenuis
Here is the propagator extraordinaire! It is said Karen can put roothairs on matchsticks and toothpicks: she has a way with plants that is enviable. She is one of the wisest, kindest and loveliest people I've ever known: a visit with Karen is like a breath of spring air!

Kirk Fieseler: the Master
 Laporte Avenue Nursery is situated on Kirk's home property: I imagine having a wholesale, mail-order and sometimes retail (they open up for sales to friends and visitors once a year) must be a hassle for Kirk and his family--but I've never heard a complaint about it from him. The setting is so enchanting, so beautifully laid out and so inspiring: one wonderful garden after another, impeccable greenhouses, planting fields lined out, vegetable gardens, perennial gardens: even a hen house with a green roof! Kirk is an uncannily savvy plantsman who loves trees as well as alpines, and has done a great deal to popularize Jerry Morris's dwarf conifer selections.
Erythronium grandiflorum
 You will not find glacier lilies in many gardens, but Kirk grew this patch from seed that's in one of their wonderful display rock gardens that blooms reliably every spring. I love their fragrance!

Opuntia debreczyi 'Potato'
 They even grow a few cacti!

There are wondeful trough gardens here and there throughout the nursery--all filled with treasures!

Delosperma luckhofii 'Beaufort West Strain'

Iris pumila
 The Laporte team shares my love of miniature irises, including this lusty mass in the display garden...

Primula x pubescens 'Bewerly White'
 Their display gardens now only show off the plants beautifully, but serve as backups for their propagation needs...very clever.

Phlox bifida
Laporte is the only nursery I know of any more that offers the superb Sand Phlox of the Midwest--which I have grown since I was a very young child, purchased from Lounsberry Gardens--we're taking half centuries here!

Chrysanthemum hosmariense
I'm quite sure this has been put in at least another half dozen genera since I first learned it with this name: this looks to be an especially compact form!

More treasures: Primula elatior and more phlox and pasqueflowers...

Sand phlox above, Gray's phlox below
What a treat it is to see the more unusual native phloxes offered for sale instead of just Phlox subulata. Although they grow lots of those too!

Pulsatilla regeliana?
Not sure which pasqueflower this is. And notice the Raoulia in front of it!

And they do troughs! Lots of troughs..

Sempervivum cvs.
There's an old saying that we all begin and end our gardening careers growing Sempervivum--as children because they're so easy to grow and as old gardeners--for the same reason! In between, some disdain these fabulous plants. But when they are grown like this, you can see why they should be treasured!

I love the dark colors in many of the succulents--I think the lower right is actually Delosperma seanii-hoganii--surely the most ungainly Latin name honoring the most delightful of people. I'll save that for another rant.

Watching the rare plant mats arrayed like this is so gratifying: I make a pilgrimage to Laporte a couple times of years to see what treasures they've accrued, and mostly to worship their wonderfully grown flats and flats and flats of alpine treasure.

It's mesmerizing to look through their many greenhouses...

Here two Primula species--P. hirsuta on the left and P. elatior again on the right: both are wonderful garden plants.

Each Laporte greenhouse is like a little Cathedral of rock garden treasure. Even if you're not an alpine fanatic (like me) you will find choice woodlanders and some unusual perennials or xeric plants to grace your garden. Do click on their website * and drool over their myriad offerings: and make sure you put your order in early for spring: I'm determined that they sell out by mid-summer this year!

*If you clicked on the link, you will be directed to their Website: their Logo and a few gew-gaws are missing (software malfunction) but more importantly, the links to the plants are there, and many more pictures. That works just fine! I suspect their fix the cosmetic stuff before springtime, but Karen and Kirk's priorities are always the plants: they grow the best and they grow them like no one else--I don't know what I'd do without this flagship nursery of the Rockies and far beyond!


  1. Now I have to decide which to visit first if I ever get to Denver, the Denver Botanic Garden or the Laporte Ave nursery. I guess it will be the Denver Botanic Garden since I will not want to leave all the plants I will have purchased in my car. I only hope they will let me shop after driving 1000 miles.


  2. You will never find wiser, kinder or more generous people than Karen and Kirk: you just have to arrange the visit in advance is all (they are enormously productive because they are enormously focused and hard working): they're quite simply the best at what they do because of it! A visit to their nursery is inspirational: I always come away with great ideas and a SLUG of treasures for much too low a price!


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