Thursday, April 2, 2015

Simple gifts

Natural Arch in the Cumberland river area of Kentucky

 Of course, there's nothing simple about arranging a trip half way across the country (particularly for hosts!), but the simple gifts I'm speaking of are the gifts of springtime: gentle breezes, luscious greens and the magic of the ephemeral flowers. I shall be sharing plenty of these simple gifts below: so turn on your Appalachian spring, and dream with me...

 ( In late April of 2012, Jan and I were invited by Allen Bush to visit Kentucky. Allen arranged for me to give a talk (defraying costs, and justifying some time to explore), and he set up almost two weeks to tour his enchanting state. I was horrified to see I never blogged about these. In a few weeks, we'll be re-visiting Kentucky (and Tennessee! that last of the 50 states I've not yet seen!).

Yahoo falls (pronounced Yay-hoo)
I can hear you saying now ("did Google demand a falls be named after them as well?)...

Asclepias quadrifolia
This was a new one for me: and a shade loving asclepiad to boot! I've never seen this in a garden...

Asplenium montanum?
There are a few look-alike aspleniums in the Appalachians--I think this name is right. I have a weakness for rock ferns, and the Aspleniums are aristocrats of the genre.

Asplenium (Camptosorus) rhizophyllum
I would hate to count the times I've failed with this delightful fern. You would think that anything that spreads so easily from tip rooting would be amenable to garden culture. Oh well: I can worship it in the wild at least!
 Botrychium virginianum
I grew this for many years as a very young person. Won't say how long ago that was. Considering that it grows in just about every state, it's surprising it's not more often seen in gardens. I believe it may be extinct in Colorado now.
Cypripedium calceolus (pubescens)
My companion, Jan, is propping the ladyslipper up: it had been knocked down by a passerby. This hardly needs a commentary...

Disporum lanuginosum
I believe the American Disporum are now called Prosartes....

Conopholis americana
Another novelty for me: supposedly parasitic on oak roots! Guess I'll pass this by...

Erigeron puchellus

Geranium maculatum
Not often seen in gardens--this Appalachian geranium has grown well for us in Denver.

Viola hastata (left) and Hexastylis (Asarum) arifolium (right)
I love the bold foliage of the woodlanders.

Hexastylis (Asarum) arifolium
I have a small tuft of this widespread Appalachian ginger: hope some day it does this at home!

Hexastylis (Asarum) arifolium flowers
Wonderful little tubby flowers.

Houstonia canadensis
A ditinctive bluet...

Houstonia serpyllifolia
I once grew this groundcovering bluet in Boulder: need to try it again...but is there a source?
Houstonia caerulea

Hydrophyllum appendiculatum
Surely the queen of the genus. Reminds me a lot of Phacelia.

Iris cristata
We were at the tail end of the flowering on crested iris--but we could see it was abundant.
Iris cristata

Lygodium palmatum
I have seen this growing abundantly in North Carolina--strange that it is so rare in gardens.

Magnolia macrophylla
There were four immense leaved magnolias growing mixed hereabouts. A little tricky to distinguish from afar! They apparently bloom at different times...

Mitchella repens in bloom
We found partridge berry in flower...

Mitchella repens in fruit
And in fruit nearby

Orchis (Galeorchis) spectabilis
Always a treat to find an orchid...

Osmunda cinammomea
The cinnamon fern seems to be Universal in the Eastern hardwoods--we saw them everywhere in Nova Scotia last year as well...

Pedicularis canadensis
This grows in Colorado as well...
Phlox x amoena
I was charmed by this phlox, which was abundant where forest had been cleared for powerlines.

Phlox divaricata
I love this icy blue phlox--so widespread and variable throughout the Eastern woodlands...

Synandra hispidula
A brand new genus for me: very beautiful!

Sedum ternatum
This surely must be one of best of all sedums--yet rarely sold by nurseries! What's up?

Silene virginica
An extremely easily grown woodland perennial..yet not that often seen.

Silene rotundifolia
I've never seen this one in commerce--with its deep red flowers and interesting habit it would be a wiinner.

Thalictrum sp.
One of a dozen species found in the East: which one is it?

Trillium luteum
WE grow this wonderfully in Denver Fun to see it in the wild.
Trillium luteum x cuneatum?
It would be fun to grow this hybrid!

Uvularia perfoliata
I do grow to see in the wild.

Viola sp?
A wonderful mystery violet...

Viola canadensis
We have a close cousin that is every bit as rambunctious...

Viola hastata
What is it about violets: either they're nearly always weeds, or else impossible to grow.

Viola pedata
 This one is easy for anyone on acid soil, but excrutiatingly elusive to those of us on alkaline substrates...

The trip these pictures were taken on was already four years to take a look backward..and this year we're visiting the same locations only weeks earlier in floral time! Stay tuned for what we see this time....

 "Simple Gifts"by Elder Joseph
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.


  1. Will you be bumping into my old buddy, Alan Grainger during your imminent trip, Panayoti? If so then please get him to buy you a drink or three from me. Another delightful report my friend.

    1. Thank you, Cliff...I'm hoping we might see Alan, who I too remember from British days. We're emailing to see what's any case, I'll certainly have those drinks (Kentucky bourbon most likely)...

  2. I have lots of Sedum ternatum. I bought it at a local native plant sale. It was doing so well I decided to pull it out of my small crevice garden and move it into the regular concrete block landscaping. I replaced the Sedum ternatum in the crevice garden with Aquilegia jonesii. I thought Aquilegia jonesii was more deserving of that prime real estate.

    The ironic thing about Viola pedata is it locally grows on the driest areas of calcareous hill prairies. Maybe Viola pedata is like some carnivorous plants in that it can tolerate extremes in pH that limit nutrients, but it does not survive when nutrients are most readily available at a neutral pH.

    We have a number of these plants in my area. However, many are very rare or do not make it this far north. I do hope they thin and burn the woods in Kentucky. It would be a shame to have so many great plants disappear due to a lack of sufficient light.


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