Thursday, September 10, 2015

Another perfect day in paradise...Sept. 10, 2015

Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Trail
 We left Kanab about nine--perhaps a bit earlier, and must have started on the trek to Bright Angel not long after ten. It was a wonderful day--perfect temperature not even a breeze. I managed to get one view nearly worthy of the place--here above.

Marietjie and Georg Fritz relaxing
 Org (Georg) and Marietjie have been the best companions imaginable: they've kept me amused as I drive (rent-a-car--they can't drive) and I relish their stories about Africa. They were the impetus for the trip, but driving through the Southwest is really something we all need to do regularly--especially in the off season!

Org's son loves bonsai, so you would often see him photographing gnarled plants to torment his son (with kindness of course!)
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.) on Grand Canyon north rim
 I should have photographed the dozen or so fantastic shrubs thereabouts, including Garrya, Amelanchier utahensis, Purshia stansburiana, various Quercus, Cercocarpus (intricatus and ledifolius) and on and on and on...this dwarfish and uncharacteristic manzanita is all you get to see, alas!

 Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.) on Grand Canyon north rim: closer view

Penstemon rostriflorus
Delighted to see late bloom on this wonderful plant...

Cylindropuntia 'Snow Leopard'
I'd never noticed in the past that the "C. whipplei" hereabouts is the much larger, huskier critter sold by Timberline as 'Snow Leopard'. I believe it's got a new scientific name--utterly unlike whipplei to my eyes!
Psathyrotes ramosissima near Cave Dwellers, Arizona
 What can I say? It was perfect. The "soil" gave way like rich loam--which it basically is.
Psathyrotes ramosissima near Cave Dwellers, Arizona

Eriogonum corymbosum yellow form near Cave Dwellers, Arizona
 I should have spent a day photographing this all over--there were some stunners...
Sphaeralcea sp.,
 Fun to see this still blooming...
Georg and Muhlenbergia sp,
 This looks alot like M. torreyi from around Denver--but much bigger. Hope to get a name..

Utah state line in Monument Valley
 New thing to put stickers on State boundary signs? Monument Valley rocks...

Mexican Hat
 One of my favorite landmarks--I think the picture does it justice!
Georg and Juniper
Who is posing for whom?

Just a few glimpses of a perfect day--although my hotel room tonight in Blanding could use some help. A lot of it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wildfire! zauschnerias set flame to the West! (or Confessions of a Fuddy Duddy)

Org (Georg) Fritz photographing Zauschneria californica var. latifolia
 Epilobium canum for botanical purists! This picture was taken on Monday in Sequoia National Park--a mile or so from "General Sherman"--the largest tree by bulk on planet Earth. This is the most widespread zauschneria in the Sierra: and probably the commonest of the species in the wild. It loves to grow along the road as you can see--but I've seen it in the past in screes from fairly low elevations to well above treeline in the Sierra...

Zauschneria californica var. latifolia
 I was so delighted to find this flashy colony I shall inflict quite a few closeups of the grouping for your delectation: of course, not everyone likes hot red flowers. Most fellows do, however...

Botanists, largely at the behest of Peter Raven [world authority on Onagraceae as well as the ultimate honcho of public gardening--and paleobotany while we're at it] was responsible I believe for the lumping of Zauschneria--for no doubt excellent reasons. I presume the DNA puts it in the middle of Epilobium (let's hope so anyway: otherwise the lumping really would be a hoax). I'm sure that there are many compelling reasons for the lumpification: and I don't really have a problem botanists shuffling things about (job security and all that!)--but it's obvious this little tribe is definitely working hard to distinguish itself from its wan, pink, mesophytic cousins. Let's fast forward a few million years--by then, these will be utterly dissimilar--much as birds are from extinct dinosaurs! Aha! I hear applause and accolades from the spheres: The botanists of the future agree...

Zauschneria californica var. latifolia
 The dis-distinguifictionalizing (to coin a word worthy of the action) of extraordinarily recognizable entities to prove a taxonomic point seems to me to belie the very fact that taxonomy was invented to recognize distinct distinctions--like xerophytic epilobioids that are hummingbird pollinated and have distinct geographical, edaphic and morphological features that distinguish them from one another. I grant you that the California zauschies are superficially extremely similar to those of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau (those are coming up): I believe a sort of violence has been done to these by scrunching them all under the single rubric of "Epilobium canum"...

Zauschneria californica var. latifolia

Zauschneria californica var. latifolia
 Here is a wonderfully silvery form of californica--the most variable of the taxa in my experience.
Zauschneria californica Selection in Mike Kintgen's Denver Garden

Zauschneria californica 'Etteri' at Kendrick Lake 
 And yet another very distinctive clone: this one has grey-bluish leaves...a fabulous garden plant.
Zauschneria arizonica taken today at Zion National Park
 You can imagine my delight when we found oodles of Zauschneria arizonica along the highway in Zion Park today. The lumpers have grouped this with the last species--as they have the next one coming up. Despite the much greener foliage, the larger habit, more orange flowers (I know all these characters blur--and it does resemble some forms of californica to be sure). But this is consistently tetraploid, and has a very distinct geographical range far to the east..distinctions that are not honored by the lumped epithet.

Zauschneria arizonica taken today at Zion National Park
 Can't resist sharing a few more shots of this...

Zauschneria arizonica taken today at Zion National Park

Zauschneria arizonica taken around 1990 at my old house (Daughter Eleni in the middle)
 In the garden I have found Z. arizonica to be the largest, and most robust of the species. Here in my unwatered xeriscape it often grew over a yard tall, and with water grew much larger. It's a monster! But not nearly as cute as my daughter...

Zauschneria arizonica taken today at Sandy Snyder's garden in Littleton
 Here's a massive specimen in Sandy Snyder's fabulous garden--which will host our chapter's plant sale in a week and a half--it should be blazing then!

Zauschneria garrettii in the wild
 Again obscured by the nomenclatural muddling--this distinctive species grows far to the north and east of all the others--I've seen it many places in northern Utah, Wyoming and Idaho--often near tree line. Here is the first colony we found thanks to a Casper horticulturist who directed us here--above a reservoir on the Wyoming-Idaho line, not far from Afton.
Zauschneria garrettii at Kendrick Lake
 Z. garrettii is diploid, grows far to the north of Z. arizonica, but resembles it in many ways, although it is much more compact. It also begins blooming two months earlier: I've seen flowers on this in May some years. Obviously not as daylength sensitive as the lowland species. As a consequence, it's the best plant to grow at altitude (and also to enjoy earlier in the summer)...

Zauschneria garrettii at Yampa River Botanic Park
 Here is a stunning spread of it at a ski town in Northwest Colorado--where the growing season is very short.

Oenothera speciosa (dwarf pink form--outside Sequoia National Park)
 Just to confuse you, I toss in this distant cousin I photographed the other day outside Sequoia in a private garden: it's a native of the Southern Plains, but I've never seen such a stunningly dwarf and dark pink form. I had a long time to travel in the car--otherwise I'd have begged a piece.

Oenothera speciosa (dwarf pink form--outside Sequoia National Park)

Here's another Oenothera speciosa I stumbled upon in south Denver a few years ago--not as deep a pink as the California one, but very desirable. I need to beg a piece of this--I stumble on far too many good things!
South Denver Oenothera speciosa

Closeup of South denver Oenothera speciosa

Isn't this Oenothera speciosa  simply scrumptious? Of course, it spreads like wildfire! Which (you notice how deftly I returned to the initial theme?)

Epilobium fleischeri (in the Rock Alpine Garden, Denver Botanic Gardens)
I have to give the botanists their due: this is vaguely reminiscent of a Zauschneria--and it's not exactly mesic (I saw it growing on quite dry habitats in the Eastern Mediterranean this summer). I'm sure the phylogeny and morphology and probably the genetics put the zauschnerias comfortably in Epilobium: but just as Dodecatheon begs to be recognized for its distinctive shape and geographic separateness from Primula (and let's not even talk about Dionysia)...these subsets of huge genera--like Oxytropis within Astragalus--beg to have some recognition...and the distinctive distribution of specific taxa should definitely not be erased in Floras when they scream out on the roadside or the garden.
Epilobium (photographed in June, 2010 in Kansas)
Now THIS is what I think of when I hear Epilobium: there so many tiny, pale, wan things in the genus. Let's not insult them by sticking them in the same corral as those fiery plants which have all the subtlety of drag queens or forest fires!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Half way 'round Denver Botanic Gardens August 30, 2015

Caesalpinia gilliesii
 I've really not had a good walk around our York Street gardens for over two months (between traveling and recovering from traveling). Yesterday (after my budget meeting with the boss) I decided it was time to take a stroll. I got through little more than half of the Gardens (a lot less than that if you factor in the Children's garden, the Greenhouses and Conservatory--and let's not even talk about Chatfield and Mt. Goliath!)...I was charmed by the variety of plants and the wonderful design. I hope you will be too! Oh yes: the Bird of Paradise Shrub made it fine through the last two hideous winters!

Caesalpinia gilliesii
 A view of our largest specimen outside the Bistro.

The O'Fallon Border is exquisite right now...

The first Michaelmas asters are kicking in

The mix of yellow and pink reminds me of the Drakensberg--a common combo there.

Common, I know: but Rudbeckia triloba looks so good here!

Isn't THIS a cool combo of Pennisetum and Rhus?

Quite the transformation: the first year for the new El Pomar beds--I like the look...

Holloway doing his magic...

One of the many Deborah Buttefield horses on the grounds
 Our sculpture exhibit this year is polar opposite of Chihuly: subtle and understated: they seem to complement the garden rather than compete with it...I always want to touch these and see if they're really made of bronze. But I don't (being a good citizen!)...OK. Maybe once.

The Schlessman Plaza is always alluring...

This clematis has bloomed for months.

Fragrance garden vista.

I was delighted this Agapanthus came through our "Polar Vortex" winter so well.

I love the echo of the Chihuly in the dahlia in front.

Impatiens balfourii conquering the world (or a piece of the world)

Impatiens bicolor doing its imperialistic thing...

Impatiens bicolor

Melinis nerviglume  South African plaza

South African plaza

South African plaza

South African plaza crevice garden with annuals and ice plants.

South African plaza abutting Plains garden

Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Desert spoon (Dasylirion texanum) in Dryland Mesa

Plains garden

Liatris punctata not blooming very figorously: too dry the last two months?

Stipa in the Rock Alpine Garden

Origanum 'Kent Beauty'

Bevy of Pelargoniums around rock garden work area....

Lainie's cutting garden

Soon to be transformed rose garden

Lainie's cutting garden

Part of the Promenade (that's what I call the long pathway in front of the Orangery)

There has been a steady crowd of people in front of "Stinkie"--Amorphophallus titanum, here they are watching a video of the plant's transformations: it has attracted tens of thousands of additional visitors over the last month, and the interest has not yet been slaked.

The rain was coming down heavily, and my tour had to end...maybe if you ask I'll take another walk today and finish it?

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