Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Stireman perplex

Hellebore and Puschkinia
Why perplex? It's perplexing to me how two brothers in the Salt Lake City area figured out how to grow the best plants in the best possible ways. The Stireman gardens, in Sandy and Salt Lake City proper, are featured below: I took pictures on several occasions: the sparse pictures taken in March, the lusher ones in late April--two or three years ago now. I just uploaded these for a talk--and realized I've not shared them properly, although I did a cryptic blog about John once...with horrible pictures taken in winter--but that pretty much sums it up. Obviously, this jumble of pictures from two gardens taken at different times (both a bit early for many of the best plants) doesn't begin to capture their magic--you really have to be there. They epitomize "Shibui"--the Japanese concept of quiet, perfect elegance, only in steppe mode--with flamboyant colors. I'll not comment much in this, except to point out a few great plants here and there.
The pond at Tony's

I believe these are Draba polytricha

Probably Draba dedeana

Troughs full of African succulents!

That's Delosperma sphalmanthoides in the bottom trough!

Out of focus Lewisia bed--sorry!

Ranunculus gramineus and Aethionema grandiflorum run amok

Also check out the great piece about John Stireman in the Deseret News. And do check out John Stireman's account of his building his front berm in this old NARGS journal (his piece is towards the end of the .pdf. And finally, to see Tony and John's gardens at the height of June bloom (which I have yet to do--maybe next year?) check out "Sierra Rain Shadow's" wonderful album on Flikr. If you haven't guessed yet, the URL's are embedded in the paler gray text above...

Perplexing my eye: if they weren't so nice they'd be annoying!


  1. How can gardens as wonderful as these have slipped elusively under the international alpine radar? I assumed that after nearly forty years of participation in this magnificent horticultural hobby that the names of most of the leading North American alpinists would have surfaced in the literature, risen in the clammy dough of familiarity, soared above the parapets of recognition … but, I am ashamed to admit, these brothers from Utah and their fabulous horticultural creations have eluded my every gaze and escaped my constant foraging. Utterly beautiful gardens, troughs and alpine habitats. Many thanks once again, Panayoti for outing these incredible gardeners.

  2. A&J Thompson, Thanks for the great tour of two wonderful gardens! We think of John and Tony often. We still enjoy many cacti from the box of goodies that John left us when we toured his garden, at the end of the Utah NARGS meeting. Looking forward to seeing you next year in Denver.


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