Saturday, January 2, 2016

My year in flowers

Kniphofia thodei
 I was very lucky to spend most of January in South Africa (and I blogged quite a bit about it, which you can check out beginning here*if you wish). How can I condense the entire Drakensberg mountains, not to mention Kruger's fabulous animals into an image? I can't. But I can say this unusual poker (fairly widespread in Lesotho) was very satisfying to find: I'd seen it on two other trips--briefly through the windows of speeding vehicles that wouldn't stop. So you can imagine how satisfying it was to take all the pictures I wanted at my leisure this time around!

* I have scattered links throughout this blog to lead you to longer postings I've done on some of the frames below. Not all alas: I'm not that assiduous a blogger. Believe me.

Jason Sampson, Director of the University of Pretoria botanical garden
 I know it's supposed to be about plants--but some who care for plants count too! I had met Jason a year or two before in Colorado, but to see him on his own turf was fantastic: a magnificent botanic garden under his care. a wonderful Potjiekos at his home (meeting Nikki and their menagerie of critters) and an unforgettable day at the Cradle of Mankind which I can summon powerfully with a stone tool Jason gave me--handled by a mutual ancestor perhaps a million years ago.

Marietje and Georg Fritz of Heidelberg, Gauteng, South Africa
 Our guide through the fabulous Suikerbos Reserve mentioned his garden: I asked if we (that's nearly twenty of we) could visit--and he said yes right away: you must click here and see what a surprise was in store for us. What a treat it was eight months later to host these two wonderful people (they'd been invited to speak at the Huntington symposium) through the Southwest!

Iris aucheri and Draba hispanica
 It's always good to come back home! And springtime in my rock garden is of course the peak. You can only peek at this right now, because next we're off to Michigan in March...

Colchicum sp. in the garden of Dr. Anton Reznicezk, Ann Arbor, Michigan
 I was invited (with Sean Hogan) to speak to a Master Gardener conference, and took in four of the most amazing gardens there I've ever seen. This was taken at one of America's greatest botanist's homes: Tony is also a great gardener!
Corydalis turtschaninovii
 I did a whole blog posting on this corydalis--one of the revelations of my second Michigan visit in May: Jacques and Andrea Thompson gave me a pot full of plants of this--so perhaps one day I too might be able to boast of growing this most accommodating of true blue corydalis.

Jan matching colors with Cercis canadensis in Tennessee
 I was invited to speak at Western Kentucky University in April (I never did publish the blog on their fabulous arboretum--which I may yet do)...but there was enough to keep us busy at the height of spring--the redbuds alone were worth the visit. I was astonished that they were all fairly small and slender (they get to be quite massive in Colorado by comparison) and I discovered that they develop borers as they mature--where ours do not. Very cool! A few days with my daughter in Nashville (Grand Ol' Opry and an wonderful visit with Paul Moore--another blog I have yet to publish!...)

Erythronium americanum and Ramp foliage
 A hike along Wolf Pen Mill creek east of Louisville with Allen Bush found us in a heaven of ephemerals...the ramps (Allium tricoccum--the big leaves above) were mighty tasty too!

Viola pedata in south central Kentucky
 A few days later we were lucky enough to joint Julian Campbell on a series of hikes: we found no end of early blooming treasures, this limestone adapted Viola pedata near the top of the list...

Iris ruthenica
 Back home in time to ogle my many irises (I have many hundreds on my home inventory--a devil to keep labeled). This one is a no-brainer, however. I have seen this in China and Kazakhstan (growing by the mile there)--and my clumps bring back memories each time they bloom.
Water garden at Denver Botanic Gardens
 And there is the botanic garden where I work..and play. This year it suffered two enormous bouts of hail (and a horrible winter of damage to boot)--I am always amazed how the horticulture staff bring things around! By midsummer the Gardens were stunning again!
Coreopsis verticillata growing on a cliff near Conway, Arkansas
 A quick trip to Arkansas (son's graduation) resulted in this shot--a surprising place to see a coreopsis blooming!

Clematis addisonii in the Rock Alpine Garden
 Back at the Gardens, the rock garden seems to go from strength to strength under Mike Kintgen's baton. This is one of my favorite vignettes...

Arum nigrum
 This is the first year the black arum bloomed for me: we've not kept this at the Gardens, however. I shall have to give them back a start...eventually!

Aquilegia caerulea and Hyacinthoides hispanica
 I had the finest flowering ever on our state flower--just in time for a mother's day snow that flattened them all!

Catanache caespitosa
 Snow doesn't faze my rock garden however...

Cotyledon orbiculata and Astrophytum myriostigma
 Although it's always touchy when to take out the tender things. This year I was a tad too poor jade plants were singed by frost: on the bright side, they're much more compact now!

Nick Daniel and Gymnocarpium dryopteris
 One of the highlights of early summer was a field trip with colleagues to document a superb wild site near Denver full of treasures, like this oak fern at its lowest elevation in the State I believe (and not yet documented for that county!)...maybe my favorite fern...

Opuntia 'Watermelon' at Timberline Gardens
 I was able to finally get a wealth of pictures of Kelly Grummons' magnificent cactus patch that is no more (Timberline closed in October).

Verbascum bombyciferum
 I did see this magnificent mullein in the wild from the Teleferik on Bursa a month later--but never got a chance to take its picture there. The colony is being exiled to the alley--so this is my last big show in the "native" garden...where it got a bit out of hand.

Acantholimon trojanum
 I shan't share pictures from Ulu Dag--but I will show two from Kaz Dag--the Mt. Ida of the Iliad. Thanks to Chanticleer I fulfilled a lifetime ambition to visit this northwest corner of Turkey--the Ionia of the Greeks. A bittersweet visit to an ancient homeland. The proper name for the prickly thrift is Acantholimon ulicinum v. ulicinum--but it is so much showier (and less prickly) than plants labeled thus I'm sticking by my guns with the nomen semi-nudum.

Asperula sintenisii
 I've grown this for decades: what a treat to see it in the wild! Perhaps on the very spot where Paris judged Athena, Hera and Aphrodite...and you know who won.

Viola delphinantha
 My only shot from Mt. Olympus in Thessaly. Three full days on the Gods' mountain, and all you get is this one shot! More will be forthcoming, don't worry!

At the Huntington
 Not long after we got back to America it was off to California again and the Huntington symposium. Dylan Hannon gave us a tour of the conservatory--and we got a glimpse of the inside of a tropical ant hotel...

Tom Glavich and cactus frame
 We had a wonderful dinner at Tom Glavich's--on the foothills of the San Gabriel range--and was able to see how he grows his countless prize-winning specimens. There were dozens of cases like this (to protect them from critters mostly I think). He'd just orchestrated the All city Cactus Show the month before. And he'd accompanied us in Africa in January. Tom rocks!

A closer look at one of his cactus frames..

And here let's do justice to the succulents as well!

Dylan Hannon's hand and mystery bulb
 We had a wonderful dinner with Dylan and Toni. Dylan is one of the greatest plantsmen in America--and his collection (at home) is dazzling any time of the year.
Dylan Hannon (left), Georg Fritz and Antoinette (Toni) Hannon

Monster Eucalyptus at Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden
 An enchanting day spent at the Los Angele Arboretum with Jim Henrich and Susan Eubank: I'd seen this eucalypt before, but this time it seemed to capture the magnificence of that remarkable public garden!

Quecus macrophylla from Mexico
 Just one more glimpse from the Arboretum of an amazing giant leaved oak...

Viola douglasii
 I had seen this species two years earlier blooming in a pot at Gothenburg botanic garden--but what a pleasure to see it in the wild. Alas, just past blooming--and alaser--past seed (in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada near Sequoia National Park)...

Zauschneria californica
 Despite the extreme drought, the "California fuchsia" was blooming its head off in the high Sierra!

 Later that week we visited the Grand Canyon and that magnificent hike out onto Bright Angel point...

Zion National Park
 Zion never fails to delight...

Lisa Bourey's cut flower garden
 There were many highlights in our three days in Durango--one of them being to see Lisa Bourey's incredible new cut flower garden. I have featured Lisa and Drew's wonderful garden several years ago, but this was my first visit to her new business!

Venidium fastuosum
 I was especially delighted with 'Orange Prince'--an Arctotis cousin new to me that Lisa had growing everywhere. I was delighted to find a plump packet in the mail from her last week!

Kenton's Seth's latest monumental crevice garden in Grand Junction
One would have to spend a lot of time keeping track of Kenton's gardens--he's constructed over twenty in the last few years (and he's not much older than that...)

 And there he is (on the left!)--one of the many young talents in rock gardening that make my life in Colorado so rewarding! Kenton is very much self taught--I met him four or five years ago after he'd been volunteering at the Western Colorado botanic garden: he'd soon be off to Turkey and Armenia and came back to work for Kelly at Timberline. He's now self-employed and busier than ever. A wonderful talent: do follow his blog and his business page! A force to be reckoned with!

Lizard Head Pass, San Juan Mts., Colorado
 On the way back to Denver, we crossed a pass that was new to me--one I must visit again!

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens new Visitor Center
 I was sad to miss the dedication of this fantastic new structure last summer since I was in Greece and Turkey...but did manage to drop in on it this autumn. Bravo Nicola, Nick and troops! Its magnificent...

Zaluzianskya capensis
 I counted nearly 100 kind of flowers blooming there in late September--this one being especially surprising at over 8000' in the Rockies!
Greater Des Moines Botanic Garden
 Halloween found me in Des Moines where I spoke at their symposium: I'd visited this botanic garden fifteen years ago. it's utterly transformed under the baton of Stephanie Jutila (director) and the phenomenon that is Kelly Norris (shown below). The gardens they have created in the last few years are among the most artistic and horticulturally rich of any in the country. Des Moines--with the nearby Brenton Arboretum and test gardens for Homes and Gardens and Garden Gate--is a horticultural hot spot you should not miss!

Edward Lyon and Kelly Norris at Reiman Gardens
 And not far away, Ames boasts Reiman Gardens, but also the Iowa Arboretum nearby and a campus full of treasures...although very young, Reiman is rich in diverse collections and wonderful gardens. The indefatigable Ed Lyon has great plans for it: watch out!

Reiman Gardens' butterfly house
 Butterfly houses are wonderful assets--and Reiman has a good one!

Temporary Chihuly glass installation at Denver Botanic Gardens
 Back to Denver--in time to enjoy our new exhibit by the Administrative house as autumn ends...
Fastsia japonica 'Variegata' at Unique Plant Nursery near Chapel Hill
 But a quick visit to North Carolina had many wonderful surprises. I'd never seen a Fatsia like this! It could use a new generic name, however...

Galanthus elwesii v. monostictus at Montrose in Hillsborough, N.C.
 And a magical day with Nancy Goodwin at Montrose--surely (along with Filoli of course) America's most exquisite estate garden...

Malibu Mountains from Palos Verdes on Christmas day (giant Pinus pinea on right)

Christmas  was spent in Southern California where I've been going for most recent years..the view from Kristen's incredible home...

I notice I neglected to show Iceland or four wonderful days in Copenhagen. And I've missed many a wonderful garden--and my tours to Cherokee Ranch. and what of Crete? My first visit in 25 years, and we crossed the White mountains 3, maybe 4 times (which I'd only gazed at longingly my first visits there as a young man)...I've not even had a chance to blog about those trips. This has truly been an Annus Mirabilis for me. Thanks to the Gardens and Chanticleer and a wonderful family and friends...

I shall end this flowery post with the final quatrain of my favorite poem, Andrew Marvel's "The Garden" (of course!)

"...How well the skillful gard’ner drew
Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!"


  1. Panayoti, you're not overwrought, you're thoroughly involved! In life, in flora, in a great passion that so few people on this planet feel! You have the lucky gene, it's that simple. Happy New Year!

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