Saturday, July 30, 2016

Return of the Native: tulip gentian time!

 I took the picture above 34 years ago in Lakewood. My dear friend Joan Franson called me up to tell me she'd found a colony of tulip gentian (Eustoma grandiflorum) in Lakewood--not far from the intersection of Kipling and Interstate 70: I drove out there with her the next morning and this is one of the photographs I took at the time and later scanned. That story does not end well: the entire area was plowed under the next year for a shopping center (the story of too many flower fields I've loved and admired in my lifetime). I have grieved this colony, and each time I drive by the place they grew (now a parking lot and some shoppes that are constantly changing their brand names) a little twinge of regret tugs at my heart. Fast forward to yesterday!

I was leading a field trip for Denver Botanic Gardens to the Pawnee Buttes with Jim Tolstrup, who is CEO of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland. I've known and admired Jim for years, and designed the field trip in part so we could visit his new venture after hiking the Pawnee Buttes. Sitting next to him in the bus, you can imagine my surprise when he pulls out his I-phone and shows me a picture of a meadow full of tulip gentians at the HPEC where we were headed later that day. My jaw dropped--and I practically fidgeted through the Buttes I was so anxious to see these...

By the time we got to the Center, the light was oblique--so these are all severely backlit.  I have uploaded a lot of pictures (how to pick?) hoping to give you a glimpse of how glorious this colony is and how excited I was by what has transpired...

I have seen six or seven colonies of tulip gentian in the West in my day--two of them consisting of only a few plants, and two others have been destroyed by development (in Lakewood) and mining in Boulder County. Occasionally there are extraordinary displays of these at the extensive wetlands in the parks just west of I-25 between Prospect and Mulberry exits in Fort Collins...but my last visit there was disappointing.

Astonishingly--these Eustoma were apparently not planted: when some ponds and wetlands were created at this site for mitigation purposes, long buried seed must have come to the surface and last year Jim was surprised to discover this enormous colony of these choice natives. And what a colony!

I think these wonderful natives speak for themselves! Welcome back!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Windy Ridge

I've known Jerry Morris for many decades, and I've been BY Windy Ridge a half dozen times when I've gone up Mt. Bross (stopping occasionally to admire the bristlecones along the road). It is almost distressing to me that I've not been up to Windy Ridge until just yesterday with Jerry--being with him amplified and deeped the appreciation of this truly majestic spot. To add wonder to marvel, it was a warm and windless morning...
Now you can see why it's called "bristlecone" pine
 Pinus aristata is one of the wonders of the West--with the greatest number and concentration in Colorado. Denver Botanic Gardens' Mt. Goliath site is a superb place to see fine specimens, but Windy Ridge has the most massive and rugged individuals I've seen thus far.
Jerry along with one of his faves.

I think this one speaks for itself!

A whole phalanx of nearly prostrate ones praying to the East!

Wildflowers too: probably Castilleja miniata here

Some idiot tried to cut one down. Hope they were hit by lightning!

Spruce grouse (chicks in hiding)

Colorado's endemic Castilleja puberula

Zigadenus elegans
And this was just the morning. Wait till you see where we went in the afternoon yesterday! one last Bristlecone to bid us adieu.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Late spring update

Pediocactus despainii
It's almost hopelessly out of date--pictures mostly from May and even April: I loaded them a month or more ago as my "farewell to spring" and now summer is half over! Oh well...I managed to load them and label them and might as well publish them if only for Jacques Thompson, who let me know he checks up on my blog regularly...we'll see if that's the case. So this post is dedicated to Jacques and his fabulous wife, Andrea, whose garden I featured a year ago in a whole series of glowing posts which I hope you will re-visit if only to compare and see how many treasures THEY grow that I don't. The Thompsons garden was one of two that received the North American Rock Garden Society's Millstream Award (given each year to a garden or gardens of great beauty and merit). Oh yes, the Pediocactus above--smaller than a quarter: one of my favorite treasures.

Arum nigrum
I have noticed that I'm growing a lot of Arums lately. And this is near the top of the list: I saw this in a flower book and yearned for it for many years. In 1991 I visited Brian Mathew--and he gave me this piece..pretty nifty pedigree.

Delosperma Wheel of Wonder Orange Wonder
I am always intrigued at how different plants look in sunlight and oblique light: you can compare with these two delos--the one above in sun, the one below at dusk (Same plant: honest!).

Same plant in overcast light...

Delosperma Jewel of the Desert 'Topaz'
Delosperma Jewel of the Desert 'Garnet'
Potentilla cuneata
From Laporte Avenue nursery (and ultimately Tibet): Karen Lehrer (who knows her plants) rates this did bloom for a long time. I have great hopes for it!

Erodium cf petraeum
Erodiums have been uncommonly good performers for me. Some are even mild pests! All bloom forever and a day.

Paeonia officinalis 'Anemoniflora'
I have a long story about this. This is not the time or the place...

Papaver orientale
Almost as good as Papaver orientale 'Beauty of Livermere' (which I keep trying to obtain--my favorite color form. this one showed up and is spreading--and is almost as red but not as tall. No: I do not know the cultivar name!

Salvia phlomoides
Mike Kintgen collected this in Morocco--one of the very best miniature salvias.

Thalictrum tuberosum
A heavenly meadow rue! closeup...

Thalictrum tuberosum
The whole plant: isn't it cute?

Salvia caespitosa
Catanache caespitosa
The flower may look like a dandelion--but this is a cut above the everpresent one...

Catanache caespitosa

Alium oreophilum

I've planted many bulbs of this onion, but this is the first to really clump up and thrive. I've always liked it, but seeing it above treeline in the Altai whetted my anxiety to grow it!

Aquilegia bertollonii
It COULD be A. pyreneica instead, I spose. Whatever it is, it's super.

Dianthus brevicaule
One of the consistently best tiny pinks.

Arum dioscurides
Very well...this may be my other most favorite arum. First time it's bloomed for me.

Verbascum x 'Letitia'
I actually met Letitia Aslet in 1986. It adds a zip when you know the cultivar name personally...

Springtime in the rock garden!
A medley of gems...
Campanula barbata
This should be grown in drifts. Oh well...I have a drift of one.

Senecio macrocephalus
A pink/purple senecio that's easy to grow and also has good foliage. Pretty cool...

Saxifraga cotyledon

Campanula x stansfieldii
Bloooms forever and glows in the shade...

Ophiopogon umbraticola (NOT O. chingii)

See this link...I believe it's the first time it's bloomed for me...

Erodium macradenum
Seeds about a tad much, but wonderful color. I can't bring myself to pull them out!

Erigeron 'Olga'

Echium plantagineum
I didn't plant this. Rather weedy, but I don't care!

Digitalis mariana
The finest foxglove (for shade anyway)...I refuse to call it just "D. purpurea" since it's not biennial, nor a water hog.

Sedum nevii

Onopordon acanthium
I know Scotch thistle is a weed: but what a pretty one! I can't resist leaving a few each year...

Dicentra 'King of Hearts'
It's been blooming for months.

Iris prismatica
Alas, it needs it wet. Fortunately, I have a bog for it to ramp in--one of America's finest irises.

Lilium croceum v. bulbiferum
In Europe they think this is gross. I love it anyway!

Moltkia petraea
I've grown this a very long time--its finally shaping up to be oustanding dwarf shrub.

Clematis viorna
It turned out to be a vine...I put it in the wrong spot. Will it transplant next spring?

Lilium martagon 'Album'
Nuff said.

Codonopsis clematidea

Codonopsis clematidea

Senecio pudica
Not for the average gardener. But I love it.

Campanula kemulariae
Or is it C. raddeana?

Symphyandra armena
Wrongly distributed as Symphyandra zangezura, this one is biennial.

Campanula formanekiana
Usually monocarpic...

Scutellaria orientalis ssp. pinnatifida
The best form I've ever grown...

Another overall shot of the back of the rock garden...

Sedum nevii
A rare sedum from Tennessee--easily grown in a pot here...

Hypericum olympicum

Dianthus nitidus

Allium caeruleum
A particularly fine form of this onion...

Melica nutans
I had to tear most of this gorgeous grass out: too much of a good thing... which would like to grow everywhere...

An overall shot showing one of my favorite onions--from Central Asia...

Allium carolinianum
A very distinctive onion: easily grown from seed. You need this!

Yucca elata
This is over 10' tall--but the taller form on a trunk was much taller and later to bloom...

So there you have it--a few gems from my spring bloom! Hope you liked it, Jacques and Andrea! You two rock! Hope we'll get you out here next year!

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