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Showing posts from September, 2016

A heavenly Hell Strip

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I believe Lauren Springer Ogden coined the term "hell strip" (it goes by many gentler synonyms like "parking strip", and she created a firestorm of controversy if I recall by writing about them in Horticulture several decades ago. Meanwhile, my life partner, Jan Fahs, purchased a home with the most hellish of hellstrips--nearly 200' of black plastic hell which she was modestly peeling back and gently planting until I came along. Then one day (which she continues to rue) I tore out the rest of the black plastic, and we began planting and sowing seed in earnest. These pictures don't really do it justice. There are two or three things to keep in mind: out of a million or more houses and buildings in Denver, this is one of the few that is deliberately unwatered. That is to say, only two or three that are GARDENS that are unwatered (lots of derelict lots with weeds of course). Item two: it is always changing through the year, from year to year. These are just t…

Orgasmic Orotundity: the allure of roundy moundies...

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Instead of twin lions with limp wrists, more and more Denver homes seem to be decked with orotund Chrysanthemums this time of year in twin pots by the front door. What is it about a round plant that is so appealing? I remember driving by a house a mile or so from were I live and the two immensely fat owners with trimming the shrubs and herbs in their yard into similarly rounded forms: my camera sitting next to me was itching to be turned on...but the image is bright enough in words that you can summon it easily enough. And even so, I'm so tempted to go out and buy a few roundy moundy chrysanthemums myself...look here how my f colleagues were gawking at that pink giant on a field trip a few years ago...



Sophisticated gardeners may sneer a bit at such commonplaces...but what do they know?


Here two roundies are doing their thing at Kendrick Lake Park: Chrysothamnus is pretty reliable for making a rounded basket of gold every fall--at least for us in sunny, dry Denver.


Here's an …

A Meconopsis mystery

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Meconopsis aff. horridula closeup
Few plants cause greater anxiety in sophisticated American gardener's hearts than the blue poppies:   they hate temperatures much above 70F and of course, most of the USA is quite steamy in the summer months. But there is one plant that not only seems to tolerate warmer conditions, it has proved perennial and self sows at Raven Ranch, the remarkable home and garden of Bob and Rebecca Skowron--keen rock gardeners who live near Denver.



Standing back a bit......


I put the feeble "affinity" in the middle of the Latin name because the REAL M. horridula is supposed to be monocarpic (blooms and dies). Rebecca assures me hers do not bloom and die, so I'm not sure what to call the plants. She has them planted under pondersa pines in a rather distant part of her garden where I know she can't hover over them and fuss. Douglas county (where they live) is almost 1500 ft. higher in elevation than Denver, and daytime temperatures are much coole…

The progress of a sedum

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This cultivar (one of the "Sun Sparkler" series), released a few years ago by Chris Hansen, of Holland, Michigan is one of the most striking container plants I've ever grown. I believe it will become a rock garden must have. At any given time it's lovely, but its transformation through the garden year is delightful to watch. For most of us it's "just a sedum"  (albeit it looks as though Hylotelephium constitutes a recognizable, taprooted spectrum of mostly deciduous perennials that appear to occupy the transition (morphoglogically and ecologically) between Phedimus and Rhodiola). My Facebook Friend and Crassula expert, Stephen Jankalski informs me that Hylotelephium are actually more closely allied to Orostachys and Kungia (the last one is new to me!)....


Like all gardeners, what appeals to us so much about the plants we grow is how they transform through the garden year, and how they look in different lights. This little "Sun Sparkler" exem…