Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tongue fern: what's in a picture?

September 3, 2004
 I first obtained this fern not long before this picture was taken: a gift of Harlan Hamernik, co-founder of Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, Nebraska who collected it in inner Mongolia. We didn't know at first what species it was--in fact I only determined it recently:  Pyrrosia petiolosa (click on the name--there's a description in the Flora of China for you) has accrued quite a vast literature due to its use as an herb. If you google the name you'll see plenty of papers on the flavinoids and chemicals that make this plant so useful to Chinese Medicine. I suspect the little rhizome Harlan teased out and brought home is trivial compared to the metric meters of this plant that have been collected for herbal use!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 7:54 PM
 This has been one of the pride and joys of my rock garden--although 99 out of 100 visitors probably don't notice it. Tony Avent did--and asked for a piece (I have yet to provide)--or even spore, which I keep forgetting to gather: I will do so this year for sure, Tony!

Monday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2010, ‏‎12:25:10 PM
 The reason I'm posting all these pictures (with their dates) is that I think this demonstrates why we nerdy gardeners take so many pictures: even a darned fern with no pinnation looks completely different at different times of the day, growth cycle, and as it expands in the garden! If you don't take pictures, you don't realize this! And we have all that wonderful meta-data one can mine!

Saturday, May 3, 2014 9:06 PM
 Look how different this one looks above, just beginning to unfurl a few fronds...

Friday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2014, ‏‎9:33:16 PM
 To this one, a mere twenty days later, still unfurling fronds...

Sunday, July 3, 2016 6:39 AM
And this one taken this summer, when I realized it had grown enough to dig a piece, which I did for Michael Bone, who'd been hinting rather boldly...and I thought I better do it before I lost the plant! A fern that hangs in through the last few horrendous winters deserves some attention!

Monday, ‎September ‎5, ‎2016, ‏‎8:00:30 PM
And here, a short while after a piece was taken from the middle, I put a rock to fill the cavity--you'd hardly know a bit chunk was missing! Hopefully, one day we can propagate this widely and spread it around. Probably the hardiest Pyrrosia, it may only appeal to connoisseurs...but then, if you've read this far, you must be one!

The Chihuly effect--this time in Atlanta!

Just in case you've been hiding under a rock for the last generation or so, I thought I should inform you that Dale Chihuly has performed a remarkable feat of not only creating astonishing, spectacular sculpture, but partnering with dozens of botanic gardens around the world to display his work in different contexts which result in many things. The sculptures often light up dark corners of gardens where they are placed, or they dance wildly with the colors around them. Both the gardens and the sculptures gain somehow in this operation (although naysayers will say nay)...what is undeniable is that every garden graced with Chihuly sculptures experiences a colossal explosion at the box office: numbers of visitors and often members are doubled...and I've been told that the effect continues indefinitely. I doubt we could underestimate the impact Chihuly has had on raising awareness of public horticulture, and the countless millions of dollars in hard cash that have accrued to the participating gardens as a consequence. Of course, Dale and his army of associates benefit as well--but I'm not sure that's what's uppermost in their minds. I believe Public Horticulture owes Chihuly an enormous debt of gratitude. This images were taken last September when I visited Atlanta Botanic Gardens (their second--maybe third?--round of Chihuly). I believe the placement of these at Atlanta was exemplary--and I hope you'll enjoy these rather rapidly snapped images as much as I am doing three months later in frosty, early winter here in Colorado!

I will hardly need to comment on each picture, but here the artistic punning of art and nature needs a bit of a verbal smirk!

The extraordinary conservatory and tropical collections out-Chihuly art in their extravagant beauty. I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with Ron Determann--curator of tropicals in Atlanta and perhaps the greatest public gardener in America. Atlanta packs multiple wallops of excellence!

Is it Chihuly in miniature or just pomegranates?

Here is their permanent Chihuly installation in the parterre that was undergoing transformation (the box hedges--like boxwoods elsewhere in the East--will soon be a thing of the past.)

A closer look

I loved this courtyard...

The Mosaiculture goddess is from a previous exhibit--but she seems to enjoy the Chihuly baubles placed to distract her from her endless waterfall...

Another view

From the amazing raised walk...

These remind me of balloons. I'm not sure that's a good thing?

Let's not forget the magic of nature sans sculpture...

Like a crane version of the Blue Man troop...

The end! Thank you Atlanta and thank you Dale for a magical interlude...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christchurch Alpine Garden Society meeting

Scilla litardierei
 I've traveled to many countries, but New Zealand is a tad different: perhaps because it's so far from anywhere else (except maybe Australia, which is still pretty far: Sydney to Aukland is over 2000km direct!)...things in New Zealand aren't quite like anywhere else. The entire country (103,483 mi²) is a tad smaller than Colorado (104,185 mi²), but possesses such an astonishing range of climates, habitats and dozens of mountain ranges in addition to the famous agricultural production...

I've been to many a plant meeting in my day: cactus clubs in Southern California are especially vibrant and crazy--the San Diego or San Gabriel cactus may have a plant show at most meetings, with lots of plant sales--but the one in Christchurch was JUDGED....and I'm embarrassed to say it me who did it!

A trunkload of treasures from Hamish Brown's  raised beds: I photographed this in his car's "boot" as they say before we drove off to the meeting...

And this is the Plant SALE section--dozens, maybe hundreds of choice (often VERY choice plants) and brought and sold--sometimes for the club, or for the donor.

You don't see Myosotideum hortensia at many plant sales I go to.

The sale plants were sometimes very creatively packaged...

I wish I could have taken some of these home!

And there were books (very good books) donated by members. I did come home with some of these!

There was a whole table of exquisite flowers brought for elucidation and sharing. It was peak of the rhody season after all!

It took a long time to do all these flowers justice--and there was a meeting to boot: namely me, giving a talk!

A whole box full of New Zealand alpine treasures grown to perfection--just brought for the heck of it (not in the competition), just to share.

Lots of work went into staging, preparing the plants...and recording the results of the judging.

I was told not to give the Rhodohypoxis a prize (there were many pots brimming with flowers like this: "they're much too common"!)

It was heartening to see two fellow Americans on the bench: Allium platycaule is a long time favorite of mine: I was amazed at how well it does in a pot in New Zealand (mine are duking it out in the garden)...Needless to say it won a ribbon!

Fritillaria recurva

I'm not sure what we gave the "best of show" to--in my beart of hearts it would be this dazzling fritillary...the most striking of its genus, and not too easy to grow this well.

And did I mention there were numerous tables loaded with goodies to eat after the talk (supper, they said)...but I dare not show these or you'll go raid the refrigerator!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Raoulia rally. Really!

(I have taken the liberty of adding Jo Wakelin's comment to the front: "I'm so glad you enjoyed our Mahaka Katia salt pan reserve Panayoti. It is a treasure trove of biodiversity with many uncommon and rare natives, having escaped complete modification. You would love the tiny Convolvulus verecundis, the un-named Craspedia, and the tiny halophyte which lives on the edge of the salt pans, Atriplex buchananii.I'm glad we found you a few last flowers on a Myosotis uniflora cushion!")

 As dirty rotten luck would have it, my camera failed me: it refused to focus properly, and half my pictures were fuzzy (and the others not so crisp as I'd like). Then it rained. And this is when we finally came to the area around Cromwell, in Otago province of New Zealand--the semi-arid plateau which most resembles Denver's climate (though not nearly as hot in summer nor cold in winter)--probably more like the steppe just east of the Columbia River Gorge, perhaps. The lady with the umbrella is Jo Wakelin, a horticulturist and instructor at a College nearby with one of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. Her garden is next to this nature preserve (Mahaka Katia salt pan reserve) which has an fabulous colony of Raoulia australis. The plants here looked far more like the tiny plant sold for years as Raoulia lutescens, (a synonym of australis) than the silvery plant usually sold under that name. 

Steve Newell admiring a blooming mass of Raoulia australis
 I was fascinated by this hill, and couldn't resist taking lots of pictures...the difference in bloom time, in color, and in maturity from one plant to the next was amazing.

I will include a series of pictures--close up and vista--to give you a sense of this fascinating plant and its wonderful habitat...

Here is a silvery one...

Fabulous vistas in the distance...

This is a miniscule yellow-flowered Myosotis (Jo advises that it was M. uniflora) growing with the raoulia: how frustrating to have my camera go on strike--there were flowers on these I'd love to have you see...Here is a link to show you a closeup taken elsewhere of a much less yellow form. Not too many other native plants I could identify, but these two were more than worth it. I would love to grow a range of both of these one day! New Zealand truly is a marvellous place!

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