I used to think we grew a lot of foxtail lilies at Denver Botanic Gardens! Steve Newall--seedsman extraordinaire and impetus behind our trip to New Zealand mentioned casually that he knew someone who grew Eremurus, and perhaps I'd be interested in seeing them. You betcha!
As luck would have it, we arrived at Bannockburn Floriculture--the name of Jane Preston's fanastic operation--at the very peak of color of her Eremurus x elwesii field (hybrids between E. robustus and E. himalaicus) were in the peak of bloom. All I can really say is "wow"--the entire operation was fantastic to visit--and the little images of facebook can only capture a tiny view of the vast fields of flowers. There were big fields of E. x 'Ruitery' hybrids like 'Cleopatra' just budding up--and lots of alliums as well--but I couldn't show you EVERYTHING and manage to get the blog out before Christmas!
Here is Jane next to a special field of some newer hybrids with even taller stems: she rued we'd come a bit late--she's already harvested and shipped most of the stems, she says! (I found that a little hard to believe)...
Here we are in the "shed" where she packs the stems--this group was a little past the stage she could ship and offered them to us!
These were in the cooler, preparing for the next shipping day.
They're shipped all over the world! It was fascinating to see how orderly the operation was: and surely unique!
Of course, foxtail lilies are only one of many crops that Jane does--I flipped this picture for you to get a better idea of a few of her bulbs that she grows for cut flowers but also for autumn sales.
She also let us visit the "Trillium" house--she also grows Trilliums for sale as cut flowers, but also for sales as bulbs: she sells these all over the world as well!
There are both white and maroon forms of Trillium chloropetalum: She has developed a technique where she can harvest flowers without damaging the clumps!
A closer look...
My eyes kept going back to the foxtail lilies, however!
Her landscape was beautiful: mostly native shrubs, grasses and herbs: notice the Scleranthus uniflorus in the foreground--and oh, yes! Thymus vulgaris! The area around Cromwell is famous for the vast fields of thyme (which support a honey industry and are harvested by the ton for thyme oil). Perhaps I shall have a blog soon showing these wild fields: meanwhile, you can see how well it does in her garden!
I was sorry not to see the Pachystegia in bloom: It's endemic to the coastal bluffs near the epicenter of the earthquake that occurred last weekend. We were supposed to drive the highway where they grew--but it has been closed indefinitely and we took a big and wonderful detour via the West Coast of New Zealand. I imagine a fairly large proportion of that shrub's population was sloughed onto the ocean last weekend: I hope it recovers quickly. Meanwhile, it's in every connoisseur's garden hereabouts--and is really stunning. I have grown it in the Alpine House that once was at DBG and marvelled at the waxy, badminton birdie-like flowers.
The other sophisticate's plant here was this amazing Dr. Seuss tree: Pseudoaralia ferox. It is native nearby, and everyone agrees it looks dinosaurian!
A closer look at the amazing stem and leaves.
Corokia cotoneaster was in full bloom--a spectacular native shrub that I was thrilled to see in full bloom on the hills near Tekapo.
Jane is not above a row of daililies (nor am I!)
Oh yes! Sheep. If you are my Facebook friend you may be able to see a little sheep stampede one of these days--once I upload it to my Youtube feed...
And MORE Eremurus~
Another glimpse of the garden
Jan finally had a chance to pet a pet lamb!
A closeup of one of the large stems--this one tending towards E. robustus.
A highly symbolic ending, if you get my drift. My destiny (however backwards) has been to drift to beauty and the glory of flowers and nature--here seen interlarding the pulsing words: Life. If Filoli is short for Fight! Love! Life! Then my trip to New Zealand has been DeLiGht: Destiny Light, Ghost. The last word is a mispelling, I'm sure: it should be Guest: I've been the guest of the most generous, fun-loving and kind Hosts ever. Aha! DEstiny! LIfe! Good HosTs!YES! New Zealand is pure DELIGHT!