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Showing posts from December, 2016

In praise of Moreton Bay Figs

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I've noticed them here and there around Southern California, but this trip the enormous Australian figs (Ficus macrophylla) impressed me enough to do a little research and find out they have a pretty extensive range in Eastern Australia, and are commonly planted in many subtropical regions--with many enormous specimens throughout coastal Southern California. The ones above and below were both photographed last Thursday (December 29) at the park surrounding the Point Fermin lighthouse in San Pedro, California. Jan (above) joined by her mother Anita (below) give a sense scale..


There was quite a variation in the shape of the boles, and in the size and form of the buttressing roots.

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The graceful, broad shape of the crown of the tree is especially impressive--this was a perfect specimen, photographed here from the southwest looking west towards the sea.


The same tree, taken from a slightly different angle with more of a silhouette--with Catalina island visible in the distance.


And …

The view

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I should say "views"--they're never the same! For the last five (or six?) Christmases, I've been lucky to join my partner Jan on a trip to join her family in California for the holidays. We usually stay with her cousin Kristin in an idyllic home overlooking the Pacific. These are a few glimpses of "The View" as I call it--from various vantage points to the West. They say you are either a mountain or a sea person. Of course, I'm a mountaineer--but who couldn't use a bit of a sea glimpse now and again. I spend more time than I should wandering to the West windows, then outside. And almost every night everyone gathers for sundowners...

The Grill work has the name of the house (Casa de la Colina).in wrought iron.

I love watching distant ships...



And glimpses of  the Catalina islands...


This was not the most spectacular of sunsets--but they're all enchanting nonetheless...





And this morning soon will be the last dawn of 2016, now in Denver again...…

The willows of Reyjkjavik

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Willows are one of those groups (like sedges, Apiaceae, and large parts of Asteraceae or most grasses) that most of us never get around to really studying. Speaking of course for myself. Of course, we all know a FEW willows: weeping, pussy, arctic perhaps. Navajo willow if you travel the Colorado plateau. but I (for one) am moving onto Terra incognita when you ramble the endless willow bogs of rhe Rockies. Which is why I'm posting these: I happen to know the Willow Man (Michael Dodge) who owns Vermont Willow Nursery, (Do click on that!)--THE mail order source for willows in North America.

I've known Michael for many years--he has a long and rather glorious career in horticulture, in both his native England and North America. He knows all manner of plants from alpines to trees, but he has this special knack with a group of plants that haunts us....

It's been over a year and a half since I wandered the botanical garden (and streets) of Reykjavik en route to Copenhagen and …

Escobaria vivipara: what's in a name?

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One of my cactophile Facebook friends has challenged me to do a blog about cacti:I could, should and probably will do dozens if not hundreds of blogs about succulents--since these are among my favorite groups of plants...and one species in particular is near and dear to my heart. One of the most widespread ball cacti in North America is Escobaria vivipara: it can still be found abundantly here and there throughout the West from Canada to Mexico, and from the Great Plains to the Great Basin. If you happen to grow one or two accessions of "nipple cactus" (alas, its best known common name), you have barely begun to test it. It grew wild a few blocks from my home at the edge of Denver where Harlan Hamernik collected a batch of seed he grew and sold through Bluebird Nursery for years. That colony is now an apartment complex (I believe there are more another mile or so down the road). I have seen it in Kansas and many places in Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona--and all ove…

The ancients

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[Note, published on Christmas's Eve, 2016 and dedicated to Allan R. Taylor, my brother-in-law on his birthday. Not that he's so very ancient...]
Last July 25, several of my colleagues joined Conifer guru Jerry Morris to explore two special spots in the Mosquito range a few hours West of Denver. I'd been to Windy Ridge on Mt. Bross--but not to the groves east of the gravel road where Jerry took us. And I'd driven by the Limber Pine grove dozens of times on the way to Horseshoe Mt. and Mt. Sherman--but this was the first time I'd taken the time to hike over the creek and onto the enchanted grove. There are many magical places in my native state--none are lovelier than these two spots!


They're even amazing when they're long gone!


The Engelmann spruce cones were glisteniung,,,


And a closeup of a Bristlecone cone to show the reason for the name...below, the ancients hardly need a commentary...