Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Greenhouse visit..and then some!

Sinningia leucotricha
Funny how the days trickle by: I remember the first time I became aware of this plant--nearly 40 years ago--it seemed so unattainable and strange. I've seen it kicking around here and there and have even grown a few specimens in recent years.  What does it say about time (not to mention my age) that I had left the University where this was growing almost 20 years before this specimen even germinated! The University of Colorado greenhouses back then consisted of two or three superannuated and rickety structures maintained by a friend (Ann Armstrong) who is now long gone... Probably not long after this impressive Gesneriad was acquired by Tom Lemieux (seen below showing the plant off proudly) I heard tell that things were changing, and I soon met Tom who has been a stalwart friend of Denver Botanic Gardens.

Early this Millennium Tom engineered a remarkable acquisition of an impressive range of Lord and Burnham greenhouses obtained when Chevron Oil Company dismantled a complex in Richmond, California. These were transported and staged on CU land east of the main campus. Tom and his colleague Janis Harvey have quickly filled the many greenhouses with treasures from their explorations in botanic gardens, nurseries and nature around the world. This gesneriad happened to be in especially good form when we visited yesterday: it is emblematic of the excellence overall of a wonderful conjunction of the stars in Boulder!

Here to give you scale the Sinningia staged next to the grower! Tom is currently Greenhouse Assistant, having ceded the overall management to Tess Additon, I should underscore that the correct name for the complex is the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Greenhouse. Click on it and you can access their website! Although not ordinarily open to the public, they will host visitors with advanced notice.

Tom casually mentioned that the Sinningia sets copious seed and has been popping up here and there in the Greenhouse from rogue seed. The staff pot them up and always have some available for special swaps! I presume that was the origin of this slightly smaller specimen I saw nearby

The caudex is almost as impressive as the showy flowers and silky leaves!

Here Tom is showing a seed pot with a Palm tree that was over a decade old from seed. He had two other pots of the same palm which had yet to produce a leaf! This business is not for those demanding immediate gratification!

Tess Additon on the right is the Manager, while the fellow in green is Scott Pruesser from Denver Botanic Gardens          (who organized this field trip!)

Spring is springing, and I didn't take proper notes (or photograph labels) so you must enjoy the plants as I did--for their form and color (and perhaps some of you may add comments so I can supplement with correct names) I can say that this is an Epiphilloid cactus with electric flowers...

Staghorn ferns mounted like antlers.

Peperomia cf columnella?

A very cool Haworthia

Welwitchia mirabilis

Euphorbia decaryi

Dorstenia gigas: a fabulous bonsai!

Closer view of flowers on Dorstenia gigas:

Even Closer view of flowers on Dorstenia gigas:

I know the flower is out of focus, but Ludisia discolor, is about the leaves!

There were many very decorative bromeliads throughout--my excuse is that the labels were too high!

I have trouble getting used to Deuterocohnia after so many years calling it Abromeitiella brevifolia! This is an enviable specimen!

I believe this is Psilotum nudum...

I love the color echo between the Hippeastrum and Croton codiaeum

Epiphytic fern mimicking a staghorn...

This epiphyllum cactus had a flower that reminded me of a waterlily or Magnolia...

Begonia sp.

I missed the story about the names carved in these leaves. It had to be a doozy.

Magic germination chamber (favorite hangout of plant nerds)

Pachypodium brevicaule

I was intrigued by these greenhouse turf trials--lots of research for scientists on campus here...

They were justifiably proud of the seedlings they'd grown of Pseudolithos migiurtinus..

Love the caudex on Agapetes serpens!

Colunnea gloriosa from wild collected seed


An abundance of Pinguicula

Bifranaria harrisoniana thoughtfully reveals its label...

Lots of Tillansias

I believe this is Adiantum reniforme I shall leave off labeling images to go to work! Maybe I'll add some later...

And we must end once again with the Sinningia...
A parting thought: when I came to Denver Botanic Gardens, the conservatory was our principal and almost only noteworthy feature. I worked very hard to help shift interest out of doors--while our greenhouse collections continued to flourish and improve. And now Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is building a spectacular monumental conservatory--and many local Universities have developed tropical collections. Considering the vast diversity of tropical flora, and the perils that hover over their future, collections like this in Boulder and at Denver Botanic Garden are gaining a new, tragic dimension. I regret not spending more time studying and helping promote the work done by tropical horticulturists--this is a much belated effort in that arena. There shall be more!

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