It is hard for me to believe that in little more than a week and a few days I'll be winging off to Europe once again, this time to speak at an international rock garden conference near Prague. A centerpiece of that conference will be visits to a bevy of Czech private gardens, all of which (I suspect) will be composed primarily of crevice rock work. The enthusiasm for crevice gardening has spread far beyond the Czech republic--largely through the efforts of the indefatigable and utterly delightful Zdenek Zvolanek (who goes by Zed Zed in Britain). He created a master work for Wisley that merits its own Blog post, I warrant! Surrounded by wonderful paving, and set near the alpine house complex framing beautifully this marvelous orogeny (I am amused that spell check doesn't recognize this word I've known since I was twelve--mountain building basically).
The plantings are a bit sparse--which makes the rock work stand out particularly well: I suspect this will change with time: there are lots of treasures already in the garden! And I suspect more will appear--saxifrages, primulas and drabas look particularly good in such a setting--and there's a room for hundreds more of these in it!
I love the almost Japanesque rhythm of the various sierras receding in this picture: mind you the entire garden is perhaps only ten to fifteen feet wide--albeit quite a bit longer than that...it gives the impression of vastness due to the tiny plants contained therein.
This brilliant phlox would be gorgeous anywhere, but framed by the rocks and their lichens, it's positively riveting!
I have grown Erigeron scopulinus since not long after it was named and introduced a few years later to cultivation by Sonia Lowzow Collins. THIS is the way it should be grown! How annoying that a plant that grows natively a few hundred miles from my home should look so good in ENGLAND, planted no doubt by a Czech! I hope one day I may see this fleabane in the wild (it's quite rare)...
This plant game my heart a tug: I met Letitia Aslet in Seattle and spent much of the First Interim International conference with her and Ken--who supervised this section of Wisley for decades. The whole time we were together she wore a woven Greek unisex top that I happened to also have loved and worn (and still have in my closet--albeit a tad tight on my aging torso). I have long grown this precious plant, one of whose parents (Verbascum spinosum) is endemic to high parts of Crete where both my parents were born. To see Letitia's namesake here at Wisley is the floral equivalent of listening to Siegfried's Idyll in Bayreuth. Totally irrelevantly, that's one of the few Wagner compositions I actually like to listen to. I doubt the latter event will occur in this life--but the former has and shall resonate! If you actually understand this gibberish you are part of a very select fraternity indeed! Crevices grow more than just plants!
The Amerias are probably a bit too large for Zed Zed's taste--but pretty dramatic!
I love this white Erinus alpinus!
I love the way the Aethionema echoes the form and color of the daphne below...
What better way to show off Phlox 'Sneewitchen'? The rusty rock face behind is perfect!
I love the little rosularia in the dip...and how wonderfully the silver of saxifrages contrasts with the grey rock and echoes the lichens! This is pretty heady stuff!
A parting shot of the robust Armerias--I like this. But would probably pick some of the vast assortment of tinier ones instead myself...
This horrible image was downloaded from Amazon (where you can buy the book)--it was one of my trophies from my recent British trip: I have yet to read my copy--but I have no doubt that it will be vintage Zdenek: utterly unique, quirky and extremely valuable. I am astonished that in all of Prairie Break--with my hundreds of blog postings and probably over 10,000 images--I have only one of Zed Zed (It's at the end of one of my most visited blogs, which you can click on here to see). Few people have inspired me more over the decades: we have had enormous fun in Colorado and at various conferences where we pal around.
I can boast of a number of things (and try not to)--but I do believe I may have been one of the first to commission Zdenek to build a garden: he and Joyce Carruthers (his second great love) built the first phase of Denver Botanic Gardens' truly alpine garden on Mt. Goliath at nearly 12,000 20 years ago--helping launch his amazing career as garden builder. I am very much looking forward to meeting #3 (Zdena) in a few weeks.
Walking around Zed Zed's exquisite rock work at Wisley brought back a flood of tender memories and has added to my appreciation of him and the great garden he graced with his masterpiece.