Saturday, April 29, 2017

Zed Zed's crevice creation at Wisley...(RHS part two)

 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!

 But this miniature hybrid of R. keiskei is obviously thriving!

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 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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Technicolor Wisley! (Part one...)

"Oh to be in England.." as Browning plaintively wrote...and for once we were! Twelve magical days and nearly a dozen spectacular gardens, any one of which would have been a highlight. To do any of them justice takes more than one blog posting: here's a start (I may have to mothball a few until winter--since the Czech Republic isn't too far off into the future, and gardens here are blooming mightily for the nonce. A cold snap this weekend may curtail that..). I begin with pictures of the floral excess of Rhodos that almost distracted me from the rock garden (which will appear in the distance--then all heck breaks loose!)...

The crowds were amazing. Wisley is so big that they don't overwhelm, however.

I think these pictures pretty much speak for themselves: COLOR!

Quite the medley...

I loved this combo...

A view from the top of the rock garden..

The classic rock work, a century old, finally shows up in the distance (where I took the last pic)

Closer in...

And closer...

I have been privileged to visit Wisley a half dozen times (or more) over the last four decades--at all times of the year. The rock garden is invariably in full bloom--even in the autumn--and looks stunning in winter. But mid April was heavenly. I've known four of the masters who have managed this garden over that period--the current one will show up eventually. It is one of the most enchanting spaces on earth and I hope to visit many more times.

Wonderful combo of barberry and phlox...

I shall not label every picture--and believe me you're seeing just a few that I took: the collections are so vast I always take a lot of pictures for future reference and study at home. And also to relish with a little more time and reflection.

A wonderful spread of Veronica orientalis ssp. orientalis from Turkey--altogether different from our forms.

A superabundance of Gypsophila cerastoides

Epimedium pinnatum seems to be the most vigorous in England as well...

Erythronium 'Pagoda' in profusion everywhere...

Beesia deltoidea looking very robust

Scads of the white Haberlea rhodopensis ('Virginalis' I think is the clone)

One rarely sees this little Tellima (Saxifrage cousin) in gardens.

MORE Haberlea rhodopensis 'Virginalis'

Champion planting of Salix yezoalpina

If I try and label everything it will take forever: so enjoy these pictures and if you need proper identifications, I recommend visiting Wisley: they're open every day! (I shall undoubtedly pipe up once again, but warning you that not every picture shall be labeled)...

I think this is H. hercegovinus--with the narrow leaves. I have a hunch some of the Wisley bunch may go through these and find no end of errors. If they do, I promise to correct the pictures. So you better check back in a few weeks!

Just a few pix from the various alpine houses at Wisley: more in another post perhaps...

Aloe humilis--a bit like Aloe aristata (the latter is quite hardy in England)

A superb specimen of the loveliest Verbascum dumulosum. Best of the genus bar none.

Rock lettuce (Petromarula pinnata) from Crete, my ancestral homeland.

Really splendid Acantholimons

And a superb Ptilotrichum spinosum 'Purpureum'

Helichrysum arwae from the Arabian Peninsula--OUTSIDE!

The red flowered form of Crassula sarcocaulis I've admired in the same spot blooming in July.

Extremely annoying masses of Eriogonum kennedyi. The best I've ever seen. It miffs me to see American plants grown better in Europe than we do!

Erigeron vetensis, which I bet came from Denver...

More irritation.

Not everything they grow is rare...some flashy numbers sneak in...

An outrageous Asperula suberosa

Tanacetum argeneum ssp. canum
I must have this plant! I am sure it would thrive for us in Denver.
Finally! Something I wasn't crazy about.

A gentian on one side, bright blue Polygala calcarea on the other...

Two of the team leaders: Gemma Neech on the left and Peter Goodchild on the right.
Jan and I popped in, unannounced. Peter proceeded to take a big chunk of his work day to show us around much of the garden, and Gemma joined us as as well: two more thoughtful, friendly and clever young people one would be hard to find.Considering their youth (and that of other staff we met) I think the future of Wisley is extraordinarily bright. Particularly if their management supports them as they deserve. Since R.H.S. is probably the most successful horticultural venture on Planet Earth when it comes to business, I believe we can bank on that.

A last few glimpses of the woodland garden

This is the tip of the iceberg: we have many, many more pictures of the rock garden, not to mention from dozens of other gardens and greenhouses at R.H.S. Wisley. To show them all would take twenty blogs like this--and I shall probably do at least one or two more. But then there's R.B.G. Kew--which was better than ever. And some great private gardens I haven't shown you...

Best thing is, buy tickets soon and just go there yourself! You can never err in visiting Britain!

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