Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dying embers of November...

Geranium dalmaticum

Since November is ending very shortly, I better sneak in these last few dying embers while I can! Surely the warmest, mildest most delightful November imaginable...There are dozens of random flowers here and there--I even passed a mat of creeping Phlox in full bloom on the street (you will have to take it on trust--I didn't stop to photograph it! The geranium above shows that the REAL display is in foliage: lots of great fall color still on oaks, pears and mountain ash...but...

Crocus cartwrightianus
I am thrilled that the last autumn crocus are STILL blooming--almost in time to join the first of the spring bloomers! This is the ancestor of cultivated Saffron--but seems a more willing captive in my garden...

The contrast of yellow orange and the striped purple lavender is simply out of this world...don't you agree?

The other great delight this fall is having Galanthus nivalis v. monostrictus finally settle in. Nancy Goodwin gave me a hefty clump two Novembers ago which I describe in a blog about Montrose (you can even see the bag with the snowdrops in it!). Having a snowdrop that blooms this time of year is of course a great boon. But having it come from Montrose is added value multiplied and more!

Only three of the bulbs bloomed this year--I'm hoping the half dozen or more others that came with them will chime in next year.

Othonna capensis
One of the best collections I've ever made was this Othonna which I collected in 1994 on a spur of the Drakensberg, and a few years later in the East Cape alpine. It starts blooming in late April and has flowers all the way to November--that's eight months of effort! Bluebird Nursery in Nebraska has been the only nursery to offer this consistently.

A wonderful new Edelweiss from China I obtained from Edelweiss Nursery--one of America's greatest!

Tetraneuris herbacea
One of the rarest native daisies, restricted to the shorelines of the Great Lakes in nature (and not common there), this has been an outstanding garden plant that blooms repeatedly through the season. This late bloom is a bit strange (it's showier in midsummer!), and the dying leaves give it a tragic air...

Common snapdragons always have late flowers...

As do the common pansies

And the more winsome Johnny Jump-ups...

There's even a late flower on Delosperma cooperi (this is the alpine form from Oxbow)

One of my worst weeds, but hard to begrudge this time of year...

Erodium chrysanthum
Touted as the "REAL" chrysantha, this resembles the common beastie by that name, only this one produces viable seed!

Daphne x susannae 'Anton Fahndrich'
Daphnes are usualy good for some late season rebloom...

I was delighted to see this late season flower on Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon'

And the piece-de-resistance was finding the first Christmas rose in bloom at the Waring House the other day: we're reasonably sure this is the cultivar 'Jacob'...a nice segue to December and the hubbub of the Christmas season!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gothenburg denouement...(part three: the last for sure!)

Lilium specxiosum (white form)

My third installment of pictures taken during a much too short visit to the fantastic botanical garden in Gothenburg on September 12 of this year (if you haven't checked out the other two, click here to access the first and here to access the second blog). I was busy much of the time interacting with a dozen or so of the world's horticultural glitterati, and we were there only for a few hours--these three blogs' worth of pictures were shot quickly, and without the care that such a stunning garden deserves. This was my third visit here (I'd come before in June and in late April). Now to visit all the OTHER months!

Another glimpse of the rock garden

A thistle, not sure which species, alas.

Sanguisorba hakusanensis '
This has shot to the top of my "must get" plants for next spring!

conogonon (Polygonum)  tortuosum x alpinum
An amazing collection of knotweed from the Swedish Expedition to Pakistan: Dan Johnson and I re-traced some of this expedition in 2001, and we saw many knotweeds--but never one like this!

conogonon (Polygonum)  tortuosum x alpinum closeup

Wonderful clearings in the Asian gardens create a meditative, Japanese garden feel.

Mats Havström, scientific curator
We were fortunate to have several staff help lead us and answer questions. Mats has been a leader at Gothenburg for many years. And a wonderful host!

Matteucia orientalis in the Asian garden
I was captivated once again with the East Asian cousin to our Ostrich fern: I don't know if this is being grown in the USA yet or not.

Astilbe chinensis
Not quite the same as the Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila' which is the best of the genus for us in Colorado--it would be fun to grow and compare.

The Swedes are serious about recycling!
I wish we had this system instead of one that lets the squirrels have a nonstop buffet!

Diphylleia cymosa
I'm pretty sure this is the American species and not its similar cousin from east Asia (Diphylleia grayi)
We were treated to an enchanting lunch outdoors: the sort of magic times that make trips like this glow in one's memory!

Fredrik Kinnbo, Swedish horticulturist
 At the luncheon, John Greenlee discoverd that one of our company had served as the model for God Lager! Or so he pretended...

A trough with Haworthias and Gasterias I suspect was brought in for the winter...

A wonderful exhibit of mushrooms
There were so many vignettes and corners I simply didn't photograph (or even get to)--just a few random shots to show the range of things to see at this botanic garden.

Steppe border
One building had a variety of plants from steppe climates lined out--where the reflected heat of the building (and presumably a well drained, alkaline soil) allowed them to prosper. Needless to say  I lingered over this and was chagrined to see dozens of plants we've yearned to grow thriving here!

Yes, that's a zauschneria on the right--and a hybrid between Pelargonium endlicherianum and P. quercetorum dead center.,
We have grown that hybrid. But may not have it any longer. Insert pained emojis here.

Eucomis schijffii
I'm pretty sure of the I.D. on this--didn't tiptoe in to look at the label...

And finally, a last glimpse at one of the Annual extravaganzas near the exit. Thank you, Gothenburg, for yet another memorable and enchanting visit. I hope to return again before too long!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Barberries just don't get no respect! Cinderella?

Noxious weed in pride of place...
 [another "fossil post"--I started this several years ago and it's been quietly dormant in a working file...thought I'd resurrect it.]

This time of year garden blogs are splashed with bright colors of early flowers, as we pander to the lascivious need for sensuousness and human frailty. Screw that! Pandering takes many guises (just call me Panderyoti): who thought that a crass, weedy, nasty, spiny, common plant would be the cinderella of the garden? Truth be said--humans are highly discerning and do not need a mass of orange azaleas juxtaposed against magenta rhododendrons in order to notice color.

There are many thousands of dazzling alpines and wonderful plants in the Rock Alpine Garden, but for the many decades I worked there, the most questions and comments I received on any plant was about that reddish bush that you have doubtless noticed too...yes, Japanese barberry!

In person the fruits (blazing in the backlit light) grab visitors. I should have spent hours seeing if I could capture this same shock of berry-lit beauty--but this is all I had in my files. Truth is that barberries are almost always lovely--the green or purple or scarlet mounds of foliage depending on cultivar and season are pleasant enough--but the yellow mass of flowers in spring can be entrancing--and the scarlet berries are what enchant every passerby: I even saw "barberry jam" from Iran sold at "Arash" our local Persian grocery store [shoulda photographed it, come to think of it--and I should have bought the damn stuff too! Curious what it tastes like!]

I know, many barberries are reputed to be alternate host of the wheat stem rust pathogen, Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici. I have also read that some pathologists dispute whether barberries are truly the host.

Berberis diehlsiana

I have never done justice to Berberis diehlsiana in a picture: this one produces enormous, long clusters of bright berries. One of innumerable Asian barberries that make spiny glorious mounds in our garden.

 We even have a native barberry along the Front Range--not the most stunning, perhaps, but with a certain amount of charm. Here in Jim and Dorothy Borland's terrific garden in west Denver.

Berberis iliensis

 One of the innumerable highlights of my last trip to Central Asia was finding this "rare" barberry growing in profusion. It made an impenetrable, spiny wall 15 or more feet tall.

The berries are so gorgeous against the blue sky and the foliage was just starting to color up in early September: something tells me this would be mind boggling in full autumn color!

 Yet another view of them...

And what about evergreen barberries? There are so few broad leaf evergreens that can be grown without a great deal of cossetting in our harsh steppe climate--but several barberries oblige: the two most commonly encountered being Berberis x mentorensis and B. julianae.

Of course, the very best "barberries" for us in Colorado are the various blue foliaged Mahonias. I realize that many botanists have combined Berberis and Mahonia. That may well be what prevails--but for this blog, let's stick to the green leaved plants. There are species enough for both camps!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Calvinia to Sutherland (and more): trail of beauty....(a fossil post)

Zaluzianskya cf. villosa near Calvinia
I have quite a few of these "fossil posts": you see, although I have published hundreds (approaching a thousand!) blog posts, there are hundreds more I should have posted. And didn't. Sometimes because my pictures weren't good enough. Sometimes because there was too much to say: where to begin? I am a very lucky bastard and have been so many fantastic places--where to begin? This is a typical example--here you have a dozen or so pictures taken on a magical drive from Calvinia to Sutherland and south to Matjiesfontein, then back westward towards Worcester. I have published a few of the pictures from this stretch--which took only a few days. These are not all--but include a few of the gems I did see. This stretch of highway may be one of the most significant in my life and in my heart. I've done it four or five times now, always at a different time of year. This year was not an annus mirabilis for plants, but still pretty fabulous for me. In a perfect world I'd drive it another few times. Perhaps it a perfect world Trump would be impeached and he and Pence and Rand would all be removed from office. One can dream.

Arctotis sp. near Calvinia

Ruschia sp. near Calvinia with Hantamsberg behind

Arctotis sp.

Aptosimum spinescens

Wildfower displays in October near Calvinia

Wildfower displays in October near Calvinia (repeat for next several shots!)

Drosanthemum eburneum on the Roggeveld.
By the way, it froze at night. Hard. We were chilly as hell in our rooms in Calvinia! and later in Sutherland--in the equivalent of April in the northern Hemisphere. I love the light here: so much like the light of the Mediterranean of my Greek summers as a child and of the West where I'm blessed to live. I'm in Phoenix as I type this!

Aptosimum procumbens

Aptosimum procumbens

Cheiridopsis namaquensis

Cheiridopsis namaquensis
This has haunted me for several uyears now, for obvious reasons. I did check those fat seedpods (devilishly hard to break open, by the way). Not a seed in them. They were selling this at a sale in Southern California and it slipped through my fingers last winter. The less said the better.

Another Drosanthemum: your guess as good (or better) than mine

Only in South Africa (or perhaps Mexico--or maybe Turkey or China) could plants this stunning not be well known in cultivation or found easily in books or the web.

Aptosimum procumbens

Malephora sp. on the Roggeveld.

This one is also haunting me: it ought to be totally hardy coming from near Middelpos

Aptosimum procumbens

Hebenstretia sp. on the Roggeveld.

Romulea albiflora (dotting the clay of Komsberg summit)

Romulea albiflora (?) I think on Komsberg summit

Romulea cf chrysantha on Komsberg summit

Manulea cf chrysantha and Romulea albiflora

Aptosimum indivisum

Drosanthemum eburneum near Matjiesfontein

Matroosberg in October, on the road to Worcester from Matjiesfontein

A few days after I took this picture, I stood at the top of Matroosberg with a cadre of botanists from Kirstenbosch--one of the summit experiences of my life, and one that I have never blogged about.

Perhaps one day I might. But at least I finally got this thing out of my system (and into yours!)...

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