Sunday, December 2, 2018

Quince street Alphabetarium of plants

Aethionema grandiflorum (pulchellum), Delosperma FIRESPINNER and rosette of Hieracium villosum
 Possibly the worst color combination in my garden: but both the Persian candytuft and ice plant love this spot and look better here (individually) than they do anywhere else in the garden. So year after year I watch the fiery orange/purple and pastel pink duke it out on the rocks. Such are the terrible dramas that litter our lives. I can live with those.

Same spot as the last, another year with more candytuft. Notice the ice plant hiding behind?
 I've picked a plant (or two or three) from each letter of the alphabet: specimens in my garden on Quince Street that have bloomed over the last decade or so (or as long as I've done digital photographs anyway). I've lived in this house and gardened here for 25 or so years thus far, and thousands of species of plants have come and gone. Each photograph is a flashing moment--a memory. And each has a story--sometimes a very convoluted and long one--behind it. Hard to stay concise!
Amorphophallus konjac
I have two plants of this, both of which are clumping up nicely (one from the Smithsonian and one from the J.C. Raulston Arboretum: thank you Janet Draper and Tim Alderton) if the damn thing would only BLOOM!

Acantholimon bracteatum var. capitatum
This is one I have lost. I have a history with this genus that would fill a book (and not a small one, mind you)... This is one of a handful of species in the genus that is unique and distinctive and which I must get again! That book is not likely to be written in THIS life, alas.
Bessera elegans
A tender bulb (I grow a few of these)--managed to keep it over one winter, but lost it. Must remember to order early next spring (Brent and Becky's always sells out of it).

Calochortus spp.
I once had hundreds of these, clumping up and even hybridizing. Then came the rabbits. Enough said.

Campanula fragilis v. cavalinii
There are six taxa in this picture--the campanula is one finest in that fantastic genus.

Colchicum filifolium
A gift of Lee Raden, possibly twenty years ago? I treasure it for that and for its delightful trait of spreading by stolons!

Delosperma karooicum and Crocus boryi
I don't think this combo has ever been created before (or since)...

Delosperma 'Lesotho Pink' and Dudleya cymosa
One of the best ice plants--and very hardy (probably as hardy as D. congestum) And hardly anyone grows it.
Draba hispanica
One of my many signature weeds: this is the first draba to bloom (I've had a it open in January one year!) I harvest an enormous number of seed every year no one wants. I harvest them because every one of the little suckers will germinate and I'll have to weed them out of this garden if I leave them go.
Ebracteola wilmaniae
One of the many very hardy genera of ice plants that's almost unknown outside of Colorado. Bill Adams even has an albino of this I must remember to get! This one came to me thanks to David Salman of High Country Gardens, a dear friend and fantastic gardener.

Eremostachys laciniata
One of my pride and joys that comes back year after year. It sets seed--have to remember to sow it and get more!
Erigeron algidus
One of the loveliest of fleabanes, which I've lost. Notice it's growing not far from the Delosperma 'Lesotho Pink' shown above...this garden is packed TIGHT I'm afraid! Sad when half an acre isn't enough...
Eriogonum allenii (below) Seseli gummiferum (above)
One of the best buckwheats--and from the Eastern U.S.A.! Foliage turns red in winter. Tough as nails (this should have been in Plant Select YEARS ago...) Would have been if I were King.

Erodium cf. petraeum
I grow a lot of Erodium: they love my garden and I love them. Many are extremely drought tolerant. They bloom almost all summer, have trim dense mounds of evergreen foliage and flowers that are showy in mass and fantastic up close. What's the hitch? There is none. Yet you'd be hard put to find one in a local nursery, incidentally (except perhaps E. chrysanthum, which I railroaded through Plant Select).

Escobaria sneedii v. leei
I lost this, the best clump I've ever seen of this species in my divorce. Gwen (who's simplifying  her life) gave it and the trough it's growing in back a few months ago: woo hooo!

Fritillaria bucharica
I once had dozens of these...must thin out the groundcover that's starting to choke them out.

Fritillaria pallidiflora
My friend, the amazing writer, photographer and plantsman Bob Nold has this self-sowing all over a section of his garden. Good thing I like him. Mine persist, but haven't clumped up like his.

Hereroa calycina

I divided this up a few years ago and had a flat or two of babies--and shared them with David Salman among others. It blooms on and off all summer (alas, only at night). You won't be seeing this at Walmart very soon, although it's one of my faves.
Hylomecon japonicum
I divided this the next spring and we have great clumps in Plantasia at DBG (and I still have a good sized mound of it)...
Iris bucharica (wilmottiana?) 'Alba'
I dote on Junos, and this one returns the compliment!
Jovibarba (Sempervivum) heuffelii
I just realized this was taken at Denver Botanic Gardens (the only one in this blog that was): Oh well--I did plant it there and have an identical specimen at home. My bad.

Kniphofia ritualis
I think the pictures really do speak for themselves--enough chit chat: enjoy!
Lilium concolor

Lilium philadelphicum v. andinum

Lobelia x cardinalis

Mammillaria wrightii

Mathiola cf montana

Nananthus transvaalensis

Narcissus 'Sun Disc'

Narcissus scaberulus

Opuntia erinacea

Origanum x suendermanii

Orostachys channetii

Pediocactus simpsonii (Denver Snowball form)

Penstemon fruticosus

Phlox albomarginata

Pulsatilla halleri

Rabiea albipuncta

Sclerocactus papyracanthus

Sempervivum octopodes

Talinum rugospermum

Tithonia rotundifolia

Trachelium rumelianum

Tulipa humilis 'Albomaculata'

Uvularia grandiflora

Veratrum formosanum

Closeup of Veratrum formosanum

Verbascum x 'Letitia'

Verbascum songaricum

Veronica bombycina v. bolgardagensis
Veronica thymoides var. pseudocinerea

Xanthoceras sorbifolium
Yucca elata

Zauschneria septentrionalis
There! So goes the Alphabetarium. I have eight thousand or more taxa on a database I maintain of my home garden: half of these are probably still growing (some of the missing were annuals that didn't self sow, not hardy perennials and yes, I have fumbled my fair share: aside from Adonis, peonies and epimediums, most perennials need to be divided, propagated or moved to stick around. Or best of all, they may self sow modestly to maintain themselves. I neglect to do the previous four tricks on some of them, and they remain only in my photographic files, alas! Trying to juggle thousands of taxa, I drop far too many. That said, (I apologize if it sounds like bragging, but it's true, I assure you) I could generate dozens more Alphabetariums of this garden--each successive one perhaps dropping another letter--or two! I feel so lucky to have had the privilege to grow so many treasures. And I hope I ain't done yet! Thanks for letting me share some with you. Some watch TV. Some play bridge. I plant plants, photograph and share them instead!


  1. Stunning! Thanks for yet another peek at your paradise! What fun you must have. I love it that you are so willing to share your photographs and your say nothing of your photographs! What a treat!!!
    Beverly Jensen

  2. Oh Prince of Prairiebreak, it is a delight to read your posts, no brag just fact. It makes me feel a little better when the professional admits to losing some plants. Your collection is one to aspire to. It makes me want to start piling up rocks and planting them. It is also fun to see that I have a few of the plants you have in your oasis. I was surprised to see that tall yucca in your garden. I wondered if you have to bring it inside or is it hardy in your area? Cheers and keep on planting.

  3. Thanks, Beverly and Lisa for your kind comments. The Yucca elata is the hardiest (by far) of tree yuccas: there are many enormous specimens in Colorado, many never cared for. It's tough as nails and would probably do in Zone 4 at least and grow over much of the USA. Unfortunately, it's much fussier about moving than Yucca rostrata or Y. thompsoniana: I started with seedlings and never budged them. The rosettes on my biggest ones are already on stems a yard or so tall--and tower a few more yards above them when its in bloom--I love it!

    1. I decorate the dried bloom stem still attached to the plant for Christmas.

  4. I really like your idea of 'Alphabetarium' - however, are you getting by too easily with your final "Z" entry?

    Epilobium canum subsp. septentrionale (Keck) P.H.Raven

    Best to you - and thanks for the time it takes for photos and notes.

  5. I loved your Blog for best Earth Day Quiz for allFor Planting trees, I'm going to Follow Your Post for my Gardening and planting trees on Earth day. You are an amazing nature loving Person.


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