Wednesday, May 20, 2020

High Spring

Dianthus microlepis
All year long I look forward to the brief weeks in late April and early May when the rock garden and woodland explode with prismatic colors. And then it's over: how many graceful springs will we experience after all?

Iris cristata 'Navy Blue Gem'
This came from the magicians at Joe Pyeweed's garden loaded with buds and bloomed for nearly two weeks--instantly becoming my favorite cristata!

Arum maculatum 'Leave a bit'
I dug up the heart of my clump of Lord's and Lady's for a friend and this year there seem to be twice as many in bloom and scattered about: the more you give the more you get!

Tulipa hageri
This stunning tulip has gradually suckered all over my alpine meadow and now dozens bloom for a week in early June and the whole shebang disappears in a week or so. The strange bronzy-red color is unique. I am astonished this isn't grown more.

Tetraneuris herbacea, Aquilegia x saximontana and Allium henrickii
One of my favorite vignettes..

Erugeron sp.
I have a couple dozen fleabanes (and keep adding more)--Colorado has to be the epicenter of this enormous genus. Now if I only knew what species they all were...

Adiantum venustum
I had another big clump of this I dug up and shared with a class of almost 100 people at the Gardens last year: I wonder how many of the pieces have lived on for them? This is more than enough for me--it's a bit of a spreader!

Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum'
I remember when this was first introduced decades ago and thought to be difficult and tender. It's now almost a commonplace--but I still love my little colony on a shady slope. It's had more names than Elizabeth Taylor.

Gentiana acaulis 'Alba'
I have got to move that onion away from this little treasure!

Itirs cristata 'Montrose'
Another new gem from Joe Pyeweed: a stunning albino cristata: I must ask Nancy Goodwin if it's hers as the name suggests--it would give it added allure.

Acis (Leucojum) nicaeensis

The new owners at Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery were selling this at a ridiculously cheap price a few years ago--and I got a half dozen clumps I put here and there. Most have persisted (to my surprise) and it has become a new favorite for me. This year I added A. autumnalis and A. rosea from Arrowhead Alpines (hefty little clumps for a very decent price): let's hope they make it as well!

Papaver anomalum
I always thought this was ephemeral--almost monocarpic until I accidentally planted it on a sunny slope in soil it must love: it's clumped up and self sown and graces my garden for months with these gorgeous bobbing poppy flowers. That's the sort of thing that makes a gardener very happy!

Iris 'Dardanus'
The first arilbred to bloom this spring...

Zigadenus (Toxicoscordon) venenosus
Rather common on the Great Plains, this reputedly poisonous bulb (I'm not testing to be sure) came to me from a lot being developed in north Denver by Mike Bone, my friend and colleague. They light up my little prairie like beacons in May.

Allium karataviense
One doesn't usually think of onions as crevice garden plants--this one planted itself and looks rather winsome!

Saxifrage and primula trough
The silver saxifrage were the rage in Vicgtorian England when no end of hybrids and selections were made. I always knew I was born in the wrong century,

Paeonia officinalis (double cv)
A gift of Michael Barbour--an incredibly talented local gardener who lives in Golden. Plants that come from friends have double value.

Geranium macrostylum
The Central Asian cousin to Geranium tuberosum, another plant from Arrowhead alpines that I notice I've tucked in a dozen spots in my garden. It finally deigned to bloom for me: perhaps they all will as they settle in (it HAS been a while since I got them--about time). G. tuberosum bloomed too--couldn't find the picture to prove it though.

Ramonda myconi
One of my two sad little ramondas: I have a goal to grow many more over time: love these little gesneriads. I have lots of Haberlea, which I notice I haven't photographed this year. I have a gnawing little fear that Hemiboea isn't coming back, however...

Phlox bifida
I can't remember where I got this VERY different form of P. bifida. Not nearly as cleft as the form I have grown most of my life and have inexplicably not planted in my garden. Must change that!

Anemone obtusiloba
Less than a year ago I admired this on the summit of Baimashan pass at over 14,000'.  Thanks to Far Reaches Farm, I have it now! Let's hope it stays around!

Aster pattersonii
Mike Kintgen grew scads of our fabulous miniature alpine Aster that I've only seen on Mt. Goliath and Gray's Peak in Colorado and which botanists have lumped with the huge, biennial lowland Aster bigelowii. I assume their DNA makes them seem identical, but I'm not fooled. The generic name has hopscotched all over the alphabet--I'm sticking to Aster.

Pediocactus simpsonii
Our most precious cactus--so common all over the Colorado Rockies right up to 10,000' if you know where to look.

Pediocactus simpsonii
Supposedly the same species, from the Aquarius plateau. Not quite the size of a quarter, this was planted in this trough in 1986 and blooms prodigally ever spring. I think it deserves at least subspecific recongnition.

Pediocactus simpsonii
And they come in yellow (ish)! This is a comparative giant.

Iris bucharica 'alba'

Iris scariosa
Taken in Jan's garden: my huge clumps have somehow disappeared. I must nurture it back. My own collection from Kazakhstan. Easternmost of the bearded irises.

Iris henryi
I grow four clones--all subtly different. Near the top of my list of favorites.
Iris henryi

Narcissus x cantabricus
Sold chaply under a cultivar name: this is an easy doer..

Paeonia mlokosewitchii

Tulipa cretica 'Hilda'
The big surprise of last fall was finding this Cretan endemic from the high White Mountains where my grandfather was born and grew up. I imagine him picking these as a kid. So grateful to Brent and Becky's selling this so cheaply!
Iris ruthenica 'Tall form'
Shocked to have this show up: apparently sold by Laporte Avenue Nurseries--this is a giant of the species, which usually blooms at ground level: enchanting!
Iris cristata 'Navy Blue Gem'
I know I already showed this....still blooming a week later!
Ranunculus gramineus

Gentiana acaulis

Fibigia macrocarpa
A little known gem. I must save seed!
Hosta 'Kabitan'
I have a little collection of miniature hostas--I can see why people would want to collect them--I may need a few more!
Itirs cristata 'Montrose'
Another repeat--a star among my novelties!
Itirs cristata 'Hidden Mystery'
So glad to have a nice array of crested iris: these are among my favorites of the spring--although inevitably it rains when they're in peak bloom and they all nod.

Allium maximowiuczii
A wonderful new acquisition from Arrowhead: it's acting as though it grew for me forever! And I hope it will. Must research it--the name suggests Central Asia--where I was supposed to go this last month. Quarantined so to speak in my home and garden wasn't exactly punishment: I've relished this spring as I have few! And my garden has benefited from sequestration! As has yours, I bet!


  1. Your garden shows just how bountiful and beautiful one can be in the extremes of Colorado!

    Steve B.

  2. That Gentiana acaulis - I'm in love.

  3. That Gentiana acaulis - I'm in love.

  4. I haven't been able to get any type of Maidenhair fern to grow in my garden. Lucky you that it grows so well. A nice crested iris collection too. I think they are the little darlings of the iris family.

    1. I KNOW you could grow my little Himalayan--it's a little pest! Exchange of hostages could be arranged!


  5. Amazing, thanks for sharing!


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