Monday, April 15, 2024

Spring takes off...and what a Spring it is!

Pulsatilla vulgaris (pale pink form)

"Plain ol'" pasqueflower is pretty nifty, but I have a few variations I really like, such as this pale pink form that just glows in the backlight. I spend all year waiting for spring and now it shoots past "like an arrow" as they say in China!

Muscari azureum

This is ONE muscari one can't have enough of: pops up blooms and disappears...

Pediocactus knowltonii

Rare in nature (and in gardens) this tiniest member of its genus could be almost covered by a quarter...OK, maybe more like a 50 cent piece. Crushed by a silver dollar!

Fritillaria kurdica ssp. crassifolia

I've struggled to find a place where Fritillaria michaelovskyi persists (I love that thang) I've planted dozens over the decades and they gradually disappear. This species, however, I've planted in two very different spots, and it comes back stronger every year...the one above is blooming now (early April)...
Fritillaria kurdica ssp. crassifolia 

This one in my sunny crevice garden bloomed in March and finished before the one in the previous picture. I love a plant that loves me!

Fritillaria pyreneica

I've got two plants of this that come back every year...and are even beginning to clump up! It is ridiculously tall for a rock garden (two feet or so). Who cares? It likes me.

Fritillaria pyreneica

Pulsatilla patens ex Eurasia

Half, maybe even a third the height of your standard pasqueflower--this petite gem thrives in several spots on my rock garden and comes back stronger every year! Yay! And sets a lot of seed. My idea of a winner! This is the pasqueflower for the rock garden in my opinion! Needs a cultivar name...

Trillium ozarkianum 'Roadrunner'

By and large, trilliums don't love me. This one MAY be the exception. I certainly love it...
Colchicum szovitsii

I've seen pictures of this growing by the mile in Armenia. I aim to be there in a month--maybe I'll see that spectacle. Meanwhile I enjoy this in my garden where it comes back a little happier each year and blooms forever (all of March this year)..

Townsendia nuttallii

We collected this at the type location ("Limestone mountain" in the Absorokas) and misidentified it as Townsendia spathulata...causing no end of confusion. Our bad.

Iris reticulata (white cultivar whose name I don't have at hand)

I have grown a lot of reticulatas in my day...they do not persist as well as I'd like!

The white variation on Iris x histrioides--also with a cultivar name I don't have at hand: maybe I'll add it when I access my inventory.

Matthiola "montana"

Zdenek Zvolanek's collection from Ulu Dag. I looked for it there but didn't find it.

Narcissus asturiensis

Sandy Snyder had this self-sowing in her buffalograss lawn. These were rescued from there when she moved by Mike Kintgen. I wish he'd had time to get them all! A plant nonexistent in nurseries nowadays.

Iris x histrioides 'Katarine Hodgkin'

Now THIS one appears to be settling in...

Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra'

MORE pasqueflowers. At one point they were self-sowing so wildly at Denver Botanic Gardens' rock garden I was ordered to remove them (which I did: one of the few orders I ever had at work). I have not had to do so at Quince thank Heavens!

Fritillaria pudica

We're moving back in time: this bloomed early March. Always a treat to have a yellowbells in the Garden!
Colchicum filifolium

I have two similar colchicums that seem to be spreading rhizomatously--this one I received decades ago from Lee Raden (past president of NARGS)--I always think of him when it blooms.

Colchicum filifolium

A closeup of the flowers: rather strappy I know...but I like them.
Colchicum soboliferum

Huskier than its cousin--although they do look alike!

Crocus chysanthus 'Advance'

A rather dramatic crocus for's clumping up nicely--almost like it more in bud!

Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance'
I take it back: love those open flowers!

Physaria rollinsii

I got this under this name...I have me doots! But all Physaria (Lesquerella) are worth growing!

Erigeron pumilus

Tulipa polychroma

Ornithogalum sp.
I have the name buried in my inventory files--I'll add it when I have a chance to delve into them. Noteworthy not only because it's so showy, but also doesn't seem to be weedy like some of its cousins.

Fritillaria caucasica

Possibly my favorite--it gets bigger every year, duking it out with a half dozen rock garden plants. Now if it would only set seed! (Blooms for weeks and weeks and puts up with our worst weather--which says a LOT)

Crocus tomasinianus 'Whitewell Purple'

One can never have too many "Tommies"

Corydalis malkensis

One might be tempted to call this weedy--but it comes up, blooms and disappears cleanly so quickly, who cares! Bring it on!

Corydalis glaucescens
So hard to photograph this imp! Not as vigorous as the last one--but a keeper nonetheless. 

Tulipa praestans (yellow form)

Primula elatior

The oxlip: compare with the cowslip a fewl images below...both tough as nails!

Androsace villosa

Physaria bellii

One of our local specialties (and a rare one at that)

Pulsatilla patens (dwarf Asian form) Again!

Just saw an image of something very much like this taken in Mongolia....hmmm.

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Aquilegia flabellata very nana

Anemone ranunculoides
Couldn't end with that measley columbine!

Nuthin' measley about my yellow anemone this year. Woo hooo! What a year.

Monday, April 1, 2024

A ferny tale (Marsilea macropoda mystery solved)

Marsilea macropoda in Wildflower Treasures
    This is not really an April Fool's post--although a fern that looks like a four leaf clover is certainly a novelty. I can't remember who first brought this--I am sure it was from Texas--but we planted it here and there at Denver Botanic Gardens (and I have a thrifty colony at my house). The colony above no longer exists, the Wildflower Treasures is now a veggie plot. I somehow doubt the ferns were rescued when the site was bulldozed. And come to think of it, what happened to all that flagstone?

Marsilea macropoda range map in BONAP

How could a plant with such a southerly distribution be such a toughie? It took a bulldozer to get rid of that colony. It thrives for me between paving stones next to the pond at our home--where it alternately drowns and bakes and freezes and cooks.

A slightly larger image of the plant--an herbarium specimen from Texas, where our original plant came from--I recall someone telling me that it grew gloriously, making a solid mat in a bed in front of the entrance of San Antonio Botanical Garden.

That factoid swam around in my head for many decades: at least three. I kept it there, no doubt, hoping one day to finally visit that garden (a fine garden, incidentally: I should do a blog post about it...but it would be long and this story is mercifully short).

A long time ago, someone (who are all these people anyway?) told me the fern had been removed from that bed: I can't recall who, but this factoid joined the other one....and last Tuesday, I finally got to SABG with Tom Peace and Patrick Kirwin--two terrific plantsmen and friends. I was recounting pretty much everything I've just told you as we walked towards the entrance gate.  

As I was wrapping up my tale of woe to my friends, Tom spied this label in the bed where the fern once putatively grew. Factoid one and two appear to both have been correct! Hallelujah--perhaps now I can free up that brain space for new factoids.

In the interest of fairness and accuracy, there were two tufts of Bigfoot Water Clover ACROSS the wide sidewalk from the putative bed where the label was. Perhaps THAT was the bed were they once grew and now have largely disappeared? And the label somehow crossed the path?

But many new and more pressing factoids are starting to crop up...

Marsilea vestita

Here is the BONAP range map for Marsilea vestita: much more common and widespread than M. macropoda. As you can see from the image below, it certainly resembles our putative plant...

How similar are the two species? Since M. vestita is so widespread, why have I never seen it? How does it compare to M. macropoda

One mystery solved, a lot more mysteries are emerging!

In any case, I'm grateful to have resolved at least a few long standing questions. How many lingering mysteries are rattling around in your brain?

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Texas escapade (part one)

 I think I first heard of gluten-intolerance 18 years ago. And now it's on tiles at a Mexican restaurant in Austin. Not just ANY restaurant: the Fonda de San Miguel!

This was the justification for my trip: I wanted to introduce my very cool friends in the Austin area to my very cool daughter, Eleni (lower right)...and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner--much of it subsidized by a dear friend from San Marcos who was gifted a generous certificate to this restaurant from a good customer. Thank you Patrick! Thank you customer! 

The next day we had the extraordinary opportunity to visit a private ranch in the Hill country, guided by Matt above, whose telling us about the 150 year old SECOND growth bald cypress...wonder what the original trees were like!?

Salvia roemeriana
Cedar sage was blooming here or there. I have a weakness for Salvia and the color red. I took a lot of pictures!

And, oh yes. I like ferns. Dryopteris kunthii (a new one for me). I'd like to try this in Denver!

Never found a good angle on Myriopteris (formerly Cheilanthes) alabamensis...

Another great novelty for me: Argyrochrosma dealbata: cousin to our local A. fendleri--love 'em

Still trying to photograph the Myriopteris/Cheilanthes...

I was delighted to find Aesculus pavia in the wild for the first time.

My idea of a great birthday: meet a lot of wonderful horticulturists and explore a new area rich in unfamiliar plants!

Many of the buckeyes were hybrids: this one A. x bushii--cross between Aesculus pavia and Ohio buckeye (A. glabra). This locality doesn't show up on the BONAP maps!

Much of the canyon was festooned with Venus hair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris). This form has been called var. modestum, which I first found in Tecolote Canyon in Baca County nearly a half century ago--a Colorado State record!

This is exactly what it looks like in Tecolote canyon!

Nolina texana

Here and there along the canyon long wreaths of hair-like foliage was suspended--rather like Rapunzel's hair!

I was astonished to see that it was a Nolina--in full bloom. We have a very similar (possibly identical) taxon in Colorado that's been reclassified as N. greenei. I wonder if their not the same thing, only growing in different habitats? I was surprised my Nolina greenei thrives in rather deep shade of a Ponderosa Pine, blooming prolifically every I see they can grow in shade in the wild.

More Dryopteris cool to find more of this!

Rubus trivialis

I was delighted to find this little dewberry, which was relatively common in moist, shady sites. Apparently the fruit is pretty tasty. I think Michaux was cruel naming it thus--it was not the least bit trivial in my book.

Mahonia swazeyi

Another first for me! I have seen six or seven species of our native Mahonias (or Berberis for sticklers--since Berberis HAVE sticklers), this is one we've grown for years at DBG--so fun to see it in the wild!

Salvia roemeriana

Obiously dwarfed by growing on rock--how wonderful it would be to have a Cedar sage that grew that compactly in a rock garden!

Zephyranthes drummondii peering over a cliff. Alas, I have not had these persist in Denver,  even from plants sourced at the north end of their range.

And of course bluebonnets...

They make a wonderful combo with the rain lilies...

A slightly better shot of Argyrochrosma dealbata...

Lithospermum incisum

This is common throughout Colorado as well, but ours probably won't come into bloom for a month or two. The season is much longer down here.

Melampodium cinereum

Or possibly M. leucanthum: both are listed in my new Flora of Texas--this has been in bud in my garden for weeks already!

Erodium texanum

A winter annual, alas! Would that it would tolerate our subzero winters?

Anemone berlandieri
I just realized I never got a picture of the local specialty--Anemone edwardsiana--and I did poorly by its commoner blue cousin. I guess I gotta go back!

I was hiking with a dozen or more experts on native plants including the author of my favorite Texas flora--you'd think I'd have asked one of them for the I.D. of this!

Chamaesaracha conioides

I was rather charmed by this little nightshade.

Castilleja indivisa

Lupinus texensis white form

Bluebonnets everywhere...and of course one photographs the pallid white one...

Nemastylis geminiflora

the first we found. Thought it was an Alophia at first: more about this later...

Echinocereus reichenbachii

Just a week or less before this will bloom: this is quite abundant in Texas (and Colorado--where developments haven't obliterated it that is). Surely one of the greatest wildflowers in America: you can even grow it indoors!

Jeff Pavlat and cacti

It was a treat to spend time with Jeff--horticulturist who oversees the cactus collection at Zilker Gardens in Austin (which I regret not visiting this time). He'd hosted me on a previous visit almost 10 years ago--he is a force to be reckoned with!

Rubus trivialis (again)

I have a weak spot for raspberries...especially little trailers like this (without spines!)

Nemastylis geminiflora

I have a lifetime's drama surrounding this--one of America's greatest (and least known) wildflowers. I obtained it in the 1980's from Don Hackenberry and grew it well for years at Denver Botanic Gardens before eventually losing it (don't ask, sad story). I've tried it again recently (one nursery sells it mail order--but it sells out right away). I was taken by Larry Vickerman to where it grows in Kansas--where we'd just missing it blooming. And on my superannuated birthday, I found it in bloom in the wild! This form looks a tad lie N. tenuis that grows hundreds of miles further West--more mysteries to unravel.

Love this bumper sticker on the truck of Texas' premier botanist.

I end with another tile in the bathroom of La Fonda de San Miguel: springtime in the hill country truly pierces to the heart with floral beauty! Not to mention friends and family.

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