Friday, June 24, 2022

Wild about wild iris!

Iris gigantocaerulea

 People always ask "what is your favorite flower?": I'm sure you get that too...when you've grown thousands upon thousands of plants in your lifetime, where to begin? I think I can aver that wild iris have been a pretty ongoing obsession for me since I was a kid. I had tread this ground before vis-a-vis Colorado's native iris. Seeing this largest flowered of native iris blooming in Ernie Demarie's mind boggling garden last week rekindled my obsession (fortunately he sent me home with a rhizome!)...

Iris spuria v. urumovii

A few weeks ago visiting Keith Funk I saw THIS exquisite thing. He's promised me seed at least (maybe even a division): it captures the elegant flower form and the wonderful clumping nature of these wildlings. OK, the flowers aren't really blue--but I can live with that faint lavender tint, the soft violet. I think the iris blue is haunting and true. The combo of flower shape, color, the grassy foliage and vase like form--multiply this by thousands in a meadow! Heaven on earth...

Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'

I grow several Siberian iris, but this one (with the inspired name: it's magnificent without the name--but makes you think--what would Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Cousin' or 'Caesar's sister-in-law look like?. This happens to be growing in my brother-in-law's rental home garden with little water or care. Methinks I need this one too!

Iris setosa var canadensis

Or is it Iris hookeri? It looks so close to the Alaskan setosa I can't quite see segregating it--and the Hooker epithet confuses it with the very different Himalayan Iris hookeriana. This perfect specimen is growing in Ray Radebaugh's spectacular Louisville garden I've blogged about several times and shall do so yet again! Since this is promoted by Plant Select, it's not hard (or expensive) to find. And find it I shall!

Iris cristata

One could (and should) dedicate a whole blog post to this delightful Eastern iris I've been lucky enough to see blooming in the wild in Kentucky and Missouri. If you don't know Joe Pye Weed's mail order nursery you have no idea what you're missing in the way of cristata and more!

Iris sintenisii [photo by John Brink]
I have grown this species before but never such a compact and spectacular form, which John Brink has seeding all over his garden. He's promised me a clump (and delivered this photo--I went to his house twice to photograph it this spring--and never got as good a shot!)

Iris ruthenica var. uniflora

I've shown this in the wild: the typical ruthenica has small flowers tucked among the leaves. Fortunately the foliage is lovely--otherwise one might not be so crazy about it...

Iris ruthenica (tall form)

Laporte Avenue nursery sold this upright form of the same species: easily one of my favorite plants this spring. It set lots of seed which I'll send to the NARGS seed exchange...

Iris douglasiana

And finally, one of our most glorious natives: I took this last April at the exquisite botanical garden ("Tilden") in the Berkeley Regional Parks. I grew this for decades as a youngster in Boulder from a clump I dug up on the coast range between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz.

This spring I planted several dozen irises in the Californicae section of the genus which are looking very happy this far.

As I said, I'm wild about wild iris!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

A perfect day crowned with laurels

Kalmia latifolia

I've been lucky enough to visit the Eastern United States many times over the decades, and have often caught the tail end or beginning of Mountain Laurel season. This year, last Saturday (just before solstice) thanks to my nephew Tachi Taylor who drove us to Lake Minnewaska near his home in Ellensville, New York, we hit laurel season spot on. It was a cool day--a perfect day. The sort of day that reminds one that we are indeed lucky mortals.

They were everywhere: I'll spare you the dozen or two other shots I took of them! Some pure white, others quite pink. And there was sheepkill [Kalmia angustifolia] too (which I never got a picture of) 

Here's our beloved nephew, Tachi: he lives in a lovely Manhattan apartment we've often stayed at.  Tachi purchased a wonderful weekend home in Ellensville with his partner Harry Rodriguez we finally got to visit. We regretted missing Harry (he was at a retreat last weekend): they have an enviable lifestyle of great style and joie-de-vivre. Few things delight me more than seeing people I love thriving.

The destination of our walk: two miles around (probably five or six miles altogether--and since I didn't bring hiking boots, I felt it! I was surprised there was lots of room in the parking lot on a prime, cool weekend in high season! People have GOT to get out of their houses!

The lichens, mosses and liverworts were as beautiful as the vascular plants! And so many kinds of trees!

It looks like primeval wilderness: we're looking towards New York City, just an hour or two away!

Not far from the lake we had to visit Awosting Falls...

A thrill to see Penstemon digitalis in the wild. OK, I know it's not rare--but not something that grows wild in the West!

Phegopteris connectilis

 GALLING to find narrow beech fern: I grew this for decades and eventually lost it and have been anxious to get it again. We found several patches...I was tempted, but honesty (and fear of prosecution perhaps) prevailed and no piece came with me!

What better way to end a perfect day? Why, visit a wonderful garden center. Although featuring natives, this place had far more: how many garden centers stock Glaucidium palmatum and Jeffersonia dubia? They even claim they had my narrow beech fern but were sold out. If this place were near my house, I'd be a pauper--lots of fabulous plants at great prices. We had to get some for Ellensville of course, and Tachi was kept busy planting for some time later that day! Didn't stop him from cooking a fabulous dinner of barbecue ribs for us! Like I said, it was a perfect day!

Brought to mind the quatrain from my favorite poem of the English language (Marvell's "the Garden")

                                Apollo hunted Daphne so,
                                Only that she might laurel grow;
                                And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
                                Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Primavera exquisita! Here's to springtime!

Delphinium nudicaule 'Laurin'

One of the first plants to strut its stuff on the brand new crevice garden (see more below on that!): I saw the wild form a few months ago north of San Francisco and dreamed of when I'd be able to grow it. Presto! Such is life in the FAST lane!

Mimulus (Erythranthe?) cupreus

A great surprise was seeing how strongly this came back over the winter. Strange to think I saw this in Neuquen just a few months ago. Okay, it WAS six months ago I suppose!

Tulipa linifolia and Aurinia saxatilis

From a month ago or so--a fun combo--hope they both come back strong next year!

Start of new crevice garden...blame Jan! She wanted a shortcut to the backyard from the front! Drove me crazy about it for 15 years.

Ryan Keating and the garden
I owe Ryan more than I can begin to acknowledge: he came to us last year and helped in so many ways. I look forward to his next visit this summer!

Nearly done!

Ready for planting!

Another picture of Ryan in the midst of his labor of love. They guy's amazing.
Mystery daffodil

The last daffodil to bloom for me: and dammit--I can't find a tag or reference in my computer file. Help! 
Androsace taurica

The best of the white androsaces--thrives in the ground as well as this small pot!

Daphne time!

Daphne 'Anton Fahndrich' keeps getting bigger every year. D. x schytleri on the right...

Giant Iris ruthenica

The flowers look like the typical tiny form, but on definite stems: it's setting a lot of seed!

Late pasqueflower

Looks a tad lie vulgaris, but blooms 10 days later, and that deep dusky rose color! Love it.

Allium tripedale

Nectaroscordon siculum is a pernicious weed here. Thus far its cousin is better behaved.

Arum conophylloides (A. rupicola)
I love this aroid...

Primula sieboldii

I must get some more variations on this amazing species.

Daphne caucasica
his does not send out rhizomes as I have read it does. Good thing: one is enough!

Helichrysum amorginum

Possibly my favorite plant from last year! A selection of a Greek wildflower. Wonderful to watch it change!

Helichrysum amorginum

I think I like it in bud almost as much--hope the seed will be viable! Now to get its cousin from Mt. Athos!

I do grow a lot of delosperma...

Echinocereus coccineus

Quietly expanding under a Juniperus monosperma on my xeric berm...

Papaver "atlanticum"

Some of us have a weakness for poppies. I confess! I'm one of those poppy lovers...

Echinocereus x 'Panayoti'

Named for me and sold in Europe by Hans Graf: I approve!

Calceolaria herbeohybrida

According to Wikipedia (which knows all!) this represents "derived from three species from Chile and ArgentinaC. crenatifloraC. corymbosa and C. cana"..all of which are perennial, are they not? Is it too much to hope?

Thalictrum tuberosum

I look forward to the flowering of this outrageous meadow rue every spring. I have two clumps: should I divide one this summer?

Daphne oleioides 

Having seen this all over Greece and Turkey, it's a joy to have it in Colorado!

Asperula hirtella

I have been impressed with the longevity and fortitude of all these tiny woodruffs. They deserve more attention and respect!

Salvia caespitosa
My big clump is getting squeezed out--so I have two younger ones I'll make sure have more room--and, Oh yes, seedlings! One plant I can't have enough of!

Tanacetum marschallianum

A heavenly tansy from Western Asia.

Alyssum oxycarpum

Mikl Brawner (or is it Eve Reznicek? they are a couple) love this plant. I am beginning to see why.

Salvia phlomoides 
Another superb Salvia, this one from Morocco. (Thank you, Mike K.!)

Geranium x cantabrigense 'Biokovo'

Perhaps a bit pedestrian? You do find it in all the local garden centers--for good reason. This is one tough cookie. Ideal for "dry shade" (and dry shade here is DRY). It doesn't have to be rare for me to love a plant!

Salvia officinalis 'Nana'
The dwarf form of garden sage.

Lewisia cotyledon white flowered
Delighted that my lewisia decided to rebloom! Not quite like the massive cabbages I saw in Victoria on the wall at Government house...but I'm ok with that!

Stomatium agninum

I lost many ice plants in my old rock garden last winter: too much shade. But this one made it!

I end as I began on the new crevice garden: the other fast performer was a plant of Delosperma 'Garnet'--my favorite of the Desert Jewel series. Let's hope it proves perennial in this microclimate!

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