Thursday, July 28, 2022

A perfect crevice garden

Phlox nana
I cannot say how surprised I was on a quick visit to see the Santa Fe phlox thriving so gloriously: blooming at the end of July! This was just one of the numerous surprises I found re-visiting what may be one of the finest rock gardens in the world!

Phlox nana

Here's another--different--colony of the phlox in Cheyenne (a much colder climate than Santa Fe!)

Grand Conservatory!
There are cities in American a dozen times larger than Cheyenne that have NO botanic gardens: the Great conservatory and the crevice garden are just two of innumerable wonderful facet of this gem: Wyoming cherishes and has generously supported this fine institution.

I'm not a huge fan of garden art--but this grizzly rather appealed to me: and a few of the innumerable pots around the place

But the crevice garden--another Kenton Seth creation, although Jacob Mares (a staff member at Cheyenne) was understudy in the first phase and went on (as you will see) to artfully expand the garden! By the way, the shrubby plant front and center if Junellia succulentifolia--a fantastic Patagonian that obviously likes Cheyenne!

I was shocked to see an Agave and Escobaria sneedii (from zone 7 southern New Mexico) thriving in zone 4 Cheyenne: crevice gardens create incredible microclimates.

End of July and Eriogonum kennedyi and Pterocephalus depressus looking awesome!

A fine sprinkling of Plant Select throughout: here it's Eriogonum umbellatum 'Kannah Creek'

Another huge clump of Escobaria sneedii--which comes from the New Mexico-Texas borderlands for God's sake!

The native Draba oligosperma knitting two boulders together

And what a treat to see Monardella macrantha 'Marion Sampson' glowing here--a plant from Southern California and northern Mexico! (Albeit from high altitudes!)

I suspect you would have to go to the Coruh valley of the Kaçkar mountains (that is if it hasn't been flooded yet by the multiplicity of stupid dams being built there) to find this glorious of a Campanula coruhensis.

Uber rare Penstemon debilis known only from a few extremely steep screes near Rifle is thriving here!

And there are Acantholimon galore, in many species! This one resembles A. halophilum...

More Monardella under the rude shock of Kniphofia hirsuta (one of the dwarfest and cutest torch lilies)

Yet MORE acantholimons and buckwheats!

Yet even MORE acantholimons and buckwheats: this big white one is E. jamesii of the southern Rockies.

I mentioned the garden had been artfully expanded by Jacob: well--here's part of that expansion!

I believe this is Acantholimon glumaceum.

And what a perfect spot for Cylindropuntia whipplei 'Snow Leopard' poised upon a amat of globularia...

Look how much seed is setting on Delosperma congestum! Obviously happy!

Cyclamen purpurascens just starting up: look at that corm!

More Eriogonum kennedyi!

More of all manner of cushions and monardella...

Can't resist photographing 'Marion Sampson'

And some variation of Acantholimon ulicinum still in bloom1
Euphorbia spinosa
Never dreamed this would grow in Cheyenne!

Astragalus angustifolius
And what a massive clump of this gem!

The designer of Cheyenne's spectacular rock garden has just co-authored a book which is HOT! It is now available in the USA: check your favorite mail order bookstore: I'm sture you'll find it!

And congratulations Cheyenne Botanic Garden for funding and creating a perfect rock garden!

Click on this URL to see a panorama of the crevice garden:


  1. Of all the gardens I have commissioned and or been involved with in my 41 years at the helm of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, this garden was my all time favorite. And it survives the perennial hail storms better than any of them. Kenton was great to work with and to get to know as a friend. Inspired by Kenton and the garden he created for us, I now have my own 65 foot long by two to four foot wide crevice garden here in Paonia with plants provided by Kenton, Ross, and some other sources. It surrounds my Garage/Greenhouse/Studio on three sides (North, West and the brutal South). This is its third year and the plants are finally leaping! I am actually having to do some cutting back to keep them from getting in each other's way.
    Thanks for showcasing the Cheyenne garden. People don't realize what a brutal climate it is . . . #1 for hail, #4 for wind, 6,000 ft. elevation with cold summer nights, little winter snow cover. You would have to be an idiot to put a botanic garden there.

  2. I'm glad to see you using your talents to promote those who are doing exceptional work.

  3. Kenton Smith is a wonderful rock gardener and human. Glad to see so many reflections on his great work. Thanks Panayoti!

  4. Definitely a great and inspiring rock garden. Great to see how healthy the plants look despite the brutal weather Cheyenne experiences. Right plant Right place! Look forward to getting Kenton and Paul's new book when it's available in Canada.

  5. There are some great Physaria species, some of which were formerly known as Lesquerella, from alpine areas that I am finding are growable in the Chicago Area. However, if it gets over 94 degrees F I move Lesquerella alpina, syn. Physaria reediana, to shade. Are these used in rock gardens in the Denver area? I never see them in pictures that have been posted.


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