Friday, February 17, 2017

Crush tree Monoculture! PuhLEASE!

I realize the print on this is ridiculously small: if you email me at (put TREE BROCHURE in your subject line) I'll send you a .pdf of this file you can blow up much bigger! But you get the drift--we keep planting crappy trees and they keep dying (in most of our cities anyway). We need to plant a much bigger variety for many reasons--warding off major pests is certainly one of them!
The speakers are stellar: I regret to say I've only heard ONE of them--but we have had rave reviews of the rest--it is sure to be inspiring and information packed...

Everyone SAYS they love trees, but in the final analysis, most people would rather watch NFL football or go shopping than spend a day with people like this. Not me...

I've been part of this symposium from its first year: every year we've had fantastic talents (we've had Guy Sternberg TWICE--and will have him again)--the subject of trees in Urban landscapes impacts the quality of our lives so very much.

Of the many initiatives I've helped nudge along: rock gardening in public gardens, appreciation of Western Landscape ethic, Xeriscape, South African cold hardy plants, the birth of dozens of public gardens in the Plains and Rocky Mountain states, the appreciation of species irises, hardy succulents, crevice gardening (although I don't have one myself...)...have I mentioned Steppe awareness and Plant Select? Of all these endeavors I've joined in on--the Tree Diversity initiative may be the most lasting and valuable.. but you'd have to come to this conference to "get it"!

Hope to see you March 10!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Michigan wild

Viola pedata
In May of 2015 the Great Lakes Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society hosted the annual meeting. We visited spectacular gardens (some of which I've featured in five or six of my previous blogs). There were also fantastic field trips to natural areas in Michigan...the following pictures were all taken in one of these hikes. I will return to the fabulous birdsfoot violet at the very end--I've seen this in several states east of the Mississippi--but never so many nor so variable of forms. Surely this is one of the choicest native wildflowers! And I'm glad to say, I have it in my garden (thanks to a lime tolerant race from Kentucky)...

Arisaema triphyllum
If you don't look a bit carefully you may miss quite a few jack in the pulpits that were not quite in full bloom yet in this picture...and the first Trillium...

Mitella ? nuda
Alas, I didn't try and take a closeup of this beautiful miniature--so I can't be sure of which of the two possible species it might be...

Trillium grandiflorum
One of the glories of the upper Midwest, the grandest of trilliums was everywhere--you'll see lots more soon. But look at all the other gems it's growing with!

Geranium maculatum
One of the loveliest of our native geraniums was already in bloom in early May!

Trillium grandiflorum
Had these aged pink--or is this one of those mythical forms that opens pink? I can't say for sure...

Poldophyllum peltatum
Masses of May Apple: forgot to peek under the leaves to see if they were blooming...

Viola ? sororia
There were several violets in bloom including this variable blue one...

Trillium grandiflorum
Just a few trilliums...

Dirca palustris
I was thrilled to run across this cousin to the daphnes--we have so few in the family in North America growing wild!
And more trilliums!

And more trilliums!

And more trilliums!

Trillium grandiflorum galore!


Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Trillium grandiflorum and Anemonella thalictroides

I think I will make this my Facebook header!

Panax trifolia
Who knew there was a tiny Ginseng relative that made wonderful colonies in the wild? I didn't until I attended a North American Rock Garden Society Annual Meeting in Ann Arbor two years ago!

Here is an overiew--and yes, that's May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum) above it.

And I didn't know that Golden Smoke (our wonderful annual fumewort of the West) also grew in Michigan...

Viola pedata
Did I mention there was a lot of Viola pedata?

Look at the variation in form and color!

And more...

They filled the woods

You can probably tell that my dear friend Marcia Tatroe is smiling her head off!

This was sheer bliss for me...

Enough comments for now! The plants speak for themselves!

I'm not sure if this is a plum or a cherry--I suspect Tony Reznicek will straighten us out! He was the chairman of this fabulous meeting...

Jack in the pulpits again...

This year the North American Rock Garden Society will hold its Study Weekend in Madison, Wisconsin--the wonderful capital of that state. There will be some spectacular gardens there...and in November we will meet in North Carolina for our Annual Meeting: Montrose--Nancy Goodwin's fantastic garden--will be featured (with its millions of fall blooming snowdrops--click to see my blog about it at the same time of year as the meeting)...and oh yes, J. C. Raulston Arboretum--and Juniper Level Botanic Garden with Plant Delights--that endless source of fabulous plants! Time to join up (just email NARGS Secretary  ("Bobby J. Ward" and he'll fix you up!)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Vista and vignette...a heavenly garden just this side of..........Hell?

Mary and Don Lafond
Google informs me that the small town of Pinckney is just 3.4 miles from Hell (Michigan that is)--well I'd gladly trade some Badlands out west for the little piece of Heaven that the couple above have created--even if the map places them a short drive from Hell.... Three years ago, when the North American Rock Garden Society scheduled an Annual General Meeting at Ann Arbor, I had little idea what was in store for us: I have reported already on Anton Reznicek's extraordinary garden, and I think I managed several blogs about Jacques and Andrea Thompson's extravaganza. By the time I'd reported on the Thompson's Ypsilanti garden, a lot of time had elapsed...I unjustly passed by the chance to feature this garden...or so I thought.

 I'd moved on...but now, several years later as I've labeled slides and revisited Michigan through them, I realize that my pictures turned out well enough that I really had to share them. Hindsight 20/20! This remarkable garden feels enormous (and you will think it had to comprise many acres to encompass all these shots)...and it's not small. But Don (the primary gardener) has an amazing knack at creating vignettes and microclimates--so every view seems harmonious and different. The enormous collection of plants is comfortably ensconced in a garden of supremely elegant, natural design. There's never been better proof that you can be a world class collector, and a great artist all at once! (Thank you, Don, for letting me show your garden, and for providing me with many names of plants in the blog: any mistakes are my own, however!)

Alyssum oviense and Phlox subulata pink,
The pictures will swing back and forth, from views to intimate views. I spent several hours here, and could have spent more. If you are not utterly enchanted by the Lafonds, I have some excellent therapists to recommend to you. I will not have a lot of commentary...There will be a few comments from Don in dark blue...This garden speaks very well for itself!

Chaenomeles japonica 'Alpina' in the trough
One last bit of kibbitzing on my part: the many Michigan gardens I've visited over the years are elegant testimony to the fantastic power of community: each of these gardeners is unquestionably superior: they are heirs of great 20th Century Gardeners no longer with us: Fred and Roberta Case, Betty Blake, Kay Boydston (who founded Fernwood Garden in Niles), Bob Stuart and Jim Punnett associated with Arrowhead Alpines.  The present-day talent in the Great Lakes Chapter today is standing on their shoulders...this has resulted in gardens second to none.

 Potentilla nevadensis

Viola pedata
Notice this is in an authentic stone trough: probably one obtained with the assistance of Jacques Thompson I suspect!
Daphne cneorum 'Alba'

Iris pumila hybrid purple, Phlox subulata 'Temiskaming' pink . Tulipa batalinii
Yet more Thompsonian troughs! And notice the juno iris just finished? These pictures were all taken in one day--this garden has a parade of color for months...would I could depict that!

Anemonella 'Shoaff's Double Pink' , Anemonella thalictroides semi-double white I found, Anemonella thalictroides light pink double I found (D.L), Epimedium davidii, Corydalis turtschaninovii, Trillium grandiflorum 'Multiplex'

Cardamine pentaphyllos

 Trillium pusillum, Thalictrum kiusianum,Tsuga canadensis 'Bacon Cristate'

Mukdenia rossii and Phegopteris hexagonoptera

Daphne x hendersonii

Iris odesanensis

 Anchusa undulata in bloom and a Salvia sp.

 Daphne 'Benaco' (dark pink), Daphne 'Marion White' (white), Daphne 'Meon' (pale pink),

Daphne 'G K Argles'

Pinus banksiana (broom), Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Short Stack', Acanthus hungaricus, Hymenoxys herbacea or Tetraneris-[damn botanists :) D.L.], Phlox borealis

Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Short Stack'


Hymenoxys (Tetraneuris) herbacea

 Mertensia virginica


Tulipa chrysantha and Berberis thunbergii 'Bonanza Gold'

Iris 'Betty Boo'


 Glaucidium palmatum and Cardamine cf. pentaphylla

 Trillium maculatum (Hybrids from Fred Case" D.L.)and T. luteum

Trillium luteum

Anemone ranunculoides fl. pl.


Corydalis nobilis & Bellavalia foeniculum

32 Anemonella thalictriodes

Rhododendron  'Olga Mezzit', Rhododendron 'Cunningham's Blush'

Ranunculus ficaria

Anemone nemorosa cv?
Primula kisoana v. alba Foreground, Anemone nemorosa behind

 Iris cristata

 Weigelia sessilis 'Canary'

Weigelia sessilis 'Canary'

Picea glauca 'Dent'

Maianthemum (Smilacina) stellatum

Uvularia grandiflora

Trientalis stellata

Cercis canadensis 'Alba'

Hydrastis canadensis

Halesia tetraptera

Taxus baccata 'Aurea'

Daphne 'Maisey Larae'

50 Epimedium ? pubigerum

  Trillium grandiflorum

 Iris cv.

Daphne x burkwoodii 'Silver Edge'

54 Narcissus 'Sun Disc'

Caragana sp. ign.

Daphne ' Bramdean'

Darmera peltata

58 Epimedium wushanense (lower left, spiny leaf form), Disporum flavens, Trillium kurabayashii

Menyanthes trifoliata

Trillium maculatum (hybs. ex Fred Case)


Trillium flexipes, Disporum (Prosartes) maculatum, Cardiocrinum cathayanum, Lilium martagon

Trillium grandiflorum 'Roseum' and Arisaema nigrum

Osmunda regalis

65 Primula mistassinica?

A last lingering view...
One of many garden tours (with Don presiding center left)

Mary and Don
A final glimpse of the proud owners of the garden: one of Don's missions at present is to help promote the North American Rock Garden Society, which he and I love so much. If you don't already belong, join gardeners like him and me in celebrating the fabulous art of growing wildflowers, high mountain plants, steppe plants and bulbs as well as woodland plants: the specialties of members of this group! You can get more information at