Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter daisies (a few days later)...

Townsendia eximia on West Spanish Peak

This is the peak season for easter daisies--which are aptly named: they bloom for such a long spell (beginning in March almost every year and lasting to May) that they can be pretty much be guaranteed to bloom at easter. The specimen above is an exception: I believe that was photographed in late summer (it's naturally a later bloomer, especially in its alpine home), but most of the rest of these were photographed this week at my home garden.

Townsendia nuttallii in a trough
There is a long complicated story involving this plant. Suffice it to say (mea culpa) this was distributed as T. spathulata decades ago when Gwen Moore and I ran Rocky Mountain Rare Seeds: that species and T. nuttallii were both recorded from Limestone Mountain in the Wind River Mountains where we collected what we thought were both. We assumed this distinctive one was spathulata, and a narrow leaves congener there was nuttallii: the third species I now realize was Townsendia hookeri: there were three townsendias on this mountain I reckon. So confusion has reigned: here is my feeble attempt to make amends.

Townsendia nuttallii
Albeit it's not the little wooly tuffet of spathulata (see below), it is nevertheless a gorgeous little thing.

Townsendia spathulata
I believe this is the real McCoy--surely one of the loveliest of rock garden gems. Blooming for me for the first time: thanks, Bill Adams, for giving me this!

Townsendia leptotes Jeanie
This was collected originally in Easternmost Montana by Jeanie Anderson, a rock gardener from Idaho Falls: we've grown this for decades--one of the showiest of the genus. Blooming this week as well.

Townsendia hookeri
A picture I took years ago of the commonest townsendia of the plains. It's still blooming in  a trough in my garden--this is a picture I took near Denver about this time of year.

Townsendia scapigera

I grew this for years: this looks like an intermediate between Townsendia condensata and T. parryi...only it is perennial (albeit a short lived one) and those other worthy species are both biennial. I grew this for years, harvested lots of seed, but I suddenly realize they are all gone now. One of the best!

Townsendia sp. ign. Rock Alpine Garden

This species is dotted all over one of the crevice gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens. Mike Kintgen believes it was grown from seed collected near treeline on the Flattops plateau three or so years by myself: I assumed it was T. hookeri when I collected it, which it clearly is not: what could it be?

Townsendia florifer

I collected the seed of this floriferous biennial (well named) not far from Mt. Borah in Idaho. I grew it a few years and forgot to collect and sow seeds one more time.

These are just a few of the striking Townsendias that grace the West. Colorado moreover is almost the epicenter of the genus: no wonder I love them so...that and the fact that they grace my gardens for weeks in late winter and early spring...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A week in the life of a peripatetic gardener (Toronto sojourn...)

Iris cf. narbutii
I took the picture of the iris the day before I left for Toronto. Gotta love those Junos--this one from Beaver Creek nursery many years ago.

Prunus subhirtella
The Japanese cherries around town bloomed most of last week--good thing because the snow and frost on Sunday night put an end to the show. Someone has planted many Japanese cherries along Cherry Creek (and Speer Boulevard) which is rather amusing, since the "Cherry" in Cherry Creek is actually a Chokecherry. This is the most stunning Japanese cherry I know in Denver, at an apartment complex near my home. I dote on this every year..

The flowers up close are immense, and a wonderful melting pink color. I would love to see a lot more of these around town!

Paeonia coriacea
This was blooming as well before I left, and came through the snow (under a bucket of course): it's a collection from Morocco by Mike Kintgen. Surely the earliest Peony in any garden?

Marion Jarvie and Daphne mezereum
I'd not seen Marion in 11 years (since she had the misfortune to be in Denver for the colossal March snowstorms in 2003): I was thrilled to see how vibrant and good she looked: her job as a garden designer and lecturer obviously agrees with her. Her garden was stunning, even in late winter. Here she was showing off an incredibly dense specimen of Winter daphne that was ready to pop.

Helleborus thibetanus
I know it's out of focus, but I still loved this incredible plant: mine is alive at least!

Iris x 'Katharine Hodgkin'
Every one of the Katharine Hodgkin's iris at my home garden was seemingly killed by the extreme cold of last winter. They fared better at Denver Botanic Gardens--and Marion's were fabulous as you can see. Not that I'm jealous....or anything....much. They seem to do better on the flat in richer soil than in a gravelly rock garden soil I venture.

Bella and Barbara's garden
My hostesses for the trip have a wonderful garden and welcoming home: Bella Seiden and Barbara Cooper (shown a ways below) are program chairs for the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society, who made me feel very welcome: I loved this simple garden sculpture that reminded me of fern croziers unwinding.

Andrew and Sue Osyany and me
Andrew Osyany and his wonderful wife Sue drove a long way for my talk later on Sunday: Andrew started the ORGS many decades ago, and our paths have crossed repeatedly over the decades, including a wonderful field trip we took together to the Bighorn mountains and Wyoming decades ago. In addition to being a passionate gardener, Andrew is a lawyer, and his incisive intellect has kept the North American Rock Garden society on course more than once over the years. Traveling for talks is really about reconnecting with special friends like this for me more than anything. Except perhaps for seeing great new plants like the one below...

Adonis amurensis 'Chichibu beni'
One of numerous treasures in Barrie Porteous wonderful Toronto garden: I'd never seen this burnished orangy bronze form of Adonis before: Barrie has promised to divide this for Bella, and perhaps a piece can come my way?

Barrie Porteous and giant Daphne mezereum
Barrie standing behind the largest Daphne mezereum I've ever seen: this was about to bloom: I was amazed by the number, variety and size of daphnes in Barrie's garden.
Cyclamen coum at Barrie's
 I have to show a few of the masses of Cyclamen coum all over Barrie's Toronto garden. They were obviously in peak form. 

And yet more Cyclamen coum! Barrie had a terrific career in business--gardening is just a sideline: but what a sideline! I've never been privileged to see his cottage garden near Muskoka in the the country where there are no end of treasures as well. He's headed out to the Penstemon Society meeting this June and we spend a wonderful morning looking at potential stops he might take in Utah and Nevada--making me terribly jealous. Barrie has explored more than many botanic gardeners, and grown more plants than many botanic gardens: so much for amateurs! (And did I mention that he's a fabulous speaker with the most wicked sense of humor I've ever encountered?) Yes, time with Barrie and Jane was time I shall remember fondly.
Barbara Cooper, Merle, Jane Porteous, Bella and Barrie Porteous
Some of my wonderful Canadian hosts: I've been spoiled terribly over the decades by the tremendous community of horticulturists in Toronto. I like to think I'm a plant person, but the friendliness and good humor of gardeners is just as compelling as the simple majesty of plants. We need more of both in this world of too much asphalt and concrete.

Post red full moon setting over the Rockies from my living room window
I returned to a full moon (it was actually a "red moon" in the middle of the night, but I didn't think my camera was up to photographing it). Turns out my Nikon Coolpix 620 has much better optics than my old Sony point and shoots (despite their famous Leica lenses), and I could have gotten that wonderful bloody moon. Dang it! What a great week!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Has Spring truly sprung? (an April Alphabetarium)

Bulbocodium vernum
 We almost wondered if Spring would ever arrive: now suddenly magnolias are in bloom all over town, the early plums and apricots are out, and even all the pear trees. Crocuses and snowdrops are mostly over, and the early spring rabble is at its peak...most all of these are photographed today in my garden (the one above is an exception--my pictures from home didn't turn out nearly as well as this shot from the grand border at Denver Botanic Gardens). Of course there's lots to say about every picture, but this time of year we don't need prose, we need color! and there is color aplenty (at least until Sunday when it's supposed to snow again--ugggh). That's Colorado. Take it while it's good!
Coluteocarpus vesicarius

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'

Corydalis solida 'Dieter Schacht'

Delosperma sphalmanthoides

Draba bruniifolia ex Toros Dag

Draba hispanica

Fritillaria bucharica

Fritillaria caucasica

Fritillaria michaelovskyi

Fritillaria michaelovskyi

Iris aucheri

Iris aucheri

Iris reticulata 'Cantab'

Narcissus nanus

Primula abchasica and Chionodoxa sp.

Primula marginata

Primula veris and Hepatica americana

Ranunculus calandrinioides

Townsendia hookeri in a trough

Tulipa humilis 'Alba oculata'

Tulipa humilis

Tulipa humilis

Tulipa humilis and Corydalis shanganii

Tulipa montana ex Iran (Archibald coll.)

Veratrum nigrum