Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Salvias I have loved and lost....

Salvia machrochlamys
One of the perils of having a long gardening life--and growing a few too many plants--is that inevitably you lose some of them. Or quite a few, come to think of it. The genus Salvia is especially near and dear to my heart. I still grow quite a few--but some of the most beautiful of all have gone. This is one I miss the most.

Salvia machrochlamys
I first grew this from seed I got from Jim and Jenny Archibald. It graced a dry border in my old house for almost ten years. I would get five or eight seed off it every year that looked promising. I think I even germinated one or two..but never got it established elsewhere. I'm sure we could have grown it from cuttings. Now all I can do is thank the stars I took these pictures--all I have left of one of the greatest steppe plants I've ever grown. Groan.

Salvia pachyphylla x S. lavandulifolia
This was a seedling that popped up in my new garden fifteen, maybe twenty years ago. It grew and prospered and set seed. And one day it wasn't there...

Salvia recognita x lavandulifolia
An overall shot of the same plant.
Salvia lavandulifolia
Here is one of its parents--I had it growing nearby for ten, maybe fifteen years. One year it wasn't there...

Salvia pachystachya
I had a patch of five of these that made a heck of a spectacle for quite a long time. I even harvested a lot of seed I shared on Index Seminum and through the NARGS seed exchange. And one day it wasn't there. And the old seed never germinated.

Salvia potentillifolia
This is a scan of a plant I only had one or two years--again from Archibald seed. It died before I could grow more...
Salvia microstegia
This grand plant was also grown from seed Jim and Jenny Archibald collected in Turkey. We had it for many, many years and shared seed widely. I've not seen it anywhere in ages. I know--it just looks like Salvia argentea on stilts--but what the hey! I wish I still grew it.

Salvia microstegia
A closer look...

Salvia campanulata
This is a scan of a photograph I took in Yunnan, China in 1997. It was everywhere in the open, Subalpine woodlands on the Yulongshan. I never collected seed, of course. Never grew it. But I do see it in the collection of a certain garden I shall visit soon...

Salvia candidissima
This I grew for ages: the first Salvia to bloom in my garden (once opened its first flower in March). I know it looks like a pipsqeak Salvia argentea. So what? I miss it!

Salvia henryi
My good friend Bill Adams of Sunscapes Nursery keeps growing this. And I keep killing it. I grew it several years at the Gardens superbly if I don't say so. But that was then and now is now...

Salvia huberi
The homeliest of the Archibald salvias I ever grew. I still liked it and wish I had it..

Salvia huberi
You may say "meh" but I say "waaa": I miss it!

Salvia pisidica
One of the best of the Archibald Salvias from Turkey....

Salvia pisidica
This is still thriving at DBG. But not for me...

Salvia przewaksyi
I had this for decades--and it spread around. A Chinese species that's easy to grow and very variable. And gone.
Salvia rosifolia
Another of my lost Archibald salvias from Turkey.

Salvia 'hydrangea'
It grew quite a few years in this spot...

Salvia 'hydrangea'
I grew this quite a long time: not as spectacular as the pictures I've seen of the larger--and probably true--form of the species.  But still winsome. I miss it!

Salvia cryptantha
We had this for many years. Mike Kintgen has obtained something similar. But not this same form...

Salvia uliginosa
One of my favorite displays was this Salvia ramping through the Fragrance Garden at DBG. Then one year it was weeded out by volunteers...

Salvia uliginosa
I'd kill to have this combo in my garden. I'd kill snails, perhaps. Or mosquitos. But I'd kill...

Salvia caespitosa
In fact, I still grow this--the classic form of Salvia caespitosa that's still out there in cultivation. This plant was in a friend's garden. Jim Archibald once showed a pale yellow form he photographed in Turkey but never got into cultivation--which haunts me to this day...

Salvia aff. caespitosa
What I DID lose were these wonderful taller stems forms of Salvia "caespitosa" collected and distributed by the Czechs. Not as spectacular as the other, but still very cute. And MIA...

Salvia aff. caespitosa
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Salvia penstemonoides

I photographed this last summer at Denver Botanic Gardens. But my plants never got this far. Sniff.

Salvia sclarea 'Vatican White'
I have grown this once or twice, but NEVER like this. A scan from a slide I took at Sir John Thouron's unbelievable garden near Philadelphia--maybe 25 years ago or more...

Salvia triflora
I took this picture near Olympia in Greece: I got seed of the plant from a botanic garden, and grew it at Denver Botanic Gardens for many years...until I didn't.

Salvia pachyphylla
I believe these were the first plants of Salvia pachyphylla ever grown in Colorado. Some of the very first in cultivation ANYWHERE outside California. I drove by, and they're still there, a quarter century or more after I planted them in our old house (we moved out of there 24 years ago--that's how I surmise their age (although I could look on the transparency whence these were scanned). We grow this at the Botanic Gardens, but it prefers heavier soil than at my house in se Denver. Boo hoo.

Salvia pachyphylla
One of the best things I ever did was railroad this through Plant Select. 'Twasn't easy.

Salvia aethiopsis
The year I grew a noxious weed at Denver Botanic Gardens. Actually--at the time I didn't know it was such a pest...

Salvia aethiopsis
If you know Boulder County, you'll recognize Haystack Mountain in the background...

Salvia aethiopsis
I know it looks awful--and the plant is a horrendous weed, spreading by breaking off the stem and tumbling, scattering seed as it goes. It would gleefully cover the Great Plains given time. The Colorado Native Plant Society sent out volunteers several years running who killed the overwintering rosettes and nipped this in the bud. I have noticed one or two persisting here and there, but these spectacular displays are as much history as the precious plants above that I lost to my not sowing seed or taking cuttings in time.

(P.S. Most of me abhors the nasty vista of those Salvia in the last frame smothering the prairie. But a little tiny piece of me (the little devil on my shoulder) says "Wowee Zowee that's Coooooooool")

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pachyderm beauty: a gem of the karoo

Aloinopsis spathulata picture taken September 30, 2007
The genus Delosperma is well known in gardens nowadays, but dozens of of other genera of Mesembryanthemaceae are found in areas that experience severe cold. Aloinopsis spanthulata was the first of these to be grown in Denver: Paul Heiple was an enthusiastic member of the Cactus club in the early 1980's who was the first to over-winter this beautiful plant outside in a Denver garden. We have subsequently grown it in a variety of sites and conditions: this can form an enormous caudex and live a very long time in our semi-arid climate, although Denver is probably much colder than its native home on the high Roggeveld Plateau where the previous and next two pictures were taken in September of 2007.

We had been driving for many hours across the high Plateau from Calvinia to Sutherland. We found this msemb in only one spot about 10 km north and west of Sutherland. Notice the clay soil it's growing in in nature. Although this was high spring, there was not a lot of bloom anywhere on the plateau. But the Aloinopsis blazed and could be seen by the passing bus! Which is how we found it!

Here it can be see caked with mud

Picture taken April 20, 2016

And here it was last spring at the fabulous crevice garden at the APEX recreation center in Arvada.

An old picture scanned--from my old garden...

The one above and below are at Denver Botanic Gardens

And here are a medley of hybrids that we grew from Bill Adams of Sunscapes Nursery: bill began the trend of hybridizing various mesembs to produce astonishing range of colors: a number of other hybridizers have begun crossing plants in the Aloinopsis, Nananthus and Rabiea group, producing some truly spectacular color ranges--but that's really another story. But a story that began with Aloinopsis spathulata, a wonderful pachydermous little gem of the karoo!

Various hybrids of Aloinopsis spathulata and Nananthus spp. at Denver Botanic Gardens South African Plaza.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Iceland Redux: for alpine plant nerds.

A corner of the rock garden at Reykjavik botanical garden on June 27,2015

In December of 2015, I published a blog about that garden called "Icelandic treasure trove" (which you can check out if you wish through the magic of links). I thought at the time I had overindulged with 25 images. But I have come to realize that many of those who follow this blog are as nerdy as I am. I just read on the Internet (so it must be true), that nerdiness is now cool, so we can all indulge without guilt. So for you, my soul brothers and sisters, I am RE-visiting that garden, and showing a LOT more pictures I didn't think were worth it the first time around.

What I said on the first picture
Europe has hundreds of great cities, as you know. And almost every one of these has a botanic garden (or two or three), and virtually all the botanic gardens have rock gardens. And they're often good and in this case superb! What makes a botanic garden rock garden superb? Good design (as you can see, the rocks are nicely laid and the plants are nicely nestled--key ingredients): what makes Iceland's rock garden so amazing is that they grow TONS of plants I've never seen anywhere else, and they grow them superbly.

I start (and end) with some vistas--the garden is quite large: untold millions of people have been flying Icelandic air in recent years: most just change planes and fly on: but the clever Icelanders (who jailed their crooked bankers) are more than happy to let you lay over (as I did for 20 hours) for as long as you like and spend money in their country. NEXT time I'll lay over longer and visit Akureyri, which is supposed to have an even nicer rock garden--something I gotta see!

Acaena magellanica
I know it's just green. Green is a color, you know! It's also one of dozens of Antipodal plants thriving in Iceland--something I took special note of.

Adonis chrysocanthus
This blew my frickin' mind: I have never seen this Adonis anywhere else--and it's the size of a Volkswagen (almost). The seed was almost ripe. Stealing from botanic gardens is near the bottom of my personal Dantean inferno...but had the seed been ripe I would have been severely tempted.

Adonis sibirica ex Mongolia
Tis one still had a few flowers...another new one for me.

Adonis vernalis
And lots more flowers on this commoner species. Commoner--but still not in my garden.

Alchemilla semidivisa
A new to me  (and lovely) Lady's mantle. When you collect Alchemillas you know you are severely afflicted with Collectionitis.

Anemone rupicola
I had no idea this fantastic Himalayan was rhizomatous! Mine usually just peter out!

Anthyllius montana
I have grown this almost as well--a great consolation!

Aquilegia caerulea v. ochroleuca
The predominant color form in much of Utah--and superbly grown here.
Aquilegia scopulorum
They had several specimens (I show just two) of what may be my favorite columbine (so hard to choose). Both forms are paler than my favorite races from the Aquarius plateau: should I ever recollect these I shall send them some!

Aquilegia scopulorum

Aquilegia aurea
This sucker blew my mind. What a magnificently grown plant! We've grown this several times at DBG--but never this beautifully sited and so lush! This is the sort of thing that dazzles me. Notice everything is labeled (relatively inconspicuously): THAT is botanic gardening at its best. Designers may snigger, but a botanic garden really is more about information and the glory of the plant per se: the design is secondary. Sorry. That's the bitter purists may pull out your hankies and sniffle if you wish.

Aquilegia caerulea
A super grown specimen of our Colorado glory. The sign is a tad obnoxious in this one. Oh well..
Aquilegia ottonis
I should have cropped this--but then you'd miss that bozo up top who photobombed it.
Arenaria purpurascens 
In my previous blog on this garden I show other shots of this--they have masses of it. I was jealous--a wonderful and too rarely seen European gem.

Arnebia pulchra
This is just obnoxious. We've grown this for years in Denver, and I've had a few struggling specimens in my home garden. I've seen it in half a dozen countries or more--but never like this. Worth flying to Reykjavik just to prostrate yourself and bang your head in wonder. But only if your nerdy enough.

Astilboides tabularis
I've seen this splendid mega-herb in dozens if not hundreds of gardens--but rarely so happy.

Astragalus norvegicus
I've seen no end of astragali in Eurasia in the wild, and of course in the West where they are legion But not many that behave in a garden.

Astrantia pauciflora
Not yet in bloom, I know--but its the form and the habit of this that amazes me: utterly unlike any Astrantia I've grown (and I've grown a few). Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Bolax glebaria
I've grown this almost as big. But not quite. Sometimes size counts.

Brimeura amethystina
I think I feature a closeup of this on the other log--but thought it was worth showing anyway.

Callianthemum kernerianum
The graceful way the seedpods bend down is worth seeing don't you agree? I have a friend in Fort Collins (Mary Hegedus) who grows these like weeds. Harrumph.

Chrysoplenium alternifolium
One of my secret sore points. Jacques and Andrea Thompson--some of the finest gardeners on the globe--whose garden I have featured in Prairiebrfeak many times, had a mat of this bigger than this way back in the 1990's (or earlier?) when I visited them for the first time. I yearned for a piece and didn't dare ask. When I contacted him a year or two later about it he sheepishly said that he'd taken the plant out ("too spready"). There is a lesson buried in all this...

Chrysoplenium alternifolium
Clematis alpina
Doesn't show up too well--but if you squint you'll see lots of flowers...

Clematis alpina

Cordyline "WTF???"
What the HELL is this all about. I'm sure they were just bedded out for the summer. But I did see Cordylines growing quite large, quite high up in New Zealand. Anything is possible. But then, Aloe polyphylla ought to be hardy for us as well then following this same logic.

Cortusa caucasica
You know, I could blather on forever on the plants in this garden: there's a story for each one...this one included. But it looks as though I've only annoted a quarter or a third of this eternal array. And I doubt that too many people have suffered along THIS far, so I will quietly check out and let the captions speak for the plants. Iceland rocks: NEXT time I visit, I shall definitely book more time!

Cremanthodium sp.

Crocosmia Lucifer and tulips

Darmera peltatum (bottom left) and Astilboides tabuliformis


Delosperma 'Basuticum'
Finally, a plant that traces to me. I'm not only responsible for introducing this (OK, Sean Hogan found it first and told me where to look--but I was the one who got it around!). And I'm responsible for many of the incorrect epithets being bandied around. I am not responsible for the horrendous new name I will not mention!

Delphinium menziesii
Methinks it's something else...but very nice.

Delphinium nudicaule

Doronicum carpaticum

Douglasia laevigata

Elnmera racemosa

Erigeron compositus

Eryngium bourgatii

Euphorbia sp. (palustris?)

Filipendula camtschatica

Genista pilosa

Geranium orientalitibeticum
I once had a mat of this two meters across.

Geranium pyreneicum

Geum quellyon
I thought it was G. coccineum at first... Amazing that Chileans do so well here.

Horminum pyreneicum
Super color form!

Leptarhena pyroliflora
I know it looks miserable--but I've never seen this elsewhere--and I think it will green up.

Mised Ligularia and Astilboides
I envied the lush foliage so much: we don't do so well with these boggy things in Colorado.

Ligularia calthifolia

Ligularia persica

Ligularia sibirica

Ligularia spp.

Ligularia 'The Rocket'

Lonicera sp.

Lonicera sp.

Lonicera xylosteum

Malus prunifolia

Meconopsis betonicifolia

Mertensia lanceolata
This grows in dry prairie with cacti not far from my house. Amazing they can grow it too!

Narcissus bulbocodium
This isn't quite as impressive as the acres of these I saw one magical day at Savill Gardens--which I must blog about too...

Penstemon procerus

Penstsemon whippleanus
I know it looks scrawny: I should have cropped this. Sorry. But a great plant to see away from home.

Picea engelmannii
Love seeing my native gems away from home.

Potentilla alba

Potentilla alba closeup
Love the silvery leaf undersurface--must be a cousin of Alchemilla!

Potentilla neumanniana

Potentilla pamirica

Potentilla sp.

Primula involucrata
I was surprised there weren't more primulas--these were superb.

Primula latifolia
And this was mind boggling: worth going back in early June to see it at its peak!

Primula polyneura

Pulsatilla violacea

Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'

Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'

Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'
I have grown this. But not like THIS!

Ranunculus alpestris

Weedy buttercup

Ranunculus sp.

Ranunculus parnassifolius
I wonder if Cliff Booker will make it this far?

Aronia? Some strange Sorbus? I couldn't find a label.

Paederota lutea
This boggled my mind. They have tons of this elsewhere too (see the other blog I did)...

Rheum collection: dozens!

Rheum palmatum
I love rhubarbs.

Rhodiola integrifolia

Rhodiola ishidae
And rhodiolas...

Rubes sanguineun
This was blooming last month in Portland, Oregon! Can't believe they grow it. Usually blooms in March in my experience.

Saxifraga sp. (can't read the label, alas)

Rosa furcata

Sambucus sp.

Saxifraga bronchialis

Saxifraga kotschyi

Saxifraga taygetea

Saxifraga oregana

Sedum middendorfianum
What a marvellous clump. The sedums are so neglected by "sophisticated" gardeners. I grow more and more.

Senecio leucophyllum
I need this.
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata
Still known as Potentilla tridentata in the USA and Canada. Dislikes Colorado's alkaline soils, alas.

Silphium ["terebinthinaceum"]
This is the only definite mistake I found on the hundreds of labeled plants: they really did an awesome job with labeling. This surely is more closely allied to S. perfoliatum than to the enormous leaved Prairie Dock with naked stems.

Synthyris missurica
Really great clumps: they had practically every species--I just show two (the other pix didn't cut it)
Synthyris stellata

Townsendia rothrockii

Trollius altissimus
Isn't this yummy?

Trollius acaulis

Tulipa !
Mind you, it's the end of June!

Valeriana montana

Viola biflora
This grows natively in Colorado (though very rare)--about half an hour's drive from Denver. Ours is pretty scrawny by comparison! Check the 25th picture on this OTHER blog to compare..
Waldsteinia ternata
We had even bigger mats of this once at DBG--they were removed when the lilac garden was renovated. We still have one nice mat at the Waring house.

Entrance to Woodland Garden
There were oodles of woodlanders: but I've bored you long enough...just a few more pix to wind down...

Not everything is alpiny: Crocosmia bedded with Primula denticulata, annuals and Paeonia anomala. Eclecticism comes to mind.

Rather intriguing sculpture near part of the rock garden (see beyond?)

And a whole new rocky garden area. Not sure what's planned here...

Lots of wide open spaces too...

If you've made it to then end, I can only say you are indeed a plant fanatic! And you're probably as mystified as I am with this last little display of peculiar bedding!

These pictures were taken en route to my wonderful Chanticleer sponsored study of the Mt. Olympuses in Greece and Turkey. I re-visited Copenhagen's superb rock garden en route--which I have featured in encapsulated form on this blog. But I have never done a proper display of the incredible rock gardens in Germany Jan and I visited in 2013. And my many trips to English (and especially Scottish) public gardens are poorly represented my blog--aside from Branklyn which I did pretty extensively.  most are sketchy...Oh well. I'll always have more in the larder. This is a start!