September 2, 2014

SANTE FE - BOTANIZING THE SUB ALPINE ZONES WITH NARGS MEMBERS



A just past prime Spotted Coralroot or Corallorhiza maculate blooms near the Santa Fe Basin Ski area.

One of the best things about attending a North American Rock Garden Society meeting? Well, it's hard to tell.  It might be the talks by work class rock gardeners and botanists, or it may be all of the amazing inspiring members who attend these annual events. The local expert garden tours are excellent, so inspiring and impressive, as is the incredible plant sale - where some of the rarest and hard to find plants can be had before most ever become available elsewhere - but I have to admit that my favorite part is the botanizing with friends -  hiking the trails and subalpine meadows in and around the local, which in this case is the mountains in and around spectacular Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

NARGS members stop and gather at a trail head, before heading into the forest for our first hike at the Annual Meeting of the North American Rock Garden Society in Santa Fe.


Allium ceruum, the Nodding Onion blooms in the Sangre de Christo mountains at around 9,000 ft.


Please don't take this the wrong way, but……well, look - - NARGS members are terribly nice, but I had to feel sorry for our eager, perky National Park Service volunteer  -  who was hired as a botanical guide. He clearly woke up that day believing  that he was going to be leading a quaint, inexperienced retirement group for a  light 'flower walk' for the day. No such thing.
Oh, I so wanted to warn him - to give him a heads up, but it was too late." Ok ladies and gents - who can tell me what those tall yellow daisies on the side of the road are? 

Don't know? Well, they are called sunflowers! 

That's right, sunflowers! ".

 Poor guy.

An Acer glabrum, a trifoliate maple looks a bit like poison ivy to me!


Geranium richardsonii


Common Woordland Pine Drops, Pterospora andromedea on the trail
Look! A Gilia flower! We ere excited, that is until we found many more on another mountain ( see below).

Common Harebells, or Campanula rotundifolia


We were so happy to have found this alpine saxifrage, Saxifraga bronchialis growing on a rock
at around 9,000 elevation. I had to crawl out onto a ledge to get a photo of it.



Gentiana calycosa (?) not sure. Please correct me! Image taken  at 11,600 ft above the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
Sorry for the poor quality, my battery pack ran out so I had to use my iPhone.


The great Panayoti Kelaidis from the Denver Botanic Garden, our hiking buddy, teaching me how to collect seed.

Ligularia pudica, a Ligularia with nodding flowers grows in a sub alpine meadow around 12,000 ft.




Zigadenus elegans ( or Z. venenosus)  the Meadow Deathcamas

High above the Santa Fe ski basin, at about 13,000 we could see for over 100 mile. Absolutely incredible.



Panayoti from the Denver Botanic Garden and my friends, Bella and Barbara from the Ontario Chapter of NARGS
check out the roadside for some botanical treats. Below is what we found at about 10,000 feet.



A close up, or as close as I could get with my iPhone camera of Gilia ipomopsis aggregata





















August 30, 2014

THE NORTH AMERICAN ROCK GARDEN SOCIETY ANNUAL MEETING IN SANTA FE



This weekend I am attending the Annual Meeting of the North American Rock Garden Society being held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Having never been to either Santa Fe or even New Mexico for that matter, I discovering why so many artists and creative people love this city. It's unique Pueblo style architecture with adobe brick and stucco is amazing, not to mention the food, the people, the weather and the chili's.

As some of you already know, I am so proud to have been elected as the new president of NARGS this weekend, and I am so excited to have been both nominated and elected into this two year term with such a respected plant group as the North American Rock Garden Society. In many ways, I feel so un qualified as there are many expert gardeners more qualified than I, as the membership includes some of of the finest botanists and plant enthusiasts of any plant group, but I understand the mission at hand - revitalizing, re-energizing and perhaps reinventing a group of smart, passionate and dedicated plant people and leading the way for a brighter future. Something many plant societies will need to address in the coming years. I cannot make many big promises, but I can and will tell the membership that I will do my very best to inspire and bring a positive energy to the group.



The adobe architecture in and around Santa Fe keeps authentic, much like parts of New England.


I am very busy here, as meetings and hikes continue every day, but I thought that I might share some images - with very little text. Enjoy!

Centranthus ruber  growing in a border in front of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

Street markets around Santa Fe feature exactly what one would expect in such an alley.

NARGS members gather at a trail head for one of the many hikes, botanizing the mountains of Sangre de Christo in New Mexico.

The view from - of all things, the hot tub at one of the private homes we visited.

Many Salvia thrive in the arid, desert-like climate which still gets snow in the winter, but hot, dry drought in the summer. These plants were in the gardens at the home of a NARGS member.

This Erodium, related to the geranium, blooms in the bright shade. Not many alpine plants bloom in August, but the Erodiums do.

This Saliva azurea was stunning! I wonder if I could grow this blue beauty in my greenhouse?
A Cyclamen hederifolium in New Mexico? If sited right, many zone 5 plants can grow here if a bit of water is offered. Besides, this climate in not unlike that of Turkey or the Steppes of Asia.






August 26, 2014

AROUND THE GARDEN IN AUGUST

THIS BEAUTY IS A PINEAPPLE LILY, OR EUCOMIS VANDERMERWEI 'OCTOPUS'


As prepare to depart for Sante Fe to attend the North American Rock Garden Society annual meeting, I thought that I would share some random images from around the garden this last week of summer.


I've also started something new - writing for eHow, a site which has impressed me with how they have reinvented themselves over the past 6 months ( they no longer are a content farm guys'), in fact, they are some of the most professional and nicest people I have ever worked with. You can check out one of my posts here, a post about growing greens in the home garden for autumn and winter harvest. I'm really trying to raise the bar with these articles which obviously are targeting new and less experienced gardeners. I would love to hear what you think as I am taking a slightly more advanced approach with my content. New gardeners deserve more inspiration beyond how to grow succulents and air plants.    So it's more like: 'Go ahead - you can grow awesome Chinese Cabbage ...and here's how' as my approach. Still simplified, but not dumbed down.




Heirloom tomatoes are just beautiful. Not always tastier than hybrids, I still can't help myself in planting far more than I need. It's been a terrific year for tomatoes, which surprises me as it has been cool and damp. I have already canned 24 quarts and it isn't even Labor Day yet.


GOMPHRENA 'PINK ZAZZLE™', VIRTUALLY STEROIDAL IN SIZE, WITH FLOWERS NEARLY 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER WHICH ARE ABIOUT FOUR TIMES THE SIZE OF TYPICAL GOMPHRENA.



DAHLIAS AND CHINA ASTERS.



THE SELF-SEEDED NICOTIANA LANGSDORFII CONTINUE TO BLOOM AROUND THE WALK LEADING TO THE GREENHOUSE. THIS SPECIES IS STILL MY FAVORITE OF THE FLOWERING TOBACCO.

WE HAVE BOTH ITALIAN AND RUSSIAN BEES, OUR FRIEND JESS MADE LOGOS FOR THEM WITH HER LASER MACHINE.




OUR AGAPANTHUS ARE REACHING PEAK BLOOM, ALL ARE IN LARGE TUBS ESPECIALLY THIS WHITE SELECTION, BUT THE BLUE ONE CALLED 'STORM CLOUD' WAS DIVIDED THIS YEAR, SO IT HAS ONLY PRODUCED A FEW FLOWERS.





August 25, 2014

A VISIT WITH THE ULTIMATE PLANTSMAN, GLEN LORD

Glen checks a wisteria bonsai in his garden ( and greenhouse) in Leominster, MA

There is something reassuring about visiting another plantsman ( or plantswoman) - you know, another person who is so obsessed with collecting plants, that they often have multiple collections, which may seem random to the untrained eye, but always fascinating to the informed and equally 'ill'  collector. When two plant men get together, hours can pass just chatting about the details - soil mixes, bulb sources, recent discoveries to share. The best part? There is no need for any justification. 

So it was when I visited Glen Lord, a close friend yes, but one whom I rarely visit - because, well…he lives 20 minutes from me. Glen usually finds his way to my garden and greenhouse, sometimes I think just to refresh his collection, but in so many ways, Glens collections are so much better than mine - that I don't' see what he could possibly find at my home that would interest him.

Like many plant collectors, Glen is highly knowledgeable - a practical genus when it comes to remembering and identifying plants - he's a handy friend to have around for certain - if only to rationalize a recent purchase of a rare plant, or to bounce ideas off of. I last visited Glen about 2 years ago ( maybe 3!)  but his collection has grown (or outgrown) his Leominster, MA house and yard - I think that it might be safe to say that he will need to find a larger place to live soon, as there are only so many bonsai's one can keep on their driveway before their car needs to be parked in the street. Glens house is easy to find, for in a rather ordinary neighborhood, I quickly found it even though I was lost. Plant people are not easy to hide.

Punica 'Nochi Shibari', a gorgeous salmon and coral colored pomegranate blossom.

Glen has a fascinating job - as a Bonsai expert, he is responsible for the careful tending of the Arnold's Arboretum bonsai collection at Harvard University (safe to say that one must be a bonsai expert if one is responsible for trees which are hundreds of years old), and he makes and designs some fascinating garden tools, which I will be sharing with you soon. His garden, like so many other plant collectors, is a jumbled, organized but not really designed, botanically interesting collection. His specialty? Variegated plants, rare novelties, cacti and succulents, Japanese collectible plants ( like Rhodea, Neofinetia and Acuba) and extraordinary bonsai. Here are some images from my visit.


Punica 'Gosai Ryu' a pomegranate with bright salmon roe colored flowers, and variegated foliage.



Venus Fly Traps as a collection? Why not.


Not all pines are dull - check this one out - Pinus Tani Ma no Ykui  or Tonima no yuki. Totally not Yuki. Glen has a very extensive collection of evergreens.



Morus 'Ho 'O" a spectacular, novelty mulberry with interesting leaf growth.

Petasites japonicas purpureus, a plant that I asked glen about, and he told me that he got from us. Hmmm.. Of course, when grown in the ground and not in a bonsai pot, the leaves can be 50 time larger. I love this.

Pinus parviflora - A stately Japanese white pine bonsai

The Japanese adore Acuba selections, particularly those with variegated leaves. Glen's collection which started with many which came from Barry Yinger, has many varieties. Most spend the winter in his greenhouse.


Selaginella borealis and Spirea alpina


Schlumberger Christen Aurea Varietgata (invalid, but Glen wants to call it Blond Moment).
I would call it - Not your granny's Christmas Cactus.

Rhodea 'Seruga Nishiki'. A select variegated Rhodea, which is marginally hardy in New England, but rarely seen.


Lewesia as a bonsai.


Tucker cools off in the shade, waiting for dinner.

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