June 26, 2007

The Primula of the Alps

Two years ago while botanizing in the Italian Dolomites, I was advised by our friend Ed Buyarski, president of the American Primula Society, that it was too bad that I was going so late (then, late June, and July) since he felt that many of the primula species would be past blooming. So this time, I planned the trip three weeks earlier. Even though I saw many Primula farinosa and a few tattered auriculacastrum types such as very late blooming Primula minima at very high elevations, this time, the earlier date prooved more fruitful. In fact, I think we hit the snowmelt and peak primula blooming period. The only problem at this moment, will be correctly identifing these species. Following, are some images to show you what we found in various passes and peaks in Switzerland.

Primula minima? No, clearly a natural hybrid of P. hirsuta and another auriculacastrum. A crowd of Japanese tourists started gathering around us photographic this tiny jewel. The long lenses and out intense focus made them stop hiking out of curiosity. They didn't speak a word of English, but when I mentioned rare Sakurasoh, they all nodded and smilled...."AAAAhhhhhh ....Sakuraso!!!!)/.click....click click......

A white sport of Primula hirsuta?

Primula hirsuta

Bernina Pass- a natural occuring hybrid at 10,000 ft. Primula x Berninae

Joe photographing Primula latifolia above the Morteratsch glacier on the Diavolezza, Bernina Pass, in the Brudner Alps, Upper Engadine.

Primula latifolia, Near Pontresina, Upper Engadine.

The more common P. farinosa, or one of the Birds-Eye Primoses.

Joe shooting one.

P. hirsuta cross, most likely.

Not sure, P. allionii cross.

P. integrifolia - at Susten Pass, Switzerland.

Snow Melt in the Alps - The Eiger

June 19, 2007

Botanizing Europe - Zurich to Wengen Switzerland

The scenery was OK.
Here, small village of Wengen, reachable only via cog train from Interlaken. (this was actually the view from our chalet)

After 12 days botanizing, socializing and plain 'ol goofin' off, we're back home already. Yet, this was one of those trips which felt longer than it was, which, of course, is a great thing givin the location, and weather, and definately the views that we had.
Over the next few days, I will post day by day, how it all played out since my plans to post live via my new MAC laptop literally blew up in a plastic, smelly mess with a voltage incident the first night in Wengen. (sigh). Here are a few shots I am sharing before I really sit down and start to organize the nearly 1200 images that I burned to DVD's while in the trip to the Swiss Alps, the upper Engadine, the Italian Dolomites and Austria.

Ranunculus glacialis at nearly 10,000 feet at the Bernina Pass, right at snow melt.

Dumb old me, ( just here so that I can post a new photo of me on this site and get rid of the daffs).

June 3, 2007

Off to the Alps

An arrangement of alpine flowers from the garden-feeding the anticipation for this weeks' trip.

This weekend was spent packing, as well as catching up on some last minute chores around the garden, in preparation for our ten day hiking trip in the Swiss and Italian Alps - total alpine plant immersion requires some prep work, so not only did I spend a good part of the day rummagin through the cellar looking for the 'perfect' container, for which to photograph some of our own alpine flowers picked from the alpine wall along the greenhouse, but we also ended it with downloading some yodeling songs (vintage, of course) for our iPods, as well as the prerequisite viewing of the SOUND OF MUSIC. Um....queer,,OK, I know,but one must do what ever it takes.

Not your average arrangement, since these most likely would be illegal to pick in the wild. See if you can pick out the Androsace sempervivoides, a rare primula relative from China, or the various 'alpine pinks", the tiniest dianthis species from the Alps, or the Onosma species with it's pale yellow trumpets, the penstemon, the Hutchinsia. I suppose a tiny precious arrangement like this could be valued near the cost of a Diamond encrusted Damien Hirst Skull, at a hundred million dollars, but then again, this would eventually die, even though the material is equally as rare....ugh.
Another shot of some of our own alpine meadow plants, and yeah, ok Mr. Smarty pants, the container isn't exactly Swiss, but one could argue that it is 'Alpinesque', via Tibet.

Maybe next week, while posting from high in the Alps, I will be able to show wild populations of this Alp native, the less commonly known yellow (ish) memeber of the genus Campanula, Campanula thyrisoides, reminding me that indeed my thighs will be sore!. You may remember this biennial Campanula posted on here last October, as I planted these NARG's seed-grown plants into the alpine wall. Well, here they are, beautifully prime in this very dark late evening before the heavy rains of tropical depression Barry hit. Somtimes I wonder about such things, plants that bloom for a day like Bloodroot, or the cost of a rare lady slipper that one never see's blooming since they are traveling, or questioning the two years that it takes for this plant to bloom, and then it dies, never to return. It's blooming period is only enjoyed for a brief moment, between trips, a day perhaps, before heavy rains bruise the tender blossoms, at least the digital camera can be trusted to capture thier brief, and rare moment with us.

Behind the scenes of the photoshoot.......Fergus (on the left) and Margaret (her butt) try very hard to keep the paparazzi away as I attempt to shoot the arrangement of alpine pinks, Androsace, Onosma, alpine lady's mantle, and alpine harebell campanual for this weeks post.
Next time .......live from Switzerland........