August 10, 2012

Off to Denver, and a Visit with Panayoti Keladis

AN OPUNTIA AT SUNRISE, IN DENVER THE GARDEN OF PANAYOTI KELAIDIS, WHERE I AM STAYING AS A GUEST THIS WEEK.

This week has been such a treat, first, as I have been invited to speak at a meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society held at the Denver Botanic Gardens. When one thinks of Denver, in the east, I think many of us imagine mountains and sky resorts, as most seem to fly in and rent a car, to rush up to Vail or Aspen, but the city of Denver in many ways offers more horticultural interest than one may at first believe. I realized this today, as I strolled around the well known rock garden of Panayoti Keladis, one of the plant world's most notable plantsmen.  

To many of you who know PK ( as his closest friends call him), you already are familiar with his hospitality, homer and sometimes even snarkyness, but all kidding aside, Mr. Kelaidis is an iconoclast  of American horticulture, so being able to spend a few days under his wing, has been a pleasure. Did I mention that PK is also a tireless tour guide? I will admit, that I was pre-warned by some friends that I may need to take some extra vitamins so that I could keep up with him for Panayoti appears tireless - especially while viewing other gardens, his favorite nurseries or when walking with him as he makes his rounds at his prestigious day job as Senior Curator and Director of Outreach for the Denver Botanic Gardens. Needless to day, I've seen much, and experienced a new world of gardening here in the beautiful city of Denver.

 I've also met Albuquerque landscape architect ( and blogger) David Cristiani who is spending a night here at Panyoti's home, so together we visited many gardens in the area, and shared many laughs, barbecue and a couple of beers.
PANAYOTI KELAIDIS, STANDING IN ONE OF THE MANY BEAUTIFULLY BACKYARD GARDENS IN DENVER


I was eager to see Panayoti's garden, as he, as influencer and plant collector, has changed the way many of us garden today. Since he kept me so busy, I could only see the garden in the early morning, or late evening, naturally, the finest time to photograph a dry plant garden.

A FAVORITE OF MINE, WHICH I MUST GROW AGAIN, THE COTTONY WHITE STEMS OF Verbascum bombyciferum. THEY  TOWER HIGH ABOVE MY HEAD  AS I STROLL THROUGH THE GARDEN  BEFORE BREAKFAST.

Panayoti has his hands in many plant related projects, from writing the forewords of many books, to being an active evaluator for PLANT SELECT, who develops and selects, as well as introduces many of the fine garden plants grown in xeric ( and non xeric) gardens today. 

Personally, this trip to Colorado has introduced me, face-to-face, with both the challenges and opportunities of xeric gardening. Something that I only hear about in the east. As a New Englander who keeps a garden that receives a luxurious 60 inches of rain a year - the idea of a xeric garden is about as foreign and a lawn of orchids. But anyone gardening today needs to be more mindful of water and resources, and deep inside my green head, a little voice keeps telling me that I may want to be more responsible. 


MY TALK FOR THE RMCNARGS WAS HELD AT THE NEWLY RENOVATED DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS

PANAYOTI WAS KIND ENOUGH TO ALLOW ME FULL ACCESS TO THIS AMAZING GARDEN AND FACILITY IN DENVER, A REAL GEM FOR THIS COMMUNITY, AND FOR THE GARDENING WORLD. I WILL HAVE MANY IMAGES TO SHARE WITH YOU OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

Fibigia clypeata, or Roman Shields is a member of the Mustard Family, but it's the seed pods that make this plant so valuable in the late summer garden.


The Denver gardening community is far more knowledgeable and passionate about horticulture than I even imagined. I think when I think of desert or xeric gardens, I imagine just succulents and native grasses, but once one introduces the rich diversity of native plants, the result is a more balanced and environmentally friendly gardens. I have never seen so many honey bees, hummingbirds and other little creatures in these Denver gardens, each one was unique and offered surprises at every turn.  I was curious with the wide variety of plants being grown too, often together in the same garden. Peonies and cacti, Sagebrush and Lilacs, Succulents and begonias. I all depends on how much water each garden is willing to use, and I've learned that even a little water can go a long way. 

Over the next few days I will be sharing brief bits an images from my stay here,
The MOON CARROT, Seseli gummiferum, is a 2005 introduction that features strongly in many Denver area gardens 
HORNED POPPY (GLAUCIUM) IN THE ROCK GARDEN OF PANAYOTI KELADIS

8 comments :

  1. How cool to see this on my blog roll - from my sisters cool deck way up in the mountains! Great times seeing so much w/ you and PK, not to mention all I learned from both of you - even as a former Denverite. Wish we had more time to talk, but hopefully another time! Can't wait to re-read this post.

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  2. Oh yes, we are very sophisticated here in the west. Glad you finally had a chance to realize it! ;) Still, we'd all give our eye-teeth just to get a little more rain now and then.

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  3. I can understand your interest in some of those plants - looks very interesting and new to me. Nice post thanks. LT

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  4. I'm sorry I wasn't able to attend your talk but now I guess I'll get to hear about it 2nd hand. Glad to hear you enjoyed Denver. There really is some amazing gardening here, and great resources for an amateur like me.

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  5. Hi CindiF, and thanks. Yes, Denver has been eye opening, I am so impressed with the quality of both the gardens, and the gardeners here. This community is a real gem!

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  6. Love that horned poppy. The flower looks exactly like celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).

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  7. One cautionary note about many plants you see in western gardens: unless you give them excellent drainage (on a slope, pot or special sand/scree bed for example), many of them will rot during our moist eastern winters. One of my great early disappointments was growing beautiful Lewisia from seed and finding that in the spring, those gorgeous rosettes had no roots remaining.

    I wish I knew of a list of what was going to winter rot in my flat suburban lot.

    And let's not get started on frost heaving....

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  8. Moon Carrots?
    Wow, that is something to leave the earth for! Let the hunt begin...

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