September 2, 2014


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 in-depth presentations by world class rock gardeners and botanists, or it may just be all of the amazing inspiring members who attend these annual events. The local garden tours are inspiring and impressive, as is the incredible plant sale - where some of the rarest and hard to find plants can be purchased from local nurseries, some long before most ever become available elsewhere - but I have to admit that my favorite part is the botanizing with friends -  fellow plant geeks and plant lovers. There is always the hiking on trails and subalpine meadows in and around spectacular Santa Fe, New Mexico. Honestly, I loved it all.

This year, I am so honored to announce to my readers that I have been nominated and voted in as the new president of the North American Rock Garden Society - a tremendous honor and responsibility in the plant world, and one which I intend to leverage, as I have a great affinity for all plant societies, and in this one in particular. Rock gardening is very inclusive - it covers the culture and study of high elevation alpine plants, naturally, but also includes woodland treasures, ephemerals, wild flowers and native plants, ferns, bulbs, trees and much more. Essentially, rock gardening today encompasses much more than merely rock gardens and alpine plants. The society attracts those who care about preservations, botanical diversity, wild species and native genera seed collecting and the study of many types of interesting plants. Some may consider NARGS to be an elite society, but I like to think of it as a plant society for those who really love plants, and for those who want to learn more. I encourage you all to consider a membership, to check out our beautiful color quarterly journal, and to participate in the annual NARGS seed sale. Feel free to learn more about NARGS here at our website.
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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? 

He continued, "Don't know? Well, those are actually called sunflowers! "

 Poor guy, he didn't stand a chance  as everyone else started discussing if the yellow daisies were either Helianthus or another similar species. People remained civil, however, and an exciting day progressed as Gatorade, water and Cliff bars were handed out. The event was well planned, and the weather superb - cool, dry with bright blue skies.

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


  1. Your comment about the ranger made me laugh. This happens a lot on forays wit the local plant societies. At the Penstemon society meeting, they made sure to get the research botanists out there for us.

    1. Susan, it wasn't like they were mean, just trying to bite their tongues a bit. In the end, I think he actually learned more than we did, which isn't a bad thing. After all, there were many experts on the trip. Everyone was well behaved and had a great time. Including the Penstemon Society members.

    2. It certainly sounds like it was amazing. I wish I could have come!

  2. This is the first time I visit your blog and I like your write ups about botanizing forest and congrats for being voted as president of the North American Rock Garden Society But, I suggest to adjust your font or text size because I can hardly read your text because it's a little small. Just suggesting but good read! :)

    1. Good point James. You are not alone in thinking that this font is small. I have to admit that I sometimes get lazy (composing these posts so quickly in between other projects early in the morning) and I use the caption feature to write text rather than the body text size.

    2. Dear fantastic Matt,
      I have never commented before, I should have told you long before how much I enjoy your blog, but shyness got in the way. There is something I really wonder, and need advice about. I am curious about how you grew certain houseplants before you had a greenhouse. You must have wanted to grow so many species - but didn't, or tried anyway?
      I live in a very small apartment on the bottom floor in the middle of Sweden. I have five windows, all facing south-east. I do not have a balcony. In the summers I have to use an AC so that my old dog does not pant to death. This makes the air dry and let the pests in, mainly lice and worse spider mite.
      I like leaves more than flowers, I love the ginkgo and the fig, ferns and asparaguses, tropical plants. I do have a fig tree inside, and it works, for the most part. Spider mite loves it, devours it. They then move to the rest of my precious and to me, and in Sweden, rare plants. I am quite sure that would I remove the fig, the pests would move in for other plants.
      The simple solution would of course be to move, get a house, a quality greenhouse, but that is economically 5 or 10 years away from me.
      I use an "insecticide" (don't know what to call it) for the pests that is the most eco-friendly, friendly to the plants and me. I shower my plants once a week. I mist them twice a day.
      My question is: did you ever battle this before you got your dream? Are there any tricks you could share with me?
      Do you think a humidifier could make a difference? (Yes, maybe also obsessive but consider me nerdy already.)


  3. Oh Terese, what a nice comment. Well, I started with houseplants ( and, as I am seriously thinking about not heating the greenhouse for part of this winter, may be having a house full of them again!). One we built the greenhouse, we realized that we rarely had house plants in the house anymore. Over the past few years, a few have been finding their way back in. As for your situation, I have a few friends who raise plants in the city ( New York) in high rises, and one way they fight the lack of humidity and the higher populations of insects, if to have a growing room - a large closet or a cellar, or an unused bedroom with racks of grow lights, and mecury halide lights (sp?). Plants are kept in trays of gravel or moisture wicking material under these lights, and the racks are covered with clear plastic, like a shower curtain, which helps keeps the humidy high, Plants can go into this grow room for recovery and health, like a sauna or a spa, and then be placed back into the rest of your apartment for their 'work', for display. Fig trees like ficus are very prone to spidermite. Do you have a terrace or a deck where they can go out for the summer?

  4. Great photos but are you certain of the Corallorhiza i.d.? The fruits don't look right for an orchid--you're certain it isn't Epifagus or another orobanch?

    1. DC - I am not certain of that identification. I was hoping to share the photo with Panayoti, but we were unable to catch up after the event. I would appreciate any help

  5. BTW regarding font size, it's easy for the user to increase it on their own monitor by either holding down Ctrl and using the mouse roller, or Ctrl plus the "+" key.


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