}

August 13, 2012

Botanizing at 14,000 feet - Mount Evans Summit, Colorado

The 14, 000 ft. summit of Colorado's Mount Evans can be reached easily by car, it is America's highest paved road.
Any Colorado trip is enhanced if one can get into the mountains, and thanks to two fellow members of the North American Rock Garden Society, past national board member Roger Tatroe and his wife garden book author Marcia Tatroe, ( read more about their garden here).  Marcia's work is also frequently seen in Sunset Magazine and other gardening publications; so clearly I could not have asked for two better tour guides for a day in the Rockies. I appreciated this time in the mountains so much - many thanks Randy and Marcia.

Gentiana algida, the Arctic Gentian is also sometimes called the Whitish Gentian can be found in mountain meadows with some elevation during mid summer. I always get excited when I see white gentians, in Switzerland and even in the garden, they are rare.
 We visited two different alpine areas in the Denver area, each only an hours drive from the city. This images are from the Mount Evans summit drive, ( later, we drove up to Jones Pass, a mountain Pass known for its summer wildflowers. I'll post that hike on a different post). The Tatroe's kept reminding me that last year, the wild flowers were spectacular, most likely due to a heavy snowfall, but this year, the display was less than prolific, and even the spring display at snow melt was one of the worst in years. Still, we were lucky enough to find plants in bloom, even in August.



Arctic Gentian ( Gentian algida), a white flowered alpine gentian found across western North America - Alaska through the Yukon, down to the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. It blooms in mid to late summer.

Mountain Goats are often found at the Summit Parking Lot on Mount Evans in Colorado. These were shedding their old coat, and were found rubbing again rocks trying to scratch off the itchy coat. Can you believe that I took this with my Nikon D200? I could almost touch him, I was so close. Well, I really just wanted to brush him.

A Baby Mountain Goat Follows its Mother. Goaty cuteness at 14K.

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep are commonly found along the mountain road, on the way to, or at the summit of  Mount Evans.

Campanula parryi ( I am guessing due to it's short height). It is commonly confused with the Common Harebell, but as I have not keyed this out, this is only a guess based on the linear basal leaves. (C. rotundifolia has rounded basal leaves). Despite these differences, the two species are difficult to tell apart in the field.

August 12, 2012

The Unsinkable Denver Botanic Gardens Rises High


Kizuna-West Meets East, is the current exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens, featuring two installation artists who work in bamboo, yet in very different ways. This work, by Tetsunori Kawana is one of many which undulate and flow through the open spaces at the Gardens. Check out my post from two years about his work at the NYBG.

All museums today struggle with attracting and retaining an audience, with fierce competition for time, money and repeat visits, cultural institutions sometimes lean on other ways raise money ( mainly tacky gift shop sales of garden flags with sunflowers on them, or tote bags and umbrellas). Not the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG). They attract people like honey bees on an Agastache.  In our world of budget cuts and multiple distractions ranging from TV, sports and back-to-school sales, the DBG is busier than ever. I don't know what the Denver Botanic Gardens has discovered about doing business, but from what I could tell, they are the brightest shining star on the horizon, and they should be the standard which any botanic garden today measures itself against.  They appeal, attract and seem to retain an ever increasing membership - a membership who is not only engaged with events and attractions, they are also engaged with gardening and plant - Holy cow, what the heck happened in Colorady? Hopefully, they will share their secrets with the rest of the gardening world!

There is something very human about the DBG. Long walks, attractive plantings that are interesting, and many events - enough to attract a crowd even on a 96 degree hot August weekday.

Be sure to 'Like" the Denver Botanic Garden on Facbook, they would like that.

I visited the Gardens four different times this week. In the morning, strollers and moms, often with friends, took advantage of the cool mornings to both look at the many attractive and stylish plantings, and I over-heard many talking about their own garden plants. At lunch on day, while taking photos in the famous rock garden, I watched a couple discuss their plans on how they were just about to tear out their lawn, and plant a xeric garden- they were making lists on how many plants they needed of each species. On Thursday evening, just as the sun was setting over the Rockies in the distance, two older women discussed the benefits of various membership levels ( something about how two can get in for one-deal, even if they are not family). Clearly, this is an institution who is not only relevant and in-touch, they are growing, and it's easy to see why.

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