Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Blood

I met Gorgon Mackay, Sonia Ottosen, and their two boys, accidentally at Mt. Tehoma Nursery outside of Seattle. They are starting a new Nursery: "Alba Plants: Gems for the Rock Garden" in Cowichan Bay, under an hour north of Victoria, British Columbia.
"Alba" may mean "white" in scientific nomenclature, but for Gordon, it is from Gaelic for Scotland, his homeland. They took care of me my last day and a half on the island.

Making a quick nod (or shameless explanation) of the title of this, mention is made when someone under the age of fifty is interested in Rock Gardens, and that goes for all sorts of other specific horticultural following like Orchid collecting, Cactus and Succulents, et cetera. And thus fellow "Young People" in our trade make a surprised and refreshing instant kinship.

Isn't their alpine house sweet?

That's his aptly-named Ceanothus pumilus,
"pumilus/pumila" meaning "dwarf." It and that rock seem to be getting along pretty well.

And here, the kind-looking Fritillaria pontica, one of my home favourites.
Let's have a closer shot of that one. Yes.

It shares those nectar-target-for-pollinators spot with the more well-known Frit. imperialis

Yes. Give up your pretentiously showy Petunias and move on to some classy subtle Frits.

More argument is Frit. pyreniaca

I get lost is that interior tesselation. And look at the buds, eh?

Gordon is particularly fond of Salix, {Willows} which, can, in fact, be rather diminuative, like Salix yezoalpina from Northern Japan. Other small trees, but with small leaves, he offers for use as bonsai.


Here we have a super layout of Ceanothus pumilus, Fritillaria pyreniaca, Juniperus communis ssp. saxatilis 'Crowsnest Pass,' Erigeron trifidus, Narcissus 'Golden Bells' and Chiastophyllum oppositifolium 'Variegatum' peeking out from under the latter. Looking closely, you will find the dear little Hosta 'Cherish.'He also fancies peonies. This is Paeonia mlokosewitschii, affectionately known to the formerly tongue-tied as "Molly the Witch." I am hoping to see this one haunting its native hills in the Caucasus very soon.

When I arrived, his boys were at the road selling rhubarb. Looking here, it looks like they will be at the road later this summer selling Figs.

Yes, bring on more plant porn. Thank you. Iris-whatsit (was it I. setosa?) has fun rhizomes that buck out of the soil.

Dear fellow.

Gordon introduced me to his buddy, Paul Sprigg, a native of Victoria. Paul has a seven-man crew {including himself, and his wife, bookkeepingm, make eight} that gardens in the city. His front home-rockery is pictured above. Note the severe lack of colour in the area...

I'm going to keep taking pictures of T. linifolia until it kills me. It could happen.
Both Gordon and Paul are students, if you will, of the great Zdeněk Zvolánek, of Victoria, Canada and Prague, C.R. (That's the Czech Republic.) He writes books on the subject of Rock gardening and some individual plants, including Daphnes, and is considered an authority on Czech-style rock gardens. I want to see his garden next time...
I'm very attracted to this dense-plant material style planting, in which solid clumpers stand out from speading whispy things. It is very much seen in nature and hardly seen in gardens. I also approve of that Iris, mmm.Genius. Here, the Czech style is as obvious as a lightning storm, and he's artfully jammed a party of Primula on this horizontal-curving-curving-to-vertical area. They are all different species save for three, he said.

We plant people are very stoical, and never get excited. Paul.

What gets us going are things like white forms of a happy old Penstemon davidsonii
P. davidsonii is rather the straw that fed the camel, who got in his truck and drove from Colorado to Canada to look at flowers. Some time ago, I, the metaphorical camel, was enjoying the University of British Columbia's Botanical E-mail Photo of the Day, and was a straw away from falling out of my chair at a picture of P. davidsonii praeteritus. It is under snow in its home places at present, and I was suprised to hear that it is found on Vancouver Island's high places. I was not finished with this species, the grail (big fat excuse to myself) of my pilgrimage...

My Colorado breeding prevents me from posting this until I put in one more picture with rocks in it.

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