Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prickly Thrifts and Colorado

An e-mail with a friend led me to write this concise treatise on my limited experience with these extra-special gems hailing from the middle and dry old-world.

An Acantholimon, or Prickly Thrift, upper left, next to Yucca harrimaniae and Ephedra minima, all grown with finesse to exquisite perfection, by Rock Garden giant, Lee Curtis. (Lakewood, (Denver) Colorado, USA)

Acantholimons are irregularly available (and totally worth buying whenever possible- drainage is essential essential essential) and perhaps all ten-dozen species are pink-flowered.  I got to pitch my tent next to them in Turkey.  Freaking amazing.   Even more amazing, we have a couple (species unknown) growing at the nursery I work for.  They are difficult, I hear, to grow from seed, and only a few experts seem to succeed with cuttings.  They are extra special and are one of those plants who, it seems, grown in a crevice, or nearly on top of a rock, seem a guaranteed success whereas container culture may be too wet for their liking.  

They are considered a very choice plant, and a dead plant (looking all like an extraordinary hybrid between a pin-cushion belonging to a seamtstress who uses each needle but once, and a deflating Basketball) is best removed by fire.Yeah!

A. caryophyllacea embraces a rock at DBG's rock alpine garden.  This exhibit is rich, just rich with them.

Acantholimons have been grown (albeit less lush) in Denver without irrigation.*  They get the same precip in ther native middle-east and asian-steppes, but there, with more millenia of overgrazing to promote thier prickly lifestyle.

*No, really, they have.  Quick note that the Capital city of Colorado (Denver: 15.4in) and the Capital city of Turkey (the country- and it's Ankara, with 14.3inches) recieve close to the same amount of precipitation, and both cities see the most rain in May, not long before abovementioned plants bloom.  Really!

 Successful plants are often found living pretty intimately with large rocks.  These geniously arranged stones are at Ft. Collins Wholesale Nursery Offices, Ft. Collins, Colorado, USA.
Perhaps it is because they are found in such places in nature.  Here, nestled cozily in Gümüşhane province, Türkiye.

There are lowland species who pretty much take the place in the flora that Cactus do in the new world, and there are alpine species, growing on painfully windy treeless mountain slopes.

Acantholimon is also the "screen name" of blogger and general world-stomping Denver Botanic Plantsman Panayoti Kelaidis, his blog:

So, grow a Prickly Thrift.

Sources: Wrightman Alpines:


Panayoti Kelaidis said...

Surely SOMEONE should comment on Acantholimon (my avatar: I am sometimes prickly and rather rotund)....acantholimons are strewn across Eurasia from my ancestral Crete to the crests of the Himalayas and beyondin Central Asia....they are unbelievably diverse in form and habit in their rotund, prickly fashion. I have grown dozens of species. Ironically, they do not like my current garden. (Ugggh--there is no justice in the world). They seem to prefer clay over sand. Oh well...Still love 'em.

David C. said...

That tree and boulder sandwich at Ft Collins nursery is very nice, very accurate!