Sunday, October 21, 2012

Underappreciation Files #1

There are so many fine plants underappreciated.

Case #1 (dare we start here):

Dalea frutescens. "Black Dalea"



Gardening folks may be more familiar with the Prairie Clover, Dalea purpurea, but this lovely pea-shrub is, indeed a small shrub.  In fact, that is what its name (frutescens) means:  "becoming a shrub."  Indeed, it is a wee one ringing in at a foot or three, (think of Baby Blue Rabbitbrush) with quite wispy and thin stems.  The extra tiny compound leaflets have a silvery heir, but aren't actually silver.  What I want to impress upon everyone is that it has been in full bloom all season. Just like the picture above.  All season.  And it's adorable.  All season.  Got that?

It comes from, well, generally South of Colorado.   But it appears totally hardy, I'd guess to zone 5.  Its fine texture mixes well with other plants in close quarters.  I do not know just how dry one can push it, but I will estimate it to perform well (continuing to bloom) with monthly waterings, given its inexhaustibly deep wiry roots.  Give it full to a half-day sun.  Why its common name is "black-"  I would love to know.

Where do we get it?  My own plant must be too lonely (for either a partner or a matchmaker), alas, for it is not setting seed to share.  It takes well from cuttings, which is how Timberline Gardens in Arvada (Denver), CO has it.  Our original material came from Allan Taylor, our great Boulder-based planthunter of the Southwest.  Further, one of the largest wholesalers of dry-growing plants, Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, offers a selection called 'Sierra Madre,' so impress upon your local nursery to carry it, there is no excuse.

What's more, there are a bunch of species of Dalea (some called Psorothamnus by some folks) out there  in North America that have either been only tried local to their home-haunts or appear not to have been tried at all.  (The easily grown and cheap seed for several are available from Alplains.)  Yet another frontier for new plants!

(Dalea capitata at Denver Botanic Gardens, 20 October 2012. Another plant in constant bloom.)

Case closed.

1 comment:

David Cristiani said...

Dalea frutescens here in Abq were a little stunted after 0F or below, which we get every 20+ years. My neighbor has one, and it faithfully blooms, and there are nice ones at a museum in Old Town Abq; my several died, but just too dry here on my lack of irrigation. The D. capitata (great picture!) seems tougher. Both deserve more use, but never got on the radar screen here - yet!