Monday, December 6, 2010

Hurrah for Chelsea!

Chelsea Nursery

It is small, tough, dusty and glorious. Just like many plants in the desert that they collect, propagate, and grow themselves. So few Nurseries actually grow their own plants- a severe minority, I think. (More commercially-minded institutions have abandoned much of the actual art of horticulture to buy plants from growers and sell them through a well-developed retail face. One should shun this if one is of the current trend of buy-local and buy-from-mom-and-pop-businesses. These smaller businesses so often have better expertise and products. This is true, unsurprisingly, for Chelsea Nursery. The success of more commercially-oriented institutions is due to us, the consumer, seeking cheap plants. And that is what we've gotten. Cheap plants. And vendors who are clueless or dispassionate... And a sadder selection of plants.
Go support you Local (LOCAL) Businesses.
Like Chelsea.

To spare myself writing their history, here is a link to the article that describes them winning an award for their efforts- a measurable refreshing success that nourishes the dream of sustenance and humility that we have all felt, or been told, was the answer to our hyper-consumption woes.

Thier front garden, which is watered once or twice. Per year. You know, even Cactus like a drink on the Fourth-of-July.
Yes. All of these pictures are in November and December. Ugly times of year? If you think so, I should hope to point out all the colours that aren't green and textures that aren't leafy.
Even the autumn colours of these young plants are worth the picture.

An ingenious pot-in-pot tree growing area that allows them to sell and plant trees in the summer heat, as well as preserve the roots of the trees which otherwise fry in their little black solar-oven pots in other nurseries, often unnoticably weakening plants that are sold to the public! I am sorry I spend so much electronic ink attacking other nurseries rather than talking good about Chelsea. I'll let the pictures do that.
Cactus spines are the colour provider in winter.
Buy native, grow native-
And be as happy as this fella.

Splendid Bits from here and there

Fading Rabiea albipuncta flower in the greenhouses at Timberline Gardens, Arvada. This is an outdoor plant.

Opuntia sp. in Denver Botanic's Dry Mesa Garden, a garden which was begun the year I was born.

Looking down on outer Palisade from halfway up Mt. Garfield.

Oenothera caespitosa on Mt. Garfield turning purple for the winter

Hirpicium armerioides

Morning Snow in Rough Canyon

A ladybug on a Belamcanda seed head

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post-Mortem Documentation

(Rosa (woodsii?) now in Roxborough State park)
Having traveled so fast and furious, I didn't write blogs about some things till long after they happened, so here are links back to them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Washington State: Peaks and Plants (in pictures)

Rainy Lake, North Cascades

Penstemon rupicola grows along clinging grasses on Tiger Mountain, outside of Seattle.
Pen. rupicola closeup.
Same character, living up to its name. (rupicola: rock dweller)
A "cascade" style bonsai is totally put to shame by Nature.

Probably Lewisia columbiana;
just enjoy its radial rosettes of sweet joy popping out of soil-filled rock cracks.

and, I should like to think this is Pen. davidsonii, which was the plant that got me started on this year-long-adventure-gone-mad. (I started out this spring going to UBC's garden to see a specimen I'd seen pictured.) A nice full-circle.

Larix lyallii, according to distribution maps.

The Cascades as seen from a hike to Blue Lake.

Lake 22, a fair drive outside of Seattle.

Phyllodoce sp. with an errant bloom in autumn.

Campfire sparks

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Revisiting British-Columbian Rock Gardens

Abkhazi Garden, a historic private garden, now under the BC land conservancy. An excellent rock garden and general Rhododendron-et cetera path that makes use of (and respects) a natural outcrop of Vancouver-Island rocks.

Abkhazi has a respectable collection of plants for the plant nuts, too. Mmm, the sweetness fo good design.

The Rock Garden in Beacon Hill Park. A gentle collection of plants on a slope that hugs a natural rocky outcrop and genuine Garry-oak stand.  True, the oaks shade it and limit the material possible.  But it is a peaceful place.
Looking at all these rockeries makes me realise that I like the rock-intensive crevice style better than the plant-rock plant-rock plant-rock style.  We all accidentally fall into the trap at one time or another (or another and another and another, in my case) of putting rocks and plants spread evenly over the surface. This is especially regrettable when a good topography is present. I don't even know how often I've caught myself doing this- now I have developed a complex that makes me allergically hyper-sensitive.
 Even-ness in design and overabundance of pattern will flatten the effect and experience of the different elements, which are, in this case, rocks and plants.  A professor from art school, my god of composition, used to say "Even cancels out. Like equal sides of an equation- each becomes zero."  My friend Gordon says that this effect, so common in garden design, was once called the "Plum pudding effect" by Reginald Farrer, early British Rock Garden Author. No one knows what plum pudding is anymore, so I guess the design problem has gone unchequed...

{Update/Correction: Mr. Farrer's exact words were "The Plum-bun System," or, with spike shaped rocks "The Almond-pudding System," in contrast to "A More Tolerable" rock arrangement as he put it...}
It is important to resolve this because most viewers, people who are not plant collectors, will suffer the most from this effect because they are not distracted by the selection of plants. The solution is to exaggerate natural spaces, use varying sizes of rocks and plants, clump some and spread some, and maybe even leave some open ("negative") space. It takes great guts to do the latter- so few do.

The crevice garden nearby (still in Beacon Hill Park).  Like childen: It's little but important.

Rex Murfett showing off a fine S. longifolia in his Authoritative Saxifrage Collection in Victoria, BC.

Ahh, a nice big, hulking (and artistic) Zdenek Zvolanek/Paul Spriggs design at Paul's garden.
I sat and studied this design for some time and have figured out some of its mysteries. There might be a blog about that when I have nothing better but rock blather to write this winter.

A nice Salix magnifica at Gordon's Alba Plants.

Tide pool detail on the coast of Victoria town.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nature on the Front Range

In the exploration of nature along the front range: Roxborough State Park, Southwest of Denver. I got a tip to go here by stalking Mr. Kelaidis on his blog:

Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, now famous in landscaping, growing wild on the Ann U. White Trail near Boulder, Colorado.

My friend's dry garden in Englewood, CO, a few days before the coldness and wetness of winter moved in. I will be new to snowshoeing...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We Lose the King

In memory of the great Jim Archibald, whom many people agree was the present world's finest plantsman, who died this week. He and hıs wife Jenny are responsible for a vast enrıchment of plant materıals collected from the world over and delıvered to Botanic Gardens and private collections the world over. My heart absolutely sank when I read it- I was plannıng to visit him ın Wales ın the comıng months to see hıs work and thank hım for beıng so generous to me and the horticulture world.

You certainly made an impressıon on thıs young horticulturist, Jim. May you garden ın heaven and show them how ıt's done.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Finest Plants in the Republic of Georgia 1

Colorado-made Loki vests really will get you places.
Outside of Bakuriani, which was once a ski resort for holiday-making Russians.
But it is also a home for encrusted Saxifrages. If you like Saxes, get Malcolm McGregor's book.
Runoff melts an ice-cave under a surviving drift and allows for the first flowers.
Gentiana angulosa. Oh glory, I love this plant. It has a fragrance that whispers above roses and a colour that is certainly a leak from heaven. I've never seen such blue. I don't know how often it is cultivated, but is grown like G. verna.
More near Bakuriani
More heaven.
Daphne mezereum is an old garden plant- Beverly Nichols talks about it in his timeless old english garden rambling books. It is surreal to see such a domesticated plant in its native place.

Corydalis sp. (back to my notes)
Best accomodations are often free. A loft above a hotel. I got sunset and sunrise and some sweet beanbag comfort.
Southern Georgia somewhere.
A Xeric steppe style area in the middle of Georgia. Low shrubs are a woody Astragalus and the charming white heads are Anthemis iberica.
Euphobia pontica, I hope to recall.
Well-embraced by xeriscape circles, this is Veronica liwanensis, the Turkish Speedwell, doing what it does at home in Southern Georgia.

Spring is tops anywhere you are.
Cyclamen coum complex looks fine, I believe, at the foot of all sorts of things, and here it does its celebration-of-shade at a tree's roots.
A traditional Georgian Dinner is prepared for foreigners in the hotel.
Wild Cyclamen coum.
This is for you, mom. A Paris sp. flourishes behind.
Helleborus orientalis. Another garden stand-by. Now you know where you plants-with-funny accents look like at home.

Galanthus platyphyllus is a huge plant. (Well, huge in snowdrop terms) This is a legendary stand of it that benefits from a very wet snowmelt nearby.

Closer. Leaves like paddles for bad children.
I think this is Kutaisi.

I think that Galanthus collectors wet their trousers for yellow forms. Again, Galanthus platyphyllus Yeah, they're nice.