Monday, July 22, 2013

Crevice Garden Crazy

I hate cheesy puns in titles, and alliteration.  The tides of trend are strong.

Announcing a small outbreak of Crevice Gardens in Denver.  I think Mike Kintgen said he's put in five at Denver botanic Gardens to date (not just this year). It's a better way of growing plants.

(The Big Crevice Garden at the Entry to Denver Botanic's Rock Alpine Garden, in its second season, thriving. It makes a pretty solid arguement for Crevice Gardens.

(Crevice Trough by Mike Kintgen for Anita Cox)
A crevice trough is excellent for those who aren't ready to commit to a full one or have the space- I have several of these and the crevice environment benefits are the same as a "life size" one.

So far, it's the only way I've succeeded with plants like the Stemless Beardtongue (Penstemon acaulis) and the Rimrock Paintbrush (Castilleja scabrida).  {This one has clay in the crevices} 

I wanted to celebrate three which happened this spring, and make a nod to my friends who let me build them for them.  What they do with plants will be the real show and the great glory in future.  Each  one is so different and very individual: styles are extrapolated from personal preference, site, and existing garden/home.  Such parameters make building one possible.

Linda's vertical red sandstone garden:
She sought something highly dramatic that fits her style of house and garden.  Those highest and most vertical crevices will be harder to plant and maintain, (My go-to is small Sempervivums as pioneers) but they will be quite a statement.

From above.

Her garden is bright, bold, and playful.  It takes one a while to realise how small it is.  I hope the crevice garden does it justice.

Brand-spanking new, still covered in dust.  I can't wait to see how Linda has planted it.

The elegant Anita Cox (and estate supervisor Maggie) in front of her South-African Inspired Crevice-Garden.  She shared with me pictures from a trip she took to South Africa to inform the design.  Some of those stones were a beast to wedge and support into place, but deep and spacious crevices allow for shady, wind-protected spots.  It should be great for true alpines.  

Weighing in as the largest was Lee Ann Huntington's Rockery.  I particularly like how the rocks jump the path, or does the path bisect the outcrop, like a mini roadcut?

Just finished, mid spring.  I wish this were my Mesic rockery. Note the regular stratificaiton interrupted by the terminal face of the feature, a Czech Crevice Garden rule.

 Early summer, planted!  Photo Courtesy of Lee Ann herself.

She's aleady got a fine collection tucked into those hospitable places.  I'm finding that the tighter the spot, the closer to the meeting point of two rocks, the better the plants. Nice work, Lee Ann.

Each gardener was honoured to host a garden tour this spring, the first two by the  Rock Garden Club and the last by the Park Hill Garden Walk: so hopefully, tour-goers were introduced to the wonky and wonderful style of Crevice Gardens with these nacent ones.

Thanks all.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One for the Bugs

This is one for the bugs.  A most springs has been good for insects, too.  In the past twoo weeks, bugs abound.A post to honour them.
Warning: Photos contain many shots of my unclothed left hand. This is for size.

A Mason Bee, (Osmia sp.)  tries very hard against slippery plastic to stuff "bedding" for its progeny in a screw-shaft.  Hey, it's easier than drilling your own hole.

An accidental hitchiker from a field collecting trip- the desert denizen, dweller-of-under-rocks, Jerusalem Cricket.

Bugs get big in the Desert.

A moth- note its very subtle forest-green flecking between the brown, the same hue as the plastic irrigaiton timer in my nursery.

Larvae of what must become a butterfly, chowing down on Paintbrush:  Castilleja chromosa, on the Uncompahgre plateau.

 Four "bugs" on one flower stalk.  Of the Mustard Dynasty, reigning over the June desert after a good rain, Prine's Plume (Stanley pinnata ) hosted ants who were harvesting nectar from the flowers. (A parastic wasp just crashed into my coffeecup as I write this, and flew away)  I moved in to Poke at a Flower-Spider, clad in the same yellow as the flower and totally invisable.  But note how some buds did not open, but are swelling obesely.  These are a "gall," enclosing a small white grub, who squirmed, annoyed, in the sun when I cut open one of the parastitised buds.
And at the very same time, a true bug (Hemiptera- always have a triangle between their shoulders and include squahbugs, stinkbugs, leafbugs, and box-elder-bugs...) crawled onto my hand wearing that same lemon yellow camouflage.  I wonder if its assymetry is intentional or a defect.

Word of the day:  Glandular.
Here, the sticky, glandular-haired stems of the annual desert Unicorn plant/Devil's Claw/Double Claw  (Proboscidea parviflora) in my nursery attracts and kill gnats, whose carcasses remain on the sticky-hairy stems.

A dinosaur-looking dobsonfly/doodlebug-style creature... Note the oddly long neck for an instect.

Other creatures have made an appearance inside my apartment in larger number- one day: common house flies.  One week: tiny golfball-shaped-boxy-ruddy-beetles with antlers.  There were some in my seed storage box.  Oh dear.  Seeking specifically seeds big enough for them to be emerging from, I failed to find the seed they were attacted to, or more likely, hatching out of. The adults probably lay eggs inside of the flower- the larvae growing up in the ovary simultaneously with the maturing seed, feeding on it, and enjoying the luxury of the hard seedcoat growing around them.  So, instead of morning glories germanting, there are beetles hatching.  Brilliant and beautiful parastism.

I had also experienced zero germination from said Bush Morning Glory (Ipomoea leptophylla) seed this year.  I collected the seed in Las Animas County, CO, last October.

I did not figure out which seed produced them until trying to fall asleep one night, I tracked the sound of their scrambling around in my seed envelopes.

No wonder.
What clean-cut escape trap-doors, eh? 

The "Red Megacerus," weighing in to the mega size of a dried pea: Megacerus discoidus (ID courtesy of Trina with help from the folks at  "Cerus" from "Keros" means horn, in greek, by the way.  "Mega" means big.  Maybe.

At once, I felt helplessly guilty for accidentally allowing some of these Southeast Colorado creatures escape on the Western Slope- until their description notes that they are also parasites to Convuluvulus arvensis- AKA Bindweed!

Godspeed to you, Megacerus!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Family Index to the Intermountain Flora (complete)

(Henry Mountains, UT)

An update to July's plant-nerd botany-related "public service."  The top aim of my blog is to contribute things which are not on the net already.

With the publication of the 2a volume, which completes the 8-volume set, (including the much-anticipated section on Buckwheats!)  here's the complete index to all the plant families of all the plants that grow in the Great Basin of North America.  I take this opportunity to thank the botanical authors and illustrators who worked who-knows-how-many years (decades?) on these literally several-thousand pages full of descriptions of physiology and location of the intermountain plants.  It's a staggering achievement.  Thank you.

How many people in any discipline could have such dedication?

{PLEASE COPY, print or otherwise replicate this index (I hereby make exception to copyright)}

Intermountain Flora Family Index
Family Vol, Page

Aceraceae 3a 308
Aizoaceae 2a 568
Altingiaceae 2a 156
Amaranthaceae 2a 547
Anacardiaceae 3a 313
Apocynaceae 4 24
Apiaceae 3a 340
Aquifoliaceae 3a 256
Araliaceae 3a 339
Asclepiadaceae 4 31
Asteraceae 5
Berberidaceae 2a 49
Betulaceae 2a 186
Boraginaceae 4 207
Brassicaceae 2b 174
Cactaceae 2a 634
Caesalpinaceae 3b 7
Callitrichaceae 4 331
Cannabaceae 2a 163
Caryophyllaceae 2a 387
Celastraceae 3a 256
Ceratophyllaceae 2a 19
Cercidiphyllaceae 2a 158
Chenopodiaceae 2a 470
Cleomaceae 2b 160
Convolvulaceae 4 74
Cornaceae 3a 245
Crassulaceae 3a 28
Crossosomataceae 3a 158
Cucurbitaceae 2b 76
Cupressaceae 1 237
Cuscutaceae 4 77
Ebenaceae 2b 446
Elatinaceae 2b 11
Eleagnaceae 3a 161
Ephedraceae 1 244
Equisetaceae 1 185
Ericaceae 2b 422
Euphorbiaceae 3a 260
Fabaceae 3b 12
Fagaceae 2a 176
Frankeniaceae 2b 72
Fumariaceae 2a 42
Garryaceae 3a 246
Gentianaceae 4 4
Geraniaceae 3a 330
Grossulariaceae 3a 12
Haloragaceae 3a 164
Hamamelidaceae 2a 157
Hippocastanaceae 3a 307
Hippuridaceae 4 331
Hydrangeaceae 3a 5
Hydrophyllaceae 4 155
Hypericaceae 2b 14
Juglandaceae 2a 183
Krameriaceae 3a` 302
Lamiaceae 4 298
Limnanathaceae 3a 338
Linaceae 3a 293
Loasaceae 2b 81
Lythraceae 3a 167
Magnoliaceae 2a 16
Malvaceae 2b 19
Marsileaceae 1 220
Meliaceae 3a 318
Menyanthaceae 4 84
Mimosaceae 3b 3
(All Monocotyledon Families) 6
Molluginaceae 2a 604
Montiaceae 2a 606
Moraceae 2a 156
Nyctaginaceae 2a 574
Nymphaceae 2a 10
Onagraceae 3a 172
Ophioglossaceae 1 189
Oxalidaceae 3a 329
Paeoniaceae 2b 10
Papaveraceae 2a 20
Parnassiaceae 3a 360
Pineaceae 1 223
Plantaginaceae 4 333
Platanaceae 2a 155
Plumbaginaceae 2a 194
Polemoiaceae 4 86
Polygalaceae 3a 300
Polygonaceae 2a 196
Polypodaceae 1 192
Portulacaceae 2a 632
Primulaceae 2b 448
Ranunculaceae 2a 56
Punicaceae 3a 170
Resedaceae 2b 418
Rhamnaceae 3a 284
Rosaceae 3a 64
Rutaceae 3a 320
Salicaceae 2b 118
Salviniaceae 1 221
Santalaceae 3a 248
Sapindaceae 3a 306
Sarcobataceae 2a 572
Saxifragaceae 3a 33
Saururaceae 2a 14
Scrophulariaceae 4 344
Selanginellaceae 1 178
Simaroubaceae 3a 318
Simmondsiaceae 3a 260
Solanaceae 4 52
Tamaricaceae 2b 68
Thymelaeaceae 3a 167
Tiliaceae 2b 18
Tropaeolaceae 3a 328
Ulmaceae 2a 159
Urticaceae 2a 170
Verbenaceae 4 293
Violaceae 2b 53
Viscaceae 3a 248
Vitaceae 3a 290
Zygophyllaceae 3a 322