I was supposed to post a follow up to my journey above the tree line today; however, we are experiencing a heatwave that has made my office uninhabitable. Instead, to give myself a reprieve from this heat, I am posting a few shots of this gorgeous lily that I took in my garden just before dark yesterday evening.
Lilium auratum ‘Leichtlinii’ is a wild and very cold hardy native of Japan. I bought a small pot containing two bulbs back in early May at the Parkdale Horticultural Society sale. Apparently, this is not an easy plant to find, and I am glad that my friend David managed to talk me into spending $10 on it. At the time I had over-indulged in plant purchases and was hesitant to spend that much on another pretty flower, especially since I didn’t yet have a garden to put it in.
The original inspiration for a smaller, wilder lily came from last summer’s visit to Brian Bixley’s gardens at Lilactree Farm. There I saw two woodland lilies, one white and the other pink, that grow on tall stalks lined with the smallest lily blooms I have ever seen. My blooms are not nearly as tiny, but they are a bit smaller than the typical Asiatic lilies that are popular in this neighbourhood’s front gardens.
How cool to be so high I could actually see where the trees stopped. Just like that. No more trees.
While in Denver, a friend of ours (thanks Ross!) generously offered to take us up to Mt. Goliath, an alpine area that is managed by the Denver Botanic Gardens.
As an alpine plant fan this was a big deal for me and I even planned the trip (in part) based on when a good number of the alpines would be blooming at that elevation. They did not disappoint.
Some Brief Stats: When we set out that morning, Denver was already a blazing 95°F or so and the altitude 5,280 feet above sea level. As the car climbed Mt. Evans on the way to Mt. Goliath, the temperature dipped below 60°F and the altitude was somewhere around 12,000 feet! We never did make it to the very top of Mt. Evans (14,240 feet), but we did get high enough to touch snow and it was cool enough to require a change into long sleeved shirts and socks.
This is the view at Summit Lake, a stop that is just below the peak. This panoramic is an amalgam of images that I took with my cellphone. I also brought a film panoramic camera… someday I will process that film and post them here. Some. Day. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a film backlog dating to 2008 (and countless trips) so I have no illusions about when they will see the light of day.
This year I decided to try two new radishes in my newly built raised beds and have had equal success with both.
The first is ‘Zlata’ a small radish from Poland that is generously described as soft yellow (and often Photoshopped that way in online seed catalogues), but in my opinion turned out something much closer to beige. I didn’t pull any Photoshop trickery with the above image; that’s the colour they’ve been consistently coming up as. The interior is white. Regardless of colour, it is a good mild and crisp radish. It’s doing great with recent heatwaves and drought. My ‘Sparkler’ and ‘French Breakfast’ radishes have run out of steam, but the ‘Zlatas’ seem to be pulling through. I bought mine from Solana Seeds but they seem to be fairly widely available now.
Equally crisp and mild are ‘Pink Punch’ a variety I ordered from Renee’s Garden. Some seeds were sent to me by Renee’s for trial while others were purchased and I can’t recall which category these seeds fall under so I’m making that disclosure in case they weren’t a purchase. ‘Pink Punch’ is a very apt name for this variety as they remind me of my homemade Pink Lemonade. I will definitely grow these again next spring, but for now it is onto ‘Rattail’ radishes as the heat is too high for the regular root kind.
More can be found here about growing radishes as well as growing in containers.
Stemless Thistle (Onopordum acaulon), hands down the most memorable plant of our trip to Denver.
I REALLY want to grow this one in my own garden and am now looking for some seeds to purchase.* I have a soft spot for thistles, so much so that I won’t pull the wild growing ones when they are seedlings, only to suffer the consequences later.
* Some places have declared this plant an invasive pest. Worth looking into before adding it to your garden.
This image functions as a good demonstration of just how dry gardening is in Denver without the benefit of a hose. This landscape is nothing more than a random scattering of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with a few hot pink-flowered hollyhocks and dry land grasses thrown in. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a garden in the traditional meaning of the word since it looked to be completely untended and the product of a few resilient volunteer plants.
And yet it works. I’m sorry I didn’t capture it with the digital camera, but the silvery verbascum alongside tall, hot pink hollyhocks really made a stand-out pair. I was intrigued enough to ask our friend to stop the car and let me out so that I could take a few (or several) photos with all four of the cameras that I had in tow. I didn’t make that request for any of the “proper” gardens we saw. But then again, I am a sucker for the soft, statuesque grace of verbascum.