I wrote a reflections post for 2010, and thought it would be good to end this year in the same way, especially since it gives me the opportunity to revisit some experiences that I did not cover very thoroughly.
[This photo and at top of page] My garden in September 2011.
I started the year with a new D.I.Y grow-light system, more seedlings than I could handle, and a sloping bowling alley of scrubby grass and weeds that I hoped to transform into a garden. As a testament to my stubbornness and determination, I somehow managed (with a lot of help from Davin) to pull it off amidst finishing the editing, photography, and design of my third book, traveling to Thailand, working on a potential TV show, and other deadlines. I was so excited about the space I was out there any chance I could get, often until it go so dark that I couldn’t see anymore. I love having this new garden. It’s the best thing about 2011 and I can’t wait to get back out there in the spring to see what comes of the bulbs and perennial plantings, work on refining the overall layout, and discover a new year of wonders and experiments.
These last few months of the year have been trying and spiritually exhausting. I’m burned out and feel like a shell of my former self. It is for the first time that I find myself really relishing the idea of a year’s end and starting from a renewed and fresh perspective in January. More than ever I hope to walk into the new year feeling revitalized and ready to take on some of the ideas and adventures I’d like to work on in 2012. As you read this post, we are either on our way to or have arrived in the desert, where we will be enjoying some much-needed respite from the cold.
Friends, I’m going to touch, see, and be in the desert soon!!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to express my enthusiasm.
The large inflorescence in the background of this photo belongs to Agave parryi, an agave that can be hardy to -18C (according to “High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants” by Robert Nold), depending on the growing conditions. Recently, I have been learning about some of the hardier agaves and was pleased to see a few at the Denver Botanic Gardens that were not only over-wintered outdoors, but in bloom.
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.
Davin and I were taken with this flowering cactus (Echinocereus viridiflorus)
in the Alpine Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Here’s an in context shot so that you can see how the plant was growing in a stone trough.
I looked the genus up on the United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database and was shocked to find that some species of Echinocereus are distributed around parts of Colorado and the surrounding states.
I can’t believe how much unexpected plant knowledge was picked up on our short trip. I really want to go back to this part of the United States again. There was so much to see that interested me. I can’t wait to show you more.
This one is a little taste for my friend Barry who really wants to make it to see the alpine garden at the Denver Botanic Garden, someday.
I have no idea, but WHAT? The aliens are here.
This last shot is of the “Ponderosa Garden” near the entrance.
Denver is incredible. I am loving it so far and can’t believe I’ve only been here just over 24 hours. I’ve already taken in more than my brain can process.