Ink & Penstemon

Observations on plants, gardening, & nature from the Great Basin steppe in the American West.

If you get mired in something, click on the Penstemon barbatus 'Elfin Pink' image.



More Info

Loading Flickr...

    More - Flickr

    FInd me on...

    On Tumblr

    More liked posts

    Fireworks, anyone?

    I cut these for a Sunday lunch and it occurred to me the arrangement looked rather patriotic. Grass: Achnatherum calamagrostis, Echinops ritro ruthenicus, Agapanthus x ‘Summer Skies’ (light blue), Agapanthus x ‘Black Pantha’ (dark blue), Aster novae-angliae, Centranthus rubber, Heuchera macrorhriza, Daucus carota.

    There were great little details, like the stacked pots in this thing.

    Cactus scape awesomeness at the entrance at Red Butte Gardens. I’ve gotta say, this was my favorite display at the gardens, and it was right out front. You don’t even have to go in and pay to see it. One thing is certain: I’ve gotta get me a Wilson’s fishhook cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) now. For sure.

    More flora of the Wind River Range: Penstemon glaber (so pretty!), Trifolium hybridum, and Hymenoxys hoopesii. Photo credit Steve Hegji.

    Since Steve went to the Winds, I’ve been developing a bit of an obsession over them. I foresee a backpacking trip in my future, perhaps with llamas as they are a common sight as pack animals in the Winds. Check out this site where you can rent a llama for a trek.


    Monument plants on Missionary Ridge, July 2014.

    Very nice set of Frasera speciosa. Common names also include Elkweed, Deer Ears, Green Gentian, Showy Frasera.

    (via carex)

    Gentiana detonsa (Fringed gentian), Wind River Range, Wyoming. Photo credit Steve Hegji.

    Pretty set from Steve’s photos from his visit to the Winds. More to follow, as promised.

    North Green River Lake, Wind River Range, Wyoming. Photo credit Steve Hegji.

    Steve took a day trip up to the Wind River Range and has promised some plant pics soon. Walt Fertig of UNPS fame says that the Wind River range is  the “greatest place on earth to see plants” so expect good things to come.

    This picture shows a view from near the top, looking back down through the Dry Canyon that Steve hiked up. Squaw peak is in the middle distance, with the city of Provo and Utah lake beyond that. Penstemon whippleanus (Whipple’s beardtongue). On the Wasatch Front we most often see the pale colored phase of this species. In this example you can see the stamens right through the pale corolla. Agoseris aurantiaca. The word aurantiaca basically means orange. Like a dandelion this plant has strap shaped ray flowers, no disk flowers, and the mature fruit forms a “puffball. Anemone multifida. This cute little anemone also commonly appears with very pale colored sepals (there are no petals). The typical (in the Wasatch mountains) white flowered variety of the Colorado Columbine, a member of the Buttercup family. Occasionally there will be hints of the blue. Lomatium graveolens. This member of the Parsley/Carrot family is fairly common in our mountains. Its bushy shape, bright yellow flowers, and long linear leaflets are very attractive. Ipomopsis aggregata var. macrosiphon. The hillside below the saddle is carpeted with this (pictured) variety (macrosiphon – “long tube”). The range of colors on these flowers is amazing.

    Flowers of Dry Fork Canyon, below the Big Springs Saddle. Photo credits, Steve Hegji.

    Steve took a hike up there and took a photo sampler of my backyard. As you can see, it is a beautiful hike with a beautiful view, one of my favorites and has gorgeous wildflower offerings year round. Scroll over the images for captions and more detailed info.

    If you trust in Nature, in the small things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor, then everything will become easier for you.

    Ranier Maria Rilke

    A perfect combination of the rare endemic Carex haysii (Hays's sedge), Adiantum capillus-veneris (southern maidenhair fern), Mimulus cardinals (Scarlet monkey flower). Adiantum capillus-vernus Mimulus cardinalis. A Canyon Tree Frog (Hyla arenicolor), resting in the wet crack, trying to look inconspicuous, and mostly succeeding.

    Hanging garden vignette along the Hidden Canyon Trail at Zion National Park, Utah. Scroll over the images for a caption with plant IDs and descriptions.

    Zion National Park is at the junction of three ecoregions, and consequently has a greater concentration of plant species than any other national park except the Grand Canyon. Of the unique plant habitats in the park, the hanging gardens are the most enchanting.

    Water naturally leeches through the immense vertical cliffs of Navajo sandstone, a process that takes up to 10,000 years, to then emerge in natural seeps under and around alcoves where water loving plants luxuriate in the cool water and shade year round. “Weeping Rock” is the most frequented of these natural water gardens, but the Hidden Canyon Trail provides a less trammeled and more immediate look at these Edens in the desert.

    Eriogonum heracleoides (whorled buckwheat), Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. Photo credit, Steve Hegji.

    Lupinus argenteus, Dry Creek trail, Alpine, Utah. Photo credit Steve Hegji.

    Baileya pleniradiata (Wooly Desert Marigold), Sand Hollow State Park, Utah. Similar to B. multiradiata, but this is B. pleniradiata because it is better branched and leafier, and just nicer overall. Generally an annual, but will stick around for a second year if the winter is mild. It flowers twice a year, after the winter-spring rains, and then again after the late summer “monsoons.”

    Yucca elata in flower at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah, along with Penstemon ambiguus.

    Grow This: Epipactus gigantea ‘Serpentine Night’



    There aren’t many western-native orchids that adapt themselves well to the garden, but Giant Helleborine (Epipactus gigantea) is perhaps the easiest and one of the showiest. Especially this variety, ‘Serpentine Night.’ Granted, the flowers aren’t the humongous tropical kind, but the purplish-black foliage that comes with the plant makes it well worth planting.


    This variety of epipactus is from a parent population of E. gigantea f. rubrifolia that Roger Raiche found in ‘The Cedars’ in California in Sonoma County. (An informative write-up about this unique botanic and geological treasure is in the April 2009 issue of Fremontia, the journal for the California Native Plant Society.) There also seems to be something of a story behind this plant’s discovery. The Cistus catalog had this tantalizing tidbit when they had it still in stock (which they don’t anymore, sorry): ”Parker’s dramatic 150 ft. fall led to this plant…and a helicopter ride to the emergency room.” ?!?!


    This orchid likes wet soils, so putting it next to a pond or under a birdbath would work. It would probably perform best as a pond marginal, as the constantly moist soil would allow the stalks to grow to 2 feet or more. I have mine at the bottom of a downspout in an irrigated area and it does fine. I’ve seen local populations growing near stream banks in limestone scree, so I bet this little orchid can take some drying out and still come back, but as with most plants, they appreciate some pampering and will reward you for it.


    In this case, the reward has come from the orchid reseeding about 15 feet away in a bed of solid mint. There is a broken sprinkler head in there and low and behold, the orchid likes the mint jungle. This little seedling hasn’t retained the purple leaves of its parent, but I’m not going to start to complain if orchids start growing from seed in my garden.

    Abronia fragrans (fragrant sand Verbena). Hidden Canyon Trail, Zion National Park, Utah.

    Loading posts...