So, I got one of Steve Hegji’s emails recently where he included this picture.
Nice. He went on to say,
"In my neighborhood of northern Utah County the Utah Milkvetch has been blooming again for about a month. This bloom was probably brought on by the good monsoon season we’ve had this year. It’s not a full spring bloom, just about a 10% bloom. Intermountain Flora does say “…sometimes in late Aug-Sept”. The attached picture was taken a few days ago in my yard so really it can go into October.”
I filed this away in the back of my head until I went to get the mail and noticed the trough next to it.
There it was, the year-old plant, grown huge and blooming its head off. I can barely see the two Escobaria in here. Escobarias? What Escobaria?
And then, we went up to the Squaw Peak Road overlook last Friday evening. I decided to walk a bit down the rocky slope, which I have never done before and began to see flashes of pink at my feet.
Basically, there is a colony of A. utahensis covering that entire slope, and many of them are flowering lustily, as in, I lust after having more of these in my garden.
“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
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.
Back from the 2014 American Penstemon Society Meeting
I’ve wanted to go to one of the American Penstemon Society's annual meetings for a long time, but having many young children got in the way. This year, the meeting was centered at Zion National Park and southern Utah, so I decided to join in. Technically, it is still going on tomorrow and Tuesday, but mothering duties called. It was fun to meet the 50+ Penstemon enthusiasts from the U.S. who made the trip.
Over the next week or so, I’ll post some goodies I brought back as photographic souvenirs. However, I discovered that all of the photos I took of non-Penstemon type plants turned out better than many of my Penstemon shots, which just reinforces that I need to go out and get a macro lens.
Still, I have many fine shots. I will even include some of the not-so-fine shots because that’s what I’ve got. Chances are, if you join APS, someone else’s excellent photo of the same subject will make the bulletin.
Penstemon palmeri outside the Canyon Community Center, Springdale, Utah.