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.



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    A national prize, and a jewel of great price

    Dwarf Bearclaw-Poppy (Arctomecon humilis) by USFWS Mountain Prairie on Flickr. One of the rarest and most endangered poppies in the world.

    "As irreplaceable portions of our natural heritage they should be regarded as a national prize, as jewels of great price, and protected for future generations, whose advocacy this generation must represent.

    "The low bearclaw poppy is legitimately cited as endangered under stipulations of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Despite that listing and attempts by concerned and state agencies and many private individuals, the habitat is being systematically impacted by off-road traffic. Only prudent preservation of the habitat will guarantee survival of this species into the future."

    from Welsh, Stanley L., N. Duane Atwood, Sherel Goodrich and Larry C. Higgins, editors, A Utah Flora, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1987/2nd ed (p. 509), 2003/3d ed, (p. 473), and 2008/4th ed, (p. 544)

    Graham’s beardtongue, (Penstemon grahamii) by USFWS Mountain-Prairie on Flickr.

    The annual meeting of the Utah Rare Plant Conference is happening this Tuesday, March 4th, at Red Butte Garden. I won’t be able to attend, but I wanted to draw attention to some of the endangered plants of Utah, many of which are incredibly beautiful. The USFWS Mountain-Prairie feed on Flickr has many, gorgeous images of theses plants.

    Report: Early Spring on Stansbury Island

    Steve Hegji went out to check out what was happening with the spate of warm weather out on Stansbury (+60F!), and whether Ranunculus andersonii is beginning to bloom:
    I decided to take a side jaunt out there on my way home today. The answer [to whether R. andersonii is beginning to bloom] is…YES, but only just starting. Most of what I saw looked like [this] - with buds and leaves emerging from the soil.
    But there were a few plants in the sunnier locations that were in bloom.

    I think after this next storm passes through that there will be about 2 more weeks of peak viewing for the Buttercup….
    Finally, I’ve attached a couple pictures of Cymopterus purpurascens - which was also blooming on Stansbury Island. … There are 20 different Cymopterus species that have been collected in Utah - many of them VERY COOL looking. 


    Agreed about Cymopterus, Steve. Very, very cool indeed. I may have to collect some seed of it this year and see if I can get this unusual ephemeral to perform in my rockery.

    For interested parties, a group of us are planning a trip out to Stansbury soon to see these beauties. Any interested parties are welcome to come.

    First spring bulbs out! Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’, Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’, and Iris reticulata ‘Katherine Hodgkin.’

    An Argument for Seediness

    When I started to garden, I bought plants. I even bought them from White Flower Farm, which charges you three times more than what the plant would cost if you bought it locally, plus shipping. In the early days, spending a couple of hundred dollars on plants seemed exorbitant, but one soon learns that two- to three-hundred-dollars worth of plants only goes so far. Soon, the amount of money you’re spending can skyrocket. You’re doing really well if you are spending just a couple of hundred dollars each season. 

    If you are childless and have a solid job, this lifestyle may be tenable. For me, as my family has grown, so has its demands upon our household income; the cold-hardy reality of budgeting has set in. For me, It is now a necessity to grow the majority of my plants from seed.

    Starting plants from seed is considered by many gardeners online to be the purview of the experts, and there may be some truth in that, especially if you are drawn to rare or expensive plants. But I’ve become convinced that growing your own plants from seed is the only way one can achieve a great garden. Once when I was talking to a notable garden designer about her garden, she indicated that all of her rarities and interesting introductions grown from seed were a product of necessity as much as passion. To buy plants in the quantities she needed would have cost a fortune. I guess even nationally famous garden designers who’ve written many successful gardening books must make do with modest salaries, but their gardens speak for themselves.

    Growing from seed is less expensive, but still has its costs. And, plants that are patented, or grafted, or whose seed is very difficult to propagate or source still must be purchased as plants. Also, the cost of growing materials is not insignificant, but the amount of plants you get more than makes up for that investment. I’ve made do without a greenhouse or cold frame (so far), thanks to wintersowing in milk jugs, and there are many plants that take off with direct sowing. Of course, there is the question of time, and that is the trade off. As a gardener, you must learn to wait for anywhere between two and five years to get a perennial, bulb, or woody plant ready to plant out in the garden, and that is a significant investment of your time and often space. But I think by engaging in plants from their beginnings gives you a better sense of what the plant needs and how it grows. Hence, the best gardeners are the seedy types.

    In this light, I would encourage you to follow #seedchat tonight as it is the 3rd annual seed swap! Get sowing!

    Child labor is excellent for spring clean-up. Little feet don’t compact the soil as much. Also, it builds character, and a hatred of honey locust trees.

    It’s about time that we changed our state tree to something other than the Colorado Blue Spruce. Still, we just go from one sickly tree to another. Climate change sucks.

    Between your love for me and mine for you
    — air of stars and tremor of plants —
    a thicket of anemones raises
    with a dark moan an entire year.

    Federico Garcia Lorca | from ‘Sonnet of the Garland of Roses’ in Sonnets of Dark Love, translated by Angela Jaffray. (via indigenousdialogues)

    (via mamisgarden)

    Interesting video on attempts at controlling invasives in Wilderness lands. 

    Just as I was getting rapturous about winter, here’s a summer teaser from Steve Hegji: Pyrola asarifolia (Liverleaf wintergreen). He’s only seen it once, in 2008, so it’s on his hit list.

    Winter is good

    Remember that Twilight Zone episode where a woman is going insane because the Earth is slowly getting closer to the sun and everything is baking? It turns out she’s just delirious from a fever, but, while she’s relieved to find everything to be nice and cold, everyone else is freaking out because the Earth is actually moving farther away from the sun. 

    Reading many gardening blogs and just listening to people in general, I feel like this woman. Am I delusional because I love winter? Am I really alone in my love of winter?

    Yes, winter is good! The only way it could get better is if all that snow dumping on the east moved here to the west. Winter sports! Snow! Rich foods! Hot drinks! You can wear huge sweaters and bulky clothes and not looked upon as dumpy! You get to clean your house really, really well! Indoor plants never looked so good they’re so spoiled and sitting in a greenhouse for hours is pleasant instead of sweltering!

    Many get caught up in the lack of flowers and growing things. Those things are very good, but they have their time. I would go crazy in a sub-tropical/tropical biome where things just kept growing (although these plants go through their own cycles that coordinate with the rainy seasons). It reminds me of a woman I knew and visited who lived to be 106. In her last few years, she complained that everyone she knew over the years had died; her husband, all her children, all her friends. She no longer recognized her neighborhood and had to move in with one of her grandchildren to take care of her. 

    Everything has its time. So why not enjoy what’s in front of you?

    Pretty winter vacation in Island Park, ID. I could have sat here all day.

    Look! Pretty winter!

    I’ve been vacationing a bit from the blog, enjoying winter. It’s a difficult concept to grasp for gardening types, but it is possible. Here is a shot of the Upper Mesa Falls Gorge in wintertime. Here’s the link to the same spot in summer. Impressive at any time of year, really.

    The holiday wreath for 2013. Rose hips, variegated Euonymous, german statice, on now crispy noble fir branches. Just needed pinecones, but thick snow layer hid them all.
Happy New Year!

    The holiday wreath for 2013. Rose hips, variegated Euonymous, german statice, on now crispy noble fir branches. Just needed pinecones, but thick snow layer hid them all.

    Happy New Year!

    BLM-Alaska's Dalton Highway Corridor, Atigun Pass by Karen Deatherage. BLM-Alaska's Dalton Highway Corridor  Chandalar Shelf in the Brooks Range by Karen Deatherage. BLM-Alaska's Dalton Highway Corridor, Brooks Range by Karen Deatherage. BLMers cabin near Coldfoot, Alaska by David Bachrach. Unbelievable view of the Aurora during a late night hike by David Bachrach. Aurora Borealis by Karen Deatherage. Aurora Borealis by Karen Deatherage. Aurora Borealis by Karen Deatherage. Pinks and Greens of the Aurora Borealis by Karen Deatherage.

    From the BLM Tumblr. Seeing the northern lights is on the bucket list, for sure.


    No batteries required!

    Check out these photos taken around Alaska during spectacular solar storms. “When I’m witnessing a really incredible aurora, its something close to what many people might consider a religious experience.” -Ben Hattenbach in the BLM film, Arctic Visions and Voices.

    Plan your visit to see Aurora Borealis in the Arctic: 

    Rebloged this Trifolium wishing that the stuff in my lawn looked as nice.



    Trifolium alpinum

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