Panayoti was keen on showing me the gardens at Kendrick Lake Park, which had been adding more interesting plants in recent years due to a knowledgable horticulturalist working there. They suffered a serious hailstorm earlier that year, so some plants had damaged leaves (only tallish ones with broad leaves for the most part) and several had been cut back to remove affected portions. Still there were a number of interesting plants in good shape to see, some of which resisted the hail and others which were recovering fairly quickly. Clematis fruticosa "Mongolian Gold" is a shrubby clematis with golden yellow flowers and the typical fluffy clematis seedheads. It made a small shrub which arched outwards and had many flowers on it. You really have to click on the photo to see the enlarged version to get a better idea of just how floriferous it is. A mat of gold in front of a bush of gold describes the combination of the flat growing Zinnia grandiflora and Chrysothamnus nauseosus (rabbit bush). The zinnia is very different from what easterners think of as zinnia, it is perennial, everblooming, and very weather resistant, though I suspect it would not like our peristant high humidity and precipitation. Chrysothamnus is a native shrub in the Denver area, and comes in several variants (if not species, there is debate about whether there is one variable species or a group of several species). Its a good bloomer, and the various variants can basically be any combination of tall/short and green/grey leaved. I believe this is a dwarf form and it is obviously one of the better ones. Vygies, or mesembs, from South Africa love Denver's sunny and low humidity climate. While most cannot take the winter cold, many do just fine, and grow to form enormous mats in favored situations. This one, and the closeup, are Delosperma ashtonii "Blut". I was too late to see vygies at peak, but this one was still blooming strong. It is anything but subtle. The tall red flowered plant is the rare Scrophularia macrantha, endemic to New Mexico but doing fine indeed in this location. A beautiful but frightening cholla (I think this one is the silver cholla, Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) had an odd out of season yellow bloom. While theft seems not to be much of a problem in this garden, if it were I doubt this plant would have an issue. The mere thought of having to weed anywhere near it frightens me!
Later we visited the garden of Jim Borland, who is an expert on growing native western plants. He has quite a diverse collection of natives and some non natives on his suburban property. It was cool to see a Buffalo gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima) wandering around the front sidewalk. This one splays itself over a saltbush (Atriplex canescens) in its quest, like many cucurbits, to conquer the world. The fruit is attactive but not edible, though apparently the seeds are okay to eat. It is a perennial vine that produces absolutely massive roots, from which the vines radiate outwards during the growing season, only to die back completely when colder weather sets in. Jim had two species of dwarf goldenrod, this one is Solidago nana. It makes a showy edging/groundcover looking its best in the difficult garden month of August. The next two photos are of Cleome lutea, a southwestern native species not often tried in gardens. It makes a nice contrast to the larger flowered but unpleasantly prickly stemmed garden cleome (C. hasslerana), and a good companion for the native lavender Cleome serrulata, which seems to be more commonly grown in Denver area gardens. I was thrilled when Jim gave me a good supply of seeds to try it next year in my gardens. There are a few non natives in his garden too, and this quince, Cydonia oblonga "Pineapple", was one of them. This cultivar was bred by Luther Burbank. Quince is an odd fruit originating in caucasus area of western Asia. The large fruits require frost action (bletting) to soften them so as to render them edible, hence they are not the kind of thing one sees in grocery stores. I was way too early to taste one, but it was a cool fruit to see anyway!