Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rocky Mountain High-Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass View
Randy and Marcia Tatroe
Me at the sign

Penstemon whippleanus, purple and white forms

P. whippleanus and Castilleja minata
Sedum lanceolatum

Castilleja miniata and Juncus sp
Viola adunca
I had the pleasure of travelling for a day with Randy and Marcia Tatroe, very good friends of Panayoti who are likewise well known in horticultural circles in the Denver area.  They often go hiking in the mountains, and definitely knew the coolest places to go.  Marcia's book, Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West, is a great read.  I highly recommend it for anyone planning to garden in the region, especially for transplants used to gardening in gentler climates (Colorado IS different......).
One of our stops that day was Loveland Pass, where a well built road leads one right to the top of the pass.  While the flowers were generally not as in their prime as they were at Horseshoe, there were still many nice thing to see.  In this locality one can find different color forms of Penstemon whippleanus, perhaps best known in its darkish purple form, but here alba forms grow along with intermediate purples as well.   Castillejas were abundant, I am tentatively calling what I saw C. miniata, but the different species are hard to tell apart, and some hybridize.  At Loveland they came in various shades of pink and red, and were still looking quite nice.  Perhaps the best specimens of Sedum lanceolatum, a species found wherever I went in the local mountains, were to be seen here.  Its brillant yellow flowers make it quite noticible among other low growing vegetation.  Unlike Sedum acre, which it reminded me of, it clumps but does not run, so I imagine that it would be a far better behaved plant in suitable gardens. A sedge of some sort, perhaps a species of Juncus, is noticibly attractive with dark brown flower heads--it also is seen in various permutations throughout the Colorado mountains.  Finally we came across a colony of Viola adunca, which I have grown before in containers back east, though I no longer have it, I do recall it being easy to grow. 

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