As promised, a follow-up post of closeup shots taken at the Mount Goliath alpine garden. While I had to exclude hundreds of shots to keep this post within reason, I still managed to go overboard with over 30 images. As a result, I have embedded a slideshow so that those of you with a slow connection are not left trying to load this page for the next week.
I’ve identified as many plants as possible. If you’d like to know the names, click through to their Flickr page.
[Note: For some reason the images are compressed in the slideshow in a way that makes them look very low res. Until I can resolve the issue, I'd suggest taking a look at the original images as they look okay in that version. Sorry about that!]
As an alpine plant fan this was a big deal for me and I even planned the trip (in part) based on when a good number of the alpines would be blooming at that elevation. They did not disappoint.
Some Brief Stats: When we set out that morning, Denver was already a blazing 95°F or so and the altitude 5,280 feet above sea level. As the car climbed Mt. Evans on the way to Mt. Goliath, the temperature dipped below 60°F and the altitude was somewhere around 12,000 feet! We never did make it to the very top of Mt. Evans (14,240 feet), but we did get high enough to touch snow and it was cool enough to require a change into long sleeved shirts and socks.
This is the view at Summit Lake, a stop that is just below the peak. This panoramic is an amalgam of images that I took with my cellphone. I also brought a film panoramic camera… someday I will process that film and post them here. Some. Day. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a film backlog dating to 2008 (and countless trips) so I have no illusions about when they will see the light of day.
This image functions as a good demonstration of just how dry gardening is in Denver without the benefit of a hose. This landscape is nothing more than a random scattering of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with a few hot pink-flowered hollyhocks and dry land grasses thrown in. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a garden in the traditional meaning of the word since it looked to be completely untended and the product of a few resilient volunteer plants.
And yet it works. I’m sorry I didn’t capture it with the digital camera, but the silvery verbascum alongside tall, hot pink hollyhocks really made a stand-out pair. I was intrigued enough to ask our friend to stop the car and let me out so that I could take a few (or several) photos with all four of the cameras that I had in tow. I didn’t make that request for any of the “proper” gardens we saw. But then again, I am a sucker for the soft, statuesque grace of verbascum.
I can’t believe how much unexpected plant knowledge was picked up on our short trip. I really want to go back to this part of the United States again. There was so much to see that interested me. I can’t wait to show you more.
Yesterday we drove to Nebraska to see some fields. That was not a difficult task to achieve and is in keeping with what I expected.
But what has surprised me on this trip is just how dry it is here.
Take this picture, shot in Colorado on the way back from Nebraska. This is High Plains and Front Range land that sits in a rain shadow, and not the lush farmland I wrongly imagined.
I love it! I didn’t prepare myself much for this trip. I decided not to look at tons of pictures online or try to imagine what I would see. I came here with little knowledge, leaving open the possibility to be happily surprised.
What’s that hiding in the grass? Opuntia! Hardy opuntia grows everywhere here. I’ve learned so much about the plant by seeing how it grows in the wild and how it protects itself at these high elevations. This has been the happiest surprise so far. A dream come true.
I’ve shot lots of images of all kinds of hardy opuntia and will do a larger post when I get back home on what I’ve observed here.