Stemless Thistle (Onopordum acaulon), hands down the most memorable plant of our trip to Denver.
I REALLY want to grow this one in my own garden and am now looking for some seeds to purchase.* I have a soft spot for thistles, so much so that I won’t pull the wild growing ones when they are seedlings, only to suffer the consequences later.
* Some places have declared this plant an invasive pest. Worth looking into before adding it to your garden.
Davin and I were taken with this flowering cactus (Echinocereus viridiflorus)
in the Alpine Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Here’s an in context shot so that you can see how the plant was growing in a stone trough.
I looked the genus up on the United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database and was shocked to find that some species of Echinocereus are distributed around parts of Colorado and the surrounding states.
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.
Another corner of my garden. This is fuzzy ‘Pineapple’ mint growing in a pot. I’ve resolved to grow all of my mint in pots this year. Contrary to reputation, mints behave rather well over at my community garden. The trick to keeping them under control seems to be growing them in less than ideal conditions. Plus, over there they have to fight against the wild and alpine strawberries for supreme dominance and guess who’s winning that war?
Here though, I expect mint to flourish and then some so I’m playing it safe for now. Everyone in pots!
The pretty floral design seen in the shot (above) is the top of a foot stool I found in the garbage the other night. Going out on garbage night around here is like going shopping! We’ve done well outfitting the garden with our neighbours’ discards.
The stool is red and the top is covered in this amazingly vibrant plastic mac-tac. I LOVE it! If the previous owner comes across this photo and realizes their mistake: I’m sorry but you can’t have it back.
This pretty blue flower is shoofly aka Apple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes), a strange solanum that I am growing for the first time this year.
I purchased the seeds last year at the Montreal Seedy Saturday but was unable to grow them as I quickly ran out of space. I’m STILL trying to find space for some of the seed I bought at that event. This year I wanted to make it a priority and sowed the seeds indoors quite early to ensure they would be a nice size by late spring. As you can see, they are already flowering.
Homegrown Mosquito Repellent?
Besides the beautiful blue flowers and Chinese Lantern-like seed pods, Nicandra is often grown for its insect repellent properties. Apparently people rub the dried seed pods, seeds, and chafe on their skin to ward off biting mosquitos. If this really works it could be a bit of revelation for me as I do not like using Deet and I am the first person to get bit (and viciously) no matter the size of the group I am with. Despite the fact that it is natural, I think I will do some more research into the plant’s chemical components before I go rubbing it into my skin or on my hands and face. If you’ve had any experience using this plant as a repellent please weigh in through the comments. I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Until I’ve done my homework and am thoroughly satisfied of its safety, I’m resigned to happily appreciate the look of the plant in the garden. As an added bonus (and despite its reputation) the flowers are attracting pollinators like this wee hoverfly. And I am in favour of anything that will bring in pollinators to our previously barren backyard.
Warning: Nicandra is a self-seeding menace and extremely invasive. I plan to keep on top of deadheading as I do not need the added hassle of weeding hundreds of seedlings next spring.
Furthermore, despite its resemblance to edible solanums such as ground cherry, Nicandra is NOT EDIBLE. The fact that it is considered a poison is one reason why I am not jumping to rub it all over myself until I learn more.
This unknown red variety bloomed a few weeks ago. I bought it at a garden shop in early spring, but it did not come with an accurate tag. I almost didn’t buy it as I was saving space for ‘Black Barlow’ a variety I had been coveting for ages. But wouldn’t you know it, I finally came upon the variety in bloom a few weeks ago and it was too purple for my taste. The photos lied!
A gift from my friend Barry, these white flowers have little green spots on some of the tips that make it just a little bit extra special.
In addition to transplants (there are more that haven’t yet bloomed), I also grew a few aquilegia varieties from seed. They are tiny little things right now and it will be another year before they bloom.
How is it that spring isn’t technically through, and I am already anticipating next year?