The large inflorescence in the background of this photo belongs to Agave parryi, an agave that can be hardy to -18C (according to “High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants” by Robert Nold), depending on the growing conditions. Recently, I have been learning about some of the hardier agaves and was pleased to see a few at the Denver Botanic Gardens that were not only over-wintered outdoors, but in bloom.
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.
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.