our collective umbilical cord

Delosperma ‘Keladis’ (ice plant) honors Panayoti Kelaidis, Curator of Plant Collections at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

To go or not to go was not the question.  It was GO.  The Perennial Plant Association Symposium is a different kind of conference. There is an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendliness, that I have not experienced at other meetings.  This is the PPA’s unique niche. The schedule of events contains the usual days of talks complemented by exhaustive tours to private gardens; not estate gardens, but the backyard gardens of plant collectors and garden designers.  There is a kind of karma that exists at the symposium.  Why this is, I cannot explain, but its definitely those “good vibes” that make the PPA stand out from the pack.

Steppe Garden at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach at the Denver Botanic Gardens linked the horticulture of Colorado to the Steppe regions of the world; 12,000 years of cultivated plants.

The newly opened Steppe Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Steppe regions are 4% of the world’s flora. This region extends from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan to the Tian Shan ranges to Turkey to Iran to the shortgrass prairies of United States to Patagonia to Africa.  Kelaidis is a major collector of plants from these regions.  He calls his garden “Denver-stan”.

Panayoti Kelaidis Private Garden consisting of plants from the steppes of Eastern hemisphere and dryland plants of American West.

Panayoti Kelaidis Private Garden.

We also visited Rob Proctor’s garden.  Proctor is a kind of local gardening celebrity; he has a  gardening program on KUSA, Channel 9 in Denver.

The long border at Rob Proctor’s garden. This half-acre site contains 600 pots.

The garden contains many small sitting areas.

For me the real star of the Design Tour was the Denver Botanic Gardens.

O’Fallon Perennial Walk designed by Rob Proctor and Lauren Springer Ogden in the early 1990s.

Walking along a little path,
I find a footprint on the moss,
A white cloud low on the quiet lake,
Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
A pine grown greener with the rain,
A brook that comes from a mountain source –
And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
I have forgotten what to say.

-While Visiting on the South Stream
The Taoist Priest Chang Liu Changing

Tony Avent of Plants Delight Nursery introduced new and overlooked plants. Below is a partial list of plants on his list.  Take a look and see how many you know.

Echinacea ‘Delicious Candy’
Echinacea ‘Kismet Intense Orange’
Echinacea ‘Evening Glow’
Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’
Baptisia ‘Dark Net’ – dark stems
Baptisia ‘Cherries Jubilee’
Monarda ‘Bubblegrum Blast’
Phlox x procumbens ‘Pink Profusion’
Sedum ‘Dark Magic’
Sedum ‘Firecracker’
Sedum tetractinum ‘Little China’
Amsonia ‘Georgie Pancake’ = 4 inches tall – grund cover – makes a carpet of 3-4 ft.
Amsonia tabernaemontana ‘Storm Cloud’ – black stems
Salvia nutans – weeping salvia
Dianthus ‘Wicked Path
Clematis recta ‘Lime Creek’ = shrub 4 ft tall – purple foliage
Sanguisorba officinalis var microcephala ‘Little Angel’ – 7 inches tall – variegated foliage – ground cover
Liriope gracilis ‘Mop Top’ – best lirope
Andropoogon gerardii ‘Blackhawks’ – black foliage
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Twilight Zone’ – purple foliage
Iris unguicularis ‘Logan Calhoun’ – from Algeria
Allium ‘Millenium’ – plant of the yar
Allium kiiense – 6 inches tall – clumping –
Gladolus ‘Buttery Cheeks; – dwarf
Lycoris ‘Blue Pearl’
Lycoris ‘Stargaver’
Gymnocalycium ‘ Paradise Pink’
Trichocereus ‘Iridescent Watermelon’
Manfreda undulata ‘Mint Chocolate Chip’ – north american native – 2 1/2 ft. across
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC’ – 125 flowers per plant
Asarum speciosum ‘Woodlanders Select”

Syneilesis aconitifolia emerging
Synelesis aconitifolia fully open
Astilbe Chocolate Shogun
Polygonatum infundiflorum ‘Lemon Seoul” – intense fragrance of lemons – 3 ft tall – zone 5a-9b
Polgonatum ‘Prince Charming’
Disporum flavens
Cardamine douglasii ‘Southern Lady’
Napaea dioica – 6 ft tall
Trillium foetidissimum ‘Baton Rouge’
Trillium gracile
Trillium ludovicianum ‘Long John Silver’
Trillium lancifolium ‘Lancelot’
Trillium ‘Dark Chocolate’

The membership of PPA is not as robust as it might be.  I ask all my plant friends to take a look at the PPA in 2018.


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