Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surprise! Off to the Gardens

Herp Lady called on Friday, and suggested a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens! Quite a treat, as I hadn't been there in quite some time. I daren't confess how long, or I'd lose my credentials as a plant lover! The attraction, for her, was a special exhibit of sculptures by Henry Moore. I have no credentials as an art patron, so can freely admit I'd never heard of him or the exhibit.

DBG, as it's fondly known, has an impressive amount of hardscape... and water! Despite the ever-presence of concrete and H2O, plants were everywhere. Just what we expect from a botanic garden. Oval with Points.

We were impressed at the number of species still blooming outdoors so late in the year, even tender Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis it was in my long-ago Arizona lifetime). All those flowers I pretty much ignored in favor of more subtle plants (except a patch or two of purple jewelweed, aka touch-me-not, ripe for the touching).

Everywhere we went, water flowed and bubbled and reflected. Quite a change from the unrelieved aridity the Foothills Farm has displayed lately. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time looking at the water; in quantities more than a rainbarrel-full, it's so foreign to me!

El Pomar Waterway, with interspersed fountains and, oddly, pots of Cereus and Crassula poised above the water.

I picked up some plant-display tips, too, and was quite captivated by this slope of partially submerged pots. It looked like a hobbit village! I can imagine it would help define plant spaces, as well as provide a little shade in full-sun spots. Can't wait to try this one at home. A nice inventory of broken pots should adapt well to this approach.

If not flowers, what? There was this lovely Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in or near the Asian Garden. With foliage still soft green and vernal, we wondered how it weathers our winters. Apparently fine, as it appeared to have been there a while, although too young for coning. Here, Herp Lady gives it a closer look.

I was also drawn to another conifer, the lovely larches. These are captivating because of their unusual habit of deciduousity, although these particular trees also remained in springlike mode so far, showing little sign of the coming seasonal change.

The sun on their needles was particularly appealing, and the day was warm enough that we understood their reluctance to show color.

Although flowers were still everywhere, as shown below, the colors of the Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium, grass in foreground) testified to the coming winter. It's one of my favorite foothills grasses, here thriving in captivity.

Another sign of seasonal change was the occasional evidence of harvest. A pile of gourds here and there, trailing vines with beautiful gourds still attached, and the glow of the fruits and leaves of this Castor Bean plant (Ricinus communis), below, in the Euphorbiaceae.

Considered poisonous, as are most drugs, this plant also has had a host of pharmaceutical applications. Not one to mess with.

Paracelsus: Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.

So much to see... more photos soon!

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