dwarf, false, and shapeless

After seeing it advertised on PBS for many years, I finally took my wife to the Kirkland Museum in downtown Denver and what a memorable experience that was. She especially loved it, lingering over the paintings and deconstructing them, explaining how various effects were achieved, details of brushwork, and so on.

One of the things that’s most striking about the museum is Kirkland’s studio itself, with the contraption he rigged up so he could suspend himself over the paintings.

Which is what I thought of when I tried to take a picture of Amorpha nana this morning. It’s in bloom, so it should have its picture taken. Except that the only way of doing this is by stepping on the cactus surrounding it, which I didn’t feel much like doing.

Here it is anyway. Amorpha nana. The generic name comes from the shapeless corolla, well, not totally shapeless, but not shaped like typical pea flowers. Amorphas are known as false indigo, or leadplant in the case of A. canescens. This must mean that they aren’t indigos, but then, indigos aren’t amorphas either, and no one goes around calling them “false amorphas” or “false leadplants”.

What insults to hurl at a poor plant which is a fairly good ornamental for the dry garden, with decent fall color to boot. Dwarf, false, and shapeless. It sounds like something out of an Elizabethan tragedy. “Thou art dwarf, false, and shapeless. Be gone from my sight, ere I banish thee from my kingdom forever.”

Amorpha nana is essentially a plant of the northern Great Plains and prairies, though there is a disjunct population in Boulder County in Colorado.

The flowers smell like the candy counter in a 1960s drug store on a hot, windless day in July.

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2 Responses to dwarf, false, and shapeless

  1. Cheryl says:

    It’s just time to let you know how glad I am I subscribe to your blog. The humor, the incredible knowledge, and the photos you share are truly an enjoyable and inspirational part of my day.

    Oh… and I still like tree peonies…

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. You might check out Wrightman Alpines from time to time…..they occasionally sell dwarf tree peonies, like pink forms of Rock’s, that are only two or three feet tall, from seed collected in the wild by Josef Halda.
      They also sell a few species herbaceous peonies too.

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