I picked up a few plants of Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita BOP’ at Timberline yesterday, to go in the area I purged of irises and roses.

The name makes me think of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and, by extension, Jack Kerouac, whose house is just ten minutes’ drive from here (something I like to point out to people who chide me for living in a cow town); a great deal of On the Road takes place right here in Denver. Check out this website for a cool tour of literary Denver from the perspective of the Beat Generation.

Where was I? Oh, penstemons. The name “BOP” in this case refers to “bottom of the porch” where the plant first appeared at Las Pilitas Nursery. It’s supposed to be a hybrid between Penstemon heterophyllus and P. laetus, but it looks like pure heterophyllus to me.

I only know this because I consulted Keck’s 1932 Studies in Penstemon to remind me what the differences between the two species are. (I have a small collection of these old articles, some bound ….all of them smell wonderful, like old libraries, kaolin paper, etc.) The differences, incidentally, are only important if you’re a Penstemon heterophyllus looking for a date ….the leaves on heterophyllus look sessile; those on laetus have a petiole.

Neither the plants nor the garden will care if these plants are the real BOP or plain Penstemon heterophyllus; I won’t keep the labels when I plant them, which incidentally I should have done this morning.

Finally got them planted, along with some Brickellia californica (in rodent-proof cages), which, despite its specific epithet, is native to Colorado too, and a Muhlenbergia dubia. Funny, I got three of these grasses and can only find two, even after walking all over the garden looking for the third one. The area I cleared out looks pretty much the same as before.

As I was finishing up this planting, which took me all day, the back garden erupted with a whole bunch of loud squawking, so I went back in for the Coolpix, walked out very slowly pretending to be invisible, took one picture, but as I rounded the path into the back garden, the owl flew away.

You can see the owl, sitting on the post, in the back garden.

the back lawn is for rabbits, you say?


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4 Responses to bop

  1. Thanks for the education on the meaning of BOP! I had this plant and hope I still have it somewhere.

    • paridevita says:

      More dead plants. I suspect they’re hardy here, but they hated the peat-based root ball soil. (I complain about that to no end.) Oh, quite a lot of the plants featured in the blog before it was taken over by a purebred border collie are gone now. This was sort of a horticultural breakdown from which I believe I have recovered. The BOPs were grown where the sand pile is now. Some of the plants died, but most were given away, and are growing across the street, or in the garden next door to that, or in the garden next door to that. Or in the garden of the house behind the house across the street.

      • I have lost many and many a cool plant. Sometimes really lost as can’t even remember where I planted them.

      • paridevita says:

        Same here. I was just lamenting the loss–twice–of Saxifraga ‘Golden Prague’, and now the only way I could get one is to buy someone a large overcoat with lots of pockets and pay for a trip to the Netherlands. (Actually we’re allowed to bring back 12 plants, without soil.) I always find the bulbs again, though, with a sharp trowel.

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