penstemons, etc.


Crocus speciosus

A couple of things have happened in the last day or so that I find vaguely unsettling.

The first is the sudden invasion of red-winged blackbirds in the back yard, making it seem like a scene from The Birds, which in itself isn’t bad, but the fact that the blackbirds are here at all is strange. I don’t recall ever having seen any around here in winter, at least after the swamp on the other side of the canal was drained. Like most people, I associate their mating calls with spring. On this, they remain silent.

The other thing was the overwhelming aroma of pancakes on our walk this morning. Pancakes with syrup, probably Log Cabin. (I’m old enough to remember when it came in a little metal cabin.) Preferably with so much butter that the middles are all soggy with melted butter. And maybe some bacon, too.

I don’t eat things like that any more, though I can think about them. Cindy was always critical of my butter usage, just as I was always critical of the fact that the butter was supposed to be soft. You don’t take the butter out of the refrigerator at the last moment, you let it get all soft and spreadable.

But the pancakes made me think of blinis; blinis and caviar for Sunday brunch, for me and my friend. Blinis made in the little pan I have, with melted butter, sour cream, chopped onion, chopped hardboiled egg, piles of caviar, and an ice-cold bottle of Mumm Cuvée Napa, or better yet, Taittinger Blanc des Blancs, to wash it all down. Those days are gone forever, but now I have blinis and caviar on my mind.


The third thing (I wrote “a couple”, but it was in the sense people use it in some parts of the country when they say “a couple three”) is my new neighbor who appeared yesterday. I keep thinking about getting one myself, but I’m certain Chess is against it.


Oh, right, slides. This may be it, for now. There are not as many different pictures as there are pictures of the same things from different angles. Some of the ones below are different pictures of things I’ve already posted.

Cleaning them up is kind of a pain. The first one, the crocus, is a slide of a watercolor that was hung in an exhibition at the Smithsonian when Cindy was a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Like everything in her studio, it was covered with dust, and I really prefer things stay that way.


Pediocactus knowltonii. The plants are about the size of a nickel.

And now for some penstemons.


Penstemon clutei and cliffrose

All the rest of these are “free range” penstemons, taken in the wild.


Penstemon hallii on the Guanella Pass road.


Penstemon hallii on the Boreas Pass road.


Penstemon crandallii on the Guanella Pass road.


Penstemon crandallii


Penstemon glaber var. alpinus (P.alpinus) on the Mount Evans road.


same place


P. glaber var. alpinus, pink, same place


Penstemon angustifolius var. caudatus, Rye, Co


Penstemon angustifolius var. caudatus, Rye, Co


Penstemon caespitosus var. caespitosus somewhere in North Park, Co


same place


same place


Penstemon virens on the Guanella Pass road.


Penstemon virens, same place, different color forms.


Penstemon versicolor, Rye, Co


Penstemon versicolor, Rye, Co. The blue of the flowers and foliage contrasting with the gray-white shale is very attractive.
What’s the difference between this is P. angustifolius pictured above? How much time do you have?

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8 Responses to penstemons, etc.

  1. I have been on Guanella Pass road dozens of times and I have never seen the P. crandallii there: in fact, I co-found only the second known station for Rubus arcticus on Guanella Pass road–that’s how special I thought I was…until you published that picture, that is! I need to know just where on the pass you found those incredible cushions! Obviously on the Bailey side…Grrrrrrrrrr.

    Cindy’s paintings are really too much: that speciosus is realer than real…and that Penstemon versicolor! What can I say? As far south as Rye? Yum yum yum…..Keep ’em comin’

    • paridevita says:

      Saw clumps of crandallii on the Bailey side, I forget exactly where, but not on the pass itself, of course. We spent most of our time on Guanella, since the summit is exactly one hour’s drive from the driveway here. Cool to think about.
      Versicolor was growing roughly opposite the deli on Highway 165, really I guess in Colorado City. Blooms a month earlier than secundiflorus, and seems to be andemic to the shale.

  2. Dan Post says:

    Great pictures! What’s the best time of the year to catch the penstemon in bloom? I’ve been wanting to do a Colorado trip for years.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks, depends on the species you want to see, and of course, the weather. For the “flatlanders”, April, May, or June, for the subalpine ones, July is almost always a safe bet.The drought has been pretty horrific here lately but the high passes don’t seem to be affected much.

  3. Renee says:

    I’ve really enjoyed all the slides you’ve been sharing, thank you! Such variety! And that puppy is adorable, what a nice new neighbor.

  4. Pam says:

    NYTimes had a recipe for buckwheat blini last week…um, um. I shall make some even though I don’t have the little pan. Everyone needs to have the occasional food splurge, Bob. After all, spring is coming and soon you will be moving hundred-pound plants hither and non 🙂

    • paridevita says:

      The blini pan isn’t terribly effective when you need to make a pile of them. DeBuyer (the manufacturer) also offers a three-blini pan, but really, a griddle is much easier.
      Of course the blinis are just a vehicle for caviar, and an excuse for drinking champagne in the morning. (It made me dizzy and I had to take a nap.)

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