confessions of a plant hog

The new garden under the front window after a frenzy of planting. A mulch of 3/4 inch or less gravel (one size up from pea gravel) is still needed, because uniform-sized gravel looks weird to me. I believe it was the late Duncan Lowe, in his book on growing alpine plants in troughs, who said it had a “funereal” look, and I agree. Gravel of different sizes looks better. (Incidentally, I hear that in the UK they call pea gravel “shingle”, but the phrase “mulched with shingle” conjures up quite a different image in a hail-prone region like this.)


The big green things are Hesperaloe campanulata, which is hardy in my garden, though I killed the last plant by constantly moving it from place to place. I got them from YuccaDo Nursery; they had two, so I bought both. This is what a plant hog does.

I decided to plant them now, to allow them to get used to Denver’s blistering sun, rather than at the “proper planting time for my area”, which, technically, is never. It will surely get cold and snow again before the first of June, but by then it could be too hot, dry, windy, and sunny, so I figured now was as good a time as any.

Also, and so exciting to me that I can scarcely contain myself, is this plant. I’ve been yearning for it for decades. Purshia glandulosa. I got it from Las Pilitas Nursery; they had two, so, well, I have two now.


Purshia glandulosa is the reason why the cliffrose, Cowania, was moved to Purshia, because the cliffrose hybridizes with P. glandulosa and also the bitterbrush, P. tridentata. There are some botanists who don’t agree with this; an interesting discussion can be found here.

I also yearn for the pink-flowered Purshia plicata, from Mexico; P. ericifolia, from Mexico and Texas, and P. pinkavae, from Arizona, the last two with yellow flowers like the rest, but these two plants will do for now.

I’ll try not to kill them.

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18 Responses to confessions of a plant hog

  1. acantholimon says:

    I’m jealous! I remember planting up a large section of the Rock Alpine Garden once in March with plants out of the greenhouse–Osteospermum barberiae compactum to be exact. We promptly had several snows and some devilishly cold weather, and they thrived better than I might have hoped: we are such wooses. Not you, however! I better start ordering to catch up with you! (Love your new garden)…hope it doesn’t get shingles.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. I learned from bitter experience (is there any other kind?) that the earlier I plant things out, the better their chances. I think plants do well with the cooler nights of spring (maybe not -3 like last weekend, which was just asinine).

  2. Loree says:

    Exciting new plants, that’s the perfect way to celebrate spring, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

    • paridevita says:

      Oh, it feels like spring now. That’s how quickly things change here, when they change. Sometimes the weather is the same for so long it’s like the movie Groundhog Day, then suddenly it changes.
      If someone suggested that 3 below at the end of March didn’t sound like a horticultural paradise I’d have a hard time arguing against that.

  3. Pam says:

    I like the meandering layout of the new garden…very natural looking. Somehow each plant found the perfect spot 🙂

    • paridevita says:

      And yet, they can all be moved with no problem ….. I used to just spread pea gravel on the rock gardens, until I saw the way Kelly did it at Timberline (I think actually when he was at Paulino’s), different sized rock. The eye isn’t then immediately drawn to an expanse of pea gravel, and it looks more “natural”. The paths here are pea gravel, but they were laid out by border collies.

  4. melanie says:

    That’s coming along nicely. I like the placements, too.

  5. I did not know that “shingle” meant pea gravel. I always thought it was something rougher and greyer. Glad to know the fact on this.

    • paridevita says:

      I think you’re right, and the person who said this on the post is just wrong. (First time ever, of course.)

      • I didn’t want to be right, as I was happy to think I finally knew just what shingle was (ie pea gravel); oh well! Maybe some googling is in order.

      • paridevita says:

        I Googled shingle too and the pictures made it look like it was much bigger than pea gravel.

      • paridevita says:

        Well, now, that looks like pea gravel. Makes me wonder why they can’t call things by their right name across the Atlantic…… So, I looked in the OED, and “shingle”, a piece of wood used as roofing, goes back to 1200, while “shingle” as “small, roundish stones; loose, waterworn pebbles such as are found collected upon the seashore” were first mentioned by Hakluyt in 1598. The OED says (oddly, I think) “The relation of this word to Norwegian singl, coarse sand, small stones, North Frisian, singel, large gravel, is not clear”. Looks clear to me. Huh.

      • I also got a whole lot about shingles (the painful disease) till I threw the word garden into the mix.

      • paridevita says:

        Thought about that, too, while perusing the OED (the only dictionary I use, though I prefer the two volume shorter Oxford, because it has, you know, all the words in it…..). My doctor insisted I get a shingles shot, so I did. I told the dog he wasn’t the only one who gets stuck with needles. He still doesn’t believe it. When we had the hailstorm in 1991, the roof was destroyed, and I was able to make incredibly funny jokes about “mulching the garden with shingle”.

      • I bet they were good. In the Video Voice perhaps.

      • paridevita says:

        Oh, they were okay. Didn’t make much impression.

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