Good morning fellow gardeners! I believe this weekend on the Western Slope of Colorado is going to be very hot, according to the forecast and based on what Friday's weather has been. I saw on the news that Denver had some serious hail storms this week. Are all of you Denver Metro Kossacks alright down there? (Merry Light shades her eyes as she peers over the mountains towards the Eastern Slope...) Here, it's nothing but blue sky and heat.
As the years go by and I spend more time on the Garden Blog, I've noticed that most of us usually center on a favorite type of flower in our gardens. We post pictures of our favorites and it's just such a nice mix. I look forward to all the photos every week! I get good ideas and I can see what other parts of the country can grow which can't be grown in my arid western garden. Some grow roses, and love them - so many varieties and colors! Some are the orchid growers, both east and west. Some of us are vegetable fans, some like the wildflowers best, some are into herbs, and some just have all kinds of favorites. Mr. Light's favorite flower is hops, (as in the kind you use in beer brewing, although he prefers the pelletized kind.) He says, "The end result is very tasty!"
My favorite flower has always been the penstemon, also known as the beardtongue. There are many varieties, and they are native in the northern American continent from south of Texas all the way up to Canada. The varieties I prefer are more suited to the desert southwest and the high desert of the Rocky Mountains. I have been to Lake Powell many times over the years, and the flower that stands out in Powell country and the deserts of Utah is the huge, beautiful penstemons in the landscape plantings. It is a rich orange/red, so well suited to the red rock desert! Penstemon colors can range from a white to lavender/deep purple, all the way to red and orange, with many different hues available in between. I am drawn to the deeper colors of flowers, especially the reds, and for years I resisted a variety called Husker Red, mostly because, unlike the name, the flower is actually white shading towards lavender. Instead, with this penstemon, the leaf color is a deep purple/red, which for a penstemon is unusual.
I have several types of penstemon in my front garden, the "Inferno Strip", as I like to call this hot, dry area with a cement driveway on one side and a retaining wall on the other. I've worked on this garden for several years, and planted many xeric plants which I don't have to worry about watering as much (usually once every week or so). Over the years I've planted a few varieties of penstemon that have done well. One I love is the Red Rocks penstemon. Last year the original two died off. This year, they have re-seeded everywhere in the area. This penstemon is a gorgeous magenta pink, and I try mightily to get a good photo of it and fail miserably every time. Fortunately I got a fairly good one on Friday morning, which should give you a good idea of the color.
Another favorite penstemon which I planted in the same garden, and a plant which has done well for me, is the penstemon eatonii, or Firecracker Penstemon. This year it isn't doing as well as last year, which was the year of our record snowfall (2010/2011), easily 140% of normal for the year. This winter, the beginning of our drought, we had very little snowpack and I think the lack of winter moisture caused it to cut back on flowering. So I had to go back to the 2011 archives to get a good picture of just how much of a "firecracker" this one is! This one is my favorite color, with the magenta a close second.
I also have several in my upper garden, which either aren't flowering yet or are still small from being transplanted from other areas of the garden. I've got a few that are either light pink or yellow. I have a little pineleaf penstemon, (p. pinifoleaus), which now comes in a yellow as well as light orange color. This penstemon grows fairly low to the ground, and has a feathery leafy stem. Then there's the Rocky Mountain Penstemon, a true purple. I remember a few years back my mom bought a few of them, and was griping to me on the phone about the "grape purple penstemon" and how she really didn't like them. I think she's finally come to terms with it. I like it, though.
That's what's going on in my garden. What's your favorite flower?