Sunday, May 2, 2021

Plant Story--Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet alyssum is a pretty plant with white to purple flowers, frequently planted in gardens. 

sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima
sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima

It is in the mustard and cabbage family, Brassicaceae, and has the typical simple, cross-shaped flowers. The scientific name is Lobularia maritimaLobularia from the Latin lobulus, a small pod, and maritima means of the sea, as in maritime. It is native to southern Europe and into west Asia. In places without a winter, it may be perennial, but across North America it is grown as an annual. Seed it in just before the end of spring frosts. Sweet alyssum isn't picky about soil, water, or exposure, (though it doesn't grow well in deep shade or soggy soil), making it very easy to grow. It flowers quickly, will continue to flower all summer, and has a lovely fragrance (if you get your nose down close to the flowers). Under many conditions sweet alyssum will self-sow, scattering seeds that produce plants in subsequent years. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

From Introduced to Naturalized, North Americans


I am reading Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. I am going very slowly because the ideas are important to me. As Lawrence Durrell wrote in Balthazar, "one [idea] to be taken from time to time as needed and allowed to dissolve in the mind."

forest

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Plant Story--A Small Weedy Alyssum, Alyssum simplex

Wanting to get out as the weather warms, I frequently walk Colorado foothills trails in April and May. Conspicuous there is wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex

wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex
All the little yellow flowers are wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex

Monday, April 12, 2021

Plant Story--The Spring Native Wildflower Called Salt and Pepper

 Easily over-looked in the foothills grasslands is salt and pepper, Lomatium orientale. A member of the carrot family, Apiaceae, it has the characteristic flat head of flowers, with each coming off a multiply dividing stem (an umbel (see)). Salt and pepper is named because the white flowers have red anthers, which look dark, like pepper, on the white flower. Or so I'm told. I don't exactly see it, but I know of no other white, early spring umbels with dark dots, and the name salt and pepper is easily remembered, so it works for me. 

salt and pepper Lomatium orientale
salt and pepper, Lomatium orientale

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sculpture in Gardens


Art is one of the finest things humans produce. It gives happiness to the maker and to the viewer. Gardens may have begun for growing food or medicine, but today they are places of joy and relaxation. When you put art into gardens, there is the potential for amazing things. 

Horses --Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden
Horses --steel, in the form of origami folded paper - by Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Plant Story--Spotted Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis

Spring brings memories of childhood. We lived in upstate New York (Scotia, near Schenectady) and behind the house was a forested hill, belonging to an owner who lived somewhere on the far side of it. At our edge, a stream wove through the lowest areas, making marshy ground under the willows. Jewelweed grew abundantly in that area.

jewel weed Impatiens
A wet area with many jewel weed plants

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Plant Story-- Wonderfully Fragrant Basil, Ocimum basilcum

basil, Ocimum basilicum
basil, Ocimum basilicum

If I ranked vegetable garden plants on their beauty as plants, basil would rank high. It has shiny green leaves opposite each other on a square stem. When you crush a leaf, you smell the lovely fragrance, the reason that basil is an important herb.