Plant This: Leavenworth’s eryngo spikes the fall garden


Michael of Plano Prairie Garden, this is for you. Now that purple pineapples in spiky ballerina skirts and crowns are dancing in my garden, I have Michael to thank. During my visit to his garden last October, he gave me some seedheads from Eryngium leavenworthii, the native Texas eryngo he grows in his front-yard prairie each year.


I sowed the seeds this spring in the sunny hillside garden, which gets a lot of reflected heat and not much water. And then I forgot about them, as I do all seeds that I sow. Luckily we had a wet early spring, which helped them get established when I forgot to water. When the first seedlings came up, I pulled a few, mistaking them for weeds before I remembered what they were. (This always happens when I plant seeds.) All summer the rather rank, weedy looking foliage grew, and I dutifully left it alone. Now comes the payoff! I just love those purple, spiky blooms.


Eryngo flops in my garden, probably due to too much shade. It’s handy to grow it near another plant it can lean on for support, like this potted Agave lophantha, whose sword-like leaves prop up the floppy eryngo. You can see, on the left, its brown, weedy looking stems and lower leaves. It would be good to plant eryngo behind a mid-sized perennial that could hide its skinny legs—maybe Salvia greggii or little bluestem.


No matter. I’m really enjoying these spiny annuals, whose purple bracts have a royal intensity of color. I tend to mulch too heavily to get returning seedlings, so I’ll probably collect the browned seedheads later this fall and sow seeds in bare, gravelly soil again next spring.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Glorious pink native morning glory


Called by the unlovely names purple bindweed and tievine, Ipomoea cordatotriloba is a native morning glory with a rampant habit. But it looked sweet and demure climbing a cedar-post fence at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center yesterday.


A perfect match—the dainty-flowered but aggressive climber and the rustic cedar fence.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Visit to Denver Botanic Gardens: Water-Smart Garden, Wildflower Treasures & more


It seems kind of stay-at-home-ish to admit that my absolute favorite garden at Denver Botanic Garden, which I visited earlier this month, is the one that looks almost like it could be in central Texas—with the addition of conifers and an intensity of color that we rarely achieve in the more-humid low country. But it was. The Water-Smart Garden, located along a glass house that we didn’t have time to visit, photographed in a hurry as my family tugged at me to leave, complaining of empty bellies (it was lunchtime), is a long, narrow strip of drought-tolerant plants arranged with an eye for contrasting textures, color, and grassy movement.


The long strip is gently mounded, so the plants “flow” down the slope toward the viewer.


Agave and lavender do a cool-blue color echo, with the dark-green pine in there for contrast.


A very blue Eryngium—love!


A wider view. Berming the bed adds a lot to the beauty and enjoyment of this garden—you can see everything easily.


Other garden areas contained beautiful plants too, of course.


These grasses, yuccas, and flowering perennials were in a garden near the entry, I believe.


Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was in full bloom.


An open, patio-style garden called Wildflower Treasures (I think) contained flowering groundcovers, hypertufa troughs, and a geometric bamboo sculpture, backed by beautiful Colorado evergreens.


This hot combo was labeled as Californian firecracker plant (Dichelostemma ida maia) and sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum).


Close-up of the buckwheat


Another look at the geometric bamboo sculpture, which is anchored in a pond.


These boat-like bamboo sculptures were floating in another pond. They were my favorites.


Pretty blue pots with cactus, aloes, and other assorted tender plants


‘Zwartkop’ aeonium, I think, backed by chartreuse sweet potato vine


There was even a kitchen garden…


…with evidence of a gardener recently at work.


I hope you enjoyed my posts about Denver Botanic Garden all this week. DBG is packed with beautiful gardens, and our 4-hour visit was not sufficient to see everything. I’ll definitely have to plan a return visit.

For a look back at my post about DBG’s Plains Garden, Rock Alpine Garden & Dryland Mesa, click here. You’ll find additional links at the end of each post.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.