Here is Maralee's monster Origanum libanoticum: I think she grew more Plant Select plants than I do myself! How embarrassing!
Speaking of Oreganos, I saw no end of them in Spokane including this one I had never seen before: it is a vivid purple form of Origanum laevigatum called 'Pilgrim': it was in many gardens there, this photograph was taken in Manito Park--well worth its own Blog entry later on (hope I shall get to it)...
In addition to meeting dozens of people I've not known in the past, I was also able to spend time with Alan Tower, whom I have known for years. Alan owns Spokane's most diverse plantsman's nursery, Alan Tower perennial gardens, which have extensive display gardens and an amazing range of plants from choice alpines, xerophytes, to woodlanders and all the classic perennials. He has an amazing range of choice dwarf conifers and rhodies as well--and his prices are incredibly reasonable. Here is Alan on top of Steptoe Butte--a wonderful wildflower destination an hour or so south of Spokane where we botanized last Wednesday. Behind Alan stretches the Palouse prairie, one of America's most fascinating ecosystems: like tallgrass prairie in the Midwest it was practically busted overnight and very little unaltered prairie remains.
I was amazed to see that Calochortus macrocarpus was still blooming on the Palouse Prairie: I cannot imagine how many of these magical flowers were plowed to provide us with Top Ramen noodles (the consistently high quality Palouse wheat is exported for this purpose to Japan). I would opt for the Calochortus myself!
It was startling to see Heuchera still blooming as well: this wonderful white species is H. cylindrica, which has a wide range in this region. It would not be found on the Palouse, except that Steptoe is a Quartzite outcrop on an otherwise deep bed of Loess loam with no Heucheras, of course.
Another shocker was this gentian--which might key out to G. affinis in some floras, but which I believe to be the true G. oregana. Gentiana affinis has much smaller, narrower flowers and narrower foliage as well: it is common in Colorado. This more closely resembles the high altitude, wet loving Gentiana calycosa, but it is adapted to drier, hotter habitats. ,but
What a great garden plant this would make in Colorado xeriscapes!