A visit with Bob Nold

Submitted by Kelaidis on

I usually only drop in on Bob Nold a couple times of year: every time I do so I am annoyed with myself that I don't drop by more often. For those of you who know him only through his wonderful books, I can assure you that he is even more charming and interesting in person. I am appending a few pictures of Bob and his new "world's ugliest rock garden", which he assures me is prettier now that he has finished it. And one of the many plants that Bob has naturalizing in his yard (which was a fleeting visitor to mine): namely Asphodeline damascena. This is a monocarpic morsel that produces graceful rosettes that erupt into those amazing turrets. Bob has lots of these in his garden, and he is always sharing them at chapter events and with friends: I have two promising rosettes I remind each time I go by that they too must regenerate once they seed so I can have my own thriving colony one day. He had a trough full of Delphinium alpestre: he has troughs full of all sorts of goodies that thrive for him and merely deign to grow a year or two for the rest of us like all the sky pilots and Physoplexis comosa....Can you hear the envy seeping between my words there?...And there is the amazing cactus that he's cornerned the market on. I better go back next week and check his garden out again...


Submitted by penstemon on Thu, 06/24/2010 - 16:33

Yes, this is the World's Ugliest Rock Garden ..... Now made even uglier by piling dirt on top and sticking a bunch of plants in it.
I noticed that the 60-odd mesembryanthemums had been planted the same distance apart (the way they grow in nature, right?), so I moved some of them closer to each other. The lampranthus from the Matroosberg (Lampranthus practicalius-invisibilus) has already bloomed. This is obviously one of those plants that gets rock gardeners excited. It's fairly adorable, but I fear if a mouse steps on it, the plant will be crushed.
The echinocereus hybrids (I think that's not one in the photograph), on the other hand, could be seen from Alpha Centauri when in flower. They're hybrids, I think, of E. coccineus and E. fendleri, some with the reddest flowers I've ever seen, some with red shading to purple in the middle, and some with the typical huge purple flowers of fendleri.
I bought two at Timberline Gardens. I went home, planted them, and spent the next couple of days looking at the flowers, wondering why I had bought two plants. I mean, only two plants.  I went back and bought the rest.
Right now they're enjoying the weather (91 degrees F and 11 percent humidity), and so am I.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 07:15

I'm so glad you got a specific epithet for the Lampranthus, Bob: I assume that's a Louise Bolus holotype? I can assure you that it DOES get bigger. And Mark did get one (it's the low flat thing mislabeled Esterhuysenia, which it is not). And Mea Culpissima on the Echinocereus: I photographed my modester trig right after your visit, and (stupidly) didn't take pix of your Raquel Welchoid extravaganzas... I vaguely recall as I posted thinking "wasn't the flower a tad bigger?"....oh well. Incidentally, I am relieved coyotes have made mice extinct in Lakewood: the Bartletts told you about their nest of 9 (and I repeat, 9) coyotes denning at the house two doors down from them...I can only imagine the sunset serenades...

Submitted by penstemon on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 09:44

Kelaidis wrote:

I'm so glad you got a specific epithet for the Lampranthus, Bob: I assume that's a Louise Bolus holotype? I can assure you that it DOES get bigger.

Non L. Bolus.
The thing is pretty cute as it is. I now predict it will be crushed to death when the first snowflake falls on it.
Mice, here, have a very short life span. Thanks to the snakes. Both the Plains Garter and Wandering Garter catch a lot of mice. Hence their large size, and the screams one occasionally hears when the garden is being visited by humans.
The little back yard bunny, who would fit in the palm of my hand, has discovered the new garden and its plants. Aloinopsis seems to be a particularly edible genus.
The dog is completely useless when it comes to patrolling the garden.

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 23:55

Dogs (and cats) don't take slugs either. Therefore I have neither (but the neighbors have and they drop things in my garden (the cats I mean, not the neighbors!)).
Haven't tried snakes but maybe that's an option?

Submitted by penstemon on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 15:22

Update on the World's Ugliest Rock Garden. It now has over one hundred mesembs. So the Czech rock gardeners have a Beauty Slope, I have a Slippery Slope.
Rabbits have already eaten a few.
I broke up the monotony, if that's what it is, somewhat anyway, by adding perennials and shrubs, and two Pinus monophylla grown from "broom seed".  There's no knowing how these will grow, so I decided to put them in front and hope they don't get too big. Or eaten by rabbits.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 18:26

Those wascally wabbits!

Dwarf pinons and mesembs! That practically REEKS of Denver...

Submitted by penstemon on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 18:45

I should say that the rabbits are not very big. On the lawn (another thing that reeks of Denver...) I saw the sun shining through a pair of ears that were no longer than 3 cm.
As an added architectural feature I spread some chicken wire over the new mesembs.
I had a visitor the other night who was taken aback at the armature in place around many plants, not to mention the heavy fortifications around some small Daphne petraea.

Submitted by Susan ITPH on Thu, 03/31/2016 - 13:02

A Delphinium alpestre for every trough! No wonder I've got so many Asphodel's around here this spring. Thanks, Bob!

My little seedling could not put up with this spring's hijinks. :(