pbs Digest, Vol 16, Issue 30

ken@wildlanders.com ken@wildlanders.com
Thu, 27 May 2004 14:41:18 PDT
Thanks for the comments Mark. 

I am bound and determined to get that violet to work. I may have to do some 
artificial selection though it would go against my primary interest to preserve the 
plant for its natural (and reclamation) qualities.

I have collected the seed from the bighead clover too. When I first seen it, I could 
not believe the size of those clover heads - four inches across! Wow!  I am also 
hoping to do a desert garden rather than a rock or alpine garden. Will likely use 
some of the lithosol soils. Sounds like you have done a lot of work in regards to 
natives here and very good to know someone else who appreciates them.

I am still going to try and do that basket. Will have to market them as very special 
plants with a very short growing season. Will likely put some others in there that 
bloom a bit later - like the bitterroot. That way the basket will have several 
'seasons'. In any event, if they work out, they will be of particular interest to the folks 
in Spokane, Wenatchee, Yakima, etc.

There is a lot of construction going on between Vantage and Ellensburg now so 
there may be an opportunity to harvest some of the plants from a construction site 
before they plow the whole country under. Word is there is going to be an "east" 
Ellensburg out near the Colockum Pass road (SE base of the Wenatchee 
Mountains). Will not bode well for the deer and elk herds here as that is all winter 
rangeland. One of the reasons I want to propogate that violet (and others) is to 
promote it in the local gardens to keep it alive in the event the whole country here 
ends up like Seattle someday. So I view it as a preservation issue.

In any event, thanks for the info. Will hope to keep in touch.

Ken Boettger
Ellensburg, WA USA
USDA Zone 6
ken at wildlanders dot com

Native Plant Container Gardening: Bringing native plants back to the city to support 
the native butterflies, native birds, migratory birds and other wildlife.  A wonderful 
way to keep nature around you and bring the wild back to the city!

> Hi Ken,
> I used to live in the Seattle area, and would often go "botanizing" in the 
Wenatchee Mts, close to your home turf in Ellensburg, Washington.  I also 
frequented the sagebrush areas in the area towards Vantage, WA, and Yakima...
> With Viola trinervata, I think you have picked a very difficult subject, and you may 
want to look at the great diversity of other plants in your area to find some that are 
more amenable to cultivation and propagation, such as some of the Penstemons.
> Viola trinervata shares a growth cycle like many sagebrush and dryland plants, in 
having a very short season of growth in spring, after which it goes dormant to some 
sort of storage root, not a bulb in the true sense, but a fleshy rhizome that carries it 
through the dry summer. This violet is indeed among the most gorgeous of all 
violets, along with allied species V. beckwithii and V. hallii, but outside of their 
austere environment, these species are very difficult to cultivate successfully for 
any length of time, particularly in areas that receive more rain.
> One of my favorite plants in your area, is Trifolium macrocephalum, the big-
headed clover, which retreats to an underground rhizome after flowering.  The form 
in the Wenatchees intrigued me because the immense spheres of blooms were a 
salmon orange color, sitting atop sparse but concise leaflets... hardly one's notion of 
clover. I never succeeded in cultivating the plant for more than a year or two, and 
never got flowers.  Same is true with my attempts at sagebrush delights such as 
Viola trinervata & Ranunculus glaberriumus (sagebrush buttercup, also geophytic), 
and limited success with the geophytic delphineum species in the area.  I am able to 
grow other plants from the area, that are more forgiving in our New England 
climate, such as Eriogonums and Penstemons.
> My guess is, that if you were able to cultivate V. trinervata (possibly so, given that 
you live right where it is native), that it would require 5 years or so, for seedlings to 
reach flowering size, as they aestivate for such a short period of time each spring, 
that its a slow proposition.  I would also summise, that any average gardener who'd 
purchase a basket full of V. trinervata (its hard to even imagine such a thing), they 
would most likely kill it in a very short time from watering.  There are other Viola 
species in your area, some lovely yellow ones that grow in more wooded locations, 
that would probably be more amenable to cultivation.
> Mark McDonough        
> Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States  
> "New England", near New Hampshire  
> USDA Zone 5

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