top of page

May talk: Xerophytes for the Rock Garden by George Krasle


Meeting at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

Our May talk will be presented by Northwestern Chapter member George Krasle. George has kindly shared a preview of some of the pictures from his talk as well as some comments:

Well, in my own words, I was ALWAYS interested in plants: one of my earliest memories is of being three or four and being offered by Mom to choose from the bag of Iris my Mee-Maw had given us. I laid the plants out and chose the one that had unique extrafloral anthocyanin expression (purple leaf-bases). It turned-out to be the only yellow one.

I always loved the woods near my house (in a suburb of Atlanta), and noted the creeping-huckleberries and blueberries in flower (and fruit!) (3-5 species) early, and the wild azaleas (four species plus a couple more in bike distance), dogwoods, redbuds, goldenrods, asters, Symplocos, Trilliums, serviceberry, ironweed (Vernonia), Obolaria, Chimaphila, Tipularia, Goodyera, Hymenocallis, Hepatica, Cypripedium, lilies, Spiranthes, and many others, more and more as I learned (somehow?) to identify them, and went farther and farther afield searching…. (Animals, insects, rocks, abandoned houses/archaeological sites, old cemeteries, edible plants, people’s gardens out in the country, etc. were interests too.)

© George Krasle

In sixth grade, I met a friend who shared my interests, and our French teacher (Mrs. Zvejnieks) started taking us to the Atlanta Orchid Society, which turbocharged our interest: We influenced our whole circle, and you never saw so many preteen boys begging to visit “old” folks (to work in their greenhouses for free plants), and pining/whining for greenhouses and gardens of their own. I would regularly bike the 9.8 miles to my good friend Rufus Suggs’ house, because his retirement hobby was HUGE greenhouses full of the most wonderful plants, mostly Orchids, and he was the only adult other than Don Jacobs (“Eco Gardens”) who would go with us to look for plants in the woods. Good Times. I never looked back, and the kindness and generosity of the Orchid club towards their youngest members cemented the dedication I still bear to Hort Clubs.

Once I could drive, we added spelunking, rafting/canoeing, and expeditions with the State Botanist and visiting experts. Sometimes we’d spend a week exploring the countryside, living on country B-B-Q, field-corn, “hail-bruised” (pecked) peaches, and burled paenuts.

© George Krasle

In the part of Georgia I came-up in, there are many different habitats, from swamps to sand- and serpentine-barrens, deep woods, mountains, and granite balds. In several habitats, we would encounter the local cactus, Opuntia humifusa. Usually, we would give it wide berth because of the unpleasantness of the little spines (glochids), but they were sure cool and interesting and beautiful. So were the native Yucca filamentosaand almost-native Y. aloifolia. On the balds, barrens, and cliffs, there were several other species of succulents/xerophytes, and I ended-up with quite a collection.

© George Krasle

There are many species of cacti and succulents suitable to rock gardens in addition to those native to my ancestral country. It has always puzzled me that they don’t make it into the Rock Gardens they would thrive in, but here are usually segregated into specialized “desert gardens” as toured by the Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society each year. In the South, a tall stand of one or several species of Opuntia cactus is an invitation to knock on the door and talk with a gardener. I hope to present some of these plants, along with their (NOT-) special cultural requirements for your consideration. Opuntia, Echinocereus, Sedum, Sempervivum, Jovibarba, and several others….

© George Krasle

Refreshments at 7 pm, program begins at 7:30 pm.

Non-members and guests are welcome!

See you all soon!

bottom of page