by High Country Gardens

Santa Fe Chapter hosts Annual Meeting of the North American Rock Garden Association (N.A.R.G.S.)


Cactus with Agastache Rosita in a rock garden. Agastache cana Rosita offsets the blue of Opuntia basilaris in this rock garden.

This past weekend, a contingent of nearly 100 serious rock gardeners arrived in Santa Fe as part of the North American Rock Garden Association (N.A.R.G.S.) annual meeting. The event, hosted at a downtown Santa Fe hotel, included a garden tour, plant sale and awards banquet as part of the festivities. Morning hikes to view wildflowers in the nearby Sangre de Cristo mountains were also offered and well attended.

N.A.R.G.S. is an organization of very dedicated gardeners, many who focus on cultivating the plant kingdoms smallest cold-hardy plants. Members came from all over the US (particularly the East), as well as Canada, to participate. Over many years, this international organization of plant enthusiasts has included many of the world's most accomplished amateur and professional gardeners, plant explorers, authors, botanic garden staff and professional nursery people.

There were two nights of talks. On Friday evening, myself and Dan Johnson, the Denver Botanic Garden's Curator of Native Plants and Associate Director of Horticulture, were the presenters. Dan gave a fascinating talk on "The Steppe Regions of the World" (where he has traveled to all four) and I spoke on a topic a little closer to home, "Xeric Rock Gardening: Plants and Techniques for Arid Climates".

The following evening, Saturday's Banquet and Awards Ceremony, Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Denver Botanic Gardens Outreach program and one of the world's most accomplished plantsmen and plant explorers, gave a superb presentation on "The Best Native Plants that are Rarely Grown." I was very honored to receive the Society's Marcel Le Piniec Award, given in recognition to those who have made substantial contributions of new and important plants to the rock gardening world. I was thrilled and very humbled to be included with such notable previous winners J.C. Raulston, Panayoti Kelaidis, Roy Davidson and many others.

Rock Garden PlantsRock garden enthusiasts were treated to a tour of David Salman's Santa Fe garden.

Plant Sale and Garden Tour

We had a great plant sale with four different growers, including myself, offering a treasure trove of unusual rock garden plants. Some folks even brought an empty suitcase in anticipation of returning home with as many western treasures as they could fit into their luggage.

The garden tour was equally well attended with four private gardens and two public gardens included in the event. I even included my garden on the tour, the first time in 30 years I've ever offered to open it to the public. It has been a very tough, dry growing season and I was concerned that my garden was not going to be "up to snuff." But lots of last minute weeding and a great, soaking 2 inch rain several days before the tour made my garden presentable. And of course, all my hummingbirds were in a frenzy. With all the unexpected visitors and their need to feed on the nectar of all my Agastache and Salvia plants, we were dive-bombed all morning!

Text and Photos By David Salman © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.
  1. Blue Spruce Stonecrop, Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce'

    'Blue Spruce' Creeping Sedum (Sedum reflexum) is a standout among low-maintenance Sedums. This easy-to-grow and eye-catching features succulent blue-green foliage, much like little s...

    Learn More
    Blue Spruce Sedum Blue Spruce Stonecrop Sedum reflexum Blue Spruce
    As low as $7.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    'Blue Spruce' Creeping Sedum (Sedum reflexum) is a standout among low-maintenance Sedums. This easy-to-grow and eye-catching features succulent blue-green foliage, much like little spruce needles! A pollinator favorite, it is covered with small star-shaped yellow flowers in summer for over a month. A great evergreen groundcover where low maintenance, drought-tolerant, deer-and-rabbit-resistant plantings are desired.
    Learn More
  2. Cape Blanco Stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco'

    'Cape Blanco' Creeping Sedum (Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco') is sheer elegance with unusual pewter, powder-blue succulent foliage in a well-behaved groundcover. Clusters of tiny...

    Learn More
    Cape Blanco Sedum Cape Blanco Stonecrop Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco
    As low as $7.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    'Cape Blanco' Creeping Sedum (Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco') is sheer elegance with unusual pewter, powder-blue succulent foliage in a well-behaved groundcover. Clusters of tiny yellow flowers cover the plant in summer. Cape Blanco is an award-winning standout. Easy-to-grow and pollinator-friendly this North American native is a must-have!
    Learn More
  3. Angelina Stonecrop, Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'

    Fast-growing, and colorful, 'Angelina' Creeping Sedum (Sedum rupestre) adds a dazzling highlight with colors from chartreuse to golden yellow. Easy to grow, it will spread quickly as...

    Learn More
    Angelina Sedum Angelina Stonecrop Sedum rupestre Angelina
    As low as $7.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Fast-growing, and colorful, 'Angelina' Creeping Sedum (Sedum rupestre) adds a dazzling highlight with colors from chartreuse to golden yellow. Easy to grow, it will spread quickly as a drought-tolerant groundcover. Bright yellow star-like flowers bloom in summer and foliage turns golden-orange in autumn. A great pick for rock gardens, dry borders, and large expanses of ground that need planting.
    Learn More
  4. SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Beard Tongue, Penstemon pinifolius ‘P019S', orange flowers

    A soft orange-flowered selection of pineleaf beardtongue, SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius) is a native cultivar that starts flowering in late spring and attr...

    Learn More
    SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Penstemon SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Beardtongue Penstemon pinifolius 'P019S'
    $8.99
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    A soft orange-flowered selection of pineleaf beardtongue, SteppeSuns® Sunset Glow Penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius) is a native cultivar that starts flowering in late spring and attracts numerous pollinators and hummingbirds. Reminiscent of Colorado summer sunsets, its long-lasting blooms add a warm glow to dry area gardens. Finely textured evergreen foliage forms a compact mound for year-round interest.
    Learn More