He called me a "penstemaniac"

June 02, 2024  •  3 Comments

Years ago, when Santa Fe Greenhouses had a thriving business on Siler Road, where gardeners from around the state would fill the parking lot and be almost elbow to elbow with fellow enthusiasts and professionals alike, I was wandering around the greenhouses and open areas looking for assorted penstemons.  The late and great co-owner of the place (with his wife, Eva) came over to say "Hi".  We had been taking taekwondo classes together and invariably after class, many of us would ask him questions about gardening and specific plants.  David Salman's knowledge of plants and growing things was amazing, and he was always gracious about sharing.  He had a degree in horticulture, but it was his curiosity about how things work along with his way of infecting everyone who entered the place with his enthusiasm that made him a giant in the industry.  According to an online article by Julianne Mobilian about Salman, he was "a pioneer of waterwise gardening, passionate plant explorer, and charismatic storyteller."  And, given the wide variety of penstemons he bred and made available to the public, he probably enjoyed them as much as I did. Thus, when he came over to greet me that Saturday saying "You must be a penstemanic",  I was puzzled, until I realized I only had penstemons in the wagon.  I guess I was and did not know it.  Well, two more varieties were added to our garden this year.  One variety, Red Rocks, has just started to bloom, complementing the Rocky Mountain variety we brought here from our place in Taos County, and the pine leaf Penstemons I planted two years ago.  Thought it would be good to share with you as David did with so many.

I have been curious about the fact that the flowers, and actually stems of all Penstemons, are quite hairy.  Apparently, the hairiness is a way to encourage bees and insects to go deeper into the flower.  So while you are viewing the photographs, check out all the little hairs that grace the flowers.  The following images are of Penstemon (beardtongue) Red Rocks.  You can see the little hairs all over the flowers.

Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 4Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 4

Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks"2Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks"2



I made a few adjustments to this particular image, giving it a more painterly look.

Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 1Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 1

Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 4Flowers - Penstemon "Red Rocks" 4

We had quite a few Rocky Mountain penstemon plants at our place in Taos County and brought a few with us to Santa Fe,  They have been thriving for four years.  I am always torn about how to describe their look - The Rolling Stones "Hot Lips" logo, the whales I see in the buds, or just plain alien creatures.  

Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 1Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 1

Another image made painterly.

Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 2Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 2

Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 3Flowers - Penstemon "Rocky Mountain" 3


Finally, the Penstemon pinifolius.  This penstemon makes tidy mounds of red-orange tubes, attracting insects and hummingbirds alike.  

Flowers - Penstemon pinifolius 1Flowers - Penstemon pinifolius 1 Flowers - Penstemon pinifolius 2Flowers - Penstemon pinifolius 2


You can still find a wide selection of growing things through the High Country Gardens website, https://www.highcountrygardens.com/?gad_source=1
 also a creation of the Salmans.  The plants are always superb and arrive in perfect condition.  Even in our less than desirable soil, they never cease to thrive.  Thanks, David!  You left the world quite a legacy.

And my gratitude to Terry T., Ann A., Veronica, TTT, Victoria, Brenda, Peggy, Sam & Jean, Catherine, Christine, Barbara F. R., Steve, and Lisa for your kind words this week.

Go forward with cameras and phones in hand to capture images of your own world during this first week in June.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image©





Love your Penstemons and the interesting information about the reason for hairiness. Who would have known???
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Calling all penstemanics. Yay for the painterly ones. In the second painterly effort I see an entire face in the top bloom with eyes, a nose, possibly lips and maybe a hat. Good to know that the hairs lure deeper into the flower. The second painterly image is a beauty and is truly painterly. And I particularly like image five with buds and full blooms.

Thanks for the story about David Salman of Santa Fe Greenhouses. He sounds like a great and enthusiastic man,
These beauties are totally unappreciated yet constant. Yes, & 5 of David’s penstemons live & bloom in my crummy soil thanks to you Blacks !
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