BOULDER COUNTY – In the pantheon of iconic television shows with lasting effect on our lives, one that stands out in my world is Star Trek. The science-fiction series was groundbreaking in its day, showcasing technologies that would actually come true, like communicators (cell phones), hologram conferencing (Telepresence technology), or tricorders (NASA’s LOCAD). On its 50th anniversary September 8, we celebrate the short-lived series that grew into a movie and television powerhouse.
Star Trek boldly went where no man had gone before, bringing strange aliens, teleporters and telepathic rocks to our living rooms. It also launched at least one career – mine – when the bug-like lifeform from Ceti Alpha 5 crawled into Mr. Chekhov’s ear in a particularly nasty scene from The Wrath of Kahn. Who wouldn’t want to become an entomologist after watching that?
Fandom around this show helped it grow into the franchise that continues to produce movies. Inevitably, it’s spilled over into flowers and plants, so for those who want to honor the show in your yard’s outer space, here are a few garden ideas. And though we can’t have Talosian Singing plants with their flute-like sounds, these are still crowd pleasers.
If squirrels, raccoons and rabbits aren’t enough wildlife for you, pop in some Triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye. The annual grain is attractive in dried flower arrangements and could possibly attract Tribbles, the cute fuzzballs that infested the Starship Enterprise. For those who say “Dang it, Carol, I’m a gardener, not a zookeeper,” read on for plants and flowers.
Captain Kirk hosta is a light and dark green, large leafed plant that’s hardy to zone 3. Named for the dashing, daring, haltingly-speaking leader, the hosta is a must have Star Trek plant. Introduced in 1999 the plant keeps a well-behaved, mounded habit and is resistant to slugs. It pairs nicely with the hostas Enterprise and Starship in a shady area of the yard.
Spock’s Ears daylily sports crispate petals, which give this flower the pinched-tip look of the famous Vulcan’s ears. Fascinating. But unlike its namesake, the flower isn’t entirely green; the purple and lavender petals simply surround a chartreuse throat. Hardy to zone 4a. Pair Spock’s Ears with Photon Torpedo daylily, a fuchsia flower with yellow throat, and your garden will jump into warp speed with color.
Keep the space theme flying with Moonflower (Ipomoea alba). An annual in our area, it’s huge, white flowers seem to shine at night. Be sure to give it a trellis, so it can climb for the heavens. For dazzling daytimes, pop in Jupiter’s beard (Ceranthus ruber) or Cosmos. Both like sunny spots and are relatively carefree.
Want an aggressive display of color? Add the iris Klingon Princess, a tough as nails yellow and lavender flower. A dwarf bearded iris, their beauty should be enjoyed but not ingested: they’re poisonous. Another iris to consider is Starship Enterprise. Starship Enterprise is a stunner: crisp white standards are held tall above gorgeous, magenta and yellow ringed falls.
Rounding out the list is Celosia Star Trek Pink Adobe, an nice annual that adds a touch of fun to garden beds. There’s also a rhododendron named Star Trek, but let’s not get crazy; our dry, alkaline soils wouldn’t be a hospitable habitat for them.
However you choose to celebrate the Star Trek anniversary, may your gardens live long and prosper.
Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.