Friday, May 9, 2008

Christmas in May....Northern native plant windfall

If you are a regular visitor to Fern Valley, you have undoubtedly noticed the construction that is underway now and has been going on since last winter! The ultimate object of it all is to make as much of the trail system as we can accessible to as many people as possible. This involves resurfacing trails and adjusting level and grade. To achieve a reasonable grade in the Northern Woods section, the big bridge was raised resulting in its lengthening (to ~100'!). Two other bridges in that section were redone. The trail system is nice back there now, and the view from the newly uplifted bridge emphasizes parts of the collection that had previously not been particularly noticeable. We began to address these areas this spring by transferring propagations of plants that we already had in other areas. But wonderful plants were to arrive almost out of the blue; serendipity is a good thing.

Stefan Lura, the new Plant Records Botanist, resident rose expert (he would be the resident rose expert anywhere he went), and general plant fanatic, commissioned his parents to harvest native plants from their property in Minnesota. The bounty arrived Friday in the rain. In the picture Stefan is unpacking and rigorously inspecting the material to see if it was properly chosen and packed. I am kidding......sort of. Actually, Stefan did mention that his father, an engineer, had developed, just as an intellectual exercise, several innovative techniques and procedures for packing live plant material. They were useful here; everything arrived in perfect condition. There is a list somewhere to the right.

I am excited about Cornus rugosa, a plant who's virtues, Stefan, will extol at the drop of a cornus reference. Also Rosa blanda, whether it is a hybrid or not has retained beautiful red winter color in it's stems. We have been working on increasing our numbers of Ostrya, Joan wanted an Amalanchier laevis, and Carex albursina promised to be a great plant. Plenty of new material for the now irrestibly accessible North Woods.

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