Monday, May 5, 2008

Jeanette Plants 'Pink Crystals'...Group Planting Project 5/5

We're back at the Capitol Columns. Still working on that big oval between the road and the columns. This time we're planting a tropical hot (for us, but cool in S. Africa) season grass, Melinus nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals'. I don't like writing about a plant I don't know but since nobody else outside of California seems to know this grass, I'll just summarize what I have learned. It is a small grass with blue-green foliage, which we have already seen. It flowers sometime in the summer with what are described as iridescent ruby pink blooms that "sit about a foot above the foliage." Sounds great. Can't wait. Hardy only in USDA Zone 9 and higher, we don't anticipate it returning next year. We have planted it to fill in the area this year until the Schizachrium scoparium and the Amsonia hubrechtii come into their own. Next year they will take over. Interestingly, after a month the Schizachrium looks like it has always been here; it has grown a bit and sits brooding as though waiting for summer while the Amsonia, the 70% of it that has lived, though small, looks bright green and newly planted. Despite the fact that a lot of Amsonia has died, I am confident that there is more than enough left to fill the space it was intended to fill.

This is a group project that includes the efforts of gardeners and interns. Two days a week we focus our combined efforts on selected areas. Over the last several years we have accomplished a lot using this scheduling format. We have renovated the plantings around the Administration Building, done a lot of tree planting, planted roses along New York Avenue, done a remarkable amount of invasive plant removal, and cleaned up many overgrown "Uncurated Areas" (areas outside the purview of any individual curator). These projects have helped change the general appearance of the Arboretum; it has morphed from being a site that clearly was neglected into a collection of better maintained, interesting gardens sited on a campus that, though it clearly needs attention, doesn't look abandoned anymore. If there is a down side to the projects, it is the fact that the participants (us) are not in their "assigned collections" when they/we are doing the projects. Peter to pay Paul and all that. Still on balance the whole place looks better than it did. If we can keep the collections up it will be all good. There are not that many of us though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Melinis 'Pink Crystals' was growing in Bartholdi Park when I took it over, my predecessor was from Oregon so maybe that explains it. I loved it so much I planted more the next summer, using it to edge a formal bed of pink roses. It is really great, very Dr. Seuss-esque. Everyone wanted to know what it, it just doesn't look like anything else. I still can't picture a whole meadow of it but it will be very cool I'm sure...
--Amy F.