Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spanish Moss and Yellow Bananas

I couldn't find an image of the copse of Live Oaks, Quercus virginiana, in the National Grove of State Trees at the Arboretum. I took this picture in Georgia at Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. Since this is the Georgia State Tree, I guess it is appropriate to have a picture from Georgia. The trees in the picture are bigger than ours; actually, if they were cannibalistic, those trees could eat our trees for an appetizer . Our tallest tree is not 30 feet tall. The point of the picture is that Live Oaks and Spanish Moss go together. Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usneoides is a rogue member of the Bromelliad family. While eschewing the vase structure typical of the family, choosing instead this mossy trailing form, it does retain the epiphytic habit. Anyway, returning from Florida three weeks ago, I brought back a big bag of Spanish Moss from the Wildwood garden, with the intention of adorning the Live Oaks in the Grove. Well...spring is a busy time of year for a gardener and there were more pressing issues, but this is going to be the week.

I have done this before, that is brought back Spanish Moss, and kept it with fairly good success. Obviously we are a bit north of it's preferred range, but it has overwintered for me before and if winters get warmer and warmer, who knows. The Plants Database is a wonderful website from the USDA. Actually it isn't wonderful, its better than wonderful. It's incredible. I use it constantly. It does have one feature that, completely inexplicably........Well, the distribution maps often just make you want to scratch your head or sometimes laugh. I guess we all have our Achilles Heels. But this time I am liking what I am seeing. Maryland is green signifying that there is some documentation somewhere? that Spanish Moss exists in Maryland (Cedarville Swamp??).If it can live in Maryland, I can keep it alive in the heat island that is the District of Columbia. Maybe. For a year or two. Actually I typically lose most of what I put out to nesting birds; obviously if it were really hardy they would just be spreading it around. Still I will keep trying.

So the big bag of moss is sitting outside the front door where I won't be able to miss it tomorrow morning. I did a variety of gardening tasks this weekend; one involved unpotting a Musella lasiocarpa, Chinese yellow banana, that has been in an 18" pot for the last two years. I put the mother plant in the ground, planted one pup?, stuck another into a pot to do something with, and I will bring the rest of them to work to give away, so I have a box and a bag to take tomorrow.

No comments: