Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Gotelli Collection on a cold day in late January

Friday I spent the morning in the Gotelli Collection as part of a group project doing winter pruning, cutting back lodged grasses and mangy looking perennials, and generally spiffing things up. Chris Carley, the acting curator, is giving an important tour this March to a big group that will include a large contingent of local horticultural professionals We want the collection to sparkle! This is the view towards the road from the small area where I spent most of my time. It's literally sparkling in the photograph as the low morning sun glances over a heavy frost.

I am struck, every time a project pulls me into this collection, by just how spectacular a place it is. There are hundreds of different taxa, some very large, up to 100', others, scores of years old but less than a foot tall. All shades of green are represented in the needles, and there are blues, silvers, golds, and yellows. Forms range from the classical narrowly pyramidal upright forms of spruces and firs to completely prostrate junipers and every possible variation in between. There are dozens of weeping forms including one of the largest Blue Atlas Cedars that you will likely ever see. Many of the cultivars are quite rare and unusual and though some of them are more common in the trade now than they were when Gotelli planted them, it is certainly unusual to be able to see so many mature specimens in one place.

P.S. In the background of this photograph you can see the dennuded branches of Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the Dawn Rredwood. This giant deciduous conifer was discovered in China in the mid 1940s only a few years after it was described from fossils that dated to the Cenezoic era. That means, of course, that all of the trees in cultivation (and it isn't an uncommon tree) are less than 70 years old. Wow. This grove is certainly one of the oldest in cultivation and they are big. The bases of the trunks with their curiously distorted root flares are worth a trip themselves, but go ahead and look at the rest of the collection if you're here anyway.

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