Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday in the Garden of Bonsai and Penjing...visitors photograph the Crape Myrtle 'Powhatan'

Today was a beautiful day; there were clouds, but the sun was out all day. It began a bit on the cool side, but quickly warmed to a comfortably brisk fall day. I filled in today in the Bonsai and Penjing Museum as Jack was running in the Marine Corps Marathon, and the rest of the staff was unavoidably unavailable. It was great. I couldn't believe the number of visitors. For large portions of the day we had at least 100 people (of course by my guess), the rest of the time we had close to 100, and people moved along at a pretty good clip. They stopped to appreciate the the garden and the exhibits, but still, a large majority of the visitors didn't stay over 20-30 minutes. I don't guarantee the math, but that's considerably more than 1,000 people. I had no idea.

I used Amy's computer for a bit in the am and again after noon. There are windows on three sides of the office, and I don't know the physics of the window covering but I know that I can see out and they can't see in.....very well. I didn't feel vouyerstic though, or I would have stopped looking. Basically every time I looked up I would see different people, usually two or three, taking pictures. Often they were photographing the large central Crape Myrtle, 'Powhatan'. Sometimes it framed a family member, sometimes it stood alone.

Powhatan is not one of your more frequently encountered Crape Myrtles. Looking at this mature specimen, I have to think that that's too bad. The flowers are a liliacy purple, pleasant. The fall color is obviously spectacular, the bark is very nice, not cinnamon or russet, but nice. The habit is likely the limiting factor for this plant. Spreading and bushy, it can eventually take up a lot of room. That's a good thing if you have the space and have planned for it, but on a small lot, either a smaller variety or a more upright one might make more sense. Still...if you've got the room There were at least 1,000 people here today who can sincerely recommend this plant!

And while we're at it, one of the few well grown examples of Cotinus obovatus, our native Smoketree, at the Arboretum, sits adjacent to Powhatan and, thanks to the large number of visitors, got a good share of the admiration and compliments that it so justly deserves. Joan and Amy and I collected seed of C. obovatus on a trip, summer last, so more plants grown from seed from non-cultivated plants will eventually be making their way out into the world.

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