Saturday, November 21, 2009
Rhus chinensis top, and a hillside planting of Rhus aromatica 'Grow-Low' and Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet' on the north side of our main parking lot
The slope planting is one more example of an improvement we've made here, a medium-sized project that took a dysfunctional eyesore and turned it into a pleasant simple planting of four native taxa. The Red-leafed plants are Itea, the yellow/orange are Fragrant Sumac. I was part of the project that ripped out the English Ivy last year but didn't get to participate in this year's planting. I do get to walk or drive by it a few times a day and it's wonderful.
Posted by ChrisU at 10:57 AM
Tanya (our sort of new Volunteer Coordinator) is doing an incredible job supplying us with valuable volunteers. It's uplifting and disturbing at the same time to realize how much of the work in the gardens is done by volunteers. Back in the day (in most/all? public gardens) it was standard practice to cherish and cultivate your volunteers and appreciate the amount of work they did while at the same time assuming nothing. In other words, there was enough paid staff to maintain the gardens and whatever you got from volunteers was gravy......Those days are gone. If it weren't for our volunteers the gardens would be unmanageable. We;re very grateful!
Posted by ChrisU at 9:53 AM
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Kathleen Gagan of Peony's Envy and David Parks from Camellia Forest toured Asian Valley on a rainy dreary afternoon
I was in meetings much of the morning and it rained off and on all day, heavily at times, but these guys were pretty chipper and interested enough in the plants to endure the rain. David had just driven up to personally deliver Camellias et alia plante from Camellia Forest Nursery outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. If you don't know them, this is a great nursery both because they carry a wide range of choice and unusual plants, and because those plants are well grown with good root systems, and always a good value for their size.
Kathleen was here to see where we were planting her donated Peonies and to photograph them so she'd have "before" pictures to compare with the huge, lush, beautiful plants they'll have turned into in two or three years. That's a heavy burden on us, but we're up for it and will succeed. We learned that an offhand remark at a dinner party was the source the the unusual name of her company, Peony's Envy. We also learned she has an inventory of 30,000 including over 250 varieties.
Posted by ChrisU at 3:44 PM
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Concubine's Feather, Dragon in Ink Pool, Garden Waif, Smiling in the Thickets.....give up? They're named varieties of Tree Peonies
Sonja Behnke Festerling (daughter of Albert Behnke, who was the founder of Behnke Nurseries) used to laughingly make reference to "cardboard gardens". Plant lovers (including Sonja and me!) buy plants and sometimes they go home, aren't planted, and live for some time in the boxes they came home in. I cured myself of that habit a few years ago (an intervention was involved); if it comes home, it gets planted. Still....I remember being an abuser. And that kind of thing happens even in the best families (and in public gardens). We accumulate plants that just don't make it into the ground. Maybe we dont know where to put them, maybe the site needs preparation, maybe....well, the possibilities are endless. Somebody above us, one of the powers that be?, decided to call us out, and today was the day. Plant it, give it away to somebody who would plant it today, or compost it. Creakily and grudgingly we complied, but by the end of the day I think everybody felt better. A lot of plants too; it's more fun to live in the ground than in a pot.
The plants in the picture are tree peonies that were donated by Peony's Envy. Pretty good name for a company don't you think? They were at the FONA Plant Sale this past spring with a wonderful selection of both herbaceous and tree Peonies. They donated 40 tree peonies. Very generous.
Posted by ChrisU at 3:06 PM
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
No leaves to the right, no leaves to the left....you will note though, that there are still a few on some of the trees
Weeding, pruning, leaf removal.....many gardening tasks are the aggregation of 100s or even 1000s of repetitive motions. Because we're always trying to get more done and we always have the same amount of time we look for ways. One good approach is to try to make our movements more efficient. Because we repeat the sam actions so many times, any given refinement in technique is multiplied a thousandfold every day. Shaving microseconds can become an obsession.
Posted by ChrisU at 2:47 PM
Monday, November 16, 2009
Most of the "Hardy fall flowering Camellias" (USDA Zone 7a/6) available in the trade were developed at the Arboretum by Dr. William Ackerman. They were principally hybrids between Camellia oleifiera, C. sasanqua, C.hiemalis / C. vernalis. Their blooming patterns are variable depending on the weather. Typically, depending on the cultivar, flowering begins in October and continues, weather allowing, unabated through the winter holidays. Often we get a shot of cold (or two) during this period; sometimes this blasts the fully open flowers, but when temperatures rebound buds resume opening and unless it got really cold, another spell of flowering commences. Right now there are as many flowers open as I have ever seen in this collection.
Posted by ChrisU at 3:32 PM
Just about everybody who ever lifts a shovel was part of the project today.....we worked in the growing area: greenhouses, lath beds, and cold frames
Pat, Nate, Amanda, and I left the conifer cold frame project after the rough grading to clean up our own three lath house beds. We weeded, refilled holes with topsoil, raked the beds, and put down about an inch of leaf compost. I'd be proud to live in one of those beds if I was a plant. Other groups moved our potting area from one polyhouse to another, shifted plants, did general cleanup, and frankly did things I haven't learned about yet. It was a productive day.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The dragon topiary is the most popular part of the Chrysanthemum exhibit in the Brookside Gardens Conservatory
After days of rain, I needed to see some cheerful plants. I like Brookside because there's always an interesting display in the conservatories and there are also always some unusual oddball plants sitting around in pots or sometimes just elements of the permanent collections that are doing their thing when you happen to visit
Yesterday the Strelitzia were flowering cheerfully against the gloomy gray of the sky. The Blue ginger, Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, actually a member of the Commelinaceae has gotten quite large and was coveredwith flowers. I first saw this plant in Hawai and would love to plant is in Florida. Unfortunately I'm pretty sureit wouldn't be happy during the 6 month dry season.
The mums were good: all shapes forms, colors, big baskets, disbuds, new varieties. Still, I liked the dragon best. There is a photograph of the same dragon as they did it in 2001; that time his head was floral, this time, that striking aggregate production. This one's better.
Posted by ChrisU at 6:48 AM