Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arrrived at the Florida garden yesterday midday

I've not seen weeds like these here before. Apparently we've  been in the tropical "rain most afternoons" cycle but still....I used a dozen bags of "Black Cow", a manure compost mix, this spring, and I wonder if seeds came in with it. The beds are always covered with weeds in the summer, but there are plants here, particularly one 3' spurge, that I don't think I've ever seen. The variegated Bougainvillea beside the carport has exploded, probably because I had given up on it after 3 years of watching it grow cheerfully then defoliate during dry periods. I suspect that if there's as much below ground as there is above ground, it's reached a point where it cm sustain itself through a few months of dry weather. The new Zamia pumila (from April) looks good. Over most of the garden, the weeds are actually so high I can't tell what's going on under them. Anyway, it'll be light in an hour or so and I can get to the weeding. And picking up Palm fronds. There must have been a big wind because dead fronds are everywhere. It's so horribly weedy I don't want to take any pictures yet but I suppose I ought to...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hemerocallis 'Autumn Glory' ? from the Beltsville Garden Club Spring Sale

I still have the label that came with this plant, it's just that, excepting my own earlier post, the name doesn't seem to exist. A few of those annoying sites that list every plant name without having any useful information list the name, but I suspect that they just pulled the name from my previous post and added it to their "database". Don't you hate those sites? Its a pretty little daylily at any rate, whatever its name is!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Road Trip

Going south to see the Florida Garden today. It ought to be at least green as the rain has been falling these last six or seven weeks. Every trip now the weeds are fewer and fewer but I expect that they will be there in some quantity. I have planned lots of planting having not added much for the last couple years.Will post photographs Friday I hope.

Summer rains are what brings the Florida Scrub community to life so I hope to spend a good bit of time out there with the Scrub Jays, mosquitoes and the gopher tortoises. But also the Florida Rosemary, Pinus clausa, and and the numerous endemics many of which should be flowering. It'll be good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Canna 'Thai Rainbow'

This is one of Brad's cool plants on the East Terrace of the Administration Building. I think it came from Plant Delights.

Leopard Moth, Zeuzera's a big one, almost 3' long

Nathan, Amanda, and I were cutting and removing a dead Flowering Apricot today and Amanda spotted this cool moth. There are actually two Leopard Moths, this one, that's introduced from Europe these past 130+ years, and a native species. The native has spots with white centers so they're easy to differentiate.

Acrostemum (Chinavia) hilare, Green Stink looks like a Trilobite with tiny eyes

Amy found an aggregation (non-technical term) of these bugs on a Yellowwood in the North American planting in the Bonsai & Penjing Museum. There were a lot of brownish grey individuals and a few of these, which I believe, represent early enstars.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yes, most of the USNA Crape Myrtles are pastels, but we have some warm and wonderful plants that're still being evaluated

Here's what's happening the way I see it. It's possible I'm wrong, hey I'm wrong every day, but I think 'Tuscarora' (a large CM with coral flowers and good exfoliating bark) is becoming the new 'Natchez' (the perennial best selling CM, a large white-flowered plant with great bark) because it's a nice warm color. I like reds that are on the coral side of the blue/yellow line. I'm not a trend setter, I tend to like what other people like and people are buying 'Tuscarora'.

Ginny Rosenkrantz visited Dr. Carl Whitcomb in Stillwater, Oklahoma and wrote a short piece in this week's IPM Alert from the University of Maryland Extension Service. He's known for adding real red to the palette  While there have always been "red" Crape Myrtles, the reds weren't good colors.Whitcomb changed that with 'Dynamite' and 'Red Rocket', both very upright and wonderfully red: . They really are spectacular, but I'd still like to see more Crape Myrtles with warm pinks added to the mix: colors that work well with yellows and oranges, which are the colors of summer. We have them. I see them every year in the Research Fields and every year I lobby for movement because I'm impatient and don't want to wait for thorough evaluation. Some of them are latish bloomers; wouldn't it be nice to have a warm pink/coral crape myrtle flowering near yellow/orange fall foliage?  Of course it would!

Walnut caterpillar: Datana integerrima at the bottom of China Valley

I'm always a bit tentative about insect identification, but I'm fairly certain of this one. Hey it's got a distinctive look! And they were on the ground under Pterocarya and near Platycarya. FIDL 41, Forest Insect and Disease Leaflet  41, from the USDA Forest Service suggests that they feed exclusively on the foliage of Juglandaceous plants. These guys surely won't go hungry where they were.

Okay so I stopped to talk to this guy who was admiring the Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix in China Valley

Now there's a man who's dedicated to palms. We talked for some time about hardy palms, hardy tropicals, and the fanaticism that attend the fringe elements of those hobbies. Then he rolled up his sleeve. I conceded without a fight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A cold front moved in yesterday afternoon displacing our 100F temperatures: Fern Valley took the hit

The storm only lasted 10 minutes or so but a bit more than half an inch of rain fell and winds up to 75mph took down a lot of trees and enough power lines to leave almost 400,000 households without electricity. As I write this a bit over a day later, half of them are still without power. Wow.

Two and a half big trees and a 10" Cherry. No hardscape seemed to be destroyed but Nathan's wall and the big Robinson bench are going to have to be unearthed, or, more accurately, untreed. A  medium large Oak fell across the stream and a good sized Tulip Poplar growing just inside the trail both fell. The Tulip Poplar took out half of a two-leader Beech and the Cherry. I feel sorry for these guys. Hey, they have a good tree man now.....if they can just keep some trees standing. But seriously, life goes on. I just talked to the irrigation contractors and apparently the trees avoided most of the system; apparently there's one head that might be affected. I expect we'll find out!

Cicada Killers can't really see him but hey, it's not really about him is it?

The female is almost twice as big as the male. These two appeared on the railing by the entrance to the Administration Building. Carole and I were going over the last weeks events and they were doing what they were doing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hibiscus cooccineus and H. rosa-sinensis: as an unabashed fan of the gaudy if not the vulgar, of course I have a good selection of Hibiscus in my gardens

A  few were flowering today; all seemed to be enjoying the heat wave. I especially like Hibiscus coccineus, the Swamp Hibiscus or scarlet rosemallow. I don't think it's native any farther north than South Carolina but it seems perfectly hardy here in Zone 7. Cool flower, a better red than most, it lives naturally in swamps and low moist spots. This one is growing in my "bog" (an old fiberglass pool filled with a peat/sand mix whose bottom was irredeemably punctured) It's been happy there for three years now. The first flowers of the season just opened this weekend on two stems about 7' high; I had to stand on the two foot terraced wall behind the pool to photograph them. The height makes siting a bit awkward, but in my case works because the flowers are high enough to see from both decks despite being 50 feet away. The Chinese Hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) is, of course a container plant. I was disappointed to learn that this is not really a Zone 9a plant, and so is unreliable at best in the Florida Garden. (where we're going this Thursday)