Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hardy fall blooming Camellias at US National Arboretum: x 'Winter's Fire', x 'Snow Flurry', and x 'Winter's Charm'

Fall Camellias are peaking now at the Arboretum; if you make time for an hour's walk through the collection this weekend, you'll be glad you did. These are three of Dr. Ackerman's hybrids. Good and hardy in USDA Zone 7!

Carpinus laxiflora fall foliage at the US National Arboretum

This plant, accession 61902, was grown from seed wild collected in Korea.

Carya glabra, Pignut Hickory: more fall color at the National Arboretum

Somehow I missed this tree a couple of years ago when I informally cataloged specimen trees at the Arboretum. Not only is this one a beautiful tree, it lives just across the road from the Metasequoia triangle so it's easily appreciated.

I don't know why it's called "pignut" but suspect it may have something to do with the abundant lipid rich nuts it produces. Back in the day, pigs were allowed to run free (and feed themselves) and I bet they ate the heck out of these nuts; most other wildlife does.

Salvia splendens 'Van Houttei'

This is one of those plants that we've been conditioned to sneer at, to dismiss condescendingly as something the riffraff of the red ! states might plant around their trailers. Still, when I saw it growing amongst the more prestigious Salvias (GrayC grows umpteen taxa in the Herb Garden and many spend the winter as 4" pots in Poly 7) it stood out...not in a bad way. I feel like the color is better than many/most of the other S. splendens cultivars; more crimson than scarlet. I tend to like my reds cool. It has occasionally been accorded specific status but is generally considered a selection of the species splendens. It is thought to be closer to the straight species than most of the cultivars.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's been an odd year in Washington and this fall is....well, it's unique

I'm regularly amused, often confounded, and occasionally amazed by my garden but not so often intrigued. This fall though, there's an unprecedented overlap of fall flowering shrubs, persistent annuals, lingering summer perennials,fall perennials, winter bulbs, and stubbornly entrenched tropicals, that's combined with the odd mix of foliage constituting the final explosion of fall color,to turn this space into something I've never seen before.

It's mid-November without frost and fall camellias are flowering heavily. Toad lilys, Anemones, Chrysanthemums, Asters are all still looking good. With no night temps below 34F, many annuals still going great guns. And the leaves....possibly have been better, a little, but rarely have they lasted so well. I like it.

I like my Pelargoniums; they're pretty. Look, one even has fall color

You get an idea ingrained in your head and it's difficult to see past it. Pelargoniums love heat; they must! They're an iconic element in hot sunny annual plantings. In my mind's eye I see them baking on windowsills, and balconies poignantly offering single flower heads. In retrospect, maybe that ought to have been a clue. Truth be told though, they seem to come into their own in the cool days of fall. Leaves don't yellow, flowers last longer and there are at least twice as many of them. I don't know. It could be that they're only responding to a faint genetic memory of the southern hemisphere. Summer's coming now to their homeland, South Africa. I think though, that, like me, they''re just a bit happier when the temperatures are not so hot.

I've been buying them here and there for the past few years, growing them in clay pots on the deck rails, and wintering them inside in a south window. The deck rails are studded with nails driven halfway into the top boards upon which I impale clay pots through their drain holes. It keeps them, the pots, from being jostled loose or being blown over the rails.

There's no denying it; I'm slipping into my dotage. The only question is, what's the more incontrovertible sign. Is it the fact that I now collect hybrid Pelargoniums at all, I have half a dozen, or, is it the fact that I can't stop talking, or posting, about them? I see myself a few years down the road babbling praise of phantom virtues or even buttonholing strangers on the street to show them pictures....I mustn't let that happen.

Camellia edithae, C. caudata, and C. petelotii var. petelotii (chrysantha). bud pictures

About those vertical labels....I don't know. recently I've been having issues posting this shape picture horizontally!?!? What can you do?

These are more of the species camellias we received from Dr, Ackerman. I'll add flower photos when they bloom. While searching for information I found this excellent link to ainn teresting and useful paper by Dr. Clifford Parks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November color at the Natioanl Arboretum

A third of the way through the month and we've still got crazy colored trees! The top picture is near the head of the Dogwood Collection, the bottom, is the edge of the Azalea Collection on the west side of the Ellipse. The light is odd in the second picture because it was taken just before 7:00 which means just a few minutes after sunrise. The light is warm in color and almost parallel to the ground. 'the effect occurs in reverse in the evening when the trees on the west side of the ellipse are similarly gilded.

Camellia oleifera, Tea Oil Camellia, is one of the hardiest, occasionally sneaking into USDA Zone 6

These plants are in full bloom across the road from the sign marking the entrance to the Camellia Collection. They were covered with bees and yellow jackets today. This is one of the fall flowering camellias that has a pleasant fragrance.

Chrysanthemum Senkyo-Kenshin.....Wow...Class 11 (=)Spider Mum

They, Chris Carley et alia, grew this giant spider mum this year along with the other disbuds. It's nearly 5" in diameter.

Hydrangea serrata 'Izu no Hana'...possibly I could have potted these up earlier

Thats a lot of roots.!

These cuttings were taken from a plant with incredibly blue flowers. We have a different 'Izu no Hana' in a different location whose flowers are pink. Hydrangea color is all about pH; assuming the genetic of the plant allow it to produce deep blue flowers, the lower the pH, the bluer the color.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Good fall color on this giant White Oak, Quercus alba

This magnificent specimen stands at the intersection of Hickey Lane and Holly Spring Road, a favorite tree of Arboretum visitors and staff alike. The size of this individual suggests it's at least 200 years old. Across the region, I've seen a fair number of White Oaks this size cut and they''re usually just about that age. Why would so many trees date to the early years of the 18th Century?

Can't keep a man away from his wall....Nate lays the first tier of stone

My back is still recovering from helping to move the stones, the cement mixer, the generator, and umpteen bags of concrete; now comes the good part. It'll probably take him a couple weeks to finish the wall. Amazingly, if the weather goes as forecast, we won't have a freeze during that period. It's going to be nice.

Neal on his last day as a volunteer. The Mulberry weed can breathe a little easier tonight

Neal, a fixture in the Asian Collections and at the Arboretum for the past 15 years, is retiring from his volunteer position. The problem is that Neal isn't a halfway kind of guy; he's either in moving mulch, logs, rocks, or he's out. We'd love to have him come in and just weed but no half measures for Neal.

He's performed pretty much every task in the Asian Collections including removing English Ivy from huge areas, but his specialty is Mulberry Weed, Fatoua villosa. Neal was death on Mulberry weed, and removed it in huge quantities. He knew all the spots where it reseeded and had a sense for when the seeds would germinate.

He hated Koelreuteria, actually one specific tree, for its prolific powers. We remove thousands of seedlings every year produced by that (beautiful) tree at the bottom of China Valley. I almost feel like I ought to cut it down in Neal's honor. Don''t worry Carole....just joking. Anyway, it'll be up to the rest of us to control those weeds that Neal won't pull next year. I hope we're up to it.

The Tetrapanax is flowering in China Valley: if that doesn't put the fear of god into all the vacant lots in Washington......

I don't know what will. If I had someone in the bottom photograph for scale you'd be able to see that the plant is approaching 15 feet in height. It died back to the ground last winter as it has done every year I have known it, that would be three. I love it; Big, bold, almost sculptural. Some of th larger leaves are every bit of 3 feet across.. Wow. If it could produce viable seeds and make it's way into disturbed habitats in the would be more interesting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Daylight Savings Time ended Saturday so it's light again in the mornings before 7:00

For a few days anyway. Fall color is still hanging on here though the colors are generally more muted now.

Isn't this a nice fall effect with massed Hydrangeas?

Betty, one of our volunteers, got me interested in the fall value of Hydrangea serrata 'Beni Gaku'. Now I'm looking around and I see other attractive examples. This planting is identified in our records as Hydrangea macrophylla var. macrophylla. The seed was wild collected by Skip March in Japan in 1982. Most of us probably don't have the room for mass plantings of Hydrangeas but this sure is nice. It has lovely blue flowers in summer so the area looks good through the growing season into the fall.

The trailers are coming, the trailers are coming....actually, they're here

I took the top picture Friday, the day the contractors began moving in the modular units that will be our home for the next 18 months, knock on wood. In the bottom picture, taken this morning at 7:00, Amanda serenely ignores the looming presence of the newly installed modular building. Our Florida house is "modular" or, a double-wide, so I ought to know the proper nomenclature. I'm not easily offended but modular does sound nicer. Or pre-fab.