Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gotelli Collection is beautiful in the snow

Personally, i prefer this light coating to the 3 feet we received last February. This second picture is Calocerus decurrens 'Berrima' and the bare branches below it belong to Pinus strobus nana, one of my favorite conifers.

Here are the overwintering Salvias that I've been photographing for weeks

It's a wonderful thing to come in from the snowy cold and find. They'll be bedded out in the Herb Garden next spring. The purple spiky one on the far right is Salvia leucantha and it's one of my favorites. It's also a plant that isn't fazed by drought. I have a few large patches in Florida garden and we'll be visiting them Sunday next.

Sunrise was beautiful this morning

Traffic was nonexistent this morning; I got to work ridiculously early because well: it was Friday; schools were on a two-hour snow delay; and it's the end of the year. So I watched the sun rise, or anyway I watched it until 6:55.

Chimonanthus praecox in the snow

Chimonanthus has one of the best fragrances in the floral kingdom, and it flowers in winter. I smelled the flowers 20 feet away from the plants. Apparently they don't care that temperatures have barely risen above freezing for a week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It was cold today and snowed from about 10:00 to mid-afternoon

Some funny wind blown patterns are frozen into Beech Spring Pond. If it doesn't warm up soon, we'll be able to ice skate outside. That's not a situation that occurs often in Washington DC. It's been over 10 years!

Juniperus deppeana 'McFetter'

The blue Alligator Juniper (named for the texture of its bark) is one of the easiest cleanest blue conifers for us. Doesn't make much sense since it comes from the SW US and Mexico, arid, less humid locales. This plant, in the Gotelli Collection, is a little taller than I am and a bit wider.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ipomopsis rubra from Alabama in Fern Valley plants

It doesn't need a flower to be beautiful.

Tennessee Cotinus obovatus among the Fern Valley plants in Polyhouse 8

They're still incredible, especially backlit. I can't wait to get them in the ground.

It snowed all day in Poly 8. We keep it cool so the exterior plastic must have been below freezing. The small amount of humidity in the air condensed on the top, froze into small crystals, and as the wind rippled the plastic, was dislodged and fell as "snow". It was odd, though Ido like the concept of snow falling all day with no accumulation. Apparently it's supposed to snow outside the greenhouse tomorrow.

Jeanette is putting the "Power Plants" to bed for the winter

She's cutting cane without a machete. It's safer that way; look, she still has both her legs.....Should I have said that?

Despite our flirtations with brutal winter the Ginkgo leaves on the ground retain their lovely autumn golds.

Asplenium ceterach, Rustyback...Stefan collected fern spores in Azerbaijan

I don't know anything about this fern I didn't read today. Apparently it grows on limestone rocks in a wide range extending from eastern Europe through north Africa into western Asia. I like its tight radial symmetry and I'm a sucker for a compact rosette. We'll keep an eye on it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you don't poke around, you miss stuff. Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus

The tag says Osmanthus fragrans yellow-flowered form; it looks like what I know of as var. aurantiacus. It has a wonderful fragrance, but the Polyhouse was so cool and dark I had to work to smell it. Actually, I didn't find this on my own. Sue Bentz tipped me off that there were a handful fo different O. fragrans in one of the Research houses. They're going to maybe, remake the heterophyllus x fragrans cross that produced Osmanthus x fortunei? Or something. I didn't care; I just like the fragrance. One of the first plants we put into the Florida garden was Osmanthus fragrans, the species. It'll be flowering in two weeks when we get there regardless of how cold it gets in the interim.

This is a better dusting than yesterday!

We didn't get a lot of snow, but with temperatures expected to stay below 30 for the next few days, it's not going anyplace soon. My "go to" adjectives for describing winter conditions hereabouts are dreary, bleak, and interminable. Maybe interminable is a stretch, but "biting" doesn't usually pop up in mid-December. But it is today.....biting I mean. Temperatures this a.m. started below 20F and rose slowly. Steady winds between 15 and 20 mph assisted by random gusts up to almost 50mph kept it bitter. I felt bad for Max and Peter whose schedule had them tree pruning on a ladder.

Temperatures in Florida didn't reach 20F as predicted; it was 28 at 5:30a.m. and I expect that it dropped only a degree or so before the sun rose. Tonight is expected to be a bit warmer than last night;I've got my fingers crossed about damage levels. At least the pipes shouldn't freeze!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Salvia elegans 'Peach'....the scent not the color

The Herb Garden Salvias continue to flower in Polyhouse 7.

Demolition continues at the Adminstration Building of the US National Arboretum

At least we assume it does. Here comes a new dumpster to sit at the bottom of the refuse chute. Hey, maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised and the project will finish on schedule!

First snow of the winter US National Arboretum

There was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning, both at home and at the Arboretum (look very closely).The large Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, (a SE US native, not an Asian plant at all) seems happy enough in China Valley. Temperatures fell all day as as the jet stream dipped towards the Gulf of Mexico. It's supposed to go down to 21F tonight here and, get this!, 20F in Central Florida. Wow~ We're going down for two weeks just after Christmas but this may take all the fun out of it.

The winter visit usually finds the garden in the best shape of the year. It doesn't rain a lot in late fall, but there are heavy dews and the temperatures are so much cooler than they were in late summer that the plants seem content. Typically temperatures did dip into the low 20's sometime in late January or early February producing considerable dieback. By the spring visit though things have begun to grow back so I cut back and it's all good. It'll still be all good in the spring, but it's going to be ugly now. Oh well; a certain amount of "dealing with adversity" is part of gardening.