Saturday, October 11, 2008

Flamingos enjoy Indian Summer amidst hardy tropical plantings

We've been flirting with 80 F here in Washington for the last few days and we are predicted to hit it a couple of times early next week. As a grower of gaudy tropical plants, this is a great thing for me. The season is never long enough and while I appreciate the cool temperatures, a little heat will help these guys along. They seem to appreciate the heavy dews of fall, but not so much the low humidity in the afternoons.

The banana is Musa 'Basjooo' and it is completely hardy here and theoretically a bit farther north (USDA Zone 6). Hedychium 'Dr. Moy', in the bottom right is a solid Zone 7 plant, it has been in the garden for two years. Last year was, of course, a very mild winter, but the year before had some tricky cold in the spring that was a good test for Zone 7. The real question mark is the huge Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi'. It has overwintered for friends in this area and I am testing it this year. My gut feeling is that it will be one of those plants that technically lives through the winter, but will likely be killed back so far that.....well, we'll see.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fern Valley Prairie planting project

Construction is nearly complete on the Fern Valley Wet Meadow project. Only the railing needs to be installed on the boardwalk, a bit of sidwalk needs to be repoured, and the temporary drain/shunt removed. So.....Today, on our Monday project, we replanted the plants that we had dug from the Prairie prior to the construction project. Last year we dug selected plants that were growing inside the area to be regraded and stored them in a coldframe. Now they are back in the Prairie.

Once I got down on my hands and knees in the basin and lifted up the coconut fibre matting, I realized that a lot of the seed mixture had germinated. I saw at least 6 different taxa, though all the individuals were small. You can see that the annual oats have germinated (the bright green area in the right-center back of the photo. To the seedlings we added plants of Eupatorium, Thalictrum, and Helianthus salicifolius. Drier areas received Salvia azurea, Helianthus occidentalis, Sporobilis, Dalea, Coreopsis, and other assorted species. We still have some Liatris to plant and some more Helianthus. Some Salvia azurea will go on the dry hill above the Capitol Columns parking lot. Also some Opuntia humifusa. It's good to get the plants out of the cold frame and back into the ground.