Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beltsville Library Courtyard in the Morning

Its a beautiful crisp (Relative Humidity 60%) cool (48F) fall day. Leaf color is beginning to happen; the distinctive horizontal branching and the fiery red of Black Gums stand out against the unturned foliage of other trees. Sugar maples colored early this year. It will be another good day to be outside and I'm going to the Library today. Next week is National Friends of Libraries Week and Beltsville is having an open house that will feature the newly reworked courtyard. Today I am going to prune some branches from the birch, water, and finish the map so that it will be ready for next week. That'll be fun.

Back now. All done. Removed dead and low branches from Heritage birch. Fertilized pansies et alia. Did a bit of corrective pruning on the Dogwood and the Japanese Maple. The nandinas and the Japanese maple have good fall color. Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Bolero' is at peak bloom and will be fading next weekend. The other two rubellums are resisting opening their buds. This combined with the fall camellias holding back will produce a dearth of flowers next weekend. Oh well. The perpetual gardener's lament. Should have been here last week or next week! I promise not to alibi next week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The fruit of the Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri) are more batlike than the flowers!

The days are shorter and cooler and we have begun to put the garden to sleep.
This week and next the containers and the tropical plantings around the Administration Building at the Arboretum are being deconstructed. One of the plants that will be saved is The Bat flower. There were at least two Bat flowers in mixed containers and Brad harvested the fruit. We broke one open and the seeds look like they are ripe. A quick search for germination information didn't reveal anything definitive, but the seed hasn't dried so there is a good chance any dormancies haven't set in yet. It would be just as easy to get new plants by dividing the parents, but hey, we never germinated Tacca before so....

I know Tacca in passing, but not well. It is not an especially beautiful plant, but it is a fascinating curiosity. Wouldn't it make a good companion plant for the orchids in the genus Dracula? I had never seen the fruit, but you have to love it; black (deep deep maroon) glossy fruit that ripens for Halloween. And they hang in bunches like bats in a cave. Too odd!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mums potted and primped for the Fall Display

Amy and Amanda (the new Asian Collections Intern) ready Chrysanthemums for the opening of the fall display. This is the second year we have had potted disbudded mums and they are spectacular. The unseasonably warm weather has delayed the opening of the buds a bit, but that means the display will last longer.

Research by members of the "mum committee" (my phrase) has uncovered interesting and beautiful new varieties, so the show will be different this year than last.

Sunday, October 12, 2008