Saturday, November 8, 2008

Brookside Gardens Fall Foliage

Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Maryland is a remarkable horticultural experience. It is the oldest of a number of gardens in the Washington suburbs that were built and are maintained by county level orginizations. Clearly there are some wealthy counties in our area! Foliage has passed peak this year, but every year is a little different and this one seems weighted towards the end. Sugar maples came and went early, their foliage spectacular,but short lived, I think a victim of our recent mini-drought. Black gums were more severely affected by a foliar fungus than they usually are and so their, normally reliable contribution was minimized somewhat, but everything else is wonderful.

The taxonomic range of the collections here is remarkable; in the fall I try to get by to see Disanthus cercidifolius. A lovely member of the witchhhazel family from Asia. It does indeed have Cercis-like leaves that move through a range of yellows, oranges, and scarlets before ending up a deep wine-red. Moreover it will color nicely even in partial shade. The Disanthus is in the woodland area between the Conservatory and the Visitor Center. If you get by you will doubtless notice some of the 700,000 holiday lights that are in the process of being deployed for the Gardens of Light-Seasons of Light display that will begin this November. It is spectacular; I am amazed every year at the clever innovations...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adelphi garden....the flamingos enjoy the colors of fall fully aware of pending winter

It has been a pretty good fall in the Washington area. We flirted with freezing temperatures a couple of days, but now its November and none are forecast for the next week! The big Gardenia sits happily outside the basement door waiting for a cold forecast, the Cymbidiums on the deck (at my feet when I took this photograph) are budded, the big Clivia is still outside (it likes/requires some cold as do the Cymbidiums) but most everything else has made it inside. There are still some decisions as to tropical plants in mixed containers. Some years the weather would have made those decisions for me by now, but this year they're still alive November 8, and I can elect to pot them and bring them inside. I do know though, from past experience, that I will only take care of a certain number of plants overwinter and possibly it is more humane to let them die a quick death from cold than slowly dry out or succumb to spider mites or whiteflies. I don't never learn, I just learn very slowly!

The orange-yellow at the base of the Red oak is Hamamelis x Diane (the fall color of this cultivar makes it, in my opinion, the best of the hybrids), a fading Cornus florida is behind it to the left, the brilliant yellow small tree in the mid-ground middle was received as Sapium koreanum, a species name I have never again encountered. I expect it is S. japonicum. Whatever it is it sure gets great fall color. And the orange/red phase is just beginning. There is a fall-blooming camellia under/behind it, and the orangish leaves on the right border of the picture are a Crape myrtle that grows next to the deck I am standing on to take the picture. Between the Sapium and the Witchhazel the green foliage is a Basjoo banana and Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi', the latter still squeezing out a few flowers a day this late in the year!