Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blue Quartz from Old Rag Virginia area

A few years ago the Fern Valley staff and volunteers went on a spring field trip to the mountain property of two of the volunteers. We climbed up and down their steep trails and saw excellent spring wildflowers including Trilliums, Saxifrage, and Hepaticas. They were nice enough to let me take this piece of blue quartz. The rock is a beautiful color and reminds me of my childhood; it was common in the fields of my Grandmother's farm near the Albemarle County / Nelson County line on Route 29.

I did some research and found an article about Blue Quartz occurrences in Virginia in Virginia Minerals. They are confined to metamorphosed igneous intrusives of the Grenville Age. The source of the color is not conclusively explained, but either it is caused by multiple aligned micro-fractures that affect the reflectivity of light, or it is caused by the presence of Titanium. Rutile (a Titanium mineral) exists as inclusions in most of the blue quartz, but the blueness of the rock doesn't correlate with the percentage of Rutile?? I'm confused, but I guess it's no more or less beautiful whatever the explanation. I walk past it every day but today it leapt out at me, I guess because I had just seen Debby and Laurie at the Lahr Native Plant Symposium.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Acer triflorum: follow up on Dr. Seuss buds

A lot can happen in four days!

National Arboretum spring bulbs

I have always been able to take or leave the larger spring bulbs, specifically standard tulips and narcissus, but theres something irresistible about the smaller bulbs.

Fern Valley Meadow in the mist

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hesperaloe parviflora: I fell in love with this plant 35 years ago

This individual, in fact. I've gained a bit of weight since then and she's grown quite a lot too; it looks good on her. Actually, she seems to have become 3 plants at some point over the last few years. I don't remember the date, but I do remember the first day we met. She was young and in bloom; I had never even seen her picture in a book and was unprepared to find anything so exotic living in the middle of the Rose Garden at Brookside Gardens. She was my first of the, what does Yucca Do call them? Woody Lilies.

"Red Aloe", she indeed had red flowers whose hue began in the orangey-red range that is common in aloes but was so much deeper than any I had ever seen. It was years before any of her kind appeared in local Garden Centers, but every once in a while someone will bring in a handful of 1 gallon pots. I have been tempted to grow one but resisted the urge staying true to my first love. I have strayed over the years; A Yucca here, an Agave there but I have basically remained true. There was that tiny Aloe from Madagascar I met in Philadelphia a few years back. I set her up in a community pot, she's looking over my shoulder as I write this but she will never take the place of my first Woody Lily.