Saturday, September 26, 2009

Exotic fown and a Dahlia bed were just two aspects of Chuck and Geof's garden

We started the tour with this garden and it was a tough one for the rest of us to follow. I love it. Actually it was an impossible garden. Still we did have our own visitors later in the afternoon who seemed to enjoy the garden and the plants! Anything that humbles me can't be all bad.

Tilia x Petiolaris, scionwood ex the Barnes Foundation's famous tree, now dead....and Chuck and Phil (and Sarah)

The Four Season's Garden Club toured four gardens today. Chuck and Geof's garden led off, and we were one of the other three. Their garden is a remarkable place. Chuck bought the 5 acre property more than 25 years ago with an old farmhouse, a tobacco barn and various outbuilding. At this point it's a mature garden with Woodland areas, a bulb lawn, a Nuttery (we all felt at home), perennial beds, a largish lily pond, extensive conifer plantings and to top it off a collection of exotic fowl some free range, some caged. Wow!

In the picture Chuck is explaining to an, always sceptical, Phil Normandy the history of the mature Tilia x Periolaris we (~75 of us) are standing under. Apparently he obtained scionwood from the Barnes Foundation where it was a favorite plant. After successfully grafting the wood , Chuck recalls planting the tree, stepping back, and watching a crow land on the slender 3' sapling. Snap, it broke, leaving only one living bud above the graft. Obviously it only took one bud to produce this tree.

Phil countered with a story about Styrax 'Emerald Pagoda'; apparently it came withing 3 buds on a sickly stock of dieing before it recovered for JC Raulson.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Echeveria nodulosa in glazed ceramic window box

Sometimes simpler is better. I love the lushly extravagant mixed containers at the Administration Building, Arbor House, and in the Herb Garden, but sometimes, minimalism is the way to go. I had missed this planter all summer, but today as I was admiring the sedums and grasses at the Friendship Garden, I looked down and there it was!

Jeanette missed the rose garden planting in the Herb Garden because she was otherwise occupied

Samuel came for a short visit today and we all fell in love. Kayla was particularly enraptured. Pat is considering becoming a professional uncle so he's always good with babies. The rest of us all immediately decided we either needed more children or grandchildren. Maybe we ought to be careful what we wish for but babies are wonderful, and this one was particularly pleasant.

Jeanette is an ASRT (Agricultural Science Research Technician) based in the Herb Garden. She labored heavily in the garden until a day before she went into that other labor. It is a shame she had to miss the Rose Garden planting this past Monday, but some things are more important that others and the planting went ahead.

Araneus marmoreus, Marbled Orbweaver.....Ed showed me this cool spider living on a dumpster

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rosa roxburghii and Betty, one of our Asian Volunteers

Betty and Eugenia came in today and we walked a bit through the collection reviewing what they would do. When we got to the Chestnut Rose, they both remembered Stefan's claim that the hips smelled like ripe Pineapple and were possibly edible (as other rose hips are). They do smell delicious but we were unable to eat any. They look like chestnut burrs and they are tough and sharp. Possibly they could be cooked. There is something there but it requires a strategy.

All of our volunteers are wonderful. Betty is an excellent gardener, an astute observer with a first rate intellect. I learn things from her every time we talk.

Chili Peppers in the Herb know, they're beautiful!...but deadly or at least cruelly painful

The red one is Pepperoncini, the orange one, appropriately, NuMex Halloween. I don't know anything about either one but I like them!

I do know that we have had a pepper, the Naga Jolokia from Northeastern India, reputed to be the hottest in the world, in pieces on a paper towel on the table in the headhouse for the past two days. No one will touch it, or should. It's so hot that Tony wasn't able to cut a piece small enough to handle.....Tony likes 'em real hot. George couldn't eat it either, though he plans to make a hot sauce using it. I don't know. Tony claims his hand stung for over a day just from touching it. You have to be careful where you put your hands when you've handled peppers this powerful.

George did explain Scoville units to me though, the scale for measuring "heat" in peppers. Apparently the Scoville measure is the minimum dilution that can be done on a pepper at which it still evinces heat. In other words a Scoville rating of 1,000 would mean that that particular pepper can be diluted 1,000 to 1 and the heat is still detectable. The Naga Jolokia has a Scoville rating over one million. Wow.

Orostachys excellent succulent from China

Via Lazy S'S Farm Nursery. Just an obscure little succulent. Likes heat and drought. It's very happy here at the edge of the island of Korean Plants. The common name "Purple Dunce Cap" is clearly accurate, but I suspect, manufactured. There are a good many plants that aren't happy living in glaring sun next to a hot asphalt road. This isn't one of them!

I went to Fern Valley looking for something and I found something cool

I think it's a flower fly but I don't know. I do know its on a New England Aster. Actually the Asters were one of my targets and they are beautiful. This one is in the planting by the parking lot next to the Youth Garden.

Euonymus carnosus.. there's Euonymus and damned Euonymus

There are so many horticulturally useful Euonymous, it's too bad they have collectively so many drawbacks. Euonymous carnosus is a small tree; we have a grove of them at the first "U" bend in the China Valley path. Their graceful branches overhang the trail; in the fall, that is now, these lovely little fruits punctuate that large space.

Larry brought these back from China and I planted about 20 of them. We have winnowed the numbers down somewhat over the years and may go a bit farther. I have to admit though, that it is a pleasantly graceful tree that could function well in a smaller garden. Stefan selected a variegated seedling and we're growing that on to see what comes of it. Our sexually active planting produces a lot of seed, but we seem to manage to remove the seedlings every year. At least Euonymous Scale doesn't seem to be an issue on it, though ours are all growing in shade, and it doesn't spread by rhizomes!

Tetradium danielli....The good one?

This is a smaller and better behaved sibling of the large tree we cut down Tuesday (see picture below). The fruit is obviously beautiful and seems not to be of much interest to our (Eastern North American) wildlife. Though it seeds prolifically and seems to germinate well, we rarely (never?) observe seedlings beyond the dripline of the tree.

It's been there since at least 1990 and it's less then 20' by 20'. A member of the Rutaceae, it has a peculiarly chemical smell, not a nice citrusy smell, but unpleasantly pungent. This specimen grows in China Valley below the main path less than 100' in from the entrance. Bees and all manner of insects cover the flowers when it's in bloom; almost it's best trait!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tetradium sp.'s satisfying taking one down!

We did cleanup on a marginal area today. Nathan is satisfied. For now. We removed 20-odd loads of fruiting Viburnums, a few Tetradiums, and I cut English Ivy off a dozen or so trees. We have an issue with seedling Viburnums here at the Arboretum because we have so many Viburnums. We're known for Viburnums. After Crape Myrtles they're our most famous product? When I was in Fern Valley we had several projects a year in a futile? attempt to stop their invasion from a Research Nursery that doesn't even contain that many!

On our (Asian) end, Nathan has decided, and he's right, that with our staffing, we have no excuses for unmaintained territory. Henceforth Tuesdays will be dedicated to reconquering our land. We will cut and haul and paint the stumps of our removals with herbicide. I did this kind of work in Fern Valley for two years until I wore myself out. I can only hope that our youthful Asian staff and volunteers can carry me through this process!

The thing is, that once you do this grunt work, it's not so difficult to hold things under control. Herbicide helps. When an area is cleared, you can walk through it once or twice a month with a backpack sprayer and keep things under control. Our plan is to make the Asian Collections and hence the Arboretum a better place one week at a time.