Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eucalyptus citriodora, Lemonbush....another interesting herb garden plant

I'm sceptical of plants sold as "natural mosquito repellents", actually I'm as close to certain that they don't work as I am of anything I believe that isn't analytically true. Still, it's a cool plant, easy to grow, with a pleasant smell.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fern Valley celebrates its 50th birthday this year, curiously enough, on my own birthday

I wouldn't mind being 50 again, not that I'm complaining.

Joan Feely has immersed herself in old photographs, slides, and miscellaneous ephemera from which she will produce a coherent presentation that you will be able to see at the Lahr Native Plant Symposium on March 27. Register quickly (on the USNA website) as tickets are not unlimited.  The 8x10 black and white I'm holding shows the initial construction of the limestone wall along the stream in the north woods section. If I understood correctly, the wall dates to the beginning of FV.. .

Boronia megastigma 'Lutea'....The Herb Garden scores a cool Australian Plant

GrayC gently removes it from its packing so that we can all admire it. I was intrigued by a pink-flowered Boronia a few years ago that, I think, was featured on UBC Botany Photo of the Day. I did some research and realized that, not quite so pretty, but mch more fragrant was this species. This one came from Australian Native Plants Nursery in Ventura California. Good nursery; I've a few of their plants in Florida including Xanthorrhoea, the Grass Tre. Wonderful selection, good plants, not inexpensive.

Amanda spent much of Friday in the Herbarium reviewing the Asian Maples

It was maybe not a bad place to spend a windy day; alone with ~half a million dead plants. Sustained winds of 30+ mph were occasionally accented by gusts up to 50mph. Amanda was reviewing the vouchered material related to recent collections and the plants they have produced.

Normally, if at all possible, when seeds are collected to be grown into plants that will be planted here at the Arboretum, a dried specimen is collected at the same time. We then receive the seeds, germinate them, plant the plant in a collection and monitor it. At some point it flowers and fruits. Our goal is to have vouchers, one with flowers, another with fruit for all of our plants. After Amanda's work today, we know where we stand in regard to our collected Chinese Maples.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I don't know what this is, well I know it's a fungus, but I like the color

And the nasty way its oozing out of this rotten bark. While cleaning up storm broken Camellias we found a few branches shed from the canopy, long dead but newly fallen. I like the idea of fungi growing in dead branches 50 feet or more in the air, though I'm sure that at least some of the time they bear some responsibility for the death of the limb.

Camellia sasanqua Agnes O Solomon and took many years to grow them but the storm dropped them in an instant


Then it only took Nathan, Amanda, and I 15 minutes to cut each one up, load it, and haul it to the Brickyard.  It's sort of sad but it really does make room for new plants. When I was a much younger man, I gave lip service to this truism, but took the passing of individual plants very much to heart. Now that I am older and my gardens are filled, it truly is a good thing to have space for a new plant or two....even three. I find that as the years go by I am less and less disturbed by the passing of, even those plants I have strong feelings for. It isn't that I've become colder or less enthusiastic. I don't think. It's just that the garden does go on and it's okay.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The days are getting longer and I'm finding more and more interesting things flowering in the greenhouses

Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips', and an unknown St. John's Wort? (actually it's not a St. John's Wort; its an unknown Australian species. We'll figure it out because it's feature, unidentified, on a brochure from Australian Native Plants Nursery. It's just a matter of time) Salvia microphylla is on of the parents of Salvia x 'Maraschino' (cherry?), which is a reliably hardy plant here in USDA Zone 7. Provided, you can give it good drainage and sun. I know the plant in my front bed has been there over 10 years. All these Salvias, greggii, microphylla, their selections, and recombinations) begin flowering in midsummer and continue to frost.

Kalanchoe beharensis 'Fang'....found it in Polyhouse 7

I like many succulents, but who wouldn''t love this one.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Murraya paniculata, Orange Jessamine, flowers and fruit

I was poking around the warm greenhouse, smelled the Murraya, went in for a look, and found these red fruits about 2 cm long. Though the plants flower readily and frequently; the fruit is not so common. Murraya is a tropical member of the Rutaceae, or the Citrus Family. It's a small tree with a big fragrance. I remember when Brad bought these standards because I had been considering buying one from that same store; they were pretty plants for a good price. I decided the house couldn't hold one more large plant, particularly one that needed direct sun. I'm still not sure if I made the right decision.

These plants are very happy living in a glasshouse, but honestly, if you have a large window that gets at least 3-4 hours of sun in the winter (and you can summer it outside), it's not difficult to maintain, flowering sporadically throughout the year, usually most heavily in spring/summer. The chalky white branches contrast nicely with the dark green foliage. I prefer its fragrance to that of a Gardenia and its a lot easier to maintain.

Ilex longipes, Georgia Holly seed has germinated from the Alabama Trip

I'm excited to see these seeds germinating. I've never seen this plant in cultivation and it's a beauty. The literature suggest it likes cool moist limy circumstances, but ??? it's a Holly and it's native to the SE  US. I'm betting it can tolerate some heat and maybe a neutral pH. At least I'm hoping. Hollies don't germinate quickly or dependably so it was great to see more than 10 are up and it feels like only 25% of the final germination. If it turns out to be a plant that will grow in gardens it would be a great addition to our palette.

Playing the conversation back in my mind, I realize that Joan told me last week that this seed had germinated. Nonetheless, I managed not to notice it when I was admiring the Cotinus seedlings. This is a beautiful plant and I remember distinctly collecting the seed. I'm violating my own prohibition on using pictures not taken the day of the post because....well....I took the bottom picture on the trip two years ago. You have to take my word for it without scale, but the fruit is 7-8 mm in diameter. You don't have to take my word for the wonderful color and luster. The habit was a little loose, but the leaves are dark and attractive. This Holly casts a light shadow on the Internet and I didn't see it available from any retail source, but it's the sort of plant that probably is sold in small quantities by local nurseries in its native range (the SE US).

Carole, Amanda, Nate, and I walked the collection for the first time in two weeks to assess damages

Some storm damage is one-way, final, irrevocable like the fallen Blue Atlas Cedar in the bottom picture. Other damage, though it may look horrible, can, with pruning and regrowth, fairly quickly become only a bad memory. The huge Viburnums in the top picture have, Carole tells me, been here before. All we need to do is cut away the damaged wood, do a little pruning to put them in a good place to start growth, and stand back and wait. If we have to cut away 12 feet of growth, we should be able to get it all back in 3-4 years.

The toppled Cedar on the other hand will obviously not regrow. Today we decided that the best and least invasive way to remove it was to have a large crane lift it out in two or three pieces. The bad news is that it was part of a random drift of Cedars running from just below the road down the valley past the pagoda: an attractive feature viewed from the road. The good news is that it cast a lot of shade and all the new light will allow existing planting to develop to their fullest potential.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunrise through the Dawn Redwoods and two weeks later, almost, snowcovered fields

US Botanic Garden Sunday February 21: Sometimes I just like the forms and patterns

Sophranthe 'Blazing Treat', Angraecum comorense 'Gwen Copley', and Dendrobium speciosum at the US Botanic Garden Orchid

This is always a great show not only for sheer spectacle but for the rare and unusual specimens dotted amongst the sheer mass of flowering orchids. It's overwhelming;  I don't even know Sopranthe; the UBC Plant of the Day last week was Darwin's Angraecum, and I was excited to see Dendrobium speciosum because Pat gave away a number of divisions from his personal plant last year and I have one. I can only hope someday to turn it into something like this plant!