Friday, June 4, 2010

East Terrace in the morning

I went out on the East Terrace of the Administration Building today to look at the seasonal plantings that went in Monday. They're, as usual, spectacular. Since I'll have to do weekend watering twice this summer, I was glad to see the preponderance of xerophytes.
This Crinum is pretty special.
I walked over to the east edge and looked into the Cryptomeria Walk. The early sun is my favorite light.
The Koi seem to have survived our "roundup" and are as greedy as ever.
Growing in the sw corner of the ramp and the terrace is a colony of Hedychium coronarium, Butterfly Ginger. It'll have large white wonderfully fragrant flowers later in the summer. This is one of those plants that we used to assume wasn't hardy in Zone 7, but seems to come through most winters. It doesn't like to be dry, growing best in moist locations.

Pinckneya pubens, Fever Tree is flowering in Fern Valley in the Coastal Plain section

The petaloid sepals will color up more but since I miss it every year I thought I'd go ahead and take this picture today. Native in moist areas of the SE Coastal Plain, and related to the Quinine Tree, Pinckneya was used by Native Americans to reduce fever. Medium to large? trees are spectacular covered with flowers. I've seen them in the Okefenokee Swamp. These plants Joan has have always struggled; I'm not sure they're true Zone 7 plants, but as the world gets warmer and these plants get more firmly established, they seem to be settling in for the long haul. Someday maybe we'll see 100 blooms on this plant!
 This picture is from Monday June 7. There seems to be a bit more color. Maybe more obvious to my eye than in the photo! Oh well. I'll continue monitoring it.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Izu-no-Hana' in the Japanese Woodland

We have two of these Hydrangeas in the Asian Collections. Everybody loves this plant for it's intense blue color. Most years it's a bit bluer than this but these are the first flowers to open this year so maybe it'll go electric on us later. The other plant is near the GCA Circle and is pink as pink can be. Of course soil acidity is a huge factor in determining the color of Hydrangeas. In general more acid = blue, more alkaline=pink.

The year of the Hydrangea continues.

Orchis/Ponerorchis graminifolia flowering in the ground in Washington DC

Of course it's only been in the ground a month....

This is a really small orchid. I'm thinking it's less than 5 inches tall. I did a reasonable amount of research and couldn't really determine whether it's hardy here or not. They seem to be happy where they are. We'll see. It would be nice to have a nice colony of them

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Larkspur in the Herb Garden

We get so blase about things when we see them year after year. If you haven't seen the Larkspur in the Herb Garden, it's definitely worth a trip. They are cleverly using roses as companion plants so that when the Larksput finishes there's something going on.

Of course I jest. The Larkspur has been reseeding itself here for many years and there are plans for removing it. Someday. It is pretty though. I expect it doesn't do the roses much good to live in the shade, but I bet they'll survive. Most of them.

The bonus for visiting the Herb Garden this week is the Lavender Collection, a serpentine drifting bed on the east side of the garden. They are varied, beautiful, and near peak bloom. This afternoon with the beating sun, the heat, and the humidity, the fragrance was overwhelming.

Pat and Jeanette open the Herb Garden Pool

I guess Pat was in a helpful mood yesterday. After volunteering his services on our chainsaw project, he went to the Herb Garden and spent the rest of the day helping Jeanette clean, stock, fill, dye, etc the pool. I know they're on a tight schedule over there. They'll have everything perfect by the FONA Cookout.

Lumberjackin' in the Asian Collections and Dogwoods

We had our own little pre-break project this morning, the staffs from the Asian Collections and Dogwoods. We finally got rid of the large Hemlock that had fallen across from the Dogwood February. That took less than 20 minutes for the six of us. It took a bit longer for Pat and Nate to slice up the bole of the giant fallen Cedar in the Asian Collections, but it's finally gone. Pat put the long bar on our large chainsaw and it still wasn't long enough. In the picture, Pat is about 5 cuts ahead of Nathan, who is following up Pat's large cuts and severing the slab. The slabs are thin to keep the weight manageable. Still don't know what we'll do about that vertical stump. A suggestion was made that we use an air spade to remove the soil so we can just saw it up. I think it's un-grindable. The air spade seems preferable to spending long painfully difficult hours doing a bad job of removing the soil with mattocks. But then I'm lazy. Anyway we made a bit of progress today.

Two separate counts of the rings yielded two different ages for the tree, I think 61 and 74 years. At least something's older than I am.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I took this picture this morning because the sun was just lighting up the plants

I didn't realize until after I'd taken the picture that about half ot those plants hadn't been planted yet, including the variegated Callicarpas in the mid-ground.  Brad had laid them out Tuesday evening for the planting project today. It was an all day project planting and mulching and the area around the Administration Building is moving from very nice to spectacular. Good concepts and great plants.

His (Dr. Ackerman's) Camellias may be more well known and maybe more useful, but his Iris are a lot more beautiful!

Dr. Ackerman, of Camellia fame, released a number of Iris ensete selections and we, really Carole, have been working at reacquiring them. The one above is 'Lasting Pleasure"
I can't read the name of this one (above) in my picture, but it's nice. I'll recheck it tomorrow if you really want to know and update this post.
There is no scale, but this is a large flower. It is 'Ack-countable'....seriously. I don't name 'em, I just tell you what I read on the labels.

Amanda, Nate, and I weeded down in the "Central Valley" along the watercourse where we have planted many water loving plants including many selections of Iris ensete. We only planted these plants last year so they have only a handful of blooms, but there are large clumps of more established plants with dozens of flowers. They're all beautiful.

Hydrangea 'Purple Tiers'.....the year of the Hydrangea continued

his is another nice Hydrangea serrata growing near the GCA Circle. Amanda, Neal, and I did a bit of weeding there this morning and I was tempted into pruning a Corylopsis veitchii rather severely. The upside is that you can now see this Hydrangea from the path as it approaches the Circle.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Friend of the National Arboretum and the Nationa Bonsai Federation combined forces today, offering Arboretum employees a boat trip on the Anacostia and a nice picnic lunch

I had a good seat in the second row port, Kayla sat across on the starboard side. The day was pretty hot and I think we all expected the river to be hotter and more humid, but you know what? It felt 20 degrees cooler and there was a nice breeze.

We went downstream about a mile, not quite reaching the power plant, turning at the top of Kingman Island which is a nice island even though it was created by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1920s and 30s to form an embayment. Kingman Lake, so that Washingtonians would have a place to pursue water sports. What a concept; trust me, water skiing was the last thing on our minds. The river is so polluted now that nearly half of catfish sampled display visible lesions or tumors. We were all careful not to touch the water. But things are gottting better.

Our tour was hosted by the president of the Anacostia Watershed Society and included many of the sites on which they're working to restore native wetland habitat, remove trash, and generally improve water quality. The tide was high so we were able to float into the embayment across the river from the Dogwood Collection, sort of, and enter Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. We saw herons, terns, geese, ducks, a cormorant, even this Bald Eagle. From a distance.
If you look closely you can see the smokestacks of the power plant, but Otherwise you have to keep reminding yourself that you're 3 miles from the Capitol.

Anthemis sp. from Azerbaijan: no longer prostrate but attractive in an enthusiastic way

Someone is going to have to key this out; there are over 100 species and they are superficially pretty similar. Some have yellow flowers. This one is flowering happily in full sun, heat, no special watering, in some of the worst soil I've ever seen. It reminds me of a Anthemis novilis but that is, I think, a more European plant but who knows?  We'll find out!