Saturday, June 26, 2010

Odd looking organic forms kept leaping out at me Friday (not Jeanette)

Who is not odd-looking and did not leap out at me.

From the top: Poppy seed capsule and leaf; New growth on Plumeria; leaf bases and flower buds;  Liatris microcephala and Sedum 'Angelina'.

Seasonal plantings around the Adminstration Building at the US National Arboretum

The containers and the tree boxes are looking good, one upside to these insanely above average temperatures. As usual, they're spectacular and studded with uncommon gems. Whilst trolling about in Florida nurseries, I often come upon odd plants and bring them back to Brad from time to time. The pot in the second pictures contains two of these plants, Bismarckia nobilis, the blue fan palm, and Chrysothemis pulchella, the orange and yellow flowered gesneriad below it.

Poliothyrsis sinensis, summer flowering tree in the Flacourtiaceae

When the big Deodar Cedar fell last winter in China Valley, not only did it crush a number of plants, it left others suddenly exposed to full sun that had previously lived in permanent shade. The heat of the last few weeks has started to cause issues on some ferns and gingers. In the fullness of time, shade will return. We've planted a Quercus glauca, an evergreen oak, to fill the footprint of the missing Cedar...eventually. This Poliothyrisis will help a little as it fills out on the side where the Cedar had been (left in the picture). The tree is somewhat over 60 feet tall and growing happily. Relatively new to cultivation it has far surpassed estimates of its ultimate size. It's an attractive tree covered now with trusses of white flowers. I like the leaves which are typical of other representatives of the Flacourtiaceae

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The pop-up irrigation in the Dogwood Collection was tempting this morning

It's been hot this month for Washington in June. We've had 12 days over 90F and many more over 88. After skating along on the edge of drought for a month, temperatures in the high 90's have toasted a goodly number of plants over the last couple of days. We did miss 100 one degree.

I'll be darned if Pat doesn't have another turtle

We took this one out of the road and brought it into the headhouse just to look. The cooler temperatures must have been invigorating because I never saw a turtle run across a table like this one did.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hemerocallis 'Firestorm'

I bought two bare root daylilies from the Daylily Society at the FONA plant sale in 2009. This one and Hemerocallis 'de Colores'.

Daylilies are a great way to add color in one of those "between" periods; in our area they help bridge the transition from the classic garden perennials of May and early June to the "meadow" sorts of perennials: Rudbeckias, Heliopsis, Helianthus, etc. Easily grown in full sun and any soil, excepting daylily rust they are basically problem free. I have always had mixed feelings about them because, while the flowers may be glorious, the plant is often a mess. Conversely, on those cultivars where the foliage stays green and neat, the flowers tend to be run of the mill and uninteresting. Can't have everything I guess. Personally I tend towards the more spectacular flowers and just bury the plants in a border where the foliage can be ignored.

Gardenia 'Michael'....This plant has lived through two consecutive USDA Zone 7 winter with no visible damage

There are other "hardy" Gardenias, by which I pretty much mean hardy in Zone 7. There's 'Kleim's Hardy', but it produces small single flowers that lack the powerful classic gardenia fragrance. And there's 'Chuck Hayes' that's supposed to be very hardy (6b) and has nice flowers, fragrant, but not the size of 'Michael'  This plant, G. 'Michael', looks just like a florist Gardenia; the leaves are full sizes and so are the flowers with a full complement of petals. It could be the darned standard that I've dragged in and out lo these 30 years. This one is growing downhill from the red pagoda in the Asian Collections.

Michael and Pat found these cool insects, called me on the radio, aimed me in the right direction, and pointed out the subjects

I took it from there. Hey, I'm not completely helpless. I know the bottom insect is an Assassin Bug. I don't know which one and I have no idea what the top ones are but don't they make a pretty pattern? They assumed this pose on the underside of a Magnolia leaf (in an area slightly larger than that of a quarter). I shot up at them so much of the lighting is courtesy of the translucent leaf, The row of 7 eggs laid in the leaf vein is pretty cool too. Could these little guys have hatched from eggs like those? I don't know.

I take a lot of pictures and, because I use a fairly inexpensive (generous assessment) camera and rarely spend more than a few seconds on any picture, they're all really just snapshots. (I would estimate the elapsed time from when I stopped my vehicle till I was finished taking these two pictures, to be close to but less than one minute.) Occasionally I wish I used better equipment and spent more time This would be a wonderful photograph if well done.. is compromise. If I carried a 2,000 dollar camera with a 2,000 dollar lens, I couldn't carry it in my pocket so I'd miss a lot of things. I don't know. I think this is the way to go.