Saturday, July 3, 2010

Front beds in Adelphi just after sunup

We're having an idyllic hiatus between the hottest June ever and next week when temperatures are predicted to be near 100F Monday through Friday. The plants have responded. That's the good news. The bad news is that WSSC, who supplies our water, has detected a potential break in an 8' main and has decreed that there will be no outside water use for the next few days. It's working out now, but the humidity is low and its going to get hot so we're going to need water.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

'Limelight' because the florets are chartreuse for a long time before they whiten. This plant is just at the edge of the Asian Collections parking lot.
Found more odd leaf manipulation today. Some kind of  "leaf roller" caterpillar folded these leaves over, sealed them with silk, ate themselves into a stupor, dropped to the ground, and pupated. They'll emerge as moths later. When I opened these up, all I found was caterpillar poop; the inhabitants had dropped out to the litter to pupate.

Vitex rotundifolia, Beach Vitex, is a pretty plant here at the USNA, but a dangerous invasive on the beaches of the SE

I always liked this plant; I remember it, from 1992, growing in what is now bed K-0, we used to call it the Korean Triangle. I rooted a cutting and had it in the front garden for a number of years and then it disappeared. I'm never sure how to deal with plants that aren't invasive here, but are other places. I guess I'll enjoy it at work and not plant it myself or put it in any designs.

Asimina triloba variegata, Variegated PawPaw

Okay, I have to admit that one of the reasons we (the USNA staff) wanted to learn to graft was so that we could propagate this remarkable plant. We can't transplant it. It's dead certain that it won't come true from seed which would take years and years anyway. Nobody knows how to grow it from we're going to have to graft it.

I don't remember who found it but it was moved when it was very small to a safe location in our growing area. Pawpaws are not difficult to transplant, they're impossible to transplant. They die 100% of the time so we're going to have to graft it, not only to reproduce it, but so we can get it planted out someplace where people can see it. Who knows? Maybe Joan will want a specimen for the shady cultivar garden.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lilium sargentiae, a beautiful Chinese lily on the hill across from the Asian Collections Parking Lot

I remember this lily from years ago when it, or another incarnation of it, lived below the Pagoda along the dry streambed. This large beauty produces bulbils which, of course, can be used to propagate it.

Somebody lives in here.....I don't know who

Amy found this mud insect house today just below the eaves of the Bonsai Pavilion. As a designer I can't help but admire the way they have reflected the texture and material of the stucco in their construction while at the same time retaining ownership with a distinctive color choice....or something.

Fasciata cercerisella: if your Cercis has leaves folded over and when you open them you see striped caterpillars, you've got it

This plant has it bad. The mature form of the larva is an inconspicuous, small, spotted moth. We see them every year about this time, or a few weeks later. I unfolded the leaf at the bottom and the silken ligatures they spun to cement the leaf halves together are clearly visible. They eat surface leaf tissue from the inside causing the light green damage on the left which, over time, dies leaving the oddly shaped brown necrotic areas at the right.
When they get big enough, they enclose themselves in silk, pupate, and break free as moths.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hallelujah! An inch and a half of rain for the Florida garden and it's still falling

Summer is when there's supposed to be enough moisture down there in my other garden but this summer so far hasn't provided much moisture. Since the 5th of May it's been sporadic and only totaled ~2 inches. And the days have been hot, mostly in the 90's F. I'll go back down the end of July and can only hope that things will have recovered from their winter brown by then. This rain, a product of Hurricane Alex, will go a long way towards recovery!

Rosa hugonis hip, Platycarya strobilacea cone, and Magnolia Kobus fruit with seeds bursting

Just interesting stuff. The literature suggests that the hips of Rosa hugonis are small and insignificant....well they are smallish, but the color and the luster, I think, more than make up for their lack of size. This plant is just below the China Valley path in the middle of the top section. Magnolia fruits are always cool in a bulky coarse way.

Nice try, but if I were a small insect I don't think I'd fly into the cavern

Hey it's only a couple inches across and it gives me the creeps.

Callerya reticulata in the Korean attractive hardy tropical

Beautiful colored flowers. The literature tells me there are ~150 species in this, mostly tropical, genus in the Pea Family. I have one growing up a corner of my house that's only flowered once in 8 years. Truly a vine, it occasionally grows to as much as 20 feet in length in a year, though  typically it dies back to the ground every year belying the common name of Evergreen Wisteria. Ours, in the Asian Collection, is more of a shrub though it does show vining tendencies. It also exhibits much more "stem hardiness" than my vine. As spectacularly colored as these flowers pictured are, they aren't quite as spectacular as those on my vine which have the same purple as well as a lighter bluish shade that makes for a bi-colored look.  In Alexandria a friend has a 20 foot long section of fence covered with a vining species that flowers all summer. He doesn't recommend the fragrance. I didn't get much scent from ours today but it is pretty.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rubus sp., an orange fruited Chinese species

When I first saw this at the bottom of China Valley a few years back I loved the color of the fruit. At that time I only saw one sickly plant. Today there are quite a number of plants and they're all covered with fruit. I popped these into my mouth after taking the picture and they're pretty good. Not a whole lot of flavor, but pleasant. I suspect we will be removing many of the plants though.

A cheerful youth group from St. John's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota worked in the Asian Collections today

They brought cool temperatures but unfortunately, couldn't bring the cold front in until evening. It didn't seem to bother them though; on a previous trip to Mexico they'd worked at 115F, a dry 115 they assured me. In Washington we don't do dry heat.  No matter; they weeded, pruned, and hauled so that a lot of work got done that would have taken us weeks without their help. One group worked with Nathan removing dead branches from the conifers around the tool shed, one of the areas Nate has adopted. Last winter we removed ivy from the trees, invasive shrubs from the understory, and dead trees. This spring Nate sprayed the English Ivy as it put on new growth and pretty much all of it died. Today, removing the dead stubs, was the finishi
The balance of the group worked in the bottom of China Valley with Amanda (in the bottom photo) and me. We did large scale weeding in the last wild area in China Valley. Because CV is such a new area, there is still a large seedbank of weed seeds and it takes a lot more weeding than the areas that have been maintained for longer periods. Eventually we'll get it. Today went a long way. The participants seemed to enjoy the work; it's that time of year when the insect and spider populations explode and they seemed to enjoy discovering peculiar examples of arthropod diversity.
For lunch they walked back to Arbor House; I delivered their lunch and Lynn gave a tour of the daylily collection for all the volunteers. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Plumbago wilmottianum beside the red Pagoda in the Asian Collections

This is anice blue perennial.

Blackberry Lily, Belamcanda chinensis, just began flowering this week

Blackberry lilies have seeded all through China Valley. The flowers are beautiful; the seeds are equally attractive. The problem is that the plants themselves often topple over. This is a good year though, as something in the last year's weather has allowed enough root growth or stem strength or whatever to keep the flowering stalks erect. That's a good thing....for a flower stalk.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

12 Month old garden in's got some growing to do but it looks good already

If there had been a competition for the best maintained new planting from one of my designs last year, it would have gone to Tracy Lowe. She watered, she weeded, she even took the 'Black Magic' Colocasia in for the winter, kept it alive, and replanted it. It was a treat to see her garden again. Passiflora incarnata is climbing the porch rail out of sight and Canna 'Bengal Tiger' survived the winter nicely. Tracy wanted color and drama and she's well on the way. One of the specific plants she requested was a Butterfly Bush; it's doing well and attracting Lepidopterans.
To make it more impressive, Tracy had never gardened before and the bed area in front of the sidewalk had been infested with wiregrass. She's been diligent and persistent!