Saturday, August 21, 2010

I gave a talk on adding native plants to existing gardens at the Irvine Science Center today

 The program was great and there were a lot of vendors. I had time to talk to many of them. Sylva Native Nursery & Seed Company had Comptonia peregrina in 2" rose pots so I bought a couple. I remember when Sam Jones was the only source for this plant in Maryland, or actually anywhere so far as I knew. There must be protocols for propagation now. That's good; still I've not seen it around in any quantity.  Kollar Nurseries had Lonicera sempervirens so I bought three for the Intern Planting at the Grove of State Tree restrooms. I bought other things, Solidago sempervirens and a Cardinal Flower in bloom, I couldn't resist. The talk went well as did the rest of the day. This is their 19th year, it's less than 30 easy miles from home, and yet I've not been there before. In a way that's not so much a reflection of my negligence as it is a tribute to the wealth of resources in the Washington/Baltimore/Philadelphia area. There are at least a dozen locations that do annual or more frequent daylength horticulture programs. Many focus on natives. When I retire, I'll have a lot of choices.

I have, for years, argued that when siting a plant, it's important to consider its mature size and decide whether it's really a fit

So what you've got to ask yourself is, "how badly do I want that green meatball?"  This Viburnum was pruned less than three months ago. In the interim it's put out three and a half feet of growth. That means we have to shear it every month during the season. I'm basically an advocate of putting plants in positions that they can occupy without this kind of pruning, but when you have an unlimited labor fource it's okay to design this way. Be aware of what you're doing though, and make sure you feel that the return is worth the effort. The problem with saying, "I can prune it" as you put a plant into a site where it really doesn't fit is that the root system grows and grows and grows. Every year you have to prune more and more.
This is an upright Cherry Laurel at the Beltsville Library Garden. It suffered badly in the snows of the past winter and I cut it off at ground level. I planted a Fothergilla to the right, and a Loropetalum to the left, but let the Laurel regrow because the new additions were still small plants. There isn't any scale in the picture, but it has regrown to a little over six feet in one growing season. Hey, it took 15 years to reach twelve feet in height but more than half of that growth has been replaced in less than six months! If you're in it for the long haul, it's important to make sure that when you site a plant, it's not going to outgrow that spot. Pruning works for a few years but since the root system grows unfettered, every year there is more to prune until it becomes downright impractical. Back in the day when labor was cheap and an army of gardeners attended every garden such practices made sense. Not so much anymore.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The butterflies were feeling frisky today: Buckeyes, Junonea coenia and Sulphurs?

I chased the coupled pair around the Fern Valley Prairie for 20 minutes after work today. They don't fly well attached.....well, back to back, but hey, I can't fly at all even when I'm not....engaged.

Lots going on in Fern Valley this week, much of it in the Prairie

Salvia azurea, Wild Blue Sage; Silphium perfoliatum, Cup Plant; Helianthus mollis, Ashy Sunflower; Pink form of Hibiscus moescheutos, Rose Mallow; Chamaecrista fasiculata, Partridge Pea; Lobelia cardinalis, Cardinal Flower

I noticed a fairy ring just outside the Arboretum entrance this morning and stopped to photograph it

Tanya stopped to see if I was okay; apparently I was prostrate on the ground and not moving. anyway I wasn't passed out or dead, I was just taking the bottom picture. I came back out at about 8:00 and someone had picked all the mushrooms. I hope they aren't eating them, or rather I hope they have identified them correctly if they're eating them. Gone in 90 minutes.

Fairy rings are cool. They form as fungal mycelium seeking new nutrients grows outward from some central point, I'm sure a dead street tree in this case, .Since the growth is more or less equal in all directions, the ultimate shape is circular. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of the fungus and they form at the periphery of the mycelial ring. Every year the circle is larger; I've heard of rings more than 20 feet in diameter. There was a "fairy arc" of false morels in China Valley in 2001 but I didn't see it this year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chitalpa....a bigeneric hybrid between Chilopsis linearis and Catalpa bignoneoides

So obviously it's a favorite of Richard Olsen (Catalpa and all). Brad has used them in the tree boxes on the east Terrace of the Administration Building. They are a bit xeric so they fit in with the succulents and their small leaves provide a counterpoint to the Aroids, Brugmansias, Cannas, etc. Plus they flower all summer.

This cross has been around a while. We sold this tree at Behnke's in the 90's. It performed well in full sun with minimal supplemental watering. I always thought it would make a good parking lot tree, but Richard suggests it may require a bit more water than that. At any rate it takes heat well and flowers over a long period. 

Black Horsefly, Tabanus atratus.....Ed caught this and brought it in....I took one for the team

Actually not. We put it in the freezer to slow it down. It's no wonder that the bite hurts so much. If it's really a bite.....mmore like being cut by small scissors. Then they inject an anticoagulent and lap up the freely flowing blood. I'm not a bossy person, but you really have to click once on the photo to isolate it, and again to blow it up. You have to see those counterpoised scimitars, er mandibles close up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What can I say? It was empty last night when I went to bed

It's been a funny year weather wise. Does an earthquake count as weather?

I have no idea what this is....ask Coley, he found it...I'm thinking it's about a mm in diameter and appeared to be segmented

It writhed energetically coiling and recoiling; these pictures were taken at intervals of about a second. I thew it back outside after photographing it; I hope it's not a dangerous intestinal parasite!

Amy figured out what it is: a horseshow worm. They have their own Phylum, Nematomorpha. The adults, like in the picture are free living, the larvae are parasitic on various invertebrates. They're also called Gordian worms; I regret now not posting the picture where it is coiled up in a tight knot!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The front deck is largely orange this summer....Chrysothemis pulchella has reached this size from a smallish dormant;s a Gesneriad

I stored it bone dry in a 6" pot at room temperature (68F-58F) all winter. It revived cheerfully, damped off in the heavy rains of late spring, and popped up, much to my surprise a couple weeks later.

Emmenopterys henryi...fruit is developing post flowering

It looks like only a fruit or two per inflorescence, but they were big trees and flowered heavily. There will be a lot of seeds! Judging from what I have read germination is not difficult. We'll have to give it a try.

Nate makes short work of the dead Sasa with the backhoe on the New Holland

However, no good deed goes unpunished....Apparently there are issues with the hydraulics on this rig and now we have to maybe have a cylinder rebuilt. Well, at least the collection looks better for the cleanup. We, Nathan actually, cut back 75% of this planting and killed the cutback area with herbicide. The plan is to trench around the remaining clump, install root barrier, cleanup the excavation and enjoy the new look.

I've never been crazy about this species. If you look at enough gardens in the area, you come across it regularly but not frequently. It feels like it wasn't maybe sold retail but was included in an occasional upscale design/installation. I must admit that it looks good as a backdrop to Ann Collins' Panda and maybe it isn't the look of it that turns me off, but the awareness that it's either a potential or an actual problem.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tricyris hirta....the Toadlilys have begun to flower in the Asian Collection and what with all the rain and all

it ought to be a good year. We have a lot of different Tricyrtis.....many species and many many varieties. This is sort of a basic T. hirta.

The new Campsis grandiflora 'Morning Calm' in the Beltsville Library Courtyard Garden is flowering

I put a pole in for it and it's begun to climb, flowering as it goes. Campsis is a great plant to use this way. It flowers in the summer so the color is fine with most daylilies, yellow composites, and still neutral enough (hey it's orange!) not to fight with Crape Myrtles or cool red /pink roses. Keeping it to the post will require regular but non-strenuous attendance....just the sort of thing I'm up for in the summer.
It's still got a ways to go to get to the top; I expect it'll get most of the way this year an that I'll have to prune it next year.

We (Asian Staff and ASRT's) did a cleanup project in the Central Valley today and Amnda found the biggest mantis

When  she (Amanda) brought her over, I though she (the mantis) was smoking a cigarette, but it turned out to be a fragment of leg hanging out of her mouth. She (the mantis) did light up later and I shuddered, grateful to be human.