Saturday, September 18, 2010

xAmarcrinum powellii.....don't they look great with pink flamingos? Plastic ones I mean

Really, I mean if you have a flock? fluttering?    whatever is the proper term for a herd of flamingos?, and you need a floral accent you can't beat this plant. You know what? I can find this out in less than a minute. (Goggling gives me a choice of half a dozen terms; I prefer flamboyance): a flamboyance of flamingos. My tongue is in my cheek and it isn't. Hey a couple of days ago we watched an odd movie called I do and I don't. chosen, I imagine, because it was filmed entirely in Baltimore or it could have been Jane Lynch, who won an Emmy for her role in Glee, sorry I've not seen any of that but she if funny and was in this movie. Anyway it's one of those lead up to the wedding/hapless and feckless fiance meets the in-laws movies made interesting by the required pre-wedding counseling. It was funny but I'm not sure enough to trade off being irritated for just about the duration of the movie. Still, I'm joking about the marriage of Amarcrinum and plastic flamingos and I'm not. They do work well together so if you do love pink flamingos, or you're ever tasked with designing around them this plant belongs high on your palette.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Camptotheca acuminata backlit by the sun rising over the Anacostia

Today the sun rose at 6:51 and I took this picture at 6:58. Back in the good old days of mid-June it rose at me time to walk around the garden before I left for work. We're losing 2.5 minutes of sunlight per day. That's frightening. Day is longer than night but that'll only last another week. We're plummeting towards the Solstice.

If you had bought one of these plants at the FONA Spring Plant Sale.....well, you'd have one now

And they're flowering now. Of course, if FONA had had this picture to show what was dormant in those ugly pots....well, you might have bought one. I know I would have. Instead, Brad accepted them as donations and now they're beginning to flower in their pots in our growing area. I'm going to make a point to get one of these plants for the Florida garden. Maybe next year at the FONA sale, maybe from an online vendor.

Hired hit people (from Invase Plant Control Inc.) are cleaning up the meadow alongside Springhouse Run

Invasive Plants Control Inc. is back and killing Japanese Honeysuckle, Sweet Autumn Clematis, Porcelainberry, and whatever shrubs and trees they encounter in this meadow area alongside Springhouse Run.  They're like herbicidal mercenaries. We've had them before in various areas and they do a great job. This visit they've been working between the Beechwoods and the Spruce Field. I believe they are also contracted to control the woodies and invasives on the New York Avenue slope adjoining the Gotelli Collection. We're all glad to see them but none of us enjy them the task of spraying 8 hours a day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beefsteak fungus?, Fistulina's an ill wind....Michael directed me to this growing on the upturned rootplate of a fallen oak in Fern Valley

Mercifully, I encountered no common names for this fungus that made any reference to the obvious appearance of the bottom photo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hedychium coronarium, Butterfly Ginger is one of the most fragrant Hedychiums

Butterfly Ginger is increasingly being used as a Zone 7 perennial. This planting is off the south side of the East Terrace of the Administration Building at the Arboretum. That means it's in a nice microclimate. That probably explains why it breaks ground so early in the spring and why it has increased so much in just a year. It would survives in the open garden but maybe wouldn't reappear until late May or even mid-June. Still, the fragrance makes it worth a little wait.

It's one of the two Hedychiums I have a bit of trouble with in Adelphi, not because of hardiness, but because, along with H. greenii, it likes water to the point of being able to function as an emergent in water gardens. The same water issues gave me problems in the Florida garden until I moved the entire colony to a low spot directly under a rain spout. Even so the dry winters keep the planting pretty ugly until the rains return in summer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pollia japonica, a great Commelinaceous plant

I'm with Jim. I like this plant. A mass of it provides an interesting relatively tall textural effect in partial shade. The flowers aren't spectacular, but there are a lot of them and they aren't unattractive. And the berries.....the berries are spectacular. I tried to grow this from seed the last time I worked in this garden twenty years ago. I inexplicably failed. Hey it feels like a plant that could maybe under certain circumstances be overly aggressibe both by rhizome and by seed. Possibly it doesn't like sand though I seem to remember amending generously back then. And watering plenty. No matter. I don't have room for this size planting and I can see it five days a week, or more?, anyway. The older I get the less I seem to need to own plants.

Geranium soboliferum and Trollius pulcher plena.....a couple of interesting and obscure perennials growing in the beds below the GCA Circle

It's worth taking a pass by these beds every month or so to see the obscure but beautiful Asian perennials we have hunted down and planted here. There's sun and shade so we have good variety. I like Trollius, Globeflowers, and moved T. chinensis here this spring from a hidden location in China Valley. Then Carole ordered this beautiful, pulcher duh, little Trollius from Asiatica. We have another larger one in the lathe beds that I'll get out this fall. I don't know this but I'm pretty sure there aren't many gardens in this country with three taxa, nay, three species, of Trollius. And there are other rarities: Hemiboea, Rabdosia, Cardiandra, odd Primroses, Epimediums, and Iris. These beds are getting a bit of a makeover to give them more "curb appeal", but we're keeping all the oddities and even adding some.

Vespa crabro.....look what this hornet is doing to our Lilac! There is no scale but these insects are about 3 cm long

Apparently these were they guys (there were at least a dozen in this Lilac) that ran Betty and Eugenia (Thursday volunteers in the Asian Collections) off last week. As I heard the story, Eugenia was demonstrating how and what she would prune in order to get the Lilac in shape. Apparently this involved some manipulation, read shaking, of the tree. European Hornets are remarkably placid animals but this was more than they were willing to take and they swarmed menacingly but harmlessly driving Amanda and the volunteers away, preventing them from planting the last three divisions of the variegated Polygonatum that Amanda had determined to rescue from its now too sunny site. That's what I heard anyway.

They make paper "honeycomb" type nests and they do use wood fibres but according to the literature, this stripping/girdling activity is more likely to release sap which they will then gobble up. Lilacs are among their favorites I read.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rose Ross Rambler, Rosa roxburghiana, Rosa henryi.....nice hips

Hips, heps, haws...whatever you call 'em I like them. And they're chock full of vitamin C and used to make jams, jellies, marmalades, pies, syrups, and all sort of confections, even wine. The back cover of Timber Press/Sagapress compendium of Graham Stuart Thomas on roses (all three books in one) is a reproduction of a GST painting of a selection of interesting heps. I love it. It's too dark to photograph it but I have noticed that my negligence in deadheading has allowed the yellow Knock-out rose too set fruit. They're pretty nice looking. Most modern ornamentals, excepting R. rugosa and its close progeny, aren't much for hep production.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Kadsura vine outside the back window seems to be enjoying the rain. We got ~.75" last night and today

 We actually did need the rain.The cool high pressure that broke summers back brought wonderful dry air in from the west. Of course that creates a tremendous imbalance in the osmotic pressure inside the soft tissues of plants and the air. Transpiration goes through the roof and leaves droop. My poor bananas take it particularly to heart. I watered them heavily yesterday morning and by afternoon they looked miserable. There was water in the ground but they just aren't adapted to low humidity. So even though plans to attend the Renaissance Festival were canceled, it was good to see the rain.

This summer, like the year overall, has been extreme. Though we missed setting the record for the most 90F degree days in a summer (that would be 1980) by 5?, 2010 is far and away the hottest summer on record. A bar graph of the top ten shows little deviation among 2-10 (<.5 degree). 2010 blows them away averaging a degree and a half higher. It was a difficult summer to endure, no doubt made more so by the fact that I'm 39 years older than I was in 1980. Well, it's over now

My new hobby is produce shopping. This new market in Wheaton is an H Mart.

Hey, I like eating and I like the curious and beautiful productions of the vegetable kingdom. There are a dozen or so, H Marts across the US with the most here in the mid-Atlantic. This had great seafood too; dozens of selections of bright-eyed fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Among a pile of purchases I got a little box of candied Tamarind with cayenne. Very good!