Saturday, November 27, 2010

Salvia x 'Silke's Dream''s got a little microphylla in it

It isn't just that they're the only game in town, I really like Salvias. Tony Avent claims this one is at least a USDA Zone 7....of course Tony is occasionally overly optimistic. Still, I'll try it outside next year.

Mahonia repens, Cyrilla racemiflora, Viburnum rufidulum, Hydrangea quercifolia: lingering fall color in the greenhouse

These are all wild collected US natives. I observe this only as a fact; there's no implied xenophobia. I like all plants. Anyway, the Mahonia was collected this year by Scott, Kevin, and Grayc in South Dakota. Joan, Amy, and I got the other three from Tennessee and Alabama a couple years back..

Camellia caudata is flowering in the greenhouse

This turns out to be a very pretty plant in flower. Frankly I know nothing about it and cursory research doesn't tell me much. There is an entry in the Flora of China. If my Chinese geography was better I'd have a better idea; it looks like it comes from warmer climates than ours. It's flowering now in a cool polyhouse. The low temperature is 34F (the heat comes on at 33). It seems perfectly happy with the temperature.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The end of fall: Stachyurus praecox var. Matsuzakii, Corylus heterophylla var. sutchuenensis, Euonymus carnosus

Today was dark and gloomy; winter is inexorably approaching so it was good to see little remainders of fall and reminders of spring.

Fallen leaves: Acer palmatum ssp. amoemum and Parrotia persica

It's the day after Thanksgiving; four days of grey drizzle didn't net us a tenth of an inch of rain. We didn't really need rain but still... It cooled off this afternoon and the wind picked up. The forest is dreary and the foliage remaining on the trees lacks the brilliance of the week past. Cool dry weather is moving in from the west; the sun will come out tomorrow and the air will be clear but we're well on the way to winter.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I have to decide their fates but my heart is too soft: Pandorea, Coprosma, Zingiber, Colocasia, and Brugmansia

Push has come to shave (it's cliche day here), we're bound to have a frost someday though we seem to have had a few free week for which I am THANKFUL (it's Thanksgiving), and it's time to decide who's going to live and who's going to die.

This is the tough part about growing tropicals here in DC. Unless you have an infinitely large greenhouse you're going to have to make some sacrifices. The variegated Pandorea is a particularly nice plant; I'd hate to see it go. The problem is that so is Coprosma 'Fireburst'. These are both plants new to me and my instinct is to find some way to winter them over. Of course I've been bringing things in for a month and there's absolutely no more space near windows....maybe just a little.

So I'll keep them but it seems so cruel to let the Variegated Ginger, Lime Zinger, and the Brugmansia die just because they're easily replaced. Or because, I have huge pots of the Ginger and Lime Zinger that I can just truncate and store dormant in the cool basement. And it gets worse; looking out the window I can see a tender Agapanthus which reminds me of its two siblings. Agh......!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Salvia splendens 'Van Houttei' Caroline...hey, as long as they keep flowering, I'll keep photographing them

You've got to love the subtlety of these persistent calyces though subtlety isn't a quality I automatically associate with Salvias. The flowers, before they faded and fell, were deep maroon? This is prettier.

Acer palmatum 'Ryusen' fall color at the US National Arboretum

I learned from Joan (Feely in Fern Valley) that if you want to add a plant to the garden and get it in the optimum location, it will inevitably involve moving at least one existing plant. I have been waiting all summer and most of the spring to get this maple where I wanted it. I planted it this spring at the intersection of the path to the Pagoda and Hickey Hill Road, very close to where I wanted it. Unfortunately there was a fairly mature Cercis occupying the perfect spot. The Cercis finally went dormant, Amanda and I moved it, then we shifted 'Ryusen' a few feet. She didn't even lose that great fall foliage, and look how she sits above the evergreen Pachysandra confidantly gracing that plenitude of negative space (I hate that phrase).

All is right with this small corner of the world.

Heuchera 'Silver Scrolls' ?

I found this flat in the greenhouse today. This picture took itself!

"Keeping it real" trailer park style: Go Bristol!

I watched Dancing with the Stars last night, a reality show on which couples, made up of one professional dancer and one celebrity, compete in an elimination format. Last night's show was the finale nnd I was motivated to watch by news reports that suggested, or maybe I inferred, that a vote for Bristol Palin, daughter of ex-vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was not so much a vote for Bristol, as a vote against the President and Nancy Pelosi.... I was curiousl

Additionally, another of the finalists, Jennifer Grey, was an actress who, as a young woman, had starred in one of my wife's favorite movies; I've seen Dirty Dancing....well lets just say more than a few times. It's difficult not to like Jennifer Grey in the movie and that's how most of America thinks of her. Since the new stories suggested that she was the superior dancer and a sympathetic character I was curious to see if she could lose because of....right -wing activism??? She did not.

I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the introductions beczuse I missed Bristol telling the world that she'd love to win because it would be (I don't have the exact quote, but this is close) "a fat finger in the face of all those people who hate my mother and who hate me." Wow!

I think there's a bit of transference going on here, hatred is the coin of the realm of the right, not the left. Our, the left's, big weakness is intellectual dispassion. If we feel an inappropriate emotion in regards to you Bristol, it's probably condescension. Anyway I apologize for a non plant or garden post but I had to do it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Camellia japonica.....the extended warm fall has brough this spring flowering camellia into bloom!

Hemerocallis dumortieri var. dumortieri.....a very early flowering daylily flowering very late!

This picture is less than spectacular because I didn't come upon the plant until late afternoon; it was already getting dark and the rain added to the gloom so... Anyway a couple of plants had 8 flowers open and the fragrance was strong enough to smell without bending over.

One of the good things about gardening in this area are the winter fragrances. It isn't quite winter yet, but there's a lot to smell. Osmanthus heerophyllus is still flowering and still wonderful, some varieties of Camellia sasanqua have a good bouquet, Viburnum Chesapeake' is covered with flowers and smells heavenly, and even the weeping Cercidiphyllum is still emanating that spun sugar aroma that ought not to be agreeable, but is.

Because our climate is so mild various winter fragrant trees, like Prunus mume, and shrubs, for example, Chimonanthus praecox will flower some time before spring. Last year we had some cold days early, they were vernalized, and began flowering before Christmas. This year we may have to pay for this extended warmth by waiting longer for the Chimonanthus. Oh well.

Sapindus drummondii/Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii, Western Soapberry.....fall color

This is one of a row of Soapberries that sit alongside the road just past the entrance to China Valley. Ed Aldrich gave me a seedling a few years back and I planted it in the Beltsville Library Garden. I have plans for semi-espaliering it against the eastern wall. We'll see.

These trees seed heavily and we weed out hundreds of seedlings. It always seems a shame. I've often wondered about this as a nice small tree here in USDA Zone 7. The flowers are less than spectacular, but the foliage is clean and attractive, the form of the tree itself is pleasant, it tolerates extreme drought when established, and seems to be disease free, though admittedly my experience is limited.

If I had to choose a tree to lose, this one would have been near the bottom of my list, Cladrastis Kentuckia

The Yellowwood by the road in Fern Valley is coming down. Security noticed yesterday, that it was leaning; Kevin and Michael inspected it and decided it was structurally compromised to such a degree that it needs to be removed. Sad. Even in the gloom of late afternoon, the sawdust is distinctively sulfur yellow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vernicia fordii and Acer davidii: good late foliage in the Asian Collection

Vernicia, the Tung Oil Tree, survived last winter and grew a bit this year. It's rooted firmly; if it makes it through this year it may well have developed enough of a root system to keep it around through even a cold winter or two. But who knows> We'll have to wait and see. That's one of the good things about gardening, waiting and seeing.

Aronia arbutifolia and Callicarpa dichotoma

Maybe I've been ignoring fruits because foliage has been so beautiful.

While both of these plants are attractive, the Aronia is native here in the mid-Atlantic and is an important food source for many different birds and mammals while the Beautyberry, though closely related to our southern species, often goes through the winter with it's fruit uneaten. And this despite a quite close resemblance to Callicarpa americana. So I suppose that means that if you're choosing one or the other and integration into the food chain is important, you'd go with the Aronia. Hey, it has better leaf color anyway!

Under the Asian Collections" Leaf Management Policy" we don't touch these leaves until they turn brown.

Starting this year, in the Asian Collections at he US National Arboretum, we aren't doing "leaf removal", we're doing "leaf management". There is some subtlety here; we don't just "wait for 'em all to fall down and then get 'em all out". In Washington DC, evergreen groundcovers do not benefit from being buried under leaves, and leaves packed around the bases of shrubs make attractive winter home for various mammals that potentially eat the cambium of those shrubs. So we move those leaves. If there's an open space close and it's large enough for us to reasonably add the shifted leaves, we'll do that. If not we'll transport them to the large leaf pile at the Brickyard. At some point they'll be ground to leaf meal and we'll return them to the garden.

There are a lot of tools that we utilize when we engage with the leaves: rakes, baskets, tarps, mulching mowers, blowers, vacuums, shredders....probably some I've forgotten. We would love to forgo the use of blowers and use only rakes, but that's not really possible. We use the least invasive blowers we can and use them as little as possible. But we use them.

Part of our strategy is to look at the leaves as an ongoing process that starts in late November, builds in intensity for a few weeks to mid December and then requires a little regular attendance through the rest of the winter, light tweaking. the sooner we are able to move leaves to their final destinations, the more likely it is that rain will mat them down and minimize their future movement. Conversely, the sooner we remove those leaves that have to be removed the less likely it is that they will be rained on and become more difficult to remove. Like all gardening processes, leaf management is different every year. Different weather conditions determine when leaves fall, whether they blow, when, or even if, they're matted down by rain and or snow. We try to stay flexible.

If this sounds something like what you've been doing all along, hey that's how many of us felt about IPM and "sustainability". I'm thinking any good buzzword is largely new spin on old ideas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center Grasonville, Maryland November (bottom photo is Baccharis halimifolia)

I visited the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville Maryland Saturday. It was my brother-in-law Eric's birthday. It's a wonderful place, agreen Nature Center with trails leading through a Loblloy Pine Woodland to salt marshes, and ultimately to Kent Narrows.

I did some research and discovered that the woodland is classified as Global Element Code CELG006849, Pinus taeda/Morella cerifera/Spartina patens Tidal Woodland. A montypic overstory of Loblolly Pines with a very open understory was much as describes by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources publicaation. We saw plenty of Smilax, Toxicodendron, Iva, Baccharis, Morella and the expected grasses. The trail, exiting the forest, led us out into high marsh. We had arrived late in the day, and so headed back. It's a good place to return to though.