Saturday, April 9, 2011

I went to the Beltsville Garden Club Sale: Globularia repens, G. meridionalis, Penstemon kunthii, and Louisiana iris 'Black Gamecock'

It;s like an addiction, this craving for new plants. These are all from Mike Bordelon. I've never grown Globularias but they ought to work well in the hot front garden; I know they like drainage. I almost think that if they live at all, they'll spread.....enthusiastically. Penstemon kunthii I've had before but not for more than a year or so. I'm psyched because it's my favorite kind of plant, a xeric sub-shrub that likes heat. I'm afraid though, that it likes more mineralization than we have. Maybe mix a little clay into the sand? Anyway It'll be fun to try it again. 'Black Gamecock' is a beautiful Louisiana Iris; it's very dark purple, one of the few I might recognize.

Hooray! The system worked (will work?) so we'll be back in our gardens Monday!

The weather was dreary yesterday and apparently will be dreary today but the good news is that the Federal Budget for 2011 is a done deal so we won't miss a beat in the collections.

Actually this is turning out to be a good spring at least from the point of view of the plants. It's been consistently cool but we haven't been more than a few degrees below freezing for a long time and it begins to look like we may be done altogether with frosts. We've had plenty of rain and the odd hottish day here and there to "goose" progress along. It's supposed to go to 87F (31C) on Monday and then drop ~20 degrees into a more seasonable coolish range. The long term forecasts suggest we'll get rain here and there over the next few weeks so all is good with the world and I can go to the Beltsville Garden Club spring plant sale without a care in the world. Or at least without that one big worry!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Aquilegia flabellata nana....I love this little columbine

It's growing on the wall beneath the Styrax 'Carillon' across Hickey Hill Road from the weeping Katsura. The flowers are stocky not graceful like other columbines but there's something endearing about the compact little plants that reseed a bit producing plants that are sometimes perennial for years and years. This one's been in the wall for at least 3 years.

Podophyllum peltatum, Mayapple....Look what's come up where the English Ivy used to be

Joan and Michael seem to have succeeded in killing the Ivy in the woods behind the Fern Valley parking area. Hannah and I tried but didn't quite get it done. I like to think we weakened it for the final kill. I know the woods look 100% better sans Lonicera maackii and Hedera helix.

Jeanette Warriner, Gardener in the Herb Garden, leaves us today to travel the country with her son Sam and Coley

I first photographed Jeanette in May 2008 on a group project at the columns. This picture was taken at her going away luncheon today. There have been a lot in the middle; when I searched "Jeanette" on the blog I found, well I didn't count but there were at least 10 others. That doesn't even count the pictures where her name doesn't occur in the post title. She's a photogenic person. She's also a good gardener, a very good photographer, and an intriguing woman with a wide range of interests; we'll miss her on all counts, though I have the feeling she'll visit us again.

Camellia 'Black Magic', Camellia 'Sweet Jane'....more interesting cultivars from Camellia Forest

These are two plants that came in last spring from Camellia Forest Nursery. We thought they were a bit small to plant out into the collection, so they spent last year in a bed under lath. They're both "unusual" plants. 'Black Magic' is a japonica with an upright habit, exaggerated leaf serration, and these curious flowers. Black-red, they remind me of Camellia x 'Night Rider' both the dark color and the fruit roll-up texture of the petals. I find it's generally considered a Zone 7b or 8. It sailed through last winter which had prolonged cold but no temps below 10F.

The plant in the bottom photo is Camellia x 'Sweet Jane', a miniature, hybridized in Australia by Ray Garnett. It's also an upright grower that I find has won a number of awards at recent shows. Its parents are listed as Camellia japonica 'Edith Linton' and Camellia transnokoensis. The picture doesn't convey adequately the perfect form of the flowers but does hint at the exquisite shading from white to pink both in the petals and the flowers.

Okay, it's not official for another 5 hours but it seems like we may not be back to work on Monday. If it happens there'll be Collateral Damage

Inevitably it's a part of war, even budget war. This isn't a good time for us to be out of the gardens. There probably isn't a good time but if there was, it wouldn't be spring. It isn't just the mulching we won't be able to do until summer; that'll be okay, just a lot more difficult at 90F than 70F. And it isn't even just the weeds we won't be able to pull. Yes, they'll go to seed and we'll lose all the progress we've made in China Valley over the last three years. We'll be able to address them when we return. It'll just be more work. And it isn't the planting or transplanting, because we've done most of that.

The fact is, most of us live, and garden, for this season. Yes, fall is wonderful and summer glorious, but it's about the rebirth. Summer's heat drains our energy, the exhilaration of fall renews us for a bit, then the cold, short, dormant days of winter try our souls. We depend on spring to renew us and now it looks like we may lose it. The consolation is that, if we are shut down for a bit , we'll all be able to spend time in our own gardens that we normally wouldn't be able to. Actually, If we do close down, I'll have the opportunity to work for my wife and with my sons gardening so It's kind of a win win for me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dr.Sandra Reed spoke to us today about Hydrangeas and Dichroa febrifuga

At the Arboretum we have an off again, on again program called Talking Plants where interesting speakers present programs during lunch. We try to eat quietly and discretely while absorbing information. This was a good one!

Sandra Reed is actually a coworker, a fellow Arboretum employee; I've heard her name many times over the last 7 years. She works at a field station in McMinnville, Tennessee and does research on the "breeding and genetics of nursery crop species" (lifted from the flier for her program today), one of which is Hydrangea. Last year we released two of her new cultivars of Hydrangea quercifolia, a SE US native: 'Ruby Slippers' and ' Munchkin'. The first has flowers that age to....well, ruby, while the second is a small dense selection. I actually like them both; they are unique, attractive, and useful and will be increasingly available at the retail level in the next few years.

I tend to take Talking Plants with a grain of salt; it's often interesting but I don''t usually learn anything new, exciting, or important. Today was an exception. I walked away possessing a handful of new facts and intrigued by images of some curious new hybrids. We got a quick overview of the horticulturally useful members of the genus. After running genetic markers on a number of taxa, she concluded that Hydrangea macrophylla is more closely related to Dichroa febrifuga than it is to several members of its own genus. Wow. Armed with that useful information, she's done several generations of crosses. We saw some exciting pictures. Unfortunately she left immediately after her presentation and couldn't be questioned about possible releases.

Disporopsis pernyi: The Asiian Collections staff and volunteers moved over 15,000 dollars worth of groundcover todayis


I remember when this plant came on the scene; it seems like it was only yesterday. It still costs 15.00 a plant from Plant Delights, so we were delighted when Brad asked us if we wanted any of the large planting he's removing from one of the parking lot beds. We said sure and took a few of the flats he'd already dug and then dug two truckloads of our own. Nathan and Amanda did most of the work digging and moving. Our volunteers did most of the work planting. We planted two areas: one was along the "trail" from the China Valley entrance along the ridge to the bench that would overlook the Anacostia if there weren't so many plants in the way. We edged the first 60+ feet of the trail with a bed of Disporopsis varying from a foot or so wide to more than 25 feet. It'll define the edge of the trail and add a wonderfully textural groundcover to an area without much in the way of perennial plantings: a great coup. The balance we planted near the tool shed on a site that we've been working on for several years. We've removed a good many enthusiastic non-natives and now we're beginning to develop it as a garden space.

Disporopsis pernyi doesn't have a common name but it can be described as a semi-evergreen to evergreen groundcovering Asian Solomon's Seal. These plants are descendants of a collection made in the 1970s.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's April again so we have the Ikebana International Exhibition staged by the Washington DC Chapter at the USNA Bonsai & Penjing Museum

It's the dimensionality of the arrangements that affects me the most. The purity of line is refreshing, the colors and textures of the materials inviting, but it's the precisely balanced arrangement of the parts that holds me. I feel like there ought to be a designated viewing spot to view from, or maybe a path that I ought to walk but then how fast should I go? Am I the right height. I frequently photograph an arrangement from the same spot but from different height. A few inches makes a big difference. (Imagine a paragraph break here; Blogspot wo9n't allow me to create one today so just pretend) I take not so many photographs with people. It's not my strong suit. And I delete ruthlessly any image that I feel might not please the subject. Well....I've noticed over the years, that it's very easy to photograph people doing ikebana or kusamono. There seem to be fewer awkward poses and not so many odd expressions. I'm not certain what to conclude or if there are any legitimate conclusions to be drawn but I think there are. I feel as though the grace and style that are expressed in the arrangements are an externalization of those same characteristics that exist in the artist. That idea suggests a happy harmony, a connection between self and process that seems like a good thing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Neomarica caerulea, Epiphyllum anguliger, and Cleodendrum ugandense....I ran through the warm greenhouse at the end of the day

And things are happening, flower and growth. It's getting difficult to maneuver down the aisles. They all seem anxious to get outside but they probably don't want to be out tonight when it's going to get to within a few degrees of freezing. They'll just have to be patient.

There's nothing better than a box of plants from one of "those" nurseries...

We got a shipment from Cistus today at the Arboretum; they are definitely one of those nurseries! Amanda and I had started the day mulching and Nathan had resumed work on the wall below the Pagoda. Then the rains resumed and drove us out of the collection. Nathan took his new grinder to the shops to finish his bench and Amanda and I potted up the new plants. They aren't all for the Asian Collections; some of them go to Amy for planting in the gardens inside the Bonsai Penjing collections. Still, it's exciting to see new plants even if somebody else is going to plant them. Plus, I know I can root cuttings from the Buddleia, the Trachelospermum jasminoides 'marbled long leaf', and the quince 'Oyashima'. Believe it or not we've never had the Schefflera delavayi and I, we've, wanted it for years. I'm excited about Osmanthus 'Jim Porter', which sounds like a good garden plant. We can see if it's truly hardy in Zone 7. Hey I'm excited about all of them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This is a lovely specimen of "collected as Magnolia officinalis"

We have it in our records as collected in NW Korea in 1984 as Magnolia officinalis, which it clearly is not. It's one of two plants that we have from the same seed lot. The other was growing, reasonably enough, on Korean Hill. Despite being the same age, it's much smaller; it doesn't even flower yet. Since there is a question of identity, Amanda and I dug the smaller plant from Korean Hill and, with Nathan's help, moved it to a trial bed where we can watch it more closely.

Tony Beane, one of the attendees at the Magnolia Study day (who drove many hours from Canton, New York) spent several hours comparing flowers and plants and concluded that it could be the product of a cross between sprengeri and liliflora 'Nigra'. I think we're coming around to it though more investigation is needed we all feel that it has M. springeri either as a parent or one generation removed and the consensus is growing that M. liliflora 'Nigra' could also be part of the mix. That would make it a sort of a sibling of two of our introductions, 'Galaxy' and 'Spectrum'. At any rate it's clearly a beautiful flower.

Thalictrum ichangense 'Evening Star'....isn't that a delightful little woodlander?

I love this type of variegation and am always excited to find a new plant displaying it. This is one of a few perennials from Plant Delights Nursery I planted today. 'Evening Star' is a seed strain from Terra Nova of a Chinese thalictrum.