Friday, April 29, 2011

I worked at the FONA Plant Sale today from 10:00 to 1:00. I had to wear an apron

I'm really not an apron kind of guy; I've avoided it in the past but Jim was pretty tough and there was no escaping it. I had fun, sliding back into my nursery sales personna. I think I'm good at selling plants because I love them all. And people too. It was busy going at first; the first three hours (the time I worked) are reserved for members of the Friends. Many of them are serious plant people and, armed with the internet inventory, they came knowing what plants they wanted, but not where those plants were. Armed with a working knowledge of the alphabet and Latin binomials, I was all over it. It's fun because many of the other volunteers are people I've known for years. It was too busy to catch up, but quick exchanges were doable.

I bought a few things: Cestrum parqui, Actinidia pilosula, Mahonia repens, Agapanthus 'Graskop', and Alstoemeria 'Sara'. Plus, as a member of FONA, I got my choice of the two USNA Oakleaf hydrangea introductions, 'Munchkin' or 'Ruby Slippers'. I chose 'Roby Slippers' but I don't know why.

Leucocrinum montanum, the Sand of the collections GrayC, Scott, and Kevin made in Nebraska

This is a cool plant, the only species in the genus Leucocrinum. I hope it'll grow here; it's native to the southwest US ranging north and east to the Dakotas and Nebraska. Well, we're the US National Arboretum we're just located in Washington. We love all plants foreign and domestic, and reserve the right to claim all US natives. Not only beautiful, this is an interesting plant as well. It's a geophyte with thick fleshy roots. Sort of a xeric ephemeral, it flowers in late spring or early summer, then dies back to the ground during the heat and the drought of summer.

Wow! A Royal wedding and the FONA plant sale on one day. Can the world handle the excitement?

The hats are excuse enough to watch the wedding but it's time to go to the Arboretum now!

Don't you think Mr. Bean should have officiated? His name is Rowan too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Only it didn't. These are the tents for the FONA Plant Sale, not a wicked carnival. Fortunately, we were far luckier than so many people in the southeast. After flirting with rain all morning it cleared up, cooled off, and the humidity went away. That's the forecast for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday too.

Rhododendron fortunei is flowering now in the valley below the Pagoda

They are spectacular plants that seem to build up phytophthora in their systems year after year until know, die. Carmen, a new volunteer, and I broke off dead branches today. I have had luck with native rhodies by just constantly removing the dead wood. Reinfection occurs from the already diseased sections so my plan is to reduce the amount of inoculum...we'll look next year and see how we did!

I was weeding in China Valley with Amanda and found myself face to face

With these nice mushrooms. I have no idea what they are. I expect to see a lot of fruiting fungi this year. The ground has been soaked for a long time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


(from the top) Asarum caudatum white flowered form, FONA volunteers scanning the horizon for incoming shipments and/or storms, assorted begonias, ferns in the mist, Actinidia pilosula, Corylus 'Red Majestic', various and sundry uncommon shade monocots (I think)

This is the first time I've taken a look at the goodies this year. You can see a list of selections by clicking here. Sally was excited and I have to agree; two excellent years in a row! Lots of beautiful plants and lots of uncommon to downright rare plants. Cistus Nursery has supplied tables and tables of one-of-a-kind rarities, Plant Delights sent some wonderful plants too. And that's just two vendors.

The Friends of the National Arboretum stages this Garden Fair/Plant Sale every spring; proceeds go to support the National Arboretum. It's always important. The azaleas are peaking this week or next so everybody's thinking about us and our needs. Shopping from FONA benefits us directly but if you're local and can attend the sale, make sure to check out the smaller vendor tents. Very good material and if we want to be able to continue to obtain unusual and rare plants we have to support these guys. I'm not going to go down a list of great small specialty nurseries that have gone under in the last few years......too painful. Shopping at these small tents is a lot like shopping online. You'll see things that will never show up at Behnke's or Merrifield's and definitely not the box stores. It's exciting....and expensive, but portions of their proceeds go to us as well.

You've gotta love that Asarum; they've got six I think, pretty good-sized plants. I've lusted after that Actinida ever since I saw it at Courtnay Daniel's 15 acre garden two years ago. That red Harry Lauder's Walking! I actually passed on it at.............Home Depot.........two years ago. I think I was in shock from seeing it there. Anyway this isn't even the tip of the iceberg so if you're local, or ever kind of local, it'd be worth a trip this Saturday (Friday for members).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walking around this evening, I noticed there were a lot of blue flowers

from the top: Vinca major, Phlox stolonifera, Hyacinthoides hispanica (sorry Joan), Erysimium linifolium 'Bowles Mauve'

And one blue bowling ball keeping my new Hesperaloe company until I figure out where to put it! The Vinca is my nemesis: it escaped from a container years ago and I rip it out every year but it's in the wall and always sneaks back. Also I'm a tad embarassed by the Wood Hyacinths; they are a little bit invase in Rock Creek Park where they sneak into natural areas from adjoining gardens. They're both beautiful though. It seems like a lot of yellow flowers are finishing up; blue seems to be next in line.

I don't know what's going on with the growing tipa on my Smoketree

When it defoliated last fall I noted these oddly curled growths. There were about a dozen of them on a 12 foot plant, not a large percentage of shoot tips.It's not genetic but I don't know what caused them. Sometimes insects inadvertently inject chemicals that function as plant growth regulators. Maybe even verdently sic, though I can't imagine the advantage to an insect in this particular case. So maybe it was an insect, or maybe a fungus, or possibly even some free range chemical floating in the air. Anyway, the plant seems unaffected by them with new shoots sprouting as usual.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Asian Bloodroot? I don't know what it is. Now I do. Thanks Stefan, it's Eomecon chionantha

I'll find out tomorrow and add the name to this post. It's definitely in the Poppy Family. It's embarrassing to admit I've been in this collection this long and don't know what this is, but hey. I'm not the humble so it's probably all for the best!

Common name "Snow Poppy". That's a good name.

It was misty this morning and hot and muggy this afternoon

It's Tree Peony week in Washington DC

That's my sister Val sniffing a semi-double magenta in our front garden prior to a big Easter Sunday plant buying trip. The others are from the Asian Collections today. Though we're not the official Tree Peony Collection of the Arboretum, we have far and away the most plants. They will all flower this week. Because it's going to be so hot what is always a short season will shorten even more. Still, when these are finished, the herbaceous peonies will step up and they're beautiful too.

November two years ago the very generous owner of Peony's Envy, a vendor of tree peonies donated a large number of tree peonies to the Arboretum. We planted them but they had already started into growth and did not do well that first winter. None died that I know of and they spent last growing season recovering. I saw a handful of flowers total on about 20 plants this spring but they all look healthy, have grown considerably, and I expect a lot more flowers next spring. Peony's Envy will be among the vendors at the FONA Plant Sale this coming weekend, and will, I'm sure, have a good selection of plants.