Friday, June 17, 2011

Big old remnant Cedars in the Asian Collection

I have mixed feelings about them. They are beautiful but the do cast awfully heavy shade year round and drop heavy branches on plants underneath them. Plus the Cedrus atlantica isn't really Asian, though the Deodar's are. Anyway I do like the cones; they're always arrayed in such balanced patterns that you can almost shoot randomly with a camera and get a well composed picture. I guess, like people, some plants are more photogenic than others!

Iris ensata cultivars flowering in the Central Valley in the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum

What can I say? They're beyond superlatives!

It's no wonder there are societies dedicated to Magnolias! M grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'

There are two distinct seasons in the Magnolia part of the Holly Magnolia Collection: the early blooming Asian magnolias and the later flowering North American species. There's a bit of overlap, but for a generalization, it's pretty spot on. The Asian species, selections, and hybrids flower early; many of them are deciduous and come in shades of pink, purple, red, and a few white. Almost all the na natives have white flowers and bloom after their Asian counterparts are done. Some of them are not deciduous. The vast majority of these are selections of Magnolia grandiflora or M. virginiana.

The Bull Bay, or M. grandiflora, is a potentially huge tree with large leathery evergreen leaves. Along with Live Oaks, and boxwoods, it's an iconic tree on the plantations of the Old South. It's also a tree that wise designers are wary of. I know I used to wince when Magnolia came up in the pre-design trilateral discussions between myself and a husband and wife. Strong feeling are often attached to these tree. Statistically, women are attracted to the large fragrant flowers. Statistically, men abhor the fact that the trees drop leaves pretty much every day of the year. Because the trees are so large and most gardens so small, there wasn't a lot of room to compromise. Fortunately there are a number of smaller selections available now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I did see my garden in the early morning and again in the evening

i spent much of the day at the doctor's office and the radiologist. My original appointment was just a routine check-up but I'm thinking that after limping for 4 years maybe it was time to get that hip checked out! We'll see.

The top picture includes my favorite wren/chickadee/titmouse house; rough calculations suggest that 20 years time 3 broods/year....that's a lot of birds. Look at the brown turf in the second picture; we haven't had any significant rain in over a month. I hand water exclusively and the turf is on it's own. I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for it though. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Wave'....this is some serious vaariegation

I'm a guy who loves over the top color, but even I feel slightly uncomfortable about this plant. Does it go too far? Naah. What the heck! It's beautiful....we'll keep it.

Oxalis debilis ssp. corymbosa, I think. A remnant population from some long ago iteration of GCA design

It's too bad these are South American and not Asian. I've been noticing plants in the pachysandra above the GCA Circle and now they're seeding into open areas in the plantings. They'd be lovely, let loose between the Colocasias, the Sasa, and the Musella: a nice gray/green groundcover with pink flowers but alas, it is not to be. I suppose I ought to try to eradicate them; and I will, but my heart won't be in it.

Colocasia x 'Diamondhead'.....big sister and little sister

Last year we planted Diamondhead and Blue Hawaii colocasias below the wall at the GCA Circle. Rather than dig them in the fall, I blew leaves down the hill till they were level with the wall. Two feet? This spring when we removed the leaves we saw that most of the plants had survived. Well, lacking the courage of our convictions, because none had resprouted by the first week of May, we availed ourselves of Brad's generosity and put out plants he'd overwintered. Now, come the second week of June, our truant survivors have begun to reappear. Though they're still much smaller than their newly planted siblings, they will catch up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coreopsis ??? I don't know, and Leucanthemum x 'Broadway Lights'

This color combination worked last year and it's still working this year. The planting is beside the Adminstration Building parking lot adjacent to the Kiosk. I've like this areas both because of the plants and the design, but also because when the sun first breaks over the building in the morning, it backlights all these plants to spectacular effect.

Chimonanthus praecox, Wintersweet.....crazy fruits

I guess one of the reasons I look at the same things year after year is that, once in a while they're different. I've never seen this color in the fruits of Chimonanthus; usually they're just green maybe with a light suffusion of pinky purple. Hey, those purple ones are nice too. These guys look like oddly shaped peaches! Actually they look like sea cucumbers masquerading as almost ripe peaches. They're pretty though. Amanda and I mulched the top of China Valley today and came upon this plant as it lives just a bit down the path from where it begins at Hickey Hill Road. This week theyydrangeas, lilies, and Japanese iris are so spectacular the subtler effects may not get their due.

Asplenium ceterach, Rustyback Fern

I love this fern; it's leaves are thick and feel woody. I'd never even heard up it until I read the label on this plant when it turned up in the Asian Collections holdings a couple years ago. It's a product of Stefan's collections in Azerbaijan. A little research tells me that it's a xeric fern often growing on carbonate rocks in a range that includes much of Europe, North Africa, and extending into Asia. Growing on dry rock outcrops and stone walls, it apparently has the ability to dessicate, sit apparently dead for long periods of time, and revivify unharmed when moisture reappears. Just like Polypodium polypodioides, the Resurrection Fern, that grows on the branches of the Live Oaks in our Florida garden. It doesn't need moist well drained loam and a humid shady location. That's my kind of fern.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clemati texensis cultivars/hybrids in the Fern Valley Sunny cultivar bed....Joan thinks their parentage is susect

from the top: Clematis texensis; Clematis texensis 'Duchess of Albany' (two pictures); Clematis texensis 'Odoriba'

At least she is skeptical as to the idea that they're selections of Clematis texensis; as beautiful as the bottom two cultivars are, they don't look like selections of the species (the top picture). They, no doubt, have texensis in 'em but it seems likely they're hybrids and there seems to be no record of the other parent. Oh well....they are beautiful and though they're not as spectacular as the large flowered Clematis, I think I prefer them.

I did the design for this bed a few years back and Joan and Michael have been able to work around it to produce a nice little bed. Right now the clematis are flowering on those cool natural trellises along with a number of Echinacea selections, some Stokesia cultivars, and a few odds and ends. I used baptisia for structure and they're providing that now though they're through flowering.

Jack is moving trees around and Pat's pruning the espaliered Ginkgo, hey.....somebody's got to do it!

We do all kinds of odd stuff here at the Arboretum! I went to the Bonsai area to get a sledge hammer from Pat; Nate and I broke the other Asian hammer removing the foundation for the old bench at the Asian Valley overlook. Nathan finished his bench, and we removed the old one and installed the new one. Somehow I didn't get a picture of the Bench but I'll do that tomorrow.

If you come to the Arboretum this week you'll probably get a glimpse of Annabelle's voluptously creamy mounds

Aren't they incredible? Hydrangea arborescens selected. This wonderful plant is one of my favorite cultivars of a SE US native.

I spied them alongside the road in Fern Valley, then again near the Administration Building parking lot.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Early morning in the garden of drought and weeds

The dog and I have this informal agreement that when I'm home during the day we will walk through the garden....well, many times. Possibly we go out more often than once an hour. It works for both of us. I enjoy the garden: take the odd picture, pull the odd weed, do a bit of spot watering. Jigs likes to sniff. A lot. Also possibly chase the odd cat. We're usually not out for long periods 5-15 minutes on average.

Since we've been back from Florida it's been hot with highs mostly in the upper 90's or low 100'sF (35-40C). The weeds had encroached during our absence and despite a few hours work Saturday I had been despairing of the state of things. As we, Jigs and I, entered the back on the west side early this morning, still cool, things didn't look so bad. The light was funky but the weeds were out of the frame!