Saturday, September 3, 2011

Aralia elata 'Silver Umbrella' at Brookside Gardens

Walked about awhile today at Brookside Gardens. It rained a bit but not too much. Their bananas are hail shredded like mine. Their's in a storm a couple weeks later than ours. Most of the bananas we saw had two undamaged leaves while ours have three or four. I heard about that storm but we had only heavy rain.

This aralia is a beautiful plant but we likely won't plant it in the Asian Collections. The seeds are produced in numbers and disbursed generously by birds. It's a great plant though. This one is part of the recent redesign of the area surrounding the Conservatory. The plantings have been in a few years now and are coming into their own. We were only there an hour or so but I didn't see a great deal of damage from hurricane Irene.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sustainable horticulture: three of Brad's sustainable containers

I like them all but the top pot with the large Leptospermum polygalifolium 'Copper Glow', the golden Crinum, and the lantana is a wonderful mix of textures and colors plus the lantana flowers non-stop attracting butterflies and other interesting pollinators. The large Euphorbia cotinifolia in the middle pot makes quite a statement, again with lantana and an assortment of curiosities. The dominant plant in the bottom container is Euphorbia tirucallii 'Firesticks'. Crinum 'Sangria' is flowering. All of these containers were composed with exlusively xeric plants so that they don't require watering more than once or twice a week even in the height of summer.

I have heard talk here and there that we, as an Institution, may take a position where we will actively advocate for sustainable horticulture. That would be a great thing and I hope it comes to pass. It is clear that as things tighten up monetarily it will become more important to make choices that minimize the requirements for regular inputs of water, fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide, pruning, or even regular replacement. If we can create good landscapes, good gardens, even good containers with fewer demands we'll be better off. That's only common sense and many of us in the horticultural community have been headed in this direction for years. It probably is time to broadcast the idea to the outside world.

Amanda came by today for a quick visit

While there's already a big difference between walking a garden as a visitor or the gardener; it's a curiouser thing still, visiting a garden where you once worked but don't anymore.

In town for a yachting vacation Amanda visited the Asian Collections with her sister and boyfriend. Along with Pat, we walked the whole collection and Amanda seemed happy with the state of things. We're doing our best. At one time or another Amanda had persuaded both of them to volunteer. This past summer Amanda and her sister pruned a vicious rose in China Valley. This morning we revisited the rose ('Fortune's Double Yellow') and the other areas they'd worked on and despite the stern postures and serious expressions, everything was deemed satisfactory. Now she can go home and make those 800?! terrariums knowing that Nathan, Carole, and I are taking care of business.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Loropetalum Zhuzhou Fuchsia

We've had plenty of rain over the past few weeks following a dry dry summer. As often happens in that circumstance, some trees and shrubs have forced out exaggeratedly large and colorful shoots to adorn plants whose foliage is, otherwise, faded, green, and generally sad looking. Japanese Maples have quite a tendency to push these oddly incongruous shoots. The Loropetalums are going a step farther; they're flowering sporadically. They do do this; it's one of their assets. You're apt to see the odd flower anytime from, usually, late fall through winter and into spring when the main floral display happens. It's a fun little bonus.

Clematis heracleifolia with pollinator

This is a great plant, Clematis heracleifolia, easy to grow and unaffected by pests, diseases, and drought. Plus it attracts butterflies, has a delicious fragrance, and flowers in mid to late summer. I just wish there were more places to use it in the garden. The problem is, that it's a big (3'/1m) floppy sprawling semi-woody shrub. A plant by itself is such a formless mess that nobody but me would choose it. Mass plantings are beautiful, but nonexistent in winter; we have room for them in the Asian Collections because we have a huge garden. Most of us don't operate on that scale. It can be wedged into a sunny border but is so lacking in structural definition that it can make an otherwise controlled bed look chaotic. That works for me but I'm odd like that.

Amanda moved these plants to an area above the GCA Circle last year and they're flowering nicely already. The flowers must produce a good supply of nectar; in combination with the Hostas flowering beside it, it's been a dependable location to see butterflies which are in somewhat short supply this summer. I expect the drought had something to do with than and, post hurricane, I'm seeing numbers of the disabled, flying jerkily on less than two full wings. Today was our volunteer day and Betty, Julie, and I pulled weeds, removed diseased leaves from Peonies, and generally groomed. Betty has plenty of butterflies in her garden but she's been supplying water while we haven't.

Back to C. heracleifolia, The few times I've used it in designs it's gone on sunny slopes that aren't visually important in the winter. If you have such a site, it's worth a go.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Capitol Columns stood with their feet in the fog today

The cool foggy morning turned into a great day. It was warm, sunny, and there was no humidity. Yesterday was probably a great day too and Monday, but Nathan and I spent both those days cleaning up hurricane debris. We're still having very minor aftershocks from the earthquake but the Columns still stand.

Monday, August 29, 2011

US National Arboretum Monday morning after Hurricane Irene

Irene hit us with considerably less energy than was initially predicted. That combined with our pre-storm preparations resulted in our sustaining minimal damages. I have honestly seen thunderstorms that wreaked more havoc than this hurricane. We lost two trees, one of which had already been tagged for removal. The roads were littered with leaves and twigs and the occasional smal to medium limb feel. Many of these were Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip Trees. They have weak wood.

Nate and I spent several hours cleaning up Tulip Tree debris from a bed beside the GCA Circle. Collateral damage here included a few interesting maples. The good news is that this spring we sent scions to be grafted. We must check on their progress. Anyway the GCA Circle gets sunnier and sunnier. And the storm treats us gentley.