Friday, September 23, 2011

Osmanthus heterophyllus and Osmanthus fragrans 'aurantiacus'....oh my. Is this appropriate?

Both flowering and in such close proximity! What can this mean?

This is Nursery Five and the large plant in the background is O. heterophyllus. If you'd never smelled O. fragrans, you'd think it couldn't get any better than heterophyllus. Someone stuck this O. fragrans 'aurantiacus' out there to encourage an interspecific cross. We can only hope that inappropriate behavior will commence and the progeny will result in an improved forms of O. fortunei, the name given to products of the particular cross.

Hey, I'm starting to be a believer....Dr. Greenstone's plots are coming together

Some more than others. These plots will be here for at least the next ten years, paired sets, one planted with natives, the other with non-natives. One side of the study will observe pollinators, the other the insect pests that attack the plantings.

After a rocky start that involved having to kill generations of weeds, planting in full sun in midsummer, facing record heat, and serious drought.... by next year, I'm expecting the plots to be....well, better looking than the meadow areas they were carved out of. And the plantings are starting to grow so there will be insects to sample.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nathan adjusts the final grade on a newly planted Osmanthus fortunei 'fastigiata'

Busy days in the Asian Collections this week. Yesterday Nate and I assisted Sue Bentz and her crew in digging and caging eight? cool trees from the research field. We did have a treespade but there's still a significant amount of work to do and dirt to acquire. Today we planted them. This Osmanthus, though it's only a bit over 3 feet tall, had about a 600 pound rootball. Some of the balls were smaller but there were a couple more big ones. Sometimes, in a perfect world (rarely) when moving trees with a treespade, the spade can be maneuvered all the way to the planting site where it can pop out a chunk of soil and the newly spaded tree can be delivered, in the tree spade, directly there and lowered into the hole. That's works well in fields, not so much in garden areas. We were able to do that with two trees yesterday so today we hand planted the rest. Still, it's better than digging all the trees and all the holes. Anyway, they're all in now: Acer truncatum 'I forgot' (that's not the name of the cultivar, I really forgot what it was); Styphnolobium japoG nica 'columnaris', Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Purpureus', Maackia amurensis 'Starburst'; Staphylea holocarpa 'Innocence', Osmanthus fortunei 'fastigiata'. Exciting stuff. And, the tree contractor has been grinding stumps, including five in the Asian Collections. It's loud work and I'm afraid it negatively affected to quality of the experience for the volunteers, but they soldiered on and things are looking pretty good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Loropetalum chinense rubrum 'Zhuzhou Fuchsia''s been a good year for Loropetalums at the USNA

Flowers dribbled out last winter, all the cultivars flowered heavily this spring, and now many are in full bloom again.

It was a gloomy drizzly day and we had another large tree removed from the Asian Collections. An Oak just off the corner of the bathrooms was taken down today. The contractor used a crane and apparently just in time. The foreman told me that when they do "crane jobs" they always, almost always, start by removing the branches on the side of the tree closed to the crane. After discussing it they decided the root system was so compromised on that side that they worried unbalancing the tree in that direction would cause it to fall. So they removed the far side branches first, lifting them over the tree. I guess it's a good thing they know what they're doing.

Everything worked out all right in the end except that we're down another tree. I'm glad I'm writing this blog instead of reading it because I might get the impression that the mature trees were just about gone from the collection. That would be upsetting. They aren't of course, and anyway, we're replanting much faster than they fall down/get removed.

I think the big white one thinks he/she's in charge

It's beginning to be that time of year again when waterfowl with migratory genes begin to flock up and mill around. Snow geese winter hereabouts and a bit farther south, migrating north to the tundra to breed during that brief summer. Canada geese used to do the same, but many now forego the trip north, choosing to breed where they had previously wintered. Huge summering populations quickly become pests and degrade the environment. This Snow goose somehow attached itself to this flock of Canada geese and they sat down in the New York Avenue parking lot today. What gives? Did the flock come south mixed pushed by the premature cold. Or it this a resident flock of Canada geese that are corrupting a Snow goose, showing it how pleasant our summers are? I guess I don't watch closely but I haven't noticed any resident Snow geese. I have to pay more attention.

Where did these totally inappropriate garden ornaments come from?

Brad's desk is unfailingly interesting: new top secret catalogs, succulent cuttings hardening off, samples of this and that. Not usually garden ornaments; he's not really a garden ornament type guy. I'm thinking though if he was, this pair is a lot more provocative than, say a pair of gnomes.