Friday, March 16, 2012

Cherries around the US National Arboretum

It was grey today and finally rained sometime after lunch. That was a good thing for the cherries and the magnolias both of which have been stressed a bit by the high temperatures this week.As an adjunct to this oddly warm winter you can see that many of the cherries are leafing out as they flower. Usually the new leaves come on only as the flowers fade.

Every year I marvel at the diversity of our cherry holdings.They come in an abundance of  shades of pink and one shade of white. A few are dark enough almost to approach red but usually that's an illusion and on closer approach turn out to be dark pink. The trees come in all shapes and sizes: tall, short, vase-shaped, broadly open, columnar, rounded.... It's worth a trip this weekend if you're close. I'd suggest getting out and walking but I did take these pictures out of the truck window, so if you're pressed for time....

Today's offering on "Verse Daily" is not only a wonderful poem, but a very good one!

Homage to the Left Hand   by Bruce Bond

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, really just a dusting of snow on the tip of the iceberg

From the top: Trillium cuneatum; Trillium luteum; Cardamine concatenata; Mertensia virginica; Phacelia bipinnatifida; Carex platyphylla

I stopped along the road in Fern Valley before work today. You can see the warm morning sunlight in the pictures. Under the big Beech tree and behind the stone swale there was a lot going on. The whole collection is coming to life and if I'd walked through it, I'd have seen drifts swarms, and swaths of Phlox, Senecio, Dicentra, and lots more.

Many spring flowering herbaceous perennials are technically "ephemerals", meaning they compress the entire active portion of their annual growth cycle into the period between the first warmth of late winter and the leafing out of the forest canopy (actively growing trees suck up light, water, and free nutrients). Others follow that general strategy but may not go dormant unless driven to it by summer drought, being, that is, not genetically programmed to go dormant in early spring, but "environmentally driven". Because so much of Eastern North America was forested, if you were an evolving  perennial, not fighting the trees for input was the path of least resistance.. These are two of my favorite trilliums; I just love the variegation. Hey, flowers are overrated, they're a dime a dozen. I'm just kidding; I love flowers but these tight little clumps of variegated foliage are pretty nice.

We aren't way ahead of schedule for these guys, maybe a week. It seems to be more difficult to entice the natives from their torpor with promises of warm sunny days and balmy nights.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A different cherry caught my eye today

It was in the Cherry Nursery so there was more than adequate documentation on this one. I went to Sue Greely and she pulled out a map of the field. There it is: dead center and two thirds of the way up the page. 18-94-2ER translated to a cross between Prunus campanulata and a hybrid double we produced, were intrigued with, then decided against releasing. I'm not saying this cherry deserves to be released; the cherry breeders know far more about that than I do. I'm just saying that I like the color. The older I get the more I seem to be drawn to warm reds and pinks, corals, colors that result when yellow or orange mix with red as opposed to the cooler mixtures of red and blue. I'm just saying.

I just had to stop and take these pictures of the Holly Magnolia Collection

Today was another of those days we've been having this week but more so. We went over 80F for the second day in a row, the sun shone, there was no wind. It was one of those days that gardeners live for. I just looked back a few years and while a lot of the plants that are blooming today are doing what they normally do, there are instances, like the Corylopsis and many others, that do confirm we are between a week and two weeks ahead of schedule. 

Some plants are not so easily fooled though. I was in Fern Valley for a number of years and each spring for the Lahr Native Plant Symposium (you can still register), we would cut flowering branches of native trees for decoration. It was always slim pickings. Asimina and Amelanchier were always dependable. This afternoon on the way home I drove by the Serviceberry I had harvested branches from, expecting to see anything from a few flowers to the tree in full bloom. Nothing. Nada. You can't fool those cagey native plants.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We don't exactly know who this cherry is....

but it sure is pretty. It sits all alone on a corner across the road from the "Little Girl" magnolias. At some point in the distant past,it fell through the cracks, label wise,  and no one since has had the heart to cut it down. We could probably find out it's identity, but it wouldn't look any nicer. It actually looks like an early Yoshino, but it's not.

Somebody, I imagine a squirrel, sat in this main crotch and cracked the pits. It must have been a pleasant place for a meal.

Corlopsis, Loropetalum, Magnolia, and Lindera; spring comes at us left right left right...

We are in the warm and fuzzy part of spring, as opposed to the cold, wet, and dreary. We approached 80F today which would have shifted us into "hot" spring. Nobody likes that; it shortens the bloom time of everything and causes stress on plants and gardeners alike. I guess I would have to say though, that it beats a blizzard .

The yellow shrubs, one mid left, and the other all the way down in the middle of the photo, are Corylopsis. The USNA has one of, if not, the top collection in the west. I am very fond of these shrubs and have been using them in designs for years. Given enough space they are graceful, heavy blooming, fragrant, shade tolerant additions to the early spring garden..

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Cherrys and the Magnolias were in good form today

I drove around after working an extra hour on the second day of daylight savings time. I think I'm still confused. There's lots of color, mostly shades of pink. All exaggeration aside, I think these flowers are about a week ahead of their usual time, maybe ten days. We hit 70F today and it was pleasant. The ASRT Monday Project was in the Asian Collections and we, mostly they, rolled through my projects, then put down 12 tons of CR-6, dug an old stump out with the backhoe, and tidied the Japanese Woodland with a backpack blower. Wow.