Friday, April 27, 2012

It's weigelia season; they're the marigolds of flowering shrubs...

...or the Rodney Dangerfields. Deciduous flowering shrubs get little enough respect as a group, and I'm thinking that, excepting forsythia, weigelias are the low rung on that totem pole. It is true that they take up a lot of room and only look good for a few weeks a year, but. Their shape, gawky with multiple arching branches, works wonderfully for those few weeks that they're covered with flowers. And a few, actually a good number, of them rebloom lightly.

The older I get (and the more perverse?), the more I appreciate these plants. The red one is 'Red Prince', one of the "usual suspects" at the garden center; they were only planted last year so they're really just babies. The middle plant with multicolored flowers, they darken as they age, is a favorite. The plants, there are more than one, in the bottom photo were renewal pruned last year and they did a darned good job of renewing themselves. Still, if you want to grow these older larger selections, you're going to need a good bit of property.

From the top: Weigelia florida 'Red Prince' (closeup and plant); Weigela japonica sinensis (closeup and huge plant); Weigela florida

UBC Botanic Garden volunteers led by Douglas Justice, tour the Asian Collections at the USNA

Mr. Douglas (the disembodied head at the back of the photograph) is the Associate Director, Curator of Collections, and a research scientist at the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens. Carole Bordelon, our curator, leading the tour, is at the far left. They chose a good time of year and a good day, but then I guess they knew what they were doing!

Itis and aquilegia in China Valley

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mother Nature retreats from brinksmanship: Rain today

She waited as long as she could this spring before giving us rain(last week) and then she gave us just barely the minimum amount (1.5") to keep the unirrigated legions from incurring major damage. Today's rain didn't amount to much but it felt like a sign that we weren't heading back into a long dry period.

This tree peony has been in this garden almost as long as we've been in the house

I don't know it's name. Behnke's used to give away or sell to employees cheaply, plants that were unlabelled. I don't know, maybe they still do. Anyway, I have some memory of paying 5 dollars for this one. About seven or eight years ago I moved it from the back of the garden to just outside the basement door. It's taken almost that long to fully recover; now it's about five feet tall and the flowers are huge again. That's my hand so this flower is almost 7 inches across.

Vicia subrotunda pictures

Growing in China Valley where the path cuts through to the Central Valley.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Richard, that is Dr. Richard Olsen, photographing...

...fruit from the Cercidiphyllum directly behind him. It seems this tree has escaped and is making it's way around North Carolina. (not this particular one, the species)(a joke)

Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron' Japanese Bloodgrass...'s always called when it's a desired ornamental. When acknowledged as one of the worst invasive plants of the SE US, it's more often "Cogongrass". I've never seen it flower this early here, or produce seedheads of such size. It appears to be reverting which is not good as the green form seems more vigorous. Maybe that's an illusion. We haven't planted it for years and most area garden centers don't sell it anymore. We're slowly removing it from the collections. Slowly. The very warm winter we just experienced is doubtless the explanation for this precocious flowering, but as our climate does seem to be warming, we'll expect more of those warm winter. We don't want this grass to become as large an issue here as it is from South Carolina to Florida and across the Gulf Coast.

Arisaema robustum

Flowering now in China Valley at the US National Arboretum on the outside curve of the path where it first turns downhill.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kolkwitzia amabalis in the Asian Collections USNA

The top two pictures are of the species, the bottom is K. amabalis 'Pink Cloud' with Nathan and our new intern Katie.

This is another one of those large deciduous shrubs that really only works for one season, about 3 weeks with luck. Here's the thing though; it's so beautiful, and a little bit fragrant, that it's worth the space if you have it. If you don't, find someplace that does, like a public garden, and try to catch it there.

The Davidia is dead; long live the Davidia.

Today they did it, the tree contracters that is, they removed the huge old davidia. It was an idyllic setting for.....even a removal. Actually, it wasn't a complete removal; they carefully left one large (~20') root sucker. We shall see how this experiment progresses.

 The post-adolescent seedling is shown in the bottom picture. Here's a photo from better days. (Only a year ago)

Rhus copallina and Lonicera sempervirens 'Sulphurea'

I like them both as individuals, but who'd have know they'd make such a wonderful pairing. They are flowering now along the road at the bottom of Fern Valley.