Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ceratostigma flowers look somehow better in cool weather

Looking at the inflorescence closely reveals why, how actually, this plant blooms continuously from mid-summer to frost. I'm repeating myself, but  I will again point out that P. willmottianum is perfectly hardy for us here in USDA HZ 7-b. Last winter the aboveground parts came through undamaged. Most years it returns as a dieback perennial. It's definitely worth a shot if you like blue flowers.

We propagated this plant earlier in the summer so we'll have a dozen or so to plant next year. I'm not sure what to do with them. Small flowers in a  color that recedes under the best of circumstances tend to be overwhelmed by the oppressive light of summer. It's a wonderful plant to see silhouetted against the blue sky but since it only grows to a few feet in height that requires a special situation. It does works wonderfully near swimming pools where you actually look up at plants two feet tall! We don't have a swimming pool in the Asian Collections. Maybe a bank of it somewhere in partial shade near the trail against dark rocks? At close range, the color is sufficient justification for a planting. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The weather broke last Saturday afternoon

It was summer, now it's fall and the volunteers are back almost in full force. Nancy, Betty, and Eugenia survey the area around the GCA Circle scouting weeds, dead foliage, boxwood reversions, etc. Betty and Nancy have been steady this summer; others have come sporadically. There honestly isn't that much work in an irrigated garden in the summer. Nathan, Katie, Carole, and I can handle weeding and spraying. There was plenty of work for all of us today and there will be only more as real fall approaches.

If you like butterflies, this bush Clematis is a good plant

Clematis heracleifolia

Toadlilies are flowering throughout the collection

Tricyrtis formosana 'Amethystina' syn. Tricyrtis lasiocarpa

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tetrapanax papyrifer....I'm a sucker for backlit leaves

It's been a good year for Rice-paper plants hereabouts. This is, for at least the time being, the northern end of their range in eastern North America. More often than not, the winter temperatures drop sufficiently to kill the plants to the ground. They resprout dependably but have to start from the ground and so typically don't get much over 8-10 feet tall. Well, this past winter was real warm. The aboveground portions survived and there are some tall Tetrapanax around this year. I hear one in the garden of a fellow Four Seasons garden club member, actually two members (did I say that) was 15 feet tall a month ago.It's probably pushing 20 now.

This plant is in our garden in Adelphi and it's a bit over 8 feet tall. I guess I'll keep growing it though frankly it scares the crap out of me. I had to rein one in at the Arboretum and it wasn't easy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spider with babies

We, Nathan, Katie, and I, weeded today in the lower valley along the watercourse. Katie found this cool spider. It didn't freak her out at all and she maneuvered it into crawling onto her glove. The first time she bumped it, baby spiders fell off. First they scattered; then then returned and climbed back aboard. Cool.

It bothers some people to realize what's living in the green growth that they've been rooting around in all day. It doesn't seem to bother Katie. I wonder some day if I'll have a moment from which I'll emerge more hesitant to weed barehanded every day. I hope not. I know since watching Jaws so many years ago, I'm not so psyched for nighttime swims in the ocean as I used to be. I used to enjoy swimming out at night until the lights on shore were distant enough to be obscured by the crests of waves. Not so much anymore.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Piper and Tara id a caterpillar at lunch

It's  Antheraea polyphemus, the caterpillar of the Polyphemus moth. Named, I suppose, not for the cyclops Polyphemus, but for the Argonaut. The moth has two distinctive eyespots so it wouldn't make sense to name it after a cyclops. The caterpillar is cool though. Wikipedia claims that, newly hatched, they can eat 86,000 their weight in leaves. Damn.