Friday, December 13, 2013

Sunrise over Gotelli

Okay, so it is Friday the thirteenth. It's also the first day this winter that we've gained a minute of daylenth at the end of the day. The sun has set here in DC at 4:46pm for the last two weeks or so. Today it won't officially set until 4:47. That's a good thing. Of course we're still hemmorhaging minutes in the morning. The solstice, of course, won't be her for another week and a half and I'm not sure but as I remember we may lost a minute or two after that in the morninjg. At any rate we're close to turning  the corner and starting the long slow climb to spring. I'm looking at this sunrise as an encouraging sign from the Universe.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bananas amongst the autumn colors

Fall came quickly this year. This time last week there was color but there were oceans of green. Al of a sudden last Friday the existing colors resolved and deepened and what had been green became all of a sudden colorful. By Sunday we had crested the pinnacle and were slipping towards the solstice. It'll continue to be beautiful for a week or two but winter is coming.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall perennials (and one camellia) in the "Asian Collections US National Arboretum

From the top: Aster tataricus 'Jindai' (2), Camellia sasanqua 'Agnes O Solomon', Collinsonia japonica, Dendranthema 'Sheffield', Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki', Salvia glabrescens 'Shi-ho', Impatiens omeiana

Got back Thursday after a 3 week furlough. It was mighty dry three weeks ago but in the interim we had a four day 6 inch rain and life is good. I know the camellias are spectacular and I love the scents of elaeagnus and osmanthus, but I invariably underestimate the fall perennials. There are always more of them more beautiful than I remember.

It's good to be back. I had a hip replacement earlier this summer so I've actually been gone from the garden tor two rather lengthy periods this year. I hope not to repeat either experience (the surgery or the furlough). The surgery was a great success, so it was worth it. Not so sure about the furlough.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Young Choe is a genius

These are either native kusamona or at least mostly native. She's doing a presentation at the Lahr Symposium next Saturday. Register on the Arboretum website.

This afternoon Ed and I returned a ladder he'd borrowed and we ran into Young.. She showed us what she was working on and what she'd already finished. I'm always amazed when I see her creations though I know how brilliant she is. If you don't go to Lahr, you'll be able to see these on display for the week following the symposium. They'll be at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.

If you look around a little bit there are flowers out there

Edgworthia chrysantha, Scilla, Prunus mume 'Okitsu-akabana'

And many of them are fragrant. When left this afternoon, the Magnolia denudata were one the edge of flowering. The cool, wet weekend may hold them up but it won't hurt the buds. It's going to be fun from here on in.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring is coming....slowly

Magnolia zenii and M. (not biondii), Cornus officinalis, and Primula sibthorpii It wasn't a super warm day but the plants keep coming on.

Nice sunrise this morning at the Arboretum

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Anemone hepatica var. asiatica

Many plants are flowering now; spring has snuck up on me. Among them are these tiny woodland flowers, hepaticas. Hepatica used to be the genus but they have recently been included in the large genus Anemone. These were wild collected in Korea and this is the common form of the species. There are countless horticultural selections a number of which are available in the US. They are delicately spectacular and quite costly.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I went out to take a quick look at things....

                       From the top:  Helleborus thibetanus, Adonis amurensis Primula sibthorpii

 ....because we're going to get between 5 and 18 inches of snow starting tomorrow night. At least that's what I hear. It's one of those systems that will form as it happens. I'm a simple man and it's easier for me to watch a big front sweep in from the west than it is to visualize the interaction of invisible meteorological elements and the resultant storm. We haven't had 2 inches of snow total in the past two years so many people are hungering for this. I generally say I hate snow but this one's okay with me. Of course I don't really hate it; it's beautiful and I'm not a hater anyway. I just don't like dealing with snow and since this one will be melted by the end of the weekend, bring it on!

Monday, February 25, 2013

I know, I know....I photograph this dogwood every winter

....and it's flashy, it's gaudy, it's, it's, it's....I don't know. I don't think it's vulgar or tasteless but I may be in too deep to trust my own judgement. I do know I love coming home in the evening down the street (from west to east) and seeing it lit by the setting sun. I bought it as Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter's Fire' and I expect that's what it is. The Witch hazel is 'Diane' which is one of my favorites not just for these incredible flowers but also for equally flamboyant fall color.

Winter is slowly moving out but that's okay. Last year we had no winter here and spring began just about three weeks early. I'm happy to take a slower approach to warm weather. It might be nice to stay out of the teens to conserve spring blooming camellia flowers but I'll take whatever comes. We can only hope that some of the lower temperatures we've had this winter had some degree of lethal effect on the insect, tick, etc populations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's cold out there. 19F this am and windy

Not windy like yesterday when gusts near 40 mph and sustained winds almost half that punished us all day. Still, pretty windy to be up in a tree. I have to admit that it's been entertaining this past year to sit in my favorite chair in the living room and watch tree climbers remove tree after tree. Of course it's also sad and more than a little scary. We live in a suburban setting with fairly small but deep lots,  between 100 to 200 feet from the rear of the house to the back property line. When we moved in almost 30 years ago there was a wonderful strip of trees straddling our back fences and stretching the length of the block. A bag of suet on our large Northern Red Oak drew all the species of woodpecker native to this area except the red-headed. We had Downys, Hairys, Sapsuckers, Flickers, Red-bellied, even Pileated. It was good to have even a small "woods".

Something, cumulative drought I assume, is killing those trees. They're of various species and likely other factors than drought finished them off. Oaks are susceptible to so many problems, Scrub Pines just don't live forever and ours were old and being overgrown by hardwoods. One of the trees was a large (~80 foot tall ~2 foot dbh) cherry and there isn't a disease that won't attack cherries or a pest that doesn't love them. Still, I have to think that stress induced by this long-term drought increased their susceptibility to whatever particular demon eventually dispatched them. The trees nearer the houses didn't suffer or succumb in the numbers that the rear-yard trees did. These lucky ones were more likely to have benefited from lawn or garden watering. Our huge Tulip Tree at the back of our garden seems fine but I made a point to deeply soak it several time in the summer.

Interestingly and happily, I note that Sassafrass trees have begun to grow in some of the new openings. This is a tree that tolerates drought and one that was more common when we first moved in. We now have a 20 foor specimen which I'm excited about. Also a Black Gum, another native that tolerated drought. It's an ill wind...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our hillside of winter jasmine has been flowering for more than a month... doesn't seem to be especially dependent on winter warmth to flower. It starts early and slowly, then, explodes sometime near the end of winter.This planting in the valley has been here a long time. I like the choice of location because, honestly, though I love and value the cheery yellow flowers in winter, it's a bit coarse and rowdy. It works well at a distance in a space where it has room to roam.

For years I tried, well actually more than tried, to include this in residential landscapes. It's a wonderful plant and great fun especially for those people who didn't know there were plants that flowered in the winter. Still, I suspect I didn't always give it the space that it deserved, and probably eventually took!

Friday, February 15, 2013

It was worth; waiting for....Pat finished the wall adjoining his rock

Pat set it correctly and integrated it into the wall perfectly, if slowly. I love it. Purists might object to the scrapes and dinged edges and I suppose they might have a point, but I prefer to take the long view. In a millennium or so, freezing and thawing and acid rain will have abraded those rough edges to the point where the harshest critic wouldn't see them. And hey, I'm not a harsh critic and I'm pretty sure neither are the vast majority of our visitors. Now we just have to do something about the odd grouping of rocks above it in the bed....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Camellia lutchensis from Dr. Ackerman

This is a lovely little camellia, dainty almost with small leaves and small flowers. . Plus it's fragrant. The ultimate size is usually predicted to be 6-8 feet. bit who's had it long enough to know that? We rooted some cuttings last year so I'm going to plant this out this spring. USDA Zone 8, no problem! We'll site it carefully.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day (thank you Chris Carley for holding the....the...the...

whatever it is. I tried holding it at arms length but I couldn't get the camera far enough away!

I finally pruned the Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' at the end of the Asian Collections parking area. We pruned it hard once last year. "Once" is the operative term here. When you prune these plants hard, they take all the energy in their root system and expend it all on growing one shoot from every pruning point. Since they flower on new wood, you often get, as we did, relatively slender four foot shoots with huge flower trusses at the tip. The weight of the inflorescence pulls the shoot down and you end up with an odd looking shrub. Usually we go in after the first pruning before the new shoots can elongate too much and "tip them". If we didn't wait too late to do that we still get plenty of flowers the same year.

Anyway, I drove around with the pieces all afternoon until Mariya observed that they would make a nice dry arrangement. And they did. The scale is a little extreme though.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Adonis amurensis opening

These adonis have been wandering slowly around the Japanese Woodland at least since the early 1990's. They're dependable in early February; I like to thing they are harbingers of spring but truly, they'll flower under two feet of snow. Last year the volunteers, Julie and I can't remember who else, dug three clumps and transplanted them to a location close to Hickey Hill Road under the Acer henryi in the bed across the grass from the parking area. Anyone walking or driving along the road will be able to see them. I'd forgotten about them until today. I went in search of them and there they all were. This is the biggest one. Eventually, years from now, they'll produce a colony that'll be easily spotted. For now they're it's a kind of a subtle effect.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Evergreen epimedium in China Valley

We're pretty much on top of the epimediums in the collection but this one remains a puzzler. No label, no one remembers planting it. Carole corresponded a bit with Darrell Probst but we're still not sure. I hope I can come back some day and put a name in this post! It's beautiful anyway.

What a difference a week makes!

The blue sky and the Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki' ready, any day, to explode into bloom is today. It was sunny and 48F. The dusting of snow and the bleakly monochromatic (almost) landscape including the Fern Valley Meadow and the Capitol Columns. That was last week. I'm feeling good about the prospects for an early spring. Phil did see not see his shadow and we're sort of in the neighborhood of western Pennsylvania. Sort of. Not really. It's supposed to warm up considerably beginning this weekend and we're right at normal now. This is going to be another one of those year, like last year, where February is March. Better than Snowmageddon.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One of the good things about going to training at the Smithsonian,,,, seeing the cheetahs; their enclosure is directly out the back door of the auditorium. I saw them today and yesterday. Very cool.

Prunus mume 'Tohji-bai'

Flowering apricot blooming along the  path to the pagoda.