Friday, July 31, 2015

Gomphrena x 'Pink Zazzle' This is not your grandmother's gomphrena.

And I do think of gomphrena as a grandmother's plant. But not this one! Many of my favorite plants are gray leafed, xeric, small, with pink flowers. Pink isn't my favorite color but I love this combination. And look at those hairs; Spiro would say it was hirsute. Plus the leaves are stiff and the plant is nicely branched, almost a symmetrical mound when grown in its own pot.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Subtlety is not an important element in summer gardens in DC

Crape myrtles from the top: 'Centennial Spirit', 'Catawba', 'Cheyenne'

Crape myrtles are part of the reason!

It's pretty easy to find 'Catawba' in nurseries. As much as I love the others, they aren't as easy to come by. I planted 'Centennial Spirit' about 25 years ago. It was advertised as reaching 3-5 feet. It's a good bit taller but is easily kept to 10-12 feet and has a useful upright form. 'Cheyenne' is a better red, to my mind, but spreads out more. Again, it is easily kept in bounds. 'Osage', the crayola purple in the middle, spreads with age. It's another nice medium sized variety.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Emmenopterys henryi in bloom at the US National Arboretum

Emmenopterys henryi USNA 60687 H

This plant and its siblings took tremendous hits from the abnormally cold winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15. They looked doomed. much terminal dieback, leaves thin, sickly with both dead and chlorotic areas making up much of the leaf surfaces. The trees honestly looked as though they were dying from severe root or vascular damage. It didn't look like they would survive. Their death seemed a foregone conclusion. We took cuttings and waited. Well, what a difference a year can make! I've never seen the leaves or branches with such vigor and I've known them almost all their lives. The large dead terminal shoots (some >10 feet long) appear oddly out of place on such clearly healthy trees!

It was grown from seed wild collected in 1988 on Huangshan Mountain, Anhui Province, China. While the flowers are attractive and fragrant, I like it almost as much for its richly green deeply veined leaves on red petioles.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Very Impressive Rocks

These came in last week so I'm a bit remiss in this post. They're headed for the renovation of the Japanese Pavilion at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. They will be plinths upon which trees will be displayed. Sure are big!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Daylily Collection at the US National Arboretum

The eagle has fledged, literally I mean, not code for anything. So the road is open through the Boxwood and Daylily Collections. I stopped by this morning and took a few pictures. The collection is beautiful and, like so many of our collections, empty of visitors. I would be depressed to put on such a performance only to be ignored but they flower on cheerfully pretending they don't care.

The frilly bi-colored double is an odd flower.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

This was so cool we kept it over the winter

I swear this hibiscus had a name when we bought it from Home Depot last year. I remember 'Tropical Sunrise or Sunset or something...'. Karen remembered 'Maui....' None of them seem to be names of cultivars of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. I guess ultimately it doesn't matter. Someday I'll find out!

I did see a number of photographs that are clearly the same flower and a number that are somewhat ambiguous. The Central Florida Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society has a wonderful capture on their home page but it's not labelled! Come on! Since our Florida house is in central Florida, I'll eventually join this society.

If you go online and look at images of H. rosa-sinensis cultivars you'll see photographs of amazing multi-colored pinwheel flowers, ruffled flowers, dark purple flowers approaching black: all sorts of outlandish types and colors. You almost never never see those in a nursery or box store. Except last year Home Depot carried this plant.  Logee's used to, and still does,list a good selection of these exotics; we've grown our share of 4" plants to 4 feet.

Got a "life list" Plant Last Week: Albuca spiralis (in the middle)

The sprial albucas are just so darn appealing. it's those crazy contorted leaves. This one is listed as A, spiralis var. "Frizzle Sizzle'. Like fingernails on a chalkboard. I haven't looked up the cultivar but my guess is this is just a marketing tag. There doesn't seem to be anything unusual about it. Oh well., Capitalism and all. sic.

 I've seen them posted dozens of times on Facebook over the past few years. Prior to that I remember only a handful of pictures over 50 years of being a succulent plant geek and lover of the flora of Southern Africa. Anyway, I was at Merrifield's last weekend with Karen buying plants for some of her jobs when there it was. I've heard Lloyd and Candy Traven were growing it at Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania; that may be where my plant came from. They grow some cool plants. They're wholesale but their website can connect you with retailers near you.

We grow two other Albucas in Florida; A. shawii, and I forget the other one. We never seem to be there to see flowering. Some trips we see dried foliage! I'll keep this one as an indoor/outdoor plant. It's flowering now but the spiraling winter foliage is its major asset.

(The dahlia is "Sights of Summer'.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Crinum 'Thai \yellow' Lights up a Dark Spot in the North Court of the Admin Building at the US National Arboretum

This is not one of those crinums that you can plant deep and sneak through a 7a or 6b winter. if you have the space though, it's worth bedding out for the season and digging in the fall to winter over inside.Brad has been carrying these over for a few years now and they've grown to the point of magnificence.

The thing about tender tropicals is that you need to be able to cut them loose. A year comes when you just don't care enough to bring them in. The thrill is gone. The initial infatuation turns to indifference' you begin to resent the effort it takes to dig and move and the greenhouse space... Euthanasia by cold. Brutal, but then you grow something different for a few years and maybe the flame rekindles, you know what you're doing the next time and maybe you get back together again. .

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Plant Schizophragma hydrangeoides, wait 45 years, and Wow! (at the U S National Arboretum)

Thes plant came from a John Creech collection 45 years ago. It is are growing in the Asian Collections just at the edge of the Japanese Woodland where it abuts the Camellia Collection. If I'd been 50 feet tall I could have stood back and photographed the entirety of the vine. It 's more than three times as tall as the portion in the photograph. This is the most impressive I can remember it.

Pictures from the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum June 2015

Looking through the Pagoda, the bright variegated tree is Cornus controversa 'Variegata'

Except for the hydrangeas that are beginning to color up, a handful of late azaleas, and this and that, the crazy flowering of high spring is over. There'll be a little lull here. Then lilies, daylilies, and a succession of summer flowers will explode and we'll have hot sun and hot colors.

I like this calm period though. The pictures suggest a serenity that's belied by closer examination. Growth is explosive. Like much of the rest of the country, we've just experienced a week of heavy rainfall. We had over three inches. You can watch the plants grow and that includes the weeds. Areas that were weeded bare two weeks ago have 3" weeds. We'll be weeding and spraying for the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Tropicals are Coming, the Tropicals are Coming!

I've been waiting all winter.

Bradley Evans moved dozens of display plants from their winter quarters to the North Court of the Administratin Building at the US National Arboretum I'm psyched. The displays get better and better every year. I donated a few of those plants years ago including the Bismarckia and the red pineapple.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beltsville Library Nostalgia!

A good number of years ago. I renovated this little courtyard garden at our local library. I maintained it for a few years afterward.  Between my hip going south (now corrected with a full replacement) and the fact that the building was closed and fenced off for renovation for two years, I'd not seen it for a while. I stopped by yesterday and it looked goodMelwood does the maintenance. Melwood is great. They train people, variously challenged, to do horticulture/gardening. They've done a good job here. The 'Autumn Bugler' re-blooming iris looks good. It's a division from our planting. I love this plant and we've given away countless pieces!

The nandina need cutting back. The 'Heritage' birch visible on the right sucks all the water out of the bed. Alliums have multiplied a bit. I put them in around 2011. The broom on the left side loves the heat and aridity. The innocent looking perennials between the alliums are Symphyotrichum oblongifolium  'Raydon's Favorite'. They also love heat weather and dry soil.

Some of the oddities I'd put in didn't seem to still be there like 'Basjoo' banana, various hedychiums, a cestrum. The needle palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix was still there though. The time I was there was wonderful, but I'm just going to be a visitor from now on!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Carolina Jessamine climbing a Crape Myrtle Trellis

Hey, the crape myrtle (a ~15+' Dynamite) isn't leafed out yet so we let it's branches do double duty as scaffolding. The Gelsimium never seems to build up enough mass to interfere with the crape myrtle. It's not really noticeable after Dynamite leafs out. Carolina Jessamine, Gelsimium sempervirens, was not a hardy plant for me 30 years ago. This selection, 'Margarita' was released as a hardy form and surely enough, we've had it here for 10 years or so. The last two winters were fairly harsh by 7b standards. Obviously the vine is happy, all buds living and flowering. 

As a National Arboretum person, I hate to admit to growing a non USNA CM in my private garden. I almost always prefer Don Egolf's USNA introductions, but I like this variety because it's so narrowly upright. And that garish harsh red really works for me in the summer. We tried the same variety in our Florida garden and the humid summers resulted in so much leaf disease that the plants are permanently defoliated.

Takane hybrid: one of a series of crosses between Calanthe discolor and Calanthe sieboldii

The Japanese Woodland (part of the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum) is beautiful this spring whether you stoop to visit the plants individually or just ramble through.
The golden plant in the right mid-ground is the bleeding heart from the previous post.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Golden Bleeding Heart: This one's way over the top but hey, it's spring!

It's not even Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'. Name change: Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Gold Heart'.  I'm too old for this.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It may be cluttered, but I like it

As our garden gets older (it's approaching 30) it gets messier and messier and I mind it less and less!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

It's Lilac Time at the US National Arboretum

This research nursery is a popular place this time of year. On still humid days the perfume is overwhelming. Unfortunately, or fortunately?., it was windy and dry today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Tree Peonies Have Begun to Flower

Paeonea suffruticosa 'Zhao Fen'

There are only a handful flowering now but by this time next week it'll be overwhelming. Tree peonies are addictive. You hear stories of recent aficionados with collections numbering in the hundreds. It's at least a moderately expensive hobby since $100.00 isn't an unusually high price for one named plant. I'm reworking the locations of some of our plants as they dislike both wet feet and water on their leaves at night. I'm relocating some to drier unirrigated locations.

Just because it's a research plot doesn't mean it can't be beautiful!

 Redbuds at the US National Arboretum.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yellow isn't my favorite color either, but Kerria is so wonderful in the spring

These plants are at the bottom of the Japanese Woodland at the US National Arboretum.