Saturday, October 21, 2017

Burbidgea, finally have a plant I've wanted for years

I love this smallish orange ginger. We bought this plant last December at a flea market in Central Florida with those others in the top picture: the salvias, Camellia 'Professor Charles Sargent', the red buddleia, the burbidgea, and the shrimp plant for, as I remember, for just under 40$. It flowered for a month or two, went out of bloom, and has been flowering since mid-September. (the bottom picture) I've lusted after it since I saw it for sale in Logee's catalogue about a zillion years ago and didn't buy it.

 Logee's is a wonderful institution; they've provided a wide selection of uncommon and wonderful tropical plants for my entire lifetime...and I'm not young! They regularly introduce or reintroduce rare and unusual tropicals that, until recently, you'd otherwise not have had access to. Of course nowadays you can track anything down online. That's such a sea change for those of us who, 20,30,40 years ago coveted plants without any hope of actually obtaining them. It's hard to explain how exciting it was to come upon one of those plants you'd lusted after for years. What a feeling!  It is easy to track things down now, but Logee's is still a place where you can see an incredible selection of incredible plants in one place.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Misty Wednesday in the Asian Collections US National Arboretum

Hardy aspidistra on path to the Pagoda

Musa basjoo

Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

Sternbergia lutea

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma weighs in on our retirement plans

Or at least the time frame. I'm at the computer, in Maryland, alternating between looking at pictures of the Florida garden and house, and following Irma's progress. She moves powerfully, slowly, and seemingly now, inexorably, towards our Florida oasis.

So the question now is, "will the retirement house be standing two days from now. It'll really throw a kink in our plans to move to the Florida house if there isn't a Florida house. Of course we can repair, rebuild, replace..., but I'm thinking contractors will be in short supply for a long time as tens of thousands of others will be in our same condition. Actually, I feel guilty comparing our situations; we have a perfectly fine house here in Maryland. We're safe and dry.

Of course the garden will be okay, maybe minus a tree or two, or three. And that would be okay. Sun is good. More sun means more flowers. Plus, things grow fast in Florida. We can plant a few live oaks and maybe a couple more interesting trees and 10 years from now, the shade is back.

Rebuilding isn't a totally bad thing either. We could add that bedroom we want, modernize the kitchen, hey, I'm been wondering if a bidet wouldn't be a good addition as I enter my dotage. Though I don't suppose we needed to destroy the house to add one. And, I'm sure the building codes would assure that anything we build would be able to survive this type of storm with zero or minimal damage. All good things. A rule of thumb used to be 100-110$/square foot to build in Central Florida. I'm thinking that just jumped 50%. Plus, "where do all these contractors come from?" I guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

US National Arboretum Rain Gardens in the Administration Building Parking Lot: They planted it this morning and then the rain started!

Bradley Evans along with gardeners and interns planted the last of the five rain gardens in the main parking lot. The gardens came as part of the contract for the Springhouse Run Stream Restoration and will cut down the amount of runoff that we send into the storm sewer.

I'm really psyched for the gardens. I sat in on a few of the initial meetings with the National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc., sponsors of the gardens. They proposed that we do themed gardens to show visitors various options for rain gardens. There's a Butterfly Garden, a Low-maintenance Garden, a Formal/Traditional, a Xeric, and finally a Coastal Plain that I lobbied for. Brad developed the planting schemes and sourced the plants. He's been planting them for a few months now. The top, Xeric garden was just planted this morning. The bottom Traditional garden was the first planted.

The plant choices are what's got me excited about the gardens. I'm old enough to have been around for the beginnings of the "rain garden" phenomenon. Plus I live in Prince Georges County Maryland the home of the "original" rain garden. I've been around for the experience to date. The first rain gardens focused on "rain" when selecting plant material. I remember cardinal flowers were popular along with a litany of "wet meadow" species. Well, it turns out that raingardens, with their perfectly draining engineered soil, tend more towards the xeric end of the spectrum than the hydric. Designers have recognized that but their palettes are, maybe not unimaginative, but typically pretty limited.  Brad has a lot of cool plants in here, selections I've not seen in rain gardens before: Salvia lyrata, Bouteloua gracilis, Ilex vomitoria, various sedums, Nasella tenuissima, Salvia azurea, and on and on and on.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Introduction Garden at the United States National Arboretum...introductory because we feature our plant introductions

This is not your grandperson's introductory garden!

When I returned to the Arboretum in 2004, the area around the Administration Building was pleasantly planted and cleanly maintained. It wasn't however, exciting. It is now.. Color, texture, architecture, geometry, and whimsy manifest themselves throughout these gardens.

 Bradley Evans has been in charge of these planting for years and they have grown under him. We started at the Arboretum on the same day in November 2004. Brad, in the Asian Collections, and I went to Fern Valley. Within a few years we'd both agreed to  move, Brad shifted  to the Intro Garden while I went to the Asian Collections. Angela Treadwell Palmer, a well known horticulturist/designer, began the redesign of the Intro Garden. She moved on in the spring of 2008, and Brad has been running with it ever since.

National Arboretum introductions form a framework for a mosaic of bold tropicals, curious succulents,the occasional rarity, and uncommon or new annuals and perennials.  Brad has been refining designs for succulent planters for almost his entire tenure in this garden. See the top and bottom pictures especially.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Favorite Seasons Evolve

Who'd have ever thought late summer would become my favorite season?! Of course summer was my favorite as a child; hey, schools out. Not late summer though; schools coming. As I began to garden fifty odd years ago of course I loved spring. The return of green from the bleak dreariness of a mid-Atlantic winter.We don't do snow that much but we do clouds and rain. Rebirth, spring bulbs, all the flowers. Wow! At some point, I deserted spring, though we stayed friends, and transferred my affections to fall, where they stayed until the intellectual apprehension that fall inevitably led to winter soured my passion.

For those of us who grow bananas, cannas, giant aroids, palms, the new coleus, ... late August and early September which used to be a miserably hot, interminably long, prelude to fall became something to look forward to. I still love the garden in spring, and I'm looking forward to fall, but this is as good as it gets. Go figure!

Thoughts from an Aging Gardener

I began this blog in 2008, posting almost daily for about five years. Then something happened. Actually, a lot of things happened and, I posted occasionally until two years ago, when I completely stopped. The stoppage was long overdue; quality of writing and photography fell to embarrassing lows. Concepts and themes were weak or lacking altogether.

While some of my issues were physical: arthritis in my hip, loss of hearing in one ear, and a tremendous deterioration in my vision; there was a bit of burnout. Over ~45 years of gardening, I’d saved up many things I wanted to say but eventually I ran dry, a realization that generated even greater admiration for the many wonderful bloggers that are able to go year after year and remain fresh. To this day I continue to read many of the same blogs that predated 1003 Gardens.

Well, in the interim, I’ve had some surgeries: a hip-replacement, two cataract operations, and a cornea transplant. I’ve learned to accept diminished hearing. I’m beginning to be able to accept the fact that, at 65 post hip surgery, though far from feeble, I am not the physical force I once was. I’m adjusting, I’m afraid rather gracelessly, to the fact that younger gardeners are better suited to the heavy manual labor I used to relish both at the Arboretum, and even in our personal garden. I realize now though, that I do have things to say, so I’m going to take another shot at it!

My intent, though we all know starting in one direction doesn’t guarantee anything, is to weave three threads together. Karen and I have had a house in central Florida for the past 11?! Years. I’ll be retiring there at the end of next year. Karen may go a bit sooner. So, I’ll be talking about letting go of gardens, both my personal garden, and the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum where I started in 1991 and where I’ve been for the last 10 years or so. I’d also like to address the issues of aging gardens and aging gardeners. I guess there’s a question as to whether my immersion in these circumstances will allow me enough perspective to be helpful, but I’m gonna try. Finally, I realize that, immodest as it may sound, I’m a very good gardener and a more than adequate designer so I’d like to pass on some acquired insights related to interaction of those two disciplines.