Friday, February 12, 2010

US National Arboretum with snow

The first of our two blizzards began last Friday and Federal workers were released four hours early. Federal offices, including the Arboretum, remained closed through yesterday, Thursday. I had scheduled myself off for today as I had several appointments and some tasks that were better done on a weekday. Nonetheless, I did go by the Arboretum early this afternoon to see how things were. 

There was much beauty and a fair bit of devastation. I have focused on the beauty here. The Holly Magnolia collection was particularly hard hit; magnolias have soft wood and evergreen Holllies can catch a good bit of snow. Suffice it to say that Pat has his work cut out for him. A medium sized Hemlock near the road and a few medium-sized broken branches were all the damage I could see in Fern Valley from the road. We had a large tree fall in the Asian Collections, as well as our share of breakage. Gotelli had issues I could see from the road but seemed, again from the road, to have come through as well as could have been expected.  There is cleanup to be done when the snow melts!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If I don't get those icicles off the hummingbird feeder we won't see any hummingbirds today

I reached for it about mid November, but Rosa 'New Dawn' bloodied my arm and I somehow never got back to it???.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I just noticed the similarity between the cover layouts for my favorite Bulb book and my favorite bulb catalogue

Brent and Becky's catalog came a couple of weeks ago, but fortunately I put it aside for a snowy day. Today certainly qualified. I like Brent and Becky's for a lot of reasons. I've known the principals for....well a long time, and like them. They used to do bulb talks at Behnke's many many years ago in the first incarnation of their business, which, as I recall, was bought out by somebody or other, ala Heronswood.... . It might have been White Flower Farm. It was. There was, I think, some sort of non-competitive agreement and after whatever period of time, the Daffodil Mart was reborn as Brent and Becky's Bulbs.

They're located in Gloucester Virgina, not far, relatively speaking, from Williamsburg and from another Nursery I like, Mobjack. Mobjack is a wholesale grower of, primarily, woody plants with some perennials and grasses. They had for years a spectacular selection of Hydrangeas, mopheads and lacecaps. Apparently the re-blooming selections have ruined the market for the traditional cultivars, or at least taken the lion's share of it. They are great growers, still with a broad and interesting selection of plants....great Wisterias and Camellias.

Anyway, back to B & B; they have wonderful trial gardens that date back generations, give great workshops, and carry a good variety of bulbs. Brad observes that they aren't always in the vanguard with new varieties, but my take is that they are careful to vet newcomers, only handling what they deem worthy. I like their inventory because they always  have some new things, some classics that haven't been available for a while, and a deep selection of good mainsteam bulbs. I also like their refreshing treatment of Hedychium, a genus I find to contain many selections completely root hardy in USDA Zone 7. The only Hedychium I've ever lost here is H. coronarium, and that not to cold but because it likes water and couldn't handle our sand. Even that lived three years though.

And Scott Ogden's book Garden Bulbs for the South, is one of my favorite garden books. Really. Where so much horticultural literature is derivative, this book is obviously the result of personal experience. We've all looked up a new plant in 5 or 6 references and read basically the same paragraph 5 or 6 times. Won't happen here. And there are general discussions of the various taxa at a fairly sophisticated level. I never felt I understood Crinums until I read this book.Plus, he addresses the Pinewoods Lily, Alophia purpurea, a plant I have coveted for many years but was unable to locate. Hey, Arrowhead Alpines has it this year. Hot damn!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Safeway had not so much food, but plenty of flowers

Odds and ends of produce, a ham or two, lots of frozen shrimp, and not so much milk. Fool me once....everyone who could get out today hit the grocery stores to prepare for another 10-20 inches of snow. Funny winter.
Good for Safeway; this week any flowers are good flowers. There must have been at least 30 Cymbidiums, over 100 Phalaenopsis, dozens of florist Hydrangeas, Cyclamens, Hyacinths and loads of cut flowers; it was a pleasant few minutes before heading out into the wasteland.

Except for the 28" of snow that fell Friday and Saturday, Sunday was a beautiful day

The problem was, my parents were among the 140,000+ who lost power during the storm. Both are over 80 so we thought maybe one sub-20F night was enough and set out on what was, in retrospect, an unnecessary "rescue mission". I made Max drive because...well, he has better reflexes than I do, better vision than I do, and is generally more level-headed than I am.  I do have more experience driving in snow, but not driving was the right decision. We headed out naively and optimistically, without 4-wheel drive into streets like this. Divine providence with us, we made it both ways eventually bringing  Mom and Dad back to our house, power, heat, and the good things that go along with them.
We stopped at a grocery store on the way out and loaded up. The meat and produce are in bags in the snow. Of course the power came on in my parent's house a few hours after we made it back to Adelphi. Still...three days after the storm there are apparently whole sub-divisions still in the cold and the dark. Knowing they were there in the cold was spoiling ta wonderful storm for my sister so we had to do it.