Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tillandsi ionantha.....this was a birthday gift from my mother last May....It works!

Just noticed the flowers today. There are a number of Tillandsias native in and around the Florida garden. This one comes from a bit further south. It was a much tighter ball when I got it. Hanging in a south window seems to work for it. I run water over it in the sink once a week as I do the bulk of the orchids. Whatdaya know?

Mary Pat is always so earnest and intense and Joan seems happy; plus,it was a good day for vendors and their customers

I had a million things to do this weekend but I couldn't help myself; I went to the 24th Annual Lahr Native Plant Symposium. There were great speakers, good weather, plus the opportunity to take home, for money, many cool native plants. 

Joan Feely, Curator of the Native Plant Collectgions, hosted it, as she has for a few years.Her introduction included a brief history of Fern Valley. This year Fern Valley turns 50 and for a birthday present she (the Valley, not Joan) is receiving an automated irrigation system. Joan, who is fiercely defensive of the Collections and any invasive procedure that could adversely affect the organic or inorganic components thereof, is accepting the system with aplomb and grace. 

For today's event, the sun came out for a day, between rainy yesterday and the forecast rain tomorrow, allowing for a pleasant walk through the garden where a dozen or so differnt taxa are flowering already.

View from the east terrace entrance towards the Herb Garden

I'm not crazy about 1960's Architecture, but this works for me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gray day in Fern Valley: Dicentra cucullaria and Trillium cuneatum

Dutchman's Breeches and Sweet Betsy; you've got to love common names!

Today's forecast was for rain possibly changing to snow

We didn't get any snow but it's all of a sudden a lot colder and windier. Frost warnings for tonight prompted me to set a few plants inside that had been out since last weekend. Two cool night, then temperatures rise again. I scratched around yesterday and ascertained that both "hardy" Agapanthus had, in fact survived the winter. I pulled the mulch back over them and they'll be fine. The sun is supposed to be out tomorrow for the Native Plant Sale. Then rain again on Sunday/Monday before the sun comes out for the bulk of next week. I'm not complaining.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Asian collection miscellany: The view along the axis of the Central Valley, Viburnum sympodiale, Petasites japonica variegata

The garden is a wonderful place to be this week.

Viburnum sympodiale is a little used species, with flowers similar to V. plicatum. Clearly different in that they open before the leaves appear, and there's a bit of pink in the buds that lingers suffused lightly in the petals. It's not a new or unknown plant; I just think it's a victim of flowering at the same time as the Cherries and Magnolias. Tough competition. This one is in the upper middle of bec C-03 which is the large bed in China Valley that basically fills the area enclosed by the first big curve of the trail as it descends from the road.

Hepatica acutiloba, see in Fern Valley Native Plant Collection

There's something appealing about Hepaticas; they're not large or showy, the colors are pleasant but not outstanding, you have to get close to appreciate them, or have good vision....still....

This Saturday the Lahr Symosium will happen at the USNA. Although it's always a wonderful event, I don't make a lot of noise about it because it always sells out as it has done this year. The Native Plant Sale, however is open to the public starting at 9:30. There will be 8 specialty nurseries that will afford us the opportunity to indulge our acquisitive impulses. I'll be looking for Hepaticas this year. Last year I bought 3 dultivars of Fothergilla, including 'Jane Platt', a true F. gardenii selection and so, one that will not reach 6-7', rather staying about half that size. Her habit is a bit different from the species, she tends to be a bit laxer, more earthbound than the typical upright forms.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eurya japonica is a charming broad-leafed evergreen with attractive pendulous flowers

That smell like a decaying corpse. We were working in the olofactory perimeter of this plant today and it was not pleasant. Every year I fantasize about making a scarecrow and positioning it under this plant so that neither the head, hands, or feet (which would clearly give it away) are visible, and waiting for someone to discover it. Hey, I was looking around today and I knew where the smell was coming from! Don't worry; I'll never do it. I'll just think about it every year.

Things are beginning to happen near the ground in Fern Valley: Sanguinaria, Shortia, and Dentaria? Toothwort anyway

Trillium cuneatum is wonderful too and the Virginia Bluebells are showing color and ready to go. Troutlilies are everywhere. I'm excited; I can't help myself.

The Cherries are coming, the Cherries are coming

These Cherries are in research fields along Valley Road. Many, many, many different taxa of different sizes, shapes, and colors that flower at different times make this a most interesting planting. It's great fun to watch; five days ago there was no color showing and look at these pictures. Wow.

It's been a good season for spring-flowering trees and shrubs generally. There was plenty of moisture last season for good bud set and the winter was okay except for the snow. There was plenty of moisture and the temperatures were mild in a good way; despite the snow it was a fairly warm winter. Spring so far has been good too; warm and sunny enough to bring the flowers out but not hot enough to rush them through their life cycle. If you're local, try to get out this weekend or next.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cercis gigantea buds, the remnants of a Cedar cone, Cephalotaxus flowers (sic)

Surrounded by hundreds of flowering Magnolias and Cherries and innumerable spectacular shrubs, I found myself inexplicably attracted to smaller less glamorous sights. It's probably that damned polarity response.

Edgeworthia chrysantha is flowering cheerfully despite having had a 5 ton Cedar fall on it (in China Valley)

To be totally honest the tree fell "around " the Edgeworthia, that is to say an outline of the area where the tree had fallen would have circumscribed the Edgeworthia. Clearly there was minimal contact between the massive Cedar and the delicate Paperbush. Pretty much everything else within the "crash perimeter" was totaled. It may be my imagination but it seems like the flowers have better color this year: deeper and richer. It could be last year's excellent growing season, recent weather, or even the excellent care it receives here at the USNA, but I like to think that, nearly being crushed was a life altering experience that the Edgeworthia has responded to by stepping up it's game.

I did a little research in an attempt to get a ballpark figure for the weight of the Cedar. I came upon an interesting paper on the size and weight of Loblolly Pines in Northern Louisiana. It was a USDA paper! I've gotta think Cedars weigh, dbh to dbh, at least as much as Loblollies. A 22" dbh Pine, in their study, weighed 5,000+ pounds so our 28" Cedar would very likely have weighed double that

While I have an undeniable fondness for plants that flower from late fall to early spring, and for fragrance, by any measure this plant is a winner. Related to the genus Daphne it has a fragrance worthy of that association. And it grows and flowers happily in fairly heavy deciduous shade.Good plant.

Monday, March 22, 2010

FONA Garden Fair, and more importantly, Plant Sale: an incredible opportunity for the covetous plant geek, or even for regular gardeners

This is a chance to buy plants that you read about but rarely see in a Nursery. I got a sneak peek at the plant list and this is going to be like the old ones I remember so fondly. There's some good stuff coming! Over 100 pots of Trillium are on order, of 5? different taxa. Edgeworthia, two varieties, three Daphne selections, terrestrial orchids including Dactylorhiza; I've never seen that offered except through the mail or on-line. Lady's-slippers, pink and yellow and 100 pots of hardy Cyclamen, coum and hederifolia. Heucheras, Hellebores, and Hydrangeas in great numbers including new and uncommon selections. Variegated Cornus controversa, and Davidia 'Sonoma', the Dove tree that flowers in a one gallon pot.. Ten plants each of three different species of Stewartia. And Daphniphyllum, Forhergilla, hardy Gardenias, Rhododendron austrinum, two selections of that wonderful fragrant orange or yellow flowered native azalea. And a hardy Agave. And perennials: Zepheranthes, Rohdeas, Peonies....  And a weeping Parrotia, and Magnolia siebolii. I have to stop but there's lots more. And it benefits the Friend of the National Arboretum. 

And that's just what's in the FONA tent. Like last year there will be a dozen specialty Nurseries offering plants that you can almost never buy off the table. Don't ignore them. They had incredible plants last year and as difficult as it was for me to believe, took many of them home unsold. I did my best but I just couldn't buy everything and I won't be able to this year either. I'm going to need some help.

Magnolias and Cherries are flowering throughout the Arboretum

You know you work in the right place when, after a wonderful spring weekend, you can't wait to get back and see what's happened. A lot did happen. The Flowering Apricots, Prunus mume (see the bottom picture), are peaking as are the early Magnolias (eg. M. biondii and M. zenii). The rest of the deciduous magnolias are following along. That's Magnolia sprengeri 'Diva' in the top photo, and a sample of the Magnolia collection beneath it. Perfect temperatures, not too hot, not too cold, and plenty of moisture are making this a banner year for early flowering trees and shrubs. If you're in the area, I would try to make time this weekend or next for a trip, even if it's just a quick drive-by.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thanksgivng Farms Nursery: Darby has a lot of plants other Nurseries don't have

And good ones; it's worth the 40 mile drive. They can be depended on to have unique plants, plants you haven't seen locally before and that you likely won't see anywhere else. Among large nurseries, they seem to be alone in realizing the size of the market for tropical and subtropical plants for bedding and containers. Hey!, we found a polyhouse with 50+ large Brugmansias. And not that lame variegated one that you see everywhere that barely flowers the first season. Wow.  I bought a 'Fireburst' Coprosma, orange/pink edged leaves and they grow like mad. Also a Lampranthus aureus, Golden Iceplant, and a cerise Kangaroo Paw.  Darby tells me she has several other variegated cultivars of Coprosma. Probably in one of those roundhouses I didn't look in.

They're equally good with traditional temperate material.  We walked past a block of Lilacs that included, I'm guessing 35 varieties. Nice plants, good sized in ?5 gallon containers. Now I have to make my traditional disclaimer: I know I tend to be enthusiastic; the world looks good through rose-colored glasses..... But....They do make good decisions. If you've read about a new plant or a new trend you usually see it here first. Darby just has a good and curious mind and good instincts. If I owned or ran a large nursery, I would want her to take my buyers in hand.

1619 Buckeysville Pike; Adamstown, Maryland 21710  301 662 1291  You can make a day of it by stopping at Lilypons, also in Adamstown.