Friday, May 28, 2010

Campanula Takesimana, this is a beautiful perennial and a vigorous spreader

Don't ever plant it unless you can surround it with a 10' wide road like we did.

New growth on Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Hatsuyuki' (first snow)

Killer variegation on the newly emerging leaves eventually mostly disappears but since it grows constantly, there's always good color in the growing season. We got this Japanes cultivar from Asiatica. I don't have experience with this species, but the literature suggests it's fairly similar to the much more common Trachelospermum jasminoides. The flowers are creamy/off-white and fragrant, the leaves are small then Confederate Jasmine. From what I understand it's hardiness is right in our range, 7b. We'll find out.

There are a dozen or so species of Trachelospermum. I just planted one (jasminoides) in the Florida garden with some trepidation. While it is wonderfully fragrant, it's also....extremely vigorous. I'll just do what I need to do to control it. I put it on the large wire "sunburst" trellis replacing a Bougainvillea that just couldn't stand up to the prolonged periods of drought. If the Jasmine works it will fail. I designed to trellis so that each "ray" would carry one shoot of the Bougainvillea; the Jasmine will no doubt just swallow the whole trellis in an amorphous mass. Anyway it'll smell good.

Rosa serratipetala: this rose is reported to have been first been recognized in France in 1912

This is one of two in China Valley; it's located along the trail towards the bottom of the valley. Ir wasn't so nice last year. I think this is its third year and so I guess it's nicely established now. Plus we've had good temperatures and good moisture.

Scott Aker grafts Pinus flexilis scions that he and Kevin and GrayC collected on their trip to Nebraska and South Dakota

It sounds like they got some good stuff. The Pinus flexilis is from a disjunct population (most is much farther west). I haven't had a chance to see the other plants they got but I heard rumors of a 3" shrubby Clematis, a wonderful small Phlox, another miniature perennial, possibly an Aquilegia, and so on and so on. This was just a "scouting trip" to target specimens that they will return and collect seed from. One of their objectives was to find North American plants that could become elements in the palettes from which "green roofs" are created. They seem pretty excited.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hydrangea serrata 'Bluebird' under the Dove Tree

Another nice Hydrangea. You can see this one from the road! It really is "the year of the Hydrangea" and I'm going to keep on posting pictures. Who knows?  At some point maybe I'll even write something interesting about them.

Happy 50th Birthday Fern Valley

I stopped by to talk with her this morning; it seems we're both the early risers in our respective neighborhoods. She was upbeat and happy about her birthday, and looking forward to the festivities (it wasn't a surprise party). We agreed that 50 is a good age for a garden and that the future looked bright.

We just talked about a lot of things. I guess sharing the same birthday gave us something in common. Anyway I loosened up and told her about this week. We all create our own versions of the world; we try to be objective but sometimes we just don't get it. I have seen this happen to other people: they think they're a part of a group or project, an element, and then something happens. An epiphany, but not a good one and they realize in an instant that in the eyes of the world and the group they don't really matter. I've seen this happen to other people and felt pity, embarrassment, sympathy. Now I suppose I can add empathy to my repertoire. It's hard to know how to feel when it happens to you.  I mean self pity is not a place I go to.

The Garden commiserated while observing that I seemed contented even upbeat. I had to agree. Time goes by and change happens.

Angelica dahurica: Jim Adams collected these in Vladivostok; I just like the curious bladdrlike clasping leaf bases

In another lifetime.

When you Google this plant you find it'has numberous and important? culinary and medicinal uses, which, of course explains why the Curator of the Herb Garden collected it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spigelia marilandica and Rhododendron (I dont know) calandulaceum?

I don't know which Rhododendron it is but it's one of those (obviously) later flowering orange ones without any fragrance. This Spigelia has been getting more and more impressive every year. I think Dr. Elias shamed it into shaping up by frequent reference to how nice the one in his private garden was. I'll stack this up against any plant I've ever seen. It's just across the road from the FV/Youth Garden parking lot putting on it's best face for the party!

Nathan, Amanda, Neal, and I were back at the heavy pruning projects

This time we did it in the collection. We removed 8 large vehicle loads of debris and 7 of them were prunings from accessioned plants. Carole will be happy to hear. But they needed it and we only completely "removed" one plant, a Heptacodium that had hit the "green ceiling" in the form of  a Pterocarya. In the picture Nate is finishing off a large limb from the Pterocarya. Three of the loads were bamboo and that was a tiny drop in the bucket of what we will eventually have to remove, but it's a start. We cut some pieces that were over 4 inches in diameter, I measured them. Cool stuff.

We weren't the only project today; actually we were the least glamorous. Joan had a band of volunteers, interns, and technicians putting the finishing touches on Fern Valley. FV celebrates it's 50th birthday tomorrow and despite the irritation of the ongoing irrigation installation, the collection is beautiful with a few spectacularly colorful thing in bloom.

Jeanette led another group prepping for another glamor event: apparently Top Chef is taping some promotional footage at the Capitol Columns so the plantings were weeded, mulched, and generally touched up. So spring continues busy on all fronts.

Peter Del Tredici's Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: a Field Guide....I ordered a copy yesterday

I haven't read Peter Del Tredici's Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: a Field Guide. I look forward to it; I love weeds....I love all plants. I just think it's dangerous to encourage the more aggressive ones. Maybe even in a city.  I did watch with interest a thread on Garden Rant yesterday. I got the feelings that there are a lot of gardeners that think that the spread of these weeds is easily halted or maybe that there's some magic border at the edge of a city where the weeds will pause, look at the more natural pristine ecosystems and decide to respect them and stay in the city. Well....some of them will, but others, because of their vigor, adaptability, their type A personalities, will continue out into the world.

I live just outside Washington DC, a city that ought to get more credit for the beauty and extent of it's green spaces. Rock Creek Park, encompasses 1700 acres, a large park in a small city. Small creeks and drainages run off of Rock Creek so that there are thousands of homes and businesses whose backyards sit atop slopes that lead into the park. Take a walk downhill, or downstream, and it will rapidly become clear that the more aggressive weeds have, in many places taken over huge sections of the park. From here they move upsteam entering the wilder riparian spaces in Maryland. They do this because they can. Those abilities that allow them to survive the urban environment also allow them to rampage through natural areas. When they do this they often destroy the preexisting ecosystems.

The reason that I care about this is because the intricately co-evolved ecosystems they disrupt are wonderful in their complexity, their integration, and the beauty of their components and I love them. I suppose I'm just selfish to prefer Bloodroot, Hepatica, Spring Beauties, Pinxterbloom, etc. to monocultures of English Ivy, Kudzu, Japanese Honeysuckle, Lesser Celandine, Japanese Barberries, Bush Honeysuckle, and on and on.

It is true that many weeds only succeed in dry disturbed areas. These are the harmless curiosities that are fun to stumble on. We have been admiring a Giant Danelion for the past week at work. It's harmless enough in the Brickyard (the area where we compost and store mulch) but of course if, I should say when,  the seeds get into the mulch it will gain entry to the collections and we'll have to deal with it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elm Spindle Gall....they're kind of creepy

It's not just a good year for Hydrangeas, galls are larger and more numerous. I see this one every year on this Elm.

The Hydrangeas in the Asian Collection are worth a trip this weekend

This is Hydrangea macrophylla var. macrophylla it is only one of dozens of lacecaps and a few mopheads flowering now. Though I repeat myself, this is going to be a very exceptional year for Hydrangeas.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I knew I liked turtles

Don't look too closely but that half-eaten mass, right foreground, was a snail. Go turtle. When I came down the path my first sight was the turtle chowing down. He/she was somewhat reluctant to come out and resume eating after I lay down a foot away from him/her. I didn't have time to wait or I could have had a small scale National Geographic moment. Oh well. Any slug eaten this year is good news because with all the wonderful rain we've been having they'll be plentiful.

We finally fixed that cruel curve that 3+ feet of snow left in our favorite Podocarpus

This Buddhist Pine was and is again a wonderful plant; 30 feet tall and graceful, for years it has grown patiently in the shadow of a brash and thoughtless Lacebark Elm.  The snows of February though, bowed it and forced it down at a perilous angle (see top photograph!). We debated and refined our plans to the point where after just a couple hours of work, mostly on Nathan's part, we were able to successfully restore verticality and dignity to a deserving plant.

I volunteered to go on the roof and pulled on a rope tied to the top of the fallen Podocarpus. Chris Carley stood on the ground and, with a long bamboo pole, levered the trunk into final position at which point Nathan, up a ladder, wired the trunk to anchors that Pat had previously placed in the masonry wall, and  Carole supervised. And pruned.

Things went off without a hitch and I got a unique view of the "flying fish" above the Bonsai/Penjing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

For the second week in a row I helped someone with landscape installation:

Last week it was Boy Scout Troop 1033, this week it was Max and Pete. 
When you buy a pallet of "boulders" there's always a big one at the bottom. That's either the good news or the bad news, or more likely both. That's a heavy rock; by my rough calculations it weighs between 950 and 1250 pounds and I'd bet a good bit of money that it's not within a hundred pounds of the low estimate. It's a heavy rock. The others, weighing between 150 and 300 lbs.? were easily moved with a pneumatic -wheeled two-wheel dolly, but not the monster.

Max and Pete had installed the front beds here three or four years ago and have since done a couple of installations in the back. Marie, the homeowner, treated herself to these rocks and so they took the opportunity to replace the pile of stones that had been taking the place of the "large boulder" called for in the design with this monster. I figured I'd ride along in case they needed help moving a half-ton rock. They didn't really need physical help, thankfully, but I like to think my experience and wisdom were of some use.  First let me say...Nobody moves rocks this size without machinery. Nobody. When M&P bought me rocks for Christmas, the stoneyard loaded them with a backhoe....and they weighed less than 100 lbs. each. We did it though, and in the rain.
We tore the pallet apart and used the sides for a "sliding" ramp. The stone was too heavy/and or angular to roll so we had to inch it along. In the top two pictures, Max patiently levers it forward. In the bottom Peter contemplates the fact that it still needs to be rotated 180 degrees as the front is backward and the back is frontward! We accomplished this relatively easily, (relative being the operative word). When the bed has been restored around it I'll take a nice picture!