Friday, June 18, 2010

Asimina triloba....the Paw Paws are getting bigger along the road through Fern Valley

Irrigation work continues in Fern Valley and the last viciously invasive operation will take place next week; the contractors will mechanically trench along both sides of the road, pretty much the length of the collection. They need 4+' cleared on either side. I volunteered to be part of the team that will transplant, tie back, and prune in preparation for the digging. I walked the road after work today and there's a lot that will go, but we can save a lot, and much will make it through the ordeal and recover.

The Daylily Collection is peaking at the Arboretum; I walked through it this afternoon

'Marked by Lydia'. This is a Olson Spider award winner in 2000.
 'Strawberry Velver'
'All American Chief'.
'Mauna Loa'
Missed the name on this one, but it's very spidery.

Isn't it sweet? They still feel the same way about each other they did 12 seconds ago.....only more.

More Margined Soldier beetle love in the Angelica.
Me too! Me too! Me too!.....Oh my.

Look, the plugs are turning into plants at the National Agricultural Library

I stopped by yesterday morning on my way to the Arboretum. Healthy plugs + rain + time = real plants! There's Lovegrass right foreground to center backbround, 'Blue Star' Kalimeris (flowering lightly) more or less to the left of it, Sedum 'Angelica barely visible on the far left, and Rudbeckia behind and beside the  sign itself. Of course that's the Panicum marching soldierly around the perimeter. The plants that most interest me, 'Don's Dwarf' Waxmyrtle, are, at this stage, shorter than the Panicum.

I'm somewhat surprised the Rudbeckia hasn't put on more size; they'be grown into solid little plants but are being outpaced by the Lovegrass and Kalimeris. And the weeds are taking advantage of a cultivated planting bed, as weeds will  do. Fortunately most of these perennials are weeds themselves and once they get a leg up, can hold their own against most competition. Karen Lucas arrived as I was pulling a few weeds and stopped for a minute. She's organized a "weeding party" for this Saturday. It ought to be simple hoeing except that I did see a bit of wiregrass.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teucrium canadense in the Fern Valley Prairie

I worked in Fern Valley for 4+ years, and I don't remember ever seeing this plant. There are several hundred square feet of it flowering now. I looked it up in BGBase and it was planted just about 15 years ago; I guess it's been biding its time. The thing is, biological systems are complex. The ecology of a grassland is beyond my comprehension. I do know that variations in weather from year to year and season to season can allow for sudden explosions in populations and corresponding sudden drops. Last year Bidens filled the Meadow and Prairie, having gone from a very minor player to what almost appeared to be a monoculture. I see Bidens now but at nowhere near last year's levels. It seems to me that Helianthus mollis has gone from being a quite large percentage of the Prairie to one of any number of plants. You can't take anything for granted, every year there'll be something different.

Everything I read about Canadian (American) Germander suggests that it likes moist habitats. Apparently the same superabundance of rain that has made this such a wonderful year for Hydrangeas has tipped the scales to the point a hydrophil can dominate what's usually a dryish environment.

Amanda, properly suited up, ready to spray herbicide on the recently germinated weeds of China Valley

We can get away with hand weeding in many parts of the Asian Collection, but China Valley is a new garden and still has a good/bad? seedbank of weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides helps, mulch helps, but we occasionally have to spray. We use Glyphosate at a low rate ~3oz 41%/Gallon of water. We don't broadcast, we hit individual plants. The good news is that every year there are fewer weeks and eventually they'll be controllable without chemicals.

Phytolacca americana variegated form

This is just a wonderfully variegated Pokeweed. I've seen other variegated Pokes and this is by far the best. Sue found it in the Pyracantha Nursery. I swear I never even knew there was a Pyracantha Nursery. And there oughtn't be one. It's a thoroughly obnoxious plant....except, of course, for our own introductions; they're only mildly offensive. And this coming from a guy who likes "over the top". I expect it's just really a matter of style and right now Pyracantha is fighting the current... but I digress.

Sue mentioned this plant this morning, and the fact that she was set to mow it down. I took one look, grabbed my shovel and dug it; it was less than two feet tall. I got the entire root system and the plant was out of the ground for less than 4 minutes, but still it was quite unhappy by the end of the day. It's just a beautiful plant.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coleus 'Pele'

Found this at Thanksgiving Farms along with so much wonderful container material that I had to buy another large container and the purple tomato cage visible top center.

Prairie Clover, Dalea (Petalostemum) purpurea, I think it's purpurea

This is a pretty little plant and loves the hot dry front bed along the street. I started this plant from seed 4 years ago and they're finally flowering. It isn't spectacular but there's something about it. Two inch long racemes sit atop wiry stems a bit more than a foot long.

Nathan brought a lantern out of storage and built a base for it

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ipomopsis rubra: I know it's summer because:

1. The red-flowered perennials are flowering. Ipomopsis rubra and Monarda didyma.
2. The Crape myrtles are flowering.
3. 85% of the last 25 day the temperature has reached 88F.
4. Fields are turning from green to yellow.
5. I found a 2 1/2 foor Mulberry weed, Fatoua villosa.
6. Pokeweed is flowering.
7. Interns are here.
8. The picture boxes in the weather forecast show showers every day but they usually mean a 10% chance.
9. Fruits are forming everywhere.
10.The yellow composites are flowering in the Fern Valley Meadow and Prairie

While some of these things are usual for mid-June, I think it's fair to say that we're still a couple of weeks ahead of where we would have expected to have been on June 15.

The Ipomopsis is flowering in the Fern Valley Coastal Plain section. I think these are plants that came from seed we collected in Bibb County Alabama. Bright red flowers and ferny foliage...I like it. It's a plant that's grown more commonly farther south, but I think maybe with good siting and Zone Creep, we could at least give it a try here in the DC area. It's either a short-lived perennial or a biennial. If you google it you will find pictures of huge clumps, many of them in Texas. These plants went out last year so a least they're winter hardy; we'll have to watch and see how it goes from here.

Research Intern Tera Roach patiently removing Box Huckleberry, Gaylussacia brachycera, seeds from the berries

When we came in for break Tera was sitting at that table working on those seeds. When we left she was still there, and when we got in for lunch. Finally I asked her what she was doing. It turns out she's opening the fruit, blue berries, and removing seeds. Seeds are good because BH is self sterile and there don't seem to be a lot of different clones.

The Research Unit has been working with Box Huckleberry for a few years. I vaguely remember an intern presentation who did DNA work on our plants explaining what a limited number of clones there were.. Anyway this spring, Research put different clones in a greenhouse with pollinators and now there seem to be seeds so apparently they committed genetic recombination. Good for FNPRU/DC.

I like Box Huckleberry as a native groundcover for dry shade. I put a plant into the courtyard garden at Beltsville Library and it seems to be tolerating the invasive roots of the Black Birch satisfactorily. I hope it does work out because another native groundcover would be a good thing, especially a shade tolerant low evergreen

I can't tell who's happier to be there, Pat or the turtle

Monday, June 14, 2010

You can't swing a dead cat in the Herb Garden without hitting something pretty

Lilium with Larkspur, Rosa rugosa hips, cool Sunflower, Horned-Poppy foliage...and flower. Actually while I love the silvery foliage and appreciate the yellow flower, it's the long hooked fruit that's the best thing about Glaucium. The Theme Gardens are good now too.
The Theme Gardens are aligned around the inside perimeter of a circular space. The circle is enclosed by Buxus which is in turn enclosed by large 'Natchez' Crape Myrtles. The effect of the design is that the theme beds tend, much of the day, to be lit by direct sun with dark shade as a background, a great light for displaying texture or color.

The Black Widow Spider isn't really on Pat's shirt; it's suspended by its own silk thread about a foot away from him

That's why it appears to be 3-4 inches across. It was really a normal sized spider. For about a 15 minute period mid-morning we seemed to turn up some intersting arthrapod. I just missed some huge 3" long-horned beetle looking thing. Got to work on those reflexes.