Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guzmania sp.

Box Store Bromelliad. I couldn't help myself! It's already got two pups; I'll give it to Brad when it's finished flowering.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Camillia edithae and Camellia lutchuensis: the buds are swelling

It won't be long now. I liked the buds on C. edithae when they were just rough brown balls. They're actually quite attractive now. I guess the question is, will this one 7b plant survive here? I'll stack a few cuttings this summer just in case, but we're definitely going to try it. C. lutchuensis is renowned for fragrance; I can't wait. It is likely only hardy here in sheltered microclimates but we're going to try it too.

Acer cissifolium: One of the things that we do at the Arboretum is make germplasm available

So today I harvested this bundle of scionwood from the tree in the background. We had to do it this week because they'll need to be dormant for the recipient to graft them onto some seedling understock. Temperatures are forecast to rise through the 50sF so those buds will be breaking sometime next week. Well not the ones in the picture; they're in the cooler now. They'll be inspected next week, get their phytosanitary certificate, and then be shipped 3rd day delivery to the west coast.

You have to look at these Anthrobotanical prints. No, really.....I swear

I know, I know, I know....the net is full of timewasting things somebody's insisting that you appreciate. I swear. If you don't like 'em, I'll refund your money in full. Click here for the gallery. Thanks Val!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Look! My favorite background and my favorite native plant conference

The Lahr is coming up, Saturday March 26. Listen up; I've got a good perspective on it; I've been a staffer, a presenter, and an attendee. And you know what?....attendee is good. I'll be an attendee this year.

For the 25th anniversary the venue has changed. Because our Administration Building is being deconstructed and reconstructed, the Lahr will be held in Beltsville, Maryland at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. This is both good and bad: good because the facilities are larger and the vendors will be able to set up in a parking lot (they won't have to transport their wares great distances). Plus there's more parking and the site is easily accessible, less than a mile off the Washington Beltway. Bad because we won't be at the Arboretum where early Cherries will be flowering, and Magnolias, Serviceberries, and more. Still it's early and the week after Lahr will be a good week for a tour.

I've always felt that the potential audience for the Lahr was larger than the 170 people our auditorium holds. Every year there's a great lineup of speakers: it's always a tremendous program so it's good that more people will be able to take advantage of it. Allan Armitage, Carole Ottesen, Cole Burrell, Dr. Sulvan Kaufman, Scott LaFleur, and Jeremy West. Click for the brochure. Click for online registration.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One good reason for going to work really early is that you get to see the sun rise

Some days make it's worth it.

They pulled in with pinpoint accuracy......missing the Betula uber and the Magnolia acuminata

Actually straddling them. When Michael drove me out to see the tree contractors removing poles from Fern Valley, I think I hyperventilated. Were they really in there? Yes they were. Wow. They avoided two rather important plants in the collection so I guess all's well that ends well....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Helleborus thibetanus and Adonis could set your watch by these guys

if you only needed it to be accurate to 2-3 weeks. I'm thinking they always start within that distance of Groundhog day (Feb 2). They are flowering now in the Asian Collections here at the US National Arboretum.

I'm thinking, if I live to a hundred and become totally immobile I could spend my days with a brick like this

I've admired it daily for years. It lives on the floor of Polyhouse 8 near the hose bib, and is responsible for holding down part of one edge of the black cloth that covers the floor. Today it looked particularly nice as it's sending up, on slender graceful filaments, capsules full of spores. Though I see it every day I'm ashamed to admit that only occasionally do I notice the changes that continually modify the landscape of the brick. It would actually be a tremendous luxury to be able to study it continuously.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The birds know...and I know too. Spring is coming

Nobody's nesting yet; blue-jays swoop through the open spaces in the back garden calling nasally back and forth and dropping things on my head, I swear. Carolina wrens have upped the volume of their song which is startlingly loud in any case, especially if you find the bird and see how small it is. Cardinals, my son Max counted 7 males in our small yard at one time Saturday, flit about from the big dogwood up into the red oak, then down to the Sky pencil holly where they cling awkwardly to the side. They're still roaming in gangs, boys clubs. That'll end in another six weeks or so.

The calls are a little more enthusiastic. Flights are looser, more adventurous, not just businesslike mechanical movements between shelter and food. There seems a joyous element to their actions. Still, they aren't fooled by two warmish sunny days in a row; they know spring hasn't arrived and won't for a month or three weeks or six. Cold will come, maybe snow, maybe a lot, but today is warm, winter's back is broken, and it's okay to celebrate a little.

My apprehension of the season is more intellectual, less visceral. I know that the sun rises a half an hour earlier than it did on the shortest day of the year and sets almost 3/4 of an hour later. I know the angle of the sun at noon has increased almost 10 degrees going from just below 27 to a bit over 36 now. It's really the angle of the sun that makes the difference in the seasons. I know that the average low temperature has risen from 27 to 29F and the average high from 42 to 45F. And the curve steepens rapidly. By the end of this month, less than three weeks from now, we will be looking at an average high of 50 and a low of 33; those are temperatures you could live with!

And I see buds swelling on shrubs and trees...deepening in color. When the sun just gets high enough to shine horizontally through the big maple by the parking lot in the National Grove of State Trees, the whole tree glows purple rose. I know the snowdrops are already showing color as are some early crocus; other bulbs nose, foliage only, out of the cold earth.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tillandsia ionantha in the south window

I got this Tillandsia ball a couple years ago as a gift from my mother. This is the second time it's bloomed. It's just a handful of individual plants glued? into a spherical shape. In the summer it goes outside and hangs amidst the summering orchids. When it cools off, I bring in and hang it on the baker's rack where the orchids winter. Sometimes it gets to hang on a branch of the Magnolia champaca in the same window. I run water over it once or twice a week and it seems perfectly happy. The Philadelphia Flower Show is coming up and there will be vendors selling loose Tillandsias. I wonder if any of the more exotic forms are tough, by which I suppose I mean xeric, enough to take a similar treatment. Have to do research.