Saturday, March 19, 2011

I hardly took any pictures this week, but Arboretum is beautiful

Didn't have time to stop and snap any pictures during the day. We worked too hard! Didn't have much energy left after work to go out, but I did manage to stop on the way home Friday and photograph this. It's only one of the many Flowering Apricots in the Prunus Field. Corolypsis in the Asian Collections are also not to be missed, ditto Magnolias in the AC and over the rest of the Arboretum. The early cherries are just starting to open so that there's color galore in the Research Nurseries.

Went to Jim Dronenberg's and Dan Weil' to meet Pamela Harper

If I am doing my math correctly, Pamela Harper has been gardening her two acre property in tidewater Virgina for more than half of her life. Time Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Garden was published in 2000 and describes in some detail, her experiences. When Ms. Harper came to this country from Great Britain 40 odd years ago as a horticulturist she brought with her a reputation that forty years (now) in the US has only enhanced. I remember when Time Tested Plants came out; I loved it because it was so many things other garden books weren't. Namely it presented a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs that the author had determined were tough, beautiful, and functional in her garden. Her conclusions were founded in experience, cumulative not anecdotal and reasoned honestly and rigorously. She didn't just parrot older literature nor did she seem to lost the ability to intellectually detach and objectively analyze plants that she clearly loved.

The middle picture is of Jim and his large Hellebore bed. They're breeding in there! The bottom picture is the sheltered SE facing ell formed by the main house and the wing they added on. It's allowed plants like Lady Banks roses, Confederate Jasmine, several Gardenia spp., and a variety of other Zone 8 (or 9) plants to survive on a windy hill in Zone 7a.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cymbidium goeringii along the path to the Pagoda

Not only is this a hardy orchid, but it flowers before almost everything else and has a pleasant fragrance. Wow. Of course it is green and stands less than 6 inches high....still, it's a very cool plant.

I've heard stories for years, about a house in Hyattsville (Maryland) with drifts of these orchids in the back garden. There's no reason it couldn't be true. It would take a little time though. This plant was wild collected in South Korea in 1984 by Barry Yinger and others and has been in the garden since then; it had about 10 flowers this year.

Magnolia biondii

This is one of our first Magnolias to flower in the spring. This year it started ahead of M. zenii which isn't usual. They're both still flowering now near the bottom of China Valley.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whiskers Purple and White Pansy

The only annual that lasts from September through July. This is a distinctive one. From Behnkes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunrise at the Arboretum 15 March 2011

bThis past Saturday night, we set our clocks ahead, daylight savings time and all. I hate it but if there's an upside to it, it's being able to watch the sun rise at the Arboretum. This morning was particularly interesting and beautiful. Sundogs and weird clouds.

Nathan's bench is coming's spectacular

He hasn't worked on it for a day and a half, but with rain in the forecast for tomorrow, progress will be made.

Rhododendron mucronulatum flowering on Korean Hill

Actually one of these was collected in Japan, the bottom one, and the other in Korea. They're a little late this year; they often flower a month or more earlier. For that reason, I used to try and sneak one into designs. I like to include a surprise or two in a design and flowers in February hereabouts are a surprise to most people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Magnolia stellata 'Centennial'.....the Magnolias are coming fast and furious

Magnolia biondii, zenii, denudata and now this selection of the Star Magnolia. The other stellatas will follow. Prunus 'Okame' has fat buds, red, and ready to pop.

'Centennial' is a wonderful cultivar. The buds are flushed with a bit of pink as are the flowers when they first open. The only downside is that this is one of those early bloomers that predictably gets toasted by a late frost every few years.

Magnolia denudata first flowers 2011 on March 13

This is the third year in a row that these early bloomers haven't been caught by a late frost. Global warming or luck? Both?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hellebores look better in the near view....especially these plants

I didn't plant them in the wall, they just seeded down into it. I admit it isn't the prettiest wall in the world. When we moved into the house almost 30 years ago we were young and poor; buying stone for a wall really wasn't an option, so we went with "found materials." We didn't really have a choice about terracing the yard. It sloped from front to back (north to south) and from right to left (west to east). There wasn't enough level ground for two lawn chairs.

So we terraced with scrounged concrete, shovel and mattock. Stepping out the basement door (facing south) the wall starts a few feet to your right and meanders a hundred feet or so on a ss by se track ending where the bamboo grove used to begin. There are beds above and, a mediocre linear area of turf below it witch is bordered by a wide planting bed running the length of the east edge of the garden. The wall is presented at its worst here; it does look better in other seasons when the light isn''t so harsh and plants soften it.

I have no idea what this is but I know it wasn't there last year

Yes, I ought to have kept a record and labeled it immediately, but a few slip through the cracks. What can I say? I'm intrigued by it because it seems to be a week or two ahead of, well everything but the early bulbs and the familiar winter perennials. It seems to be budding so I ought to be able to identify it in the next week or so.

I've enjoyed, for years, being half of a horticultural couple. There are always surprises, things you didn't plant and didn't notice, popping up. Since Karen began landscaping, her contributions, though beautiful, are usually not so bizarre as they were when she was at Behnkes, tempted by every new and unique item. I observe this only as part of my admission that almost surely I'm the culprit here. Whatever it is, I planted it. And forgot it completely. Getting old then, is a new way of being surprised in the garden. I haven't got to the point where everything s new to me every year, but increasingly I do find myself coming upon plants unexpectedly that I planted myself.

Regular attendance at the Beltsville Garden Club sales, the FONA plant sale, garden club exchanges, and a circle of friends who are plant fanatics mean that all sorts of odd plants enter the garden. It could be anything!