Friday, June 10, 2011

Hypericum monogynum and H. bellum ssp latisepalum......the St. John's Worts are beginning to flower

Hey everybody can't be a rose or an iris, a peony or a hydrangea. Hypericums always have cool clusters of stamens.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is flowering in the Fern Vallley Meadow

I love this plant. The meadow is turning yellow as the scorching heat and lack of rain take effect. Neither the Butterfly weed nor the Indian Grass care. They're tough. I remember the first time I saw Butterfly weed was walking along the Railroad tracks from my grandmother's farm in Covesville, Virgina to the tiny town of Faber. It was about a mile and a half and we grandchildren mafe the trek regularly to go to the General Store. We usually just bought sodas which we usually needed because summers were hot and there was no shade on the tracks. The Butterfly weed, of course, grew happily withing yards of the tracks themselves. Between rains the plants were coated with gray dust but the butterflies seemed to like them anyway.

The Morrison Garden Perennial Bed: It looks prety good to me; maybe a little structure and a little "POP"

I've been charged with doing a little redesign of this bed. Actually, I'm flattered at the idea that I could make it better. Originally there was a drift of roses center left mid-ground, that provided a little structure and slowed your eyes down. They didn't prove to be as disease resistant as claimed so they came out and now beautiful chaos reigns. The dominant plants now are orange Echeverias and blue Nepetas which is good; the original color scheme was orange and blue. Flowering now are orange Galliardias, Lilies, Red-Hot Pokers, and blue Camassias, Verbenas, and Geraniums.

I'd like to add some larger plants, as most of the surviving selections are nearly the same height. I love Rosa 'Mutabilis', and we have an extra plant in China Valley. It'll look good slightly off center left towards the back of the planting. It is disease resistant, will flower all summer, is fragrant, will fit with the color scheme, and can get 6 feet tall and 8 feet across in two years.Vernonia novaboracensis in the back left for fall purple, Helianthus angustifolius back right for fall yellow. A grouping of Canna 'Prretoria' on the left side and two individual plants middle and right to form a loose scalene triangle. Monocots can add structure, boldly-textured ones even more so. I'm thinking about a giant grass in the back, maybe Arundo donax variegata. There's that new cultivar that supposedly doesn't viridesce. The Cannas will add pop. Maybe Canna 'Australia' against the left wall towards the back? I don't know about introducing black but I love that foliage! Consolidate the Camassias and move them center-right to the left of the sign. Move some Echinaeas from right to left to balance the masses a little. Keep the spectacular threads of Nepeta. I'm even thinking of adding a Musa 'Basjoo' along the right side wall towards the back. An 18 foot banana would get peoples attention, add some "pop"!

This is going to be fun.

Silene armeria, Sweet William Catchfly or None-so-Pretty

This half flat stood out as I walked through the greenhouse at the end of the day. You've gotta love the common names of this lovely little European annual native; it's a plant I ought to grow but never have. I've seen it here and there in the wild, it's naturalized throughout North America, and it seems to tolerate dry sites though doing a bit better in moister conditions. I suspect it would reseed on its own. I'll get some seed and try it in the bed by the street.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm fixating on those big sepals in the Rubiaceae! Pinckneya bracteata, Mussaenda ?, and Emmenopterys henryi

The first two pictures are from today; the Pinckneya is flowering in the Coastal Plain section of Fern Valley, I bought the Mussaedna in Florida at a Flea Market. The Emmenopterys flowers are from this past July. Anyway, what gives with these huge septal? Actually the Flora of China calls the bracts on Emmenopterys "white petioloid calycophylls". That sounds like sepals to me but who knows? I like 'em though; they're decorative.

Asiatic Lily Netty's Pride....another of Amanda's picks

She planted these near the purple-leafed Loropetalum where the cut through path from China Valley meets the path to the Pagoda. When the Loropetalum get bigger the burgundy in the Lily will reflect the color of the Loropetalum's leaves.

Lathyrus's a Sweetpea.

It may not be that great looking and it may not be fragrant but it's a pleasant little plant. We have a few things from this trip in the Asian Collections including Rosa davurica and a nice selection of Microbiota decussata.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hydranges are flowering now; the Asian Collection has a large selection of cultivars and species

(from the top) Hydrangea serrata 'Zankoriana'; H. serrata 'Bluebird'; H. serrata 'Purple Tiers'

This is another group of plants that had just begun to flower when I left two weeks ago for Florida. Now most of the Lacecaps (~Hydrangea serrata~) are blooming. The mopheads (~Hydrangea macrophylla~) will come later.

Lining out plants from the 2008 NACPEC Shaanxi Trip

Chris Carley went on this China trip and brought back a variety of plants including a number of species of Ash, Fraxinus. Others include Corylus, Acer henryi, and Euptelea We, by which I mean mostly Amanda, planted and germinated the Arboretum's share of the collected seed. The plants have grown in containers since. It's good to get them in the ground; I could almost hear them sigh with relief as their roots hit the cool soil of the test plot. But seriously, these plants are what we're about and they are far better off in the ground than in containers. We've already planted a few in the Collection including a few Sinowilsonia henryi, some Aesculus chinensis, and one Acer henryi. We still have Cardiocrinums in containers as well as a few Cephalotaxus and some odds and ends. Two and a half years after the trip we're moving the plants along.

The Asiatic Lilies are flowering in the Asian appropriate

When I left to go to Florida two weeks ago only a flower or two were open on the earlier cultivars. Now they're all at it! Last year we decided we needed to add some lilies to the plantings; Amanda researched interesting new varieties and we added a dozen or so. The top picture is 'Tiny Hope' and the bottom is 'Tiny Ghost'. The middle, 'Kentucky', is one of Amanda's new ones.

Stachytarpheta mutabilis, Coral Porterweed

This is a cool, tall, gawkily ugly Caribbean native in my color range. I added this to the Florida garden this past week with tome trepidation. When I get back to the Arboretum, there are two sitting happily in Polyhouse 8! It is a plant that can be a bit agressive but it's also a great butterfly/hummingbird plant. I suspect conditions are harsh enough in our Florida garden that it will either not survive or will be controllable. Hey, I can always kill it!

The Containers are planted and out in the Friendship Garden

Brad has been doing xeric containers for the past few years and they just get better and better. We (the gardeners who have occasion to water them, like them because they don't require a lot of water! Everyone else likes them because they're dramatically cool. Obviously a lot of the plants are succulents, but there are palms mixed in here and there (eg. the Bismarckia in top picture) and a miscellany of curiosities: Eucalyptus, Heuchera, Lantana, etc. I've grown cacti and succulents for years, almost 50 years, and what amazes me about these containers is how much growth happens over the summer. Somehow I had the impression that these sorts of plants increased incrementally over long periods of time, but the darned things do grow if they've got soil and regular water. It makes watching them fun!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is why we have to drive to Florida....the dog won't fit under the seat and how many plants can you bring back in your luggage?

Neither to dog nor the Brugmansia (8$) rode in the back of the truck I just thought they both needed some air. This was a big load of plants and while I love all of 'em, I'm particularly excited about the Barleria repens, the bizarre Plumeria selections, and the Scadoxus with a flower the size of a softball.

Spent a week and a half in the Florida Garden....back now

The issue here is that of spades. I plant these plants and walk away for 3-5 months. We aren't talking about moist tropical weather. When this area was developed, the natural community that was destroyed was "Florida Scrub". It's a tough life for plants and animals.

The top picture is a corner of the carport that's working well. The upright plant is Leucophyllum frutescens, the groundcover is Dyschoriste oblongifolia a true scrub endeminc, and poking out unobtrusively is Nolina macrocarpa.

We're learning what will survive and what won't but there are some gray areas; I suspect that some plants that we've lost could survive in the garden if they were established before things got too tough. In nature that would mean that they'd germinate during a wet period and maybe not be too stressed their first year or two. Actually, seedlings are more able to handle distress than nursery grown plants that are living in organic soil and getting watered regularly. That progression from lucky seedling to mature established plant happens infrequently but often enough. To get that spoiled nursery grown specimen to a point where it can hold it's own against the worst adversity nature can throw at it is....well tough. If I were there full time I could "wean" them, slowly reducing watering until they were hardened off. Unfortunately I'm not there full time and I throw them into the elements and wish them luck.

I'm thinking I've been very lucky! In the second picture the green plant is Conradina grandiflora and the succulent tucked between the limestone boulders is an Echeveria. Actually it's one of my favorite Echeverias and one with which I've had a long personal relationship. I saved a piece in Maryland but stuck the main plant down there in December. It survived months or drought and 18F. If it can survive this long, it should be good forever....but will it flower.

The third picture is a newly planted Eucalyptus with another Conradina in the background with Rosemary and a species of Morea. I expect to pollard the Eucalyptus regularly, that is, if it survives! I don't want a huge tree there but do want to screen the view of the house next door.

The fourth picture is the side of the workshop. I've relented and the native Sambucus can stay. The small shrub with bluish flowers is Duranta. We inherited it and while it's not thrilling it works. Frost killed it two years in a row but it works better for me this size than the 8' x 8' it was five years ago! The giant sprawing plant in back is Lonicera sempervirens. This is another native and one of my favorite plants. I intended to cut it back severely this time but decided to let it grow unrestrained a few more months!

The last picture is the front of the screen porch that faces nw. I moved the first Aloe saponaria 5 years ago and love the colony. The flowers are hummingbird magnets but the lack of rain meant we didn't have any this trip. There are various dormant bulbs in the mid-ground. Karen bough 8 marigolds for a dollar apiece and stuck them in for color. At the far end of the bed is a variegated Pittosporum tobira that just chugs along, growing when it can and surviving during bad spells. It's big enough now to shade a Psychotria nervosa which helps the Psychotria. The planting is supposed to stay low enough to allow a view out of the screen room and, excepting the Pittosporum, ought to work out.

On balance I'm pretty happy with how things are coming along. When there'll be someone living there year roung, it'll be possible to fill the framework in with a lot more variety including plants that may need a bit of supplemental water.