Saturday, August 20, 2011

We're losing over 2 minute of daylight every day now....two minutes and sixteen seconds today

Which means I get to see sunrise at the Arboretum again. Friday's was very special.

Julie, Nancy, and Eugenia came in Thursday and we did a lot of grooming

Not a great day for volunteers, but an okay day for mid August, it got up to about 90F. The humidity was up there though, so we didn't dig any holes or fell any trees. Instead we pruned, weeded, cut back perennials and the odd shrub, removed a lot of scorched foliage, and generally worked on fine tuning the top of the Japanese Woodland and the bottom of Korean Hill. We wandered down to the GCA Circle but we've been staying on top of that area and it didn't need much work.

This island bed surrounded by roads is part of Korean Hill; it responded to our attentions and the recent rains. Friday morning sun lit it up so that leaves, flowers, and the bark of the Acer griseum seemed to glow from within. Though it's clearly still summer, mornings have been more pleasant of late. Lower nighttime temperatures generate groundfogs that condense on the plants and refract the sunlight pleasantly.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Naked Ladies are popping up everywhere around the Arboretum

Lycoris squamigera, I mean. And doesn't the Gotelli Collection look great?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I wandered about a bit in Fern Valley today and met more floral abundance than I remember from previous summers

From the top: Phlox paniculata, Salvia azurea, Campsis radicans, and Lobelia cardinalis

Rhododendron viscosum flowering in August in Fern Valley

I walked in to see if this fragrant native Rhododendron was flowering and it was. It flowers in July and/or August every year. And it's fragrant. The plant isn't the most beautiful; it's just over 2 M high, vase-shaped and loosely open. Still, it's flowering in the middle of August and it's spicily fragrant. At this time of year we can't be too choosey about our fragrant shrubs. Every year at the Lahr Symposium Plant Sale I look for it among the vendors, but so far no luck. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The big Monstera is flowering in Tropical House 7

Brad announced it on the radio so Chris Carley and I went over to see. I love this plant; it's a large cut-leafed aroid that climbs trees, appressing its leaves as it goes. We saw a large one in Hawaii several years back with fruit and flowers. The flowers were fragrant and the fruit is supposed to be delicious but I respected the rules of the garden and didn't eat any.

I remember Elliot Norman telling me stories of his infatuation with large leafed philodendron type aroids. He recounted that at the time he lived in an apartment and he had it filled with huge puts of various species and selections. I never saw the space but imagine it took a good amount of patience on the part of his wife to live in a jungle. I'm thinking he kept them for a number of years because one of the topics we discussed was the transition from juvenile (mostly uncut and clumping) foliage to the mature stage where the plant climbs and the leaves are dissected in various degrees. Brad told Chris and I that this plant, the one in the picture, began producing mature foliage very soon after propagation.

Dr. Matt Greenstone continues work on his research plots

I will hazard a guess that they are the only research plots on the east coast with decorative arbors. Campsis radicans (native) and Campsis grandiflora (Asian) will cover them quickly. Though not visible in this picture, many of the plants are starting to look good, some are in vigorous growth. This Thursday a large volunteer group will be coming in the help spread mulch on the new plants. We're (the collections) all lending wheelbarrows and pitchforks. Things move slowly but surely forward.

Nyssa sylvatica cvs. 'Sherry's Coud', 'Wildfire' and 'Zydeco Twist' I think;

I couldn't find a label on the contorted one. Many years ago when I first came in possession of the Timber Press reprint of Gerd Krussmann's Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leafed Trees and Shrubs, I recall being amazed to discover the variety of selections that existed for...well, almost all tree species. There are variegated, fern-leafed, fastigiate, dwarf...cultivars of most trees. They're just really uncommon; you do see them individually here and there and in catalogs and on plant lists. Usually not so many in one place though!

These curious selections of the native North American Black Gum, along with many others, are in a research nursery at the Arboretum. Nathan has been urging me to walk through these plant for weeks and we finally did it today. Of course our interest is only in Asian trees but I couldn't help but marvel at the variety. It was like being in a boutique nursery only we could get the material for free so long as we plant it on campus. I have to wonder why I haven't been through it before. Actually, I know the answer. It's because for a time I was obsessed with how overplanted with trees the collection is. Well.....thanks to a few timely removals we do have room for new trees!

We picked out Staphylea holocarpa 'Innocence', a nice Maackia, some Osmanthus (shrubs really), a Sophora/Styphnolobium, two cultivars of Acer caudatum, and a few others. We're debating Aesculus turbinata, the Japanese Horsechestnut. Very exciting stuff.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Leptodermis oblonga, butterflies like this northern Chinese sub-shrub and I like it too

The flowers are smallish but they're attractive, fragrant, and once they start mid-summer, they keep on coming. Plus the plant has a structural integrity that adds a bit of calm and order amidst the frenzied summer garden. It's a tight little shrub with parallel ascending stems. Clumped together, multiple plants combine to function a a 2-3 foot tall groundcover. I only know it from this one site so I can't speak to it's tolerance of different situations, but it seems quite content here, completely unpampered in a hot sunny location. I'm going to propagate it and put in a few massed groupings that will help bring order to the

We finally had a good rain this past weekend; plants seem happy for the first time in at least two months. Irrigation is a good thing but it has its limits. We got over 5 inches of rain at home while the Arboretum received ~1.75". I would love to have reversed the amounts but couldn't figure out how to do it. Still we should be good for a while. Summer is coming to a close though it will take four or five weeks to get there. It has certainly been a trying season though mild in comparison to what much of the rest of the country has endured. Now I read that areas of Australia are experiencing unprecedentedly high temperature. Next year will be exciting.