Friday, November 11, 2011

Acer henryi in the Asian Collections at the US National Arboretum

Now I've gone and violated my own prohibition on posting pictures that weren't taken the day of the post. Oh well. The top picture was taken Wednesday, the other two Thursday.

Acer henryi is a Chinese maple that's very uncommon in cultivation. During the growing season, it displays remarkable pendulous racemes of flowers followed by seeds. The Asian Collectiion has plants from two/three NACPEC trips. The tree in the middle picture grew from seeds collected in 1980 by Dr. Ted Dudley, an Arboretum Botanist, and others in the Shennongjia Forest District, in Hubei Province. The collection notes record picturesquely the seed was from a "Contorted, stnnted tree hanging over cliff above stream." Cool! From this collection we have two trees. The plant in the middle picture with yellow fall foliage grows between Hickey Hill Road and the path from the parking area. The second, much larger, is sited at the intersection of the path to the Pagoda and the cut through to China Valley. This accession has attractive yellow fall foliage.

In 2002, Carole Bordelon, the present Curator of the Collection, went on a NACPEC trip to Shaanxi Province. This time the collection notes describe a "mesic, mixed deciduous forest; seedlings growing in dry river bed; open, sunny. Growing in association with Carpinus, Pteroceltis, Sinowilsoniiana, Taxus chinensis. They collected 19 seedlings. The small tree in the top and bottom pictures is the product of this trip. The fall color on this plant makes an already good plant only better!

In 2008, Chris Carley represented the USNA on a NACPEC collecting trip to Gansu Province. We germinated this collection and have 19 plants at present. A few of them are approaching 3 feet in height and exhibited a good bit of red pigmentation in the spring when their leaves were young. I chose the darkest one and planted it in the collection at the top of China Valley. As of Thursday afternoon, yesterday, it hadn't developed fall color, though I did note that portions of two leaves had turned dark red. I will, of course, continue to monitor it as well as the plants in our growing area.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The weather changed today. from sunny, warm, and dry to cloudy, cool, and rainy

That's the way fall ends. Rain and wind strip leaves and color. The world goes from gay and carefree to drab and inhospitable. But you know what? The Dawn Redwoods don't care. They look good in gray, damp, and cold.

Ash in the fog in the Fern Valley Meadow

For years I photographed the Ash more days than not. I've gotten away from it the past couple of years, but I still love the tree. Must be the silhouette?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lindera obtusiloba (indeed) obsession with necrotic leaves continues

Given enough time, incentive, and the right tool, there's nothing a man (or woman) can't do

But what's with those odd callouses on the truncated ends of vertical roots? Michael Rayburn, arborist specializing in arboreal dentistry, (just kidding) showed them to me this morning on this fallen Oak in Fern Valley. The top one seems like it was the initial "tap root". It's in the center and it's far and away the largest.


Scott took a group through the Asian Collections this afternoon, cut flower producers, so I blew leaves off the paths, the parking lot, and a few groundcovers. I'd have done other things if I'd needed to but we seem to be on top of things at present. I think this is the first time in 20 years that I've prepped the collection for a visit. The first time I worked in Asian Valley was 20 years ago; I was paid by FONA with money donated by the very generous Dorothy Kidder. Her donations to FONA paid my salary, two other salaries in the Asian Collection, and supplied various things to the garden including a New Holland skid steerer and countless tractor trailer loads of mulch.

When she was scheduled to visit, and she always afforded us the courtesy, we did serious preparation. I used to hand rake the, then gravel, China Valley path not only to remove foreign objects, but to align the gravel. Beth and Roger raked the other paths. We removed anything that could be construed as unsightly and any tools, soil piles, plants in pots, that is any sign that the garden wasn't perfect already, disappeared. I don't think she cared about the garden being perfect but appreciated our efforts.

When Dorothy visited, she always brought a visitor or visitors. She loved gardens and had three herself: a roof garden at her residence at the Watergate; a lovely informal several acre riverfront garden on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; and a highly terraced garden in the South of France. Having them, loving them, and supporting them wasn't enough; she was a tireless and energetic proselytizer. Plus, she was proud of the Asian Collections and enjoyed showing it to others.

Of course her funds and attention were a large part of the reason there was something to be proud of. I guess that's the "chicken or the egg" aspect to finding donors. If I was giving large sums of money to a garden, I'd want it to be something I could share pride in, but sometimes it takes years of funding to improve conditions to that point. This means giving money to a place that really needs it involves something of a leap of faith. Or possibly a vision.

Yes, I have posted 3 pictures of the orange tree across the pond this week. It deserves it!

Click her for a pleasant short poem about fall.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Acer griseum, Paperbark Maple.....Fresh germplasm!

The maples are earning their money this fall. This is one of three specimens of Paperbark Maple in the Asian Collections that came from a NACPEC collection on Wudang Shan in the Province of Hubei in 1994. Until then, most if not all of the Paperbark Maples grown in the US were descendents of two plants collected and imported by E.H. Wilson in 1907.

The plant pictured grows alongside the path from Hickey Hill Road to the Pagoda. I took the bottom photograph from the road so it's possible to see it before you actually enter the collection. Another specimen from the collection is growing in bed "K-0", which is the small triangular bed adjacent to the large weeping Katsura tree.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gentiana clausa, Closed Gentian, amongst the Fern Valley plants in Polyhouse 8

What a beautiful plant. I've been watching them for months now and today was the day for them to get their pictures taken. This is one of the Gentians that it's possible for regular gardeners to grow here in the mid-Atlantic. It doesn't like drought but doesn't have that aversion to heat that so many Gentians have. While it is purplish at stages of its development, there are times when this is a true blue flower.

It was foggy when I got to the Arboretum this morning

It cleared up nicely though! Today was the second day after jettisoning Daylight Savings Time and I'm liking it. At least I'm liking it in the morning. It's a bit of a downer to get home as the sun is setting, but it is wonderful to be able to walk around the garden in the morning.

An angel with a view

You never know what you're going to see as you tend your garden. She certainly does have a nice view.