Friday, May 4, 2012

Paeonia lactiflora 'Lian Tai'

Chinese herbaceous peony.

Pat Lynch planting a drift of Magnolia 'Jon Jon'

Some Asian Collection volunteers...

...only some of them because Angela and Terri were mulching, Pat took the picture, and Debby came in early and had already gone home! Lots of volunteers = lots of work and a well maintained garden.

From the left: Nancy, me, Eugenia, Julie, Betty (in back), and Mina

Yesterday we divided daylilies and Iris japonica and spread them out over large bare areas. We removed a persistently unhappy patch of Sarcococca, helped mulch a large bed across from the parking lot, and deadheaded all the peonies that had completed their bloom. Plus we pulled a good number of weeds and did the odd bit of minor pruning.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paeonia x 'Spring Carnival' (at the GCA Circle)

As the tree peony season winds down, the P.lutea crosses are coming into their own.This is a Saunders creation from 1944. Wow.

Penstemon grandiflorus, what a cool plant

Look at those leaves! And the flowers attract hummingbirds. I read.

I love xeric plants, grey plants, plants with winter rosettes, and's like this plant was designed for me. Native to dryish sites in the tallgrass prairie, from Texas to Montana east to Ohio, though it doesn't occur with any frequency east of the Mississippi River. I know this only from research; the literature, and Scott, also tell me that it's a short-lived perennial almost to the point of being a biennial. I look at all those flowers and have to think that it must reseed pretty dependably.

Scott, Kevin, and GrayC collected seeds in the spring of 2010 from 2009 flowers. They found it in Lawrence, South Dakota on a "Previously logged ponderosa pine woodland, open meadow, slope with southern exposure."This plant is growing in the Introductory Gardens growing area. Brad amended the soil to add drainage. Poor dry soil is what the doctor ordered for this one. I'm going to have to give it a shot. I've got the poor dry soil in the sun for it. I notice Prairie Nursery has it available.

Scott Aker, our Gardens Unit Leader, who was part of this collecting trip, grew up botanizing in the north part of the North American prairie. He speaks about this plant on his blog.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brad Evans and Dick Hammerschlag visit the Asian Collections...

...and examine Calycanthus x raulstoni 'Hartlage Wine'.

Brad donated two of his hardy Musa's to the Asian Collections and came out to consult on their siting. We put one in the Central Valley, and the other in China Valley in bed C-5.

This means we've added yet another selection of hardy banana to the collection. This one is Musa itinerans var. xishuangbannaensis 'Mekong Giant'. The plants were a gift from Angela Treadwell Palmer, the president of Plants Nouveau, a uniquely fascinating company that finds, introduces, new plants. Angie was a supervisory horticulturist here for a while and still has a soft spot in her heart for the Arboretum or for Brad or something. Anyway I'm psyched about these bananas. They're already almost 5 feet tall so I'm thinking with the addition of compost and water we ought to be able to get them upwards of 15 feet this year and who knows after that.

Epimedium x omeiensis

This plant arrived at the Arboretum in 1985 and so predates the "epimedium explosion", or at least dates from near the beginning. That's likely why it wasn't assigned a cultivar name. There are a number of x omiensis named cultivars available now. We put it in our "elite plants" program then. If I had to guess, it wouldn't make it today though the flowers are beautiful in an odd sort of way.

Styrax japonicus 'Carillon'

Flowering across Hickey Hill Road from the big weeping Katsura.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paeonia suffruticosa 'Age of Gold'

The cool colored tree peonies are done, but the yellows and warm mixes are just starting to flower. This lovely classic yellow, another Saunder's hybrid is flowering at the Pagoda. (you can see parts of red columns in the background)

The plant was a donation, in 1967, by the "Garden Club of Twenty". I searched superficially for this Maryland club and determined that it both does exist at present, and was around as early as 1921. My progress slowed considerably and I'll do more research later.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Baptisia australis, Blue False Indigo

I love these plants in the Fern Valley Meadow. They flower every year, come drought, flood, herbicide or whatever, a beautiful testimony to the hardiness and longevity of this native perennial.

It's the year of the Common Buttercup, Ranunculus acris: they're everywhere

Last year we had a proliferation of Evening Primroses. Two years ago it was Bidens. They're always yellow, that's all I know. OH wait they're not. Two years ago I remember Teucrium canadensis in the Fern Valley Prairie. This year it's buttercups. There are buttercups every year, but this particular portion of the National Grove of State Trees has not looked like this in my memory, and I see similar drifts all around the greater Washington area.

The world of living things is so complex I don't pretend to have any idea why these population explosions happen. In Plant Pathology, decades ago in college, we had to explain, on tests, where a particular disease came from. Often the answer was, "the inoculum is ubiquitous." Which implied that the disease occurred because circumstances became favorable for its development. I imagine it's the same with these plants; the seeds were there, or small plants, and circumstances arranged themselves in such a way that massive number of the plants matured. I wonder if this number of plants exists every year and only rarely develop to maturity. Or did this start more than a year ago with an extreme germination event? Or both?