Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Nation's Garden

One of 200 orchids on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden
I recently went on a quick trip to Washington D.C. to visit my husband who's doing some research there. We did the usual touristy things, taking advantage of the plethora of free and interesting exhibits. Of course, I had to take a quick trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden was established by Congress in 1820, although the building at its current location was built in 1933.

Plant tower
Outside the conservatory are some interesting garden vignettes. Every time I go there I think of how quickly the staff must have planted all those gardens, trying to get them going in time for the summer tourist season. This year the vignettes were not as fun for me as last time when they showed typical plants for each part of the U.S. I couldn't quite figure out what the theme was this year. Still, it was all interesting.

Planted arch
How's this for an archway into the garden? Looks like fun but too much work for me!

Vertical plantings of oxalis and beans
I wish I had a better long range photo of this yellow archway. It was planted with oxalis and bean vines. Very fun.

Water feature near entrance
Once inside the conservatory, a beautiful, old, gigantic 1933 greenhouse, there are a couple of water features with loads of potted plants.

giant hydrangea bloom!
Look at the size of these hydrangea blooms (hand provided for contrast). Unfortunately I couldn't find the name of this one (most of the potted plants in this section weren't labeled) but I'm wondering if it is Invincibelle or one of those other giant hydrangeas. I swear the blooms were bigger than my head (that's big)!

Begonia in a bottle
There are plants from all over the world in the conservatory. There was an interesting collection of begonias, some of which were in little bottles.

They have over 5,000 orchid specimens of which they display about 200 at any one time. I could have spent hours in there photographing them - they're all so strange looking!

The First Ladies' Water Garden
Outside the conservatory is the relatively new National Garden. It's big and a great place to stroll with a rose garden, a butterfly garden, an amphitheater, a trickling stream and pond, places to sit, and this First Ladies' Water Garden, designed to showcase the important role water plays in plants, animals and humankind. It was pretty steamy by the time we got here, and I wanted to kick off my shoes and wade around a bit (but didn't since I was trying to be a bit dignified around are nation's grounds). I do wish I'd gotten to this part early in the morning. By the time we got here it was way too sunny for many photos, especially since I was carrying a new little compact camera that I wasn't real familiar with.

Rowhouse garden
We stayed right near the Capitol and I loved seeing all the tiny gardens in front of the rowhouses. Coming from the land of suburban yards, it's nice to see little postcard gardens for a change. I do encourage you to check out the Botanic Garden next time you're in DC. And check out all the other places along the Mall. It's a real national treasure.

Is this anyway to treat a tree?
And now for something completely different ... I had to whip out my camera in the parking lot of the airport when I got home to document this mess of a planting job. They're building a new terminal and have partially built a new parking lot, planting many new oak trees and crapemyrtles. Unfortunately, they were ALL DEAD!! I wonder why? Leaving the tree wrapped in its burlap casket with no dirt or mulch on top in the middle of an extreme drought ... Well, what more can I say?

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Hits and One Big Miss

'Grand Marshall' bee balm behind rosemary
Continuing from my last post about some of my hits and misses in the garden, here's a hit in my opinion. This is Monarda 'Grand Marshall', a fuschia-pink bee balm I planted last fall. The color becomes more intense when sunlight hits it. Very dark fuschia.

'Grand Marshall' bee balm
Of course, this may no longer be a hit after the plant behind this bee balm starts blooming. Behind it is flame acanthus (Anisicanthus quadrifidis wrightii), which blooms orange. I'm afraid a clash is going to occur, and I've been meaning to move the flame acanthus somewhere else for the last two years! Maybe this will spur me to it after all. Now, prepare yourself for this big miss ...

Possible canker on the oak tree
I'm in complete shock about what's happening to one of my newer oak trees - it's possible that canker has infected the whole tree. I'm still awaiting the final diagnosis from the extension agent, but it doesn't look good. This tree has been growing really well since we had it planted about four years ago. It grew very, very quickly and was planted as a future replacement tree for an old pecan that is on its last legs. We think it's a red oak (that's what I asked for but the guy who brought it and planted it couldn't remember the exact species).

ooze (sap?) running
I'm very curious what may have caused this. It shouldn't be drought stress since it's located where it gets water from the sprinkler system (and I try to water deeply). I sure hate to lose a tree, especially this one which had so much promise. Maybe the fact that it grew so quickly, from about 8 feet to almost 30 feet in four years, should tell me something. Most oak trees don't normally grow that fast.

'Windmill Yellow' daylily
On to something a little less anxiety producing. I bought a couple of 'Windmill Yellow' daylilies last weekend at Joy Walk Daylily farm outside of Ruston. Joy Walk is now getting famous for winning best in show (or something like that) at the national daylily shows with this particular bloomer. So maybe I have a famous daylily now?? The bloom is huge, much bigger than my hand. I hope it does well. And one last June "hit" in my garden, the purple coneflowers are starting to bloom.

purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.