Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunshine Finally Won A Round!

The climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) is in full bloom right now as two specimens engulf the archway separating our reception garden from the sunken garden. This plant tends to be weakly attached but has done well here as it has a hidden rod to help guide it. I never realized the the blooms are slightly fragrant. Regardless, it's looking good right now.

We had lots of sunshine today and I had four groups of volunteers to coordinate. Three of the groups were planting their assigned areas and the other group was clearing spent Allium foliage from an area that we will finish preparing and hopefully plant tomorrow. The gardens were busy with all sorts of tours, classes and seminars. I had to give an impromptu tour today and spent some time laying out and collecting plants for upcoming projects. We have a skeleton crew on Tuesdays but were fortunate to have such great volunteers come in today.

A neat plant to the left that many visitors have been asking about is viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare). We sow this European native as seed in very early April. By early June, the flower spires have emerged and that deep blue is very conspicuous. This plant is easiest grown from seed but the warning is that it does drop seed readily and creates a thicket for the next year. It takes a bit of elbow grease to manually remove this plant but I love it for the contribution of azure blue at 18-20".

Analogy. If all the spring bulbs are nature's fireworks show, the plant to the right is that exciting end of the show. The foxtail lily or desert candle (Eremurus sp.) is planted in fall as a tuberous root. It is marginally hardy here and really requires perfect drainage. The bloom stalk you see is actually over 6' tall and I've seen them taller than that! Native to Asia, this plant is exciting in June as it closes out the bulb season with the exception of some late Alliums. This plant later goes dormant after the blooms fade and the foliage withers (late July). We've planted hundreds of these and have only established about eight nice specimens that seem to enjoy their location. Research planting methods prior to purchasing this plant (expensive) as there are some tricks.

The image below is another from this past Saturday's work day where the crew was planting our orange and blue theme throughout our "three flags berm" along Palmer Drive. This is one of the most visible berms as it is front and center along the roadway with thousands passing daily. We hope to have a similiarly successful Saturday volunteer work day this weekend (how's that for alliteration?).

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