Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Minor Celebration - Plenty of Work Ahead Though

Note the astilbe above (Astilbe chinensis 'Visions') that is blooming strongly in our sunken garden. Astilbes are mainstays of the moist, part shade garden. There are quite a few species and varieties but the Chinese (Chinensis) astilbes tend to be more sun tolerant and drought tolerant. However, all astilbes prefer adequately moist soils and thrive in those locations. 'Visions' is compact at 15" in height and is a great variety. The clump above has been there for over 8 years.

Marv, Marianne, Terry and Laura (volunteer) planted our last big area for seasonals. This last, sizeable berm contains Ball Seed and PanAmerican Seed introductions. These plants are past, present and future varieties from these companies. It's neat to display some up and coming varieties. We have an arrangement with Ball Seed to evaluate these varieties and send along our observations. We're proud to be one of very few non-academic institutions that is part of this program/arrangement. Roy, Don, Thelma, Karen, Jan and three Marys all came to help out in the gardens today. I gave a presentation to the Golden Kiwanis club today that seemed well received. We always hope our presentations encourage more visitation and/or donations!!!
Above is a shot of our bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) in full bloom. This large shrub can get up to 12' tall and continues to get wider, almost to 20'. It forms impressive colonies but it's important to consider how big it will actually get at maturity. Actually, the plant above was from a little piece that we dug out from another specimen over 7 years ago. The upright blooms are very showy and I've seen superior specimens at The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL) and the Missouri Botanic Garden (St. Louis). Below is black snakeroot or fairy candles (Cimicifuga racemosa now Actaea racemosa). This plant, like astilbe above, likes damp soil and will tolerate full sun (as seen below) with adequate moisture. It also will do well in part sun. The foliage gets to about 36" but when the "fairy candles" bloom, the entire plant can be up to 7'! Very impressive, upright bloomer but may need staking. The blooms are a bit stinky too. I'm off tomorrow so perhaps no post until Friday. This is my 100th posting too!

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