An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 28, 2009

Hermitage Foundation Plant Sale

On Saturday I went to The Hermitage Foundation for their Fall Heirloom Plant Sale. My intention was just to go and see what there was to see, maybe take some photographs and stroll the grounds of one my favorite places here in Norfolk. I really had no intention of buying plants, afterall I work in a garden center, but looking wouldn't hurt. I ran into several good friends and also got to speak with the enthusiastic Yolima Carr who is the Curator of Gardens and Grounds. I have also been wanting to see the results of their wetland restoration project, as a similar project will be starting in my neighborhood of Colonial Place this fall.

This is not this blog's first visit to The Hermitage, and if you want more information just click on the links. However, I will say it is an oasis of art, brick, wood, gardens, forest and marsh, set on one of the busiest waterways in the country. The first photo is from the courtyard where the plant sale took place. This border was full of heat loving Sun Coleus, Lantana, Margarita and Blackie Sweet Potato Vine and Magilla Perilla.
Courtyard Border 1

Mirabilis jalapa - Four O'Clocks
Four O' Clocks 3

Lantana camara - Lantana
Lantana 1.1

Seedhead from an unknown Clematis
Clematis Seedhead 5.1

They were setting up for a wedding in this side garden, and I must say that the gardens looked to be in great condition. Over the years this has not always been the case.
Gardenview 1

Garden View 5

Japanese Maple 2

Woodwork 2

Lichens 1

Gardenview 6
Through the archways you get a glimpse of the wetland restoration project along the Layfayette River. This was quite an undertaking to correct years of erosion that threatened the grounds and gardens. Now you wouldn't know that anything every happened - the marsh has matured, and the natives planted around the shoreline above the normal tideline have filled in.
Archway and Wetland

Marsh on the Lafayette 1

Upland Wetlands 2

Quercus virginiana - Live Oak
Live Oak By the Water 2

Maclura pomifera - Osage Orange
Maclura pomifera 2

This Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is the first sign I have seen that fall is near. If you would stand still long enough in these woods, either the Creeper or English Ivy would likley run up your leg.
Virginia Creeper 4

You may have already guessed, but I did come home with plants, and in my defense, I know we do not currently have them at work (besides, it was for a good cause). I bought a Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry), Agastache x 'Tutti Frutti' and a Ruellia brittoniana (Mexican Petunia) with a bonus Rain Lily (Zephyranthes) in the pot.

(you can find the rest of the pictures here)

September 25, 2009

Watery World

Photographer in the Tank 2
This past weekend the three of us went to the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach with my wife's out-of-town cousin and his wife. I really enjoy going to this place and it has both fond, and melancholy memories for me. We have a great picture of my late grandmother holding our son silhouetted against the sea turtle tank. At the time, she was a few months away from being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and he was just old enough to somewhat understand and enjoy what he was seeing. On that same visit my chronic back pain prevented me from keeping up with my son or the rest of my family, and this spurred me to get the treatment that eventually returned me to a more normal life.

The aquarium is made up of two buildings separated by a nature trail that winds its way along the the shores of Owl Creek. One of my favorite customers is a member of the Council of Garden Clubs in Virginia Beach, and I helped her secure some hard to find Virginia natives to plant along the trail. In the main building are exhibits that focus on the oceans and the Chesapeake, as well the obligatory IMAX . The focus of the other building is life on and near shore. Here there is a coastal aviary, a fantastic river otter exhibit and other more terrestrial topics.

The lighting inside the buildings was very low and made taking normal photos difficult, but I was able to get a few shots you would expect to see at an aquarium. However, the pictures that came out best in my mind, are a bit more abstract and continue my penchant for watery images.Pink Jellyfish 2

Pink Jellyfish 3

Pink Jellyfish 5

Crab Boy 3

Demure Snapping Turtle

Painted Turtles 2

Sea Turtle 5

Ray Tank  1

Approaching Sheepshead 2

Fish Blur 2

Shark Tank 2

Shark Tank Ghost 1

Did you notice the ghostly face in the last image?

We will be going back again in the next few months when the aquarium opens a major new exhibit that will be much more exotic than what you would normally see nearby. Among others, there will a Komodo Dragon installation, and I have always been fascinated by these creatures. I wonder if they will be fed live goat like they get on TV nature shows?

You can see all of my pictures here.

September 19, 2009

Norfolk Botanical Gardens Sept. 09

This past Friday there was a garden blogger's mini-meet up here in Norfolk. Racquel of Perennial Gardener Lover and Janet the Queen of Seaford met at my house where I was able to show them my little patch of Earth. Between the barking hounds and the workmen installing a new chimney liner, it was a little chaotic. Fortunately it was much more peaceful at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens where we went next.

I don't usually go to the Gardens at this time of year which is a shame, because there is no shortage of things to see, and this summer's abundant rainfall was evident in the thriving plants. Ornamental grasses were at their peak and are used in many places throughout the Gardens. Here is Miscanthus playing a supporting role to Agastache x 'Tutti Frutti'.

I don't normally like white Buddleia but it looked good with the Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies' .

I did not get the name of this clean white Japanese Anenome.

This fountain is the center piece of the Baker Perennial Garden. Its rills were lined with Salvia x 'Coral Nymph' and a linear leaf Zinnia.

We spent a lot time at the WOW (World of Wonder) Children's Garden where there are lots of activities for the kids set among gardens full of child-friendly plants such as Agave, Hardy Orange and Oleander.

The Bicentennial Rose Garden was deeply inhaling its second wind and was looking nearly as good as it did in May.

This Zinnia was nicely backed up by a bed of Black Pearl Peppers.

The Morgan Wildflower Meadow was tall with Ornamental Grasses, giant Ageratum, spent Verbena bonariensis and 6' stalks of yellow.

Also gaining in altitude was the Okra.

This spider and her sisters set up shop in a completely intoxicating Orange Flowering Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrens 'Aurantiacus').

Whenever this treehugger sees a Chinese Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia), he can't keep his hands off of it.

I took a lot pictures of this ancient Crabapple. Underneath of it was one of September's iconic plants, Lycoris radiata which was all over the Gardens.

I think this recently irrigated Elephant Ear is Xanthosoma aurea 'Lime Zinger'. It and the plants in the next few shots helped me get my chartreuse fix.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) was paired with what I think is a Veronica.

Margarita Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') and a white Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida), two colors I would not normally think work together, but they do here.

Thanks to Flowergardengirl for introducing me to this bizarre plant, Asclepias physocarpa which has many common names including Monkey Balls and The Family Jewels.

Tie-dyed Thai Eggplant is in a similar configuration.

The last shot is like the first shot with Miscanthus in a supporting role again, but this time for one of my favorite fall perennials, Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage).

If you are interested, I have many more photos of the day on my flickr page, but if you are looking for pictures of Racquel, Janet or myself, you will be disappointed. I was too busy chatting it up and enjoying the Gardens to take any people pics.