As I mentioned in my last post, this past Friday was National Public Garden Day, and you could download a voucher that would grant free entry to hundreds of gardens nationwide. Since my membership has lapsed, I used my voucher to get into the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. I was not alone - there were many nursing home activity buses, legions of home schoolers, plus regular garden visitors and those who were drawn to the garden's annual plant sale. Having just bought more plants from work than I should have, and not knowing about the plant sale before I got there - I felt some degree of immunity entering the sales area. However, my protection was not complete and I came home with a Cuphea 'David Verity' and an Aucuba japonica 'Sulpherea', which looks more like a houseplant than a hardy shrub. One of the garden's signature plants, Camellia japonica 'Mrs. Lyman Clarke', was in abundance and reasonably priced as well. This local favorite was first discovered by none other than Mrs. Lyman Clarke at a hardware store. At the time it was an unnamed seedling, but it has long since proved to be one of the area's best performers. The coolest thing I saw offered was Yellow Blossom Caladium, which has yellow leaves with bright magenta veining, but at $12 each one did not follow me home.
The Norfolk Botanical Gardens is one of 23 nationwide AARS (All-America Rose Selection) test gardens, where roses are grown, evaluated and rated, and Norfolk's climate is a good test at how they tolerate heat and humidity. At the main rose garden none of the plants were having to deal with that yet, and the beds were near their seasonal peak.
Cherry Sunblaze, Tree-Style
At the Baker Perennial Garden there was much to look at, including Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)...
... Phlomis tuberosa fronting Baptisia...
... another Baptisia combo, this time 'Purple Smoke' in front of Weigela florida 'Rubidor'...
... and Paeonia 'Myrtle Gentry'.
Elsewhere in the gardens other plants caught my eye like this False Agave (Beschorneria septentrionalis).
Variegated Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta)
Hardy Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata)
Azalea season is now over here, but these deciduous members of the family were in full bloom. I think these are Flame Azaleas (Rhododendron calendulaceum).
Speaking of Rhododendrons, I have planted six in my life and killed all six. As much as my head turns when I see them bloom, I have vowed never to pick one up again.
Of all the flowers I saw on Friday, my favorite were the two I saw dancing along the fountain's edge (I am conscientiously trying to include more people in my landscape photos, but without looking like that creepy dude with a camera).
You can see all of my photos from Friday's trip to the gardens here.