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, 2013

Another Day in the Park

     This morning I joined the Tidewater Master Naturalist at First Landing State Park for monthly trail maintenance. We trimmed overhanging branches and trip-hazard vines, plus we also installed signs designating our adopted trails. Other than cleaning up after the clueless and careless, it was a fairly easy day, and I always enjoy a visit to this unique ecosystem.

First Landing (3)

First Landing (2)

First Landing (1)

     During the middle of our duties we paused and headed to the beach to witness something special. A rehabilitated loggerhead turtle was released back into the sea. This particular loggerhead goes by the name of St. Louis, and he was found further west in Ocean View, underweight and with two fishhooks stuck in his flesh. Though the crowd was considerable, it did not seem to deter St. Louis from making his reentry a quick one.

St. Louis Returns (3)

St. Louis Returns (1)

St. Louis Returns (4)

St. Louis Returns (5)

St. Louis Returns (6)

St. Louis Returns (12)

St. Louis Returns (7)

St. Louis Returns (8)

     While we are still on the subject of sea turtles, I want to encourage all of you to tell your friends and family never to release balloons into the air. Even if you live hundreds of miles inland, in one of the landlocked states, balloons can still find their way to the sea. Deflated and floating on the surface of the water, they can look a lot like something a turtle might want to eat, only to have it get stuck in the turtle's digestive tract. That concludes this station's public service announcement.

September 22, 2013

Busman's Holiday - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

     Earlier this month I was able to take a bus trip to Richmond with many people I work with at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. There were also several members from the board of directors along, and our mission was to visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and Maymont Park. Our group had representatives from each department, not just gardeners, and our goal was to get ideas, to see how the two other entities were run, and to meet our counterparts. We were treated most graciously and had a great and full day.

     This was my third trip to Lewis Ginter, but my first time looking at it through the eyes of a public garden employee. A guest's first experience with Ginter happens at the impressive Robins Visitor's Center (named for the pharmaceutical family that brought you flea collars, Chap Stick and the Dalkon Shield). Once through the building there is a series of courtyards and gardens flanked by the education and library complex and that lead to the conservatory, yet more impressive structures.
Robins Visitor Center

Fountain Garden and Conservatory

     As one would expect, the conservatory contains many tropical plants and a large orchid collection, but it also has a seasonal display wing, and on our visit there was a tropical butterfly exhibit.
Butterflies Live (4)

Butterflies Live (2)

Butterflies Live (5)

     View from the Rose Garden
Rose Garden

     Flager Pavillion and Perennial Garden
Grove (Betula nigra)

Flagler Pavillion

Flagler Perennial Garden

    Red Abyssinian Banana (Ensete maurelii) and 'Rustic Orange' Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) in the Children's Garden
Ensete maurelii and Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Rustic Orange'

The Children's Garden

     Giant Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia gigantea)
Aristolochia gigantea

     From my previous visits to Ginter, I knew to look forward to their collection of Sarracenia (pitcher plants). The first picture is S. alata and some type of wasp, who I thought was busy looking to make an easy meal from some struggling, less careful insect, or maybe it was also drawn in by whatever attracted the other creatures .
Hunting (Sarracenia alata)

     S. leucophylla
Sarracenia leucophylla (1)

Sarracenia leucophylla (2)

     S. flava
Sarracenia flava

     S. purpurea
Sarracenia purpurea

     The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is possible because of a long ago gift from Grace Arents, a Richmond philanthropist. Her home, Bloemendaal House, still stands and is surrounded by a lovely garden. The building was originally a bicycle club built in the late 1800's by her uncle Lewis Ginter. Miss Arents admired her uncle greatly and stipulated that the botanical garden should bear his name.
Grace Arents Garden (6)

Grace Arents Garden (4)

Grace Arents Garden (5)

Grace Arents Garden (7)

Bloemendaal House (1)

     After being humbled by the state of Lewis Ginter's buildings compared to where I work, I expected to leave feeling inadequate, but I didn't. Their gardens are beautiful, but no more so than the ones I work in, and of the two I rather be envious of their bricks, mortar, steel and glass than their gardens.

(Though most of the pictures in my Lewis Ginter set are in this post, you can see the complete collection here.)

September 15, 2013

Bloom Day - Global Survivors

     This month's Bloom Day will include photos with a narrow focus only, the garden is just too unkempt to show more right now. Until mid-August we had a fairly good summer, garden and weather-wise. The regular rains and the not-as-bad-as-it-could-have-been temperatures enabled many of my plants to put on lots of new foliage and to continue blooming, well past their normal stop time. However, we are now in the middle of a dust bowl, although one with mild temperatures, and we have not had significant rain in nearly a month. The dryness has not been kind to all that lush new growth or those flowers. So for September, I have put together a gallery of global survivors.

    Here are a couple of natives, Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry) and Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin'. The Callicarpa is a water lover and is very good at letting me know when it is thirsty, but despite this it seems to be doing well. Gaillardia grows in the sand dunes, so its toughness is built in.
Callicarpa americana

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin'

     The couple below seem well suited for each other. Zinnia marylandica 'Zahara Double Fire' has Mexican genes and the Portulaca is native to a broad swath of the globe from the Mediterranean, through the Middle East and into India.
Zinnia marylandica 'Zahara Double Fire'

     Though the common name for Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides is Mexican flame vine, it is actually native to Columbia. Listed as a zone 9 plant, Pseudogynoxys is treated as an annual, but in our area it has proven root hardy in the past few winters. I can see a thick layer of mulch in its future.
Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides

     I'll continue with the Latin American entries. Here is Salvia guaranitica ' Black and Blue' followed by the annual Stachytarpheta mutabilis (porterweed). Both of these plants are humming bird attractors, but despite what you read about red flowers, they go to 'Black and Blue' first.
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Stachytarpheta mutabilis

     I am happy to show you Leonotis leonorus, lion's ear or lion's tail. I have coveted this since I first saw it bloom and just assumed it would be an annual, but was thrilled to find it is perennial here. Leonotis has a long list of medicinal uses, as well as being considered a substitute for marijuana. I do not need to smoke it, looking at it makes me happy enough. I just hope the neighborhood stoners don't find out, and if they do I wish them the plants other affects of dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
Leonotis leonorus

     Abelmoschus manihot is member of the okra family from the Chinese side. It is an annual for us, but it seeds around freely. I usually crush up the spent seed pods and sprinkle them over the garden during a late fall clean up.
Abelmoschus manihot

     Finally, nothing says September in the garden like the long-lived, old favorite Lycoris radiata, spider or hurricane lily. This Asian native has had no trouble acclimating to our climate or being accepted by gardeners.
Lycoris radiata

     Before we leave I want to apologize to my fellow bloggers for not being able to make the rounds and see what you have been up to. I have been crazy busy and school is also back in session, so blogging has to take a back seat to my son's homework and my wife's lesson plans. I know one blog I need to visit is Carol's at May Dreams Gardens, after all it is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.