We are truly in the midst of our rainy season. So far during this month we have received 6.34 inches of rain. The total for the year is 19.11 inches, most of that occuring the last two weeks of May and this month. As many of you know, we have our own weather station. It is located on the roof of the Garden House and the data is sent to a computer station in the plant records office. Check out the current conditions online via our Web site.
This week three of our horticulture staff are in St. Louis, attending the annual meeting of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). This is a wonderful opportunity to meet staff of other gardens, attend discussions of various public gardens topics, and visit local institutions. I hope to have our attendees report on some of the information they gleened from these meetings in a future blog.
Albizia niopoides and cleaned area next to pergola
Some of the Hort staff have removed some plants adjacent to the north end of the vine pergola to open a vista so that the impressive buttressed roots of the Albizia niopoides may be seen by visitors as they walk up the brick pathway between the Visitor Center and the pergola. Next time you visit, check it out. Some of the removed plants were relocated to other locations in the garden. Yesterday, before the deluge of rain, my volunteer, Ginny, and I took cuttings of the Ruttya fruticosa before it was moved. R. fruticosa produces pretty orange flowers which have a large black dot near the center. This shrub is a very good hummingbird attractant. We placed 108 cuttings on the mist bench in the nursery . Look for this species at future plant sales.
Yesterday we also planted seeds of Anthurium clavigerum a beautiful species with incredible lobed leaves. These will be grown for future sales. Tuesday afternoon I wanted to take a photo of the plant from which the seeds were collected. As I walked through the rainforest to take the photograph I saw that our grounds crew and their supervisor Ricardo were busy spreading mulch and opening areas up to make the stream more visible. If you haven't ventured down our paved rainforest trails, you must do so during your next visit! Our rainforest is one of my absolute favorite areas of Fairchild. Although we called the two acre location the rainforest for many years, in 1999-2000, paved paths and a stream with cascades and waterfalls were added. It is so incredible! We worried a bit about the affect of the slightly brackish water in the stream (from Glade Lake) on surrounding vegetation, but plants along the stream are thriving. We periodically have to thin out some of the plants along the stream so visitors can see it. As you walk on the paths, you can hear the stream flowing over and around rocks and under the tram roads. The rainforest is a really "cool", shady place to visit any time, but especially during our warm summers.
Zebra longwing butterfly depositing an egg on Passiflora
We are sprucing up the Lisa Anness Butterfly Garden in anticipation of the Butterfly Days, July 25 and 26. More coonties, corky-stemmed passionflowers, red pentas, buddleias and milkweeds are being planted. The passionflowers, Passiflora suberosa arrived with caterpillars munching on their leaves! Oh well, this will bring even more butterflies to this beautiful exhibit. Visit this exhibit mid-day or in the afternoon to see the most butterflies. It seems that butterflies prefer to visit flowers to gather nectar or leaves upon which they lay eggs in the warmest part of the day.
I propagate plants for Members' Day Plant Sale, the Ramble and the Spring Plant Sale all year long. In fact, nearly every Monday and Tuesday morning my volunteers and I collect seeds and cuttings from Fairchild then clean and plant them at our nursery. This time of year, when many plants have new growth, is the best time for taking cuttings. Most plants root well from either young tip growth or semi-woody stems. We take the cuttings early in the morning, wetting them immediately to keep them fresh.
In addition to propagating plants, I am putting together the 2009 Plant Distribution List for the October 3 Members' Day Plant Sale. I am not ready to divulge the list at this time, but I feel compelled to mention one of the special palms that will be available at the sale.
Schippia concolor, silver pimento palm, is an elegant, small species native to the open, dry pinelands and moist forests of Belize. The slender trunk has an open crown of deeply divided two-foot palmate leaves with leafstems two to six feet long. Showy, white inflorescences are followed by clusters of white fruit one-inch in diameter. This dainty palm may be grown in full sun to light shade. They are growing in Fairchild in Plots 106, 107, 111.
Schippia concolor in full bloom
Our summer rainy season has begun. Our winter and spring at Fairchild was sunny and dry; extremely dry. Now that we've received more than 10 inches of rain since mid-May, the plants in the garden are bursting with new growth and lots of flowers. You can almost hear the plants growing! Our lawns are carpets of green, creating enticing pathways to investigate, off-road, other inner portions of Fairchild.
I believe that Fairchild is at it's absolutely most beautiful during the summer! Come visit! Temperatures are warm, but there are lots of shady places in the garden to visit. Plot 27, behind the Madagascar Spiny Forest, has many gingers and ginger relatives which are bursting forth with beautiful flowers and foliage. During the dry season, many are completely dormant. Walk under the shade of our beautiful vine pergola and drink in the sight and fragrances of the tropics. Our ylang-ylang trees, one adjacent to the Visitors Center, and the other in our rainforest, are full of flowers which have a heavenly, much sought-after perfume.
Speaking of the rainforest; this is the best time to walk on the shaded pathways, along our special stream with cascades and waterfalls. Did you know that the stream uses water from Glade Lake? Water from the lake is pumped uphill, underground along the cycad vista. It then emerges in plot 133 at the beginning of the stream and flows back down, under the tram roads and eventually back to Glade Lake. Come explore the rainforest and sit awhile on a bench to watch the stream cascade or just to read a book. Fairchild is at its best right now. Don't miss it!
|The stream in Fairchild's rainforest|