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Spring Forward, FALL back

December 3, 2009 Tags: , , , Blog No comments

It has been awhile since my last post on here…Fall has since set in, and now winter is right behind it.  Daylight savings has ended, and the days are now much shorter, leaving less time for gardening.  Although there isn’t as much ‘light’ time for outdoor gardening, it seems like most of the work has come to an end for this year.  I have dug out my tropicals to over-winter them.  I had two medium sized banana plants (Ensete ventricosum and a Musa acuminata ) and some hedychium roots.  All of these have been removed from my garden, shaken loose of most soil particles, put in a black garbage bag and left dry in my basement for the winter..  I know it is late, but I still need time to dig out a Brugmansia that someone is letting me have for our capstone garden project this coming spring.  As for the rest of my garden there are three main tasks I have to complete yet for this fall/winter.  1-I need to cut back the remaining perennials and remove the debris, 2-I need to pull some winter weeds (tilling is probably not an option because it has been fairly wet lately and I do not want to damage the soil structure), and 3- Plant my winter container (pictures coming soon).

WINTER CONTAINER– I have a few guidelines I am following while doing this… First, I will be selecting plants that are hardy to 1-2 USDA zones lower than ours (6) – 1-2 = either zone 4 or zone 5.  So, I have comprised a list of some shrubs, perennials/grasses that would be cold hardy to those zones and that would have some kind of winter or evergreen characteristics.

Here are some pictures of my WINTER CONTAINER!  In the container I used plants with lots of interest; as well as cut greens/berries for color and varied texture.  I did not focus my container on LIVE plants, or-plants that would ‘survive’ in our zones (as previously mentioned above).  Instead I took advantage of the current winter interest the plants/materials offered…

The two main plants that I used were Hydrangea paniculata ‘DVP Pinky’ and Carex flagellifera ‘Toffee Twist’.  For the greens I used: Pinus strobus ‘Hillside Winter Gold’, Pinus wallichiana ‘Zebrina’ and Magnolia grandiflora.  I used Viburnum hupense and Celastrus orbiculatus for red berries.  P. strobus ‘Hillside Winter Gold’ was a great cultivar to use for an outstanding yellow on a pine!  P. wallichiana ‘Zebrina’ was interesting because it had variegated creamy stripes along the needles.  These plants added together made a great combination (in my opinion) and have been offering winter interest and color for several weeks now-and many more to come…

WORK ROTATIONS… So far this fall, I have worked in research, with the arborists and now with curatorial for a second time.

In RESEARCH, I did a lot of re-potting, watering, plant breeding (cross-pollinating etc.), grafting and of course, labeling.  I spent a month in that rotation (October).  I also helped collect ovaries/seeds from the camellia trials.  We collected from three main plants, Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera, and Camellia -the Ackerman hybrids.  The two most impressive specimens in the trials, with excellent form, standing at about 10′ tall, loaded with flowers and fruit with outstanding dark, glossy-green foliage were the Camellia japonica  ‘Longwood Centennial’ and ‘Longwood Valentine’.  These two plants have been crossed with others to attempt to form a great hybrid camellia that is attractive and cold hardy to this area.

In THE ARBORIST ROTATION, basically, I learned knots!  No, I learned more than that…But learning the appropriate knots is very important.  Some of the knots I learned were; The double fisherman’s loop, Blake’s hitch, Clove hitch, Girth hitch, Anchor hitch, Bowline, the basic Slipknot, a bowline on a bite, figure eight on a bite, a slippery bowline and other various knots.  This rotation was 3 weeks, because Christmas changeover/Thanksgiving vacation occupied most of the 4th week of that month (November).  Along with learning my knots, I learned HOW to use them and WHEN.  The most important knots I had to know, and bascially be able to tie with my eyes closed were the Double fisherman’s loop, blake’s hitch and the slipknot.  I was equiped with a saddle/harness that attached to my waist and legs, which consisted of many straps, loops, carabiners and a split tail system (explained later).  Basically, after I would get my main climbing rope over a selected limb further up in the tree, I would attach one side to a carabiner (with my fisherman’s loop), and bring the other side of the rope down towards my waist.  From there, I would have a short rope (about 3′ long) attached to my saddle, which I would use to tie my Blake’s hitch knot unto my remaining main-line side.  After those were tied, I could slide the blake’s hitch up, put tension on it and it would ‘lock’ and keep the knot from sliding down.  From there, I could grab the main line that the blake’s hitch was on, hip-thrust my way up, one at a time, and slide the blake’s knot up at the same time.  If I would ever reach the limb that I had my line around and wanted to go higher, I would attach my lanyard around a tree, tie in first, then I could take off my knots and throw up to another limb-while safely being secured in the tree with my lanyard.  This is one of those simple ways to safely climb a tree.

After learning how to work around trees, both in them and on the ground, I was able to take it a step up and do some pruning, brush removal, chipping and more.  A few of the tasks that I completed that were in this step were crown raising, developemental pruning, dead-wooding, and general christmas light installation/repair.  Most of my time in this rotation was spent doing christmas lighting, on trunks/branches of trees and also setting up the ‘cones’ of lights in the palownia allee etc.  Although I wasn’t able to do as much pruning/chainsaw work as I had liked, being around the christmas lighting environment created a more safe place to work where I could ask more questions and observe basic skills needed when being an arborist.

Currently, I am in the Curatorial rotation and I will be here for under 3 weeks.  I will mostly be working on mapping trees on the Abbondi property with a gps system, correcting/labeling accession tags, and working with BG base.  Working in curatorial is a great way to see the behind-the-scenes work done here at Longwood Gardens.  It helps you understand the accessioning and work involved in each plant and how important it is to make each plant a priority so that correct identification and records can be made.

After our Christmas vacation in early January, I will begin a new class semester.  My classes will include Turfgrass managament, Plant propagation, Arboriculture and pruning, Conservatory plant identification, Landscaping design & construction, along with other evening continuing education classes, yet to be determined.

Here are some pictures from the Christmas changeover.  I worked mostly in the East Conservatory, planting blue Colorado spruce, plectranthus, artemesia, amarylis, and paper white narcissus.

June bugs

June 30, 2009 Tags: , , , , Blog No comments

Well.. It’s been awhile since I have blogged and there is alot to catch up on!  And no, I don’t seem to have problems with June bugs, but I thought it was a catchy title for this month.  As for my veg. plot; my cabbages are huge and are ready to harvest!  The corn is really growing and so are the beans and squash.  I am beginning to train my summer squash up my fence posts.  The potatoes and tomatoes are both growing a lot also.  The deer have decided to make their first noticeable visit to my garden and took my Swiss Chard with them.  I also lost some of my beets and my two Heuchera plants in my herbaceous plot.  I actually removed the larger leaves of the Chard to let the younger ones grow and take over, but the deer managed to stop by the night after that and eat them too!  Oh well, you snooze you lose I guess.  I have harvested the largest of my beets and I am getting ready to sow more of them.  There are other ‘holes’ in my garden now that the cabbages, beets and a few other things are ready to be harvested.  I will be planting more beans, carrots, bunching onions and other crops that have a short DTH.  Probably around 60 days.


Here is a better view of the cabbages that I was assigned to grow for my market crop by Harold Taylor


This is the way I am training my Squash to grow up on my fence post.  Once the fruits begin maturing, I will then use hanging nets to hang them from the structure.


As for my herbaceous section in my garden, things are really growing well.  I have added a few things to fill in the open spaces.  Some of the newer things I have planted include Musa accuminata, Ensete ventricosum ‘Marielii’, Verbena bonariensis, Cleome, Pentas and Tagetes. My Asclepias has been eaten by some Monarch butterfly caterpillars.  The plant wasn’t totally defoliated, but it seems they eat more everyday.  I have added Osmocote fertilizer to some of my plants that may need more nutrients than others and also to give them a slow-release supply of it.  I have fertilized my ‘bananas’, Canna, and the plants in my summer container.


Here is a picture of my summer container.  Including Millet, Lobelia, Verbena, a Cayenne pepper plant, Bachelor’s Button and a newly added orange Marigold (not in picture).