The Mark of Adventure (4 of 4)

So here we are at day 4 of our virtual explorations of plants and adventurers.

Being a like minded adventurous spirit,  I am always eager to learn a little behind the scenes – just what goes into planning an expedition… so I was delighted when ‘The Mark of Adventure‘, Mark Weathington, stepped in  at a recent event -Volunteer Appreciation Day –  for  J .C.  Raulston, Sarah B. Duke Gardens, North Carolina Botanical Garden, and Juniper Level Botanic Garden –  to share what was in his suitcase.

Even though Mark was leaving in 2 days to give a talk at a prestigious event: 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress    and hunt plants in New Zealand, he took the time out to delight his audience with his always packed and ready to go roller bag for plant collecting.

MW Suitcase1This bag gets checked, let’s see what’s inside:

  • MW tech2Notebooks for documenting & sketching, multiple pencils for writing &  marking.
  • Business cards printed in English and the language of the visiting country… plenty of them!

All collected plants must be meticulously cleaned, packed and labeled.  No traces of  soil can be left on a cutting or on seeds… so each night plant hunters can be found in their lodging with sinks or trash cans filled with water for cleaning…  a soft brush is  handy.

MWZiplock2

  • Hefty Zipper Bags  – Mark prefers those with the actual plastic zippers.
  • Scissors  and knife.
  • A spray bottle for a little moisture.  Plastic Plant markers.
  • MWtech3Mark showed the size of the specimens collected (held in right hand), which after cleaning get wrapped in foil.  Paper towels, some moss which also acts as packing material.MW sifter
  • Little sieves from the Dollar Store help when cleaning and sifting seed.
  • Small muslin bags for storing seed in a variety of sizes.
  • A loop or magnifying glass to insure correct ID and check for tiny insects or minute traces of soil.  It is not uncommon for Customs agents to dump the whole lot!

MWtech4Then there’s the tech equipment…

  •  GPS,  to mark location of collected specimens.
  • Chargers for  phones,  that is if there is any reception!
  • Laptops, etc.  which  must also be compatible with the country’s power.
  • Charging for same in vehicles,  Mark brings a charger that accommodates multiple gadgets simultaneously.MW machete
  • Duct Tape – Of Course!!!
  • A re-engineered fishing rod,  when coupled with a cutting implement, PVC pipe  and wire…

MWMachete2An invention of Mark’s to give him extra reach up in a tree or down a ravine to get that plant of desire just out of reach.  Can’t you tell he loves his work!

  • MW booksBooks to research and ID in the country visiting….
  • Passports, Visas,
  • Collecting permits…
  • Folders,
  • Padded envelopes,
  • Flattened fed Ex boxes
  • Labels.
  • MW permits2 Research lists of  plants – those that can not be collected  in particular country and
  • A wish list for the expedition!

MW listAll collected material gets dropped at inspection center usually near an airport and the plant hunter holds their breathe hoping the documented specimens make it out of customs of the visited country.

Then more waiting as the specimens are sent on through to the US Department of Agriculture for another round of inspections… the waiting begins…

MW labelsWhile Mark was still out in the hinterlands of New Zealand… this was posted by Lizzi Lathers of JCRA…

imageLuck!!!   Some of the plants already arrived at the JCRA!

Stay Tuned!  I’ll be following up with a behind the scenes look at what happens next…. as we follow the journey of the collected plants!

Thanks again Mark for the interesting and creative presentation… It was a huge hit!

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

The Mark of Adventure (part 3 of 4)

For the last 2 days we’ve been on a virtual journey to meet The Mark of Adventure  – that is Mark Weathington – Assistant Director and Curator of Collections at J. C. Rauslton Arboretum. 

Mark’s Motto:  “Life is too short for boring plants!”

Along the way we’ve discovered a little history and insight about out how plants are hunted, collected, documented, before they are selected, grown and then produced… all this before they arrive at a local nursery to be planted in the landscape.  PHEW!

Mark W

The Mark of Adventure…

“This photo was taken in 2008 at the lowest waterfall at Nine Dragon Falls, Huangshan mountains, Anhui Provence, China.  I think Dr. Fu from Zhejiang University took the photo,” said Mark Weathington.

Entwined Life: Where have you plant hunted?

Mark Weatherington: Ecuador, Mexico, British Columbia, Taiwan, China (Zhejiang, Guanzhou, Guangdong, Sechuan, Anhui), Japan, New Zealand next week! – throughout the southeastern US, mountains of VA and NC, Texas, California

 EL: What was your most difficult experience?

MW: I was stuck in a car overnight during a typhoon with roads blocked by landslides on either side.

Next worse – getting stuck in Ecuador for 6 extra days because the only flights to the US were through Miami and Houston during hurricane Katrina and those flights were all grounded.  Worst part of that was no one would cash any traveler’s checks, not even banks in the capital and we were out of cash.  NEVER travel with traveler’s checks.

EL:  What do you pack as rain gear?

MW: Rain jacket, occasionally rain pants.

EL:  What was your first trip and who was it with?

MW:  Outside the US was to Ecuador with 2 coworkers both from the Education Department – Norfolk Botanical Gardens – to collect plants and handicrafts along the Rio Cayapas with the Chaachi people.

EL:  Who else have traveled and explored with?

MW: Tony Avent, David Parks, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san,  Dr. Fu, Teobaldo Eguiluz.

EL:  Do they have any quirks or fears they overcome to get a plant specimen?

MW:  Tony (Avent of Plant Delights Nursery) is deathly afraid of heights but will do what it takes to get his plant (maybe that’s why he likes those ground hugging perennials instead of trees).

EL:  Any injuries or illness?

MW:  I was once sick with a stomach bug in China and didn’t eat for about 4 days – kept going morning to dark though.

EL:  What type of shoes/boot and how many pairs do you bring?

MW: Running shoes and/or hiking shoes (no boots), one pair of leather or canvas slip-ons that can be worn for a slightly nicer occasion (meeting w/officials, etc.) 2-3 pairs total.

EL:  Any ‘Aha’ moments you’ve had about culture, travel, horticulture

MW:   In Ecuador as we prepared to travel up river for many, many hours, we picked up 1 of the 3 Chaachi who had a college degree and lived in the city advocating for the tribe.  He was going with us to facilitate our trip and to visit his parents.  He brought with him some kitchen supplies and clothes for them, 3 young chickens for eggs for his parents, and 6 different forms of croton (Codiaeum) for their garden in the rainforest.  It hit home not only how universal gardening is but also how necessary ornamental horticulture is to our well-being.

EL:  Most beautiful place you found yourself in?

MW:  I was in the Japanese Alps (Nagano area) during prime momijigari time or maple viewing when all the city folks head to the mountains to seek out the spectacular fall colors on the various Japanese maple species. 

Or, perhaps the top of a sacred waterfall in a remote spot in the Cotocachi Cayapos Ecological Reserve with tree ferns and slipper orchids everywhere.

Or, the yellow mountains of China (Huangshan), or…

 EL:  Any travel comfort you bring? 

MW:  Sony noise cancelling headphones along with an eye mask for the plane – I sleep all the way there and back. 

On the road, I’m pretty much all go from early am to very late at night, collecting, cleaning, cataloging, documenting, etc.

EL:  What is the creature comfort you most appreciate back home…

MW:  Family, reliable plumbing, water out of a tap that is drinkable.

Check back tomorrow to see what is in Mark’s Advernture packed – tools of the trade – Suitcase!

Mark writes and speaks on a variety of topics in horticulture.

He has recently revised and updated the Propagation Guide for Woody Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Mark has been published in Horticulture, Carolina Gardener, American Nurseryman and VA Gardener magazines as well as The Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists. In addition, he writes a weekly column for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. (source: http://cals.ncsu.edu/hort_sci/people/faculty/pages/weathingtonvitae.php)

 You can follow Mark’s Blog– for cool plant profiles and follow his adventures too! 

Tomorrow:  What’s in Mark’s Suitcase?

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mark of Adventure (part 2 of 4)

Have you ever thought about where our garden plants come from?

In the year 1768, Captain James Cook… then 40 years old, set out as commander of HM Bark Endeavour .

English: Captain Cook, oil on canvas painting ...

English: Captain Cook, oil on canvas painting by John Webber, 1776, Museum of New Zealand Tepapa Tongarewa, Wellington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Captain Cook and his crew were the first to circumnavigate New Zealand.

The voyages were tough, the scurvy rampant, the Tahitians wiling, the thrill of adventure and discovery. These adventures always included a number of scientists, surveyors, geologists, physicians and surgeons, naturalists and botanists.

Risk of making it back to England was not good, as ships usually returned with less than half their crew – the call of adventure and willing patrons for King or Queen and country had it’s allure.

In reading some of their logs, many of the adventures would make today’s society blush!

Botanicals were important cargo, whether for feeding the crew, curing the crew, or making new discoveries in medicine.  Advances in textiles for clothing, or securing a much sought after spice, or medicinal solution.  It was the prospect of a lush bounty of botanicals that launched ships and planted the conquering flags of Motherlands.

This voyage in particular, English naturalist and botanist Joseph Banks (25) his assistant, Daniel Solander (35) a Swedish naturalist and botanist. Together they collected, measured, sketched, documented and preserved samples of over 350 plants from their explorations of coastal New Zealand.

After leaving New Zealand, Captain Cook dropped anchor & landed in 1770 – in a beautiful bay near what is now Sydney Australia – which they named “Botany Bay” – you get the picture:

” It’s all about the Plants!”

This is the motto of my beloved JC Raulston Arboretum named after dearly departed botanical adventurer J. C. Raulston.

245 years later horticulturists are still hunting for plants.   Their tools and technology might have changed (more on that tomorrow), but the mark of adventure is the same.

Why do arboretums, botanical gardens and growers mount expensive expeditions?

Simple… the thrill of the hunt.   The opportunity of finding  a cool specimen growing in the wild – to test to see if it will grow and thrive in a different climate, elevation, ecosystem.  The opportunity to  bring a new plan to market or genetically match the Pangaea heritage – our continents created as one, long ago.

Some of today’s horticultural advernturers include: Dan Hinkley, Ted Stevens, Barry Yinger, Tony Avent, David Parks, Mark Weathington, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san, Dr. Fu andTeobaldo Eguiluz.

Stay tuned for the next installment of  The Mark of Adventure…

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

When a Christmas tree is not a tree…

John's Tree

John Martin never ceases to amaze me…

On a recent trip to Cedar Creek Gallery – I enjoyed the beautiful exceptional American Craft.    As I wound my way through the gardens, galleries, past the amazing pottery, stained glass mirrors,  jewelry, blown glass bowls and ornaments;  the coolest purses ever… wood work, metal work… I entered the  back gallery and be still my heart!

I knew John had been busy again!   Creating a wonder of  botanical offerings from the Cedar Creek Garden!

The ‘tree’ base was an amazing piece of pottery by Richard Aerni.   It looked like a tree, but I knew it wasn’t any ordinary tree.   I looked to see if anyone else was around, then contorted myself on the floor to see what John had done.

There is bamboo, magnolia, wood shavings for baskets or caning as garland.   This takes pruning to a new level!  I was looking at a deconstructed, reconstructed work of art… an arrangement of giant proportions.   It is seamlessly done and as I worried I might be discovered Entwined in the tree,  I skillfully used my yoga training and untwisted myself, then stepped back and enjoyed the master’s vision.

Luckily I went to Cedar Creek’s website and they had documented  John’s work in progress!

Enjoy and be inspired!

Living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Horticultural Test of Time for the Holidays

So the true test…

Could I remember how to successfully use an O’dapter,  a month later to create a botanical whimsy for the holidays?

See the results and “How To”… Continue reading

Get thee to the garden… and bring your pruners!

O.K.  I know it’s cold out there for most of you.   But now is the time to get thee to the garden and bring your pruners.

On your way to the mailbox or walking Fido, take a few snips – your neighbors won’t mind. Continue reading

Bloom Day continued…

Let’s continue our walk around the Entwined Gardens to see what is in bloom.

Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri ‘Grape Sensation’
Purple Texas Firewheel

In its third year in the garden, it has increased to make a nice drift.  This was acquired from the JC Raulston Arboretum annual plant distribution a few years ago… they are correct when they say ” Membership has privileges.”

Not only do members get cool free plants, they also have access to all the wonderful lectures from some of the top horticulturists in the nation – online.

Hedychium – Ginger Lily

This one is so fragrant, one bloom will fill the house.  It should have been finished long ago…. but I am happy to find  it!  This was a division shared when a group of Master Garden Volunteers were working on a installing “The Water Wise Demonstration Garden” at Lake Crabtree Park about 12 years ago.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’

Because we had a lot of rain this summer – it was the best year we’ve has for Hydrangea.    The bushes were loaded with blooms.    I have had about 1 giant bloom a week for the last month!

Nicotiana tabacum, N. alata
Flowering Tabbacco

Just one little clump still blooming… charming little stars & still fragrant.

Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’
Otto Luyken English Laurel

This is a plant that I’ve been adding around for the dwarf size of 4′ x 4′ is great.

I love the blue glossy elongated leaves, and the overall vase shape.   Not a lot of pruning required.   The only drawback is  that they do catch leaves, so every so often must give it a shake which counts as  aerobic exercise.  A friend just gave me three more… am I feeling lucky or what?

Rosa ‘Don Juan’

This beautiful climber scambles up the stone wall on the front of the house.

Rosa ‘Radrazz’ PP#11836
Double Knock Out.

I also have yellow,  and a single light pink in bloom.

Rudbeckia hirta
Black Eyed Susan

Another last Hurrah… but charming and delightful nestled into an Abelia.  Perhaps that’s why they are there, the deer haven’t found them.

Salvia microphylla ‘San Carlos Festival’
San Carlos Festival Sage

This one keeps on going & going…  a great hummingbird attractor during the season.   Starts blooming in May and still going strong!

There are also some  surprise  blooms of  Serrissa and Spirea ‘Ogon’  so diminutive but so delightful, but didn’t have a maco lens for my camera to do them justice.

Verbena

This charming little Verbena by Proven Winners… just love the shades of peach… is still hanging on in a container…

I hope you enjoyed the this little Garden Bloggers Bloom Day stroll.

Taking the time to walk around the garden with my camera, always provides me with ideas for improving or editing the garden.

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative