Open Days Program—For the Love of Gardening

For the Love of  Gardening— The Thompson Garden by Kathleen Thompson.

The beauty of this suburban garden begins at street side where a path beckons you to enter and enjoy a preview of the abundant plantings that follow. The front garden is a delight of shrubs and perennials showcasing a spectacular thread-leaf Japanese maple. Upon entering the brick walkway at the arbor, you view a gently sloping garden with curved borders and pathways outlined with recycled concrete.  Beds, with ever-shrinking lawn areas, are richly planted with perennials featuring a mix of native and specialty plants including tropicals, all in perfect harmony in both shade and sun. A number of the plants are rare and unusual, collected and propagated at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. A small pond can be found along the network of twisting trails that lead through the woods to a community lake. Each area of this garden will elicit a sense of serendipity and discovery of plants, woods, and water.

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Welcoming Vignettes – The Thompson Garden

Walt and I started designing this garden even before we designed and built the house over 25 years ago. Our style is Southern Informal, our goal was to design a garden utilizing the best characteristics of the slope of our land. Continue reading

Bloom Day – Entwined Gardens

Bloom Day!  Camera in hand, an opportunity to ponder… Above a double Kerria a share from my friend Deb.

A sweet little girl statue that once resided in ‘Big’s Garden in Chatham, Virginia – a gift from Big’s daughter Jane. Continue reading

Lust and Envy in the Garden – Edgworthia

There are certain plants that one encounters which stop you in your tracks… so begins Lust and Envy in the garden.  Edgeworthia – a woody Native of Japan, China & Nepal – has been my plant fetish, for over 13 years.

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Edgeworthia near the Asian Garden at Sarah B. Duke Gardens

I am not sure where I first saw  Edgeworthia chrysantha  Rice Paper Plant.   There are several forms in multiple gardens at JC Raulston Arboretum.

But one must be out in the winter garden to experience.    That “heart be still” moment… was at least thirteen years ago on my first late February visit to Pine Knot Farms in Virginia in search of Hellebores… I fell hard!

Cleverly growing out of a terracotta drain pipe near a walkway – the hypnotic scent an inexplicable delight.  Creamy yellow pompons dangling in the air so unexpected, charming and exotic – you had me at your scent!

Pine Knot Farms... Love at first sight... now a little large for the terra cotta drain, but I'd be affraid to move... it is a Daphne relative!

Pine Knot Farms… Love at first sight… now a little large for the terracotta drain, but I’d be afraid to move… it is a Daphne relative!

I’ve noticed that every great garden – zones 7b to 10b since – has at least one,  so should Entwined Gardens !

Rice paper plant begins to entice in the late fall, after the striptease of leaf drop. Tiny cream buds turn into an ornamental sphere shaped sputnik fleurettes which dangle and dazzle visitors… hanging tight like Sandra Bullock in Gravity through anything winter throws at it… always a curiosity in the winter garden.

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Then, by mid-winter, it bursts forth with the most seductive scent.  Which is why you reach in to your pocket and hope you haven’t spent the gas money needed to get home after traveling far and wide to find it!

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When the seduction that lasts weeks then fades like any romance, the plant sends up it’s beautiful leathery slender ovate shaped blue green leaves and becomes a most wonderful filler plant in the woodland garden.

Edgeworthia gives good reason and show – to long for the winter and then enjoy all year long.

My friend Jeanne's well placed Edgeworthia flanking walk.

My friend Jeanne’s well placed Edgeworthia flanking walk.

Then heartbreak when it ups and croaks – well it is related to Daphne… so the process begins again –  Love turns into Lust and Envy in the garden.

Many plant enthusiasts say you must try a plant at least 3 times before giving up….   Yikes, that can be expensive!  Most of those folks are in the plant propagation and selling business!

My first Edgeworthia conquest grew in a pot for about a year.   No blooms the first year… OK it happens… the plant likes to settle in and expand roots, which can be expected.   I even found a terracotta drain/planter to raise it up while it got some growth on it,  emulating the one at Pine Knot Farms.  Imitation is flattery, so they say.  By raising it up, I could see naked twigs  a distance out my bedroom and living room windows… its wafting come hither scent would lure me into the winter garden with abandon I daydreamed.  I would be wearing yellow chiffon…  although planted in fancy bagged soil, I fear it did not get the appropriate moisture being in terracotta.

A year later it croaked.   I was sad but undeterred… The diaphanous chiffon dress is back in storage.

 I bought another one from the JC Raulston Arboretum… this one – Edgeworthia papyrifera, I planted outside my kitchen window in a raised bed to lift my spirits during the winter months.  It didn’t bloom the first year, two tiny shoots sprung up and I was delighted… then deer munched them all down one night, and the plant never recovered.

Again I sprung for an Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Winter Gold’ from another plant sale.  Planted it again in the raised bed outside my window.   In four years it has remained a single stick.  No buds.   Just the delight of two leaves every year… talk of an unusual plant!  I will say  I defiantly wanted to see it out our  kitchen window to cheer me up in winter, but the packed clay no matter how much I add amendments becomes strangled by the Oak Trees.

“What’s thaaaatt?”  a snooty uniformed visitor drawled? 

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Not the response I would have had – after just enjoying  crab cakes with the good silver for luncheon…. beat   snotty raised eyebrows,  not the lustful look of an informed gardener,

“That looks DEAaaD. Y’all got any Azaleas or Camellias?”

Hasn’t she drunk the Mark Weathington punch “Life is Too Short for Boring Plants!”

Note to self: Next time serve her  pimento cheese sandwiches and only use stainless.  Or better yet – just invite Mark over for luncheon!

I am not giving up… I do have another miniscule side shoot this year.  I spray it with “I Must Garden” to deter any deer munching.  They even munched a spiny Ruscus recently!

 Then I saw it at Homewood Nursery, an end of the year closeout sale… even with “Plant Bucks” – it was more than I would normally spend… the coveted Edgeworthia akebono “Red Dragon” –  Orange/Red Blooms, perhaps not as much scent, but that tartish color enough to make one blush atop those naked stems. I really couldn’t believe there were three to choose from!

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Edgeworthia akebono “Red Dragon” – Orange/Red Blooms before it croaked!

Two years later it croaked, planted near a wall and a walkway with great drainage in morning sun… heartbroken.  My friend Beth bought one of the three and her’s went tennis shoes up too.  Misery loves company.

But friend Amelia’s specimen is as stunning as I had imagined.

Amelia's E. akebono Red Dragon!

Amelia’s E. akebono Red Dragon!

Lust and Envy curled through my veins once again this past early spring when I spied it in her garden.  Summoning a “come hither” look to find me stepping gingerly off Amelia’s well manicured paths to be enveloped in light scent and geisha like intrigue… more about plant obsession to come….

 Two years ago, I visited my friend Jere garden.  Jere’s Edgeworthia grows bawdily on a slope near a lake happily as swans & ducks drift bye above and giant carp below in the cool water.  Here and there a turtle pops up its head…  a lovely garden for relaxing.

After hearing of my pitiful ability to grow Edgeworthia,   OK – I was lamenting even whining… Jere  simply bent over, and with a flick of a wrist, twisted out a few stems with long roots and handed them to me…  I had no idea it was that easy!  Jere – I am forever grateful.

Grateful to Jere – for taking pity on me.    I even gave one of the treasured rooted stems away to a neighbor to appease the plant gods…  I am happy to report I now have sticks with buds in the ground in two locations!

 I yearn for the morning when I open the front door and am hypnotically drawn across the driveway to basque in the scent and delight… I will honestly feel that I do have a patient nature, no matter what my husband thinks, and Entwined Gardens indeed has joined the ranks of a great garden!

DSC01475I think this will be the year!!!!

Size Matters

Since my quest began Edgeworthia has become slightly easier to find for zone 7-9 gardens centers –

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Snow Cream’ 12’ x 12’

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Gold Rush’ 6’ x 6’

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Hawksridge Selection’  4’ x  4’

Check out Camellia Forest

They Ship!

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Celebrating Friends and Plants with Benefits

This is my friend Helen Yoest  with her new HOT off the press book
Plants With Benefits :
An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, & Veggies in Your Garden
Time to Celebrate!!!
Helen’s latest was reviewed in The New York Times.
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In the Raleigh area? Helen’s book launch is at the JC Raulston Arboretum Friend’s lecture on February 6th at 7:30PM. 
I hope you can come… and celebrate!
 
Helen dedicated her book to the JC Raulston!
 
The book will be in book stores and is also available from Amazon.
Make friends with your plants…
and Congrats dear Helen!
Jayme B

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!

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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