A Subtle Side of Spring

Spring is not typically known for its subtlety around these parts, but upon its early awakening many plants warrant a closer look. Enjoy! 1)  Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’                     Katsura Maple One of the first Japanese maples to leaf out each spring. The small, five-lobed leaves emerge pale yellow-orange, with brighter orange margins. Found in the semi-dwarf group of Japanese maples. Specimen 19-10*A is located in grid 30-4E. 

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February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part II)

1)  Chaenomeles cathayensis                   Chinese Quince This deciduous shrub is native to slopes and forest margins in western Hubei Province. Light pink flowers in spring are followed by large oblong fruit which are unpalatable raw, but make fragrant jams and jellies when cooked. Like other quince, Chaenomeles cathayensis’ arching branches are armed with stiff thorns. Two specimens can be seen in the old field nursery south of the Crab Apple Meadow near Arboretum Drive. 

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February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Pinus greggii This three-needle pine from northeastern Mexico is closely akin to P. patula but less ornamental.  Its oval-conical cone clusters stay closed on the branch for several years.  This specimen and the others described here can be found within Crabapple Meadow, along the east side of Arboretum Drive. 2)  Pinus jeffreyi Native mainly of California in the Sierra Nevada and Siskiyous, this lofty tree is said to grow to 200 feet in the wild.  

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Late January Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

Sleeping Beauties 1)  Oemleria cerasiformis                Indian Plum The Indian Plum adheres to Benjamin Franklin’s advice in Poor Richards Almanac: “Early to bed, early to rise. . . .”  This shrub goes to sleep early, beginning to slowly defoliate in late summer.  However, it is one of the first to leaf out, and flowers early in the spring.  It can be found throughout the Arboretum, and is just beginning to awaken. 

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January Color Brings in the New Year at the Washington Park Arboretum

Witt Winter Garden 1)  Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ Midwinter Fire Dogwood Though the species normally has red twigs and purple fall color, this outstanding cultivar has golden-yellow fall color followed by red-blushed, yellow twigs. This dogwood is native to northern Europe into northwestern Asia. Full sun is required to obtain the best winter stem color and this dogwood will slowly colonize an area via suckers from its shallow roots unless controlled. 

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Deck the Halls

Boughs used as winter decoration are often from plants in the genus Ilex. Many Ilex, or holly species are dioecious, meaning that male and female reproductive organs are separated on individual plants. This trait promotes cross-fertilization which increases genetic variability, but can decrease seed-setting efficiency.  Solitary individuals are unable to be pollinated, therefore it is necessary that male and female plants grow in close proximity or female plants will not produce berries. 

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December Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

Conifer trees occasionally mutate into unusual forms, often slow-growing natural dwarfs. Thousands of these have been in cultivation for centuries. The Arboretum has only a few in its collection, sadly neglected in grid 37-1W – a corner of the Oaks area.  Here are five examples: 1)  Chamaecyparis lawsoniana  ‘Lycopodioides’ Translated: “a form of Lawson’s false cypress that looks like Lycopodium” – a genus of club moss that’s said to resemble a wolf’s foot. 

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"Happy Thanksgiving!" Native Plants of Cape Cod

1)  Arctostaphylus uva-ursi                                                   ‘Vancouver Jade’            Kinnikinnick or Bearberry Broadleaf evergreen and creeping groundcover with circumpolar distribution in northern hemisphere often found growing in association with Pitch Pine If there were still bears on Cape Cod, it would be a favorite food source for them. This cultivar, ‘Vancouver Jade’ is growing in containers outside the Graham Visitor Center. 2)  Juniperus virginiana  ‘Blue Coast’                               Eastern Red Cedar A low growing, blue form of the Eastern Red Cedar Pioneer species found in mixed stands with Pitch Pine, reclaiming abandoned farms and grasslands Found growing under Pines in grid 36-4E, along nursery road 3)  Morella pensylvanica                Bayberry Berries boiled to extract sweet-smelling wax used to make clean-burning candles Found growing in dry open sites along with Bearberry, Eastern Red Cedar and Pitch Pine Mass growing in Oaks Collection in grid 43-B 4)  Pinus rigida                Pitch Pine Rigid cone scales and stiff needles, hence its Latin specific epithet Used during days of wooden ships due to its resistance to decay Several young specimens in our Pinetum, grid 37-4W 5)  Viburnum dentatum var. 

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November Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Berberis fortunei             Fortune’s Mahonia Native to China, this shrub sports deep-red new growth when grown in sunnier locations. The mature size is 6-12 feet tall and just as wide. This specimen is located in the Sino-Himalayan Collection (Grid 25-1W). 2)  Buxus wallichiana             Himalayan Boxwood A large shrub or small tree native to the northwestern Himalaya and known for very dense, hard wood. 

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October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part II)

1)  Cupressus (Hesperocyparis) bakeri                               Modoc Cedar A moderately-sized coniferous tree with greyish-green scale-like foliage that is dotted with white resin. It is native to the Siskiyou and Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges. A slow growing tree, usually under 90 feet over many decades. Considered vulnerable to extinction in the wild in the medium term. Located in the Pacific Connections Garden Cascadia Focal Forest above the Chilean Gateway. 

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