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plants

What's Growing On - Propagation Workshop

The JC Raulston Arboretum was a busy place today. While a photography workshop was going on in the Ruby McSwain Education Center and families strolled the gardens, Lizzi Lathers and I led a propagation workshop.

20130601-150956.jpg Propagation workshops conducted by JCRA staff in winter and summer are one of the best ways lucky members can get some of the hard to find special specimens for their own gardens. Participants filled up to 3 trays with cuttings they took from the Arb grounds and will be waiting impatiently to take home their successes.

20130601-151539.jpg Keep an eye on the JCRA's website, newsletter, and email blasts for information on future workshops. While you wait for the next session, come out for a look around and start making your wish list.

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New Troughs!

Hypertufa troughs are a great way to display miniatures. Here at the JC Raulston Arboretum we're always looking for new ways to display, grow, and enjoy plants.  Thanks to a recent grant from the North American Rock Garden Society, we were able to commission 11 large troughs from Lasting Impressions to better grow and show off some new plants.  The hypertufa troughs are about 30" by 18" and 12" deep giving us plenty of room for some great plants.

Jeremy and Ginny make sure to get enough evergreen presence in their container for year round interest.

Troughs are a traditional containers for growing alpine plants and creating miniature gardens.  They were originally made from stone but as these became harder and harder to find, hypertufa or false stone troughs have taken center stage.  Hypertufa is a combination of Portland cement, perlite, and peat among other ingredients - I've compiled at least 5 different recipes from various experts.  These troughs are relatively lightweight but very sturdy and are a lovely way to display tiny plants.

Plants from our friends at Denver Botanic Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery.

And do we have plants!  Some choice selections from Plant Delights Nursery and a slew of things to try down in the lowlands from the heights of Denver Botanic Garden (thanks Panayoti Kelaidis and Mike Kintgen) along with some items we've been growing in our nursery supplied us with more than enough options.  We've planted dwarf conifers, sun ferns, tiny daphne, small bulbs and cascading perennials in most of the containers along with a bog trough (still in the works as I write) in sunny exposure on the rooftop.  A couple of shade troughs will find a home under our signature Lagerstroemia fauriei near the Pedestrian Entrance.

The interns get creative!

Our summer interns had the opportunity to get creative with the plants and stones under the expert eyes of Tim and Lizzi and the results speak for themselves.  The fun creations will provide a bit of interest to southerners who may not be familiar with trough gardening.  The creations, although decorative will also give us a chance to evaluate how these plants perform in this specialized environment.  Look for more blogs detailing how the troughs are fairing as summer progresses.

Finished troughs under the rooftop arbor.

The Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society is taking a hiatus over the summer but the monthly meetings will start back up in the fall at the JCRA.  Make sure to join them on the 3rd Saturday of the month for some great lectures.

Pic of the Day - Hydrangea quercifolia 'Turkey Heaven'

The flower panicles on 'Turkey Heaven' are exceptionally full and dense. The flower heads on this new selection are held upright on rigid stems.

Few shrubs can match the year round beauty and presence of the southeastern native oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).  Large boldly lobed leaves in spring back the late spring/early summer white flower panicles which turn rose as they age.  Fall color is typically bright red and deep burgundy and the coarse winter stems on mature plants have orange exfoliating bark.  This selection was found on Turkey Heaven mountain in Cleborne County, AL by the Fordhams about 40 years ago but is only recently becoming available.  The exceptionally dense flower heads are quite beautiful and as an added bonus are held upright on rigid stems and don't flop like some other forms.  Our plant is just now flowering for the first time and is already becoming a much commented upon plant.  We expect it to grow to about 6' tall and wide over time.  It is best in dappled shade with moderately moist soil but will tolerate more sun or shade.  It can take drier conditions once established although it will wilt daily in dry spots during the heat of the summer before perking up in the morning.

Pic of the Day - Cercis racemosa

20130527-105323.jpgThis Asian redbud is distinct from any other species of Cercis in having long racemes of flowers which can be up to 4" long and contain upwards of 40 pastel pink to lavender flowers. It is known as the chain-flowered redbud for this reason. Trees will grow to about 25' tall and wide and tend to have a very open habit. The foliage is the typical heart shape of the rest of the genus. Grow this plant in full sun to part shade in most soils. It is best adapted to warmer climates.