Saturday, July 25, 2015

Begonia update

Begonias
Begonia hybrid seedlings

Begonias have been a sorely-needed bright spot in an otherwise bad gardening year.  Two cold winters in a row, combined with more than my usual degree of neglect, have taken a hard toll and I've had many losses.  But those losses have opened up some opportunities, bringing more sun into what was an increasingly overgrown garden, and opening up some space to try new plants.  And among the losses, I've had a few pleasant surprises.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

And now for something completely different

Eye Dream of Genie
Eye Dream of Genie

I'll never look at my garden the same way again.  I've just spent the last two days wasting my time playing expanding my repertoire of blogging skills with Google Deep Dream and it brought out my long-dormant artistic side.  As soon as I saw what it did to a photo of my eye (see original below), I was hooked.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Lotus
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

I've been making an effort to get out and visit more gardens this year, so when Washington Gardener Magazine and DC Gardens announced they were having a "tweet-up" at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC last weekend, I decided it was about time I re-visited a garden that's practically in my own backyard.  I'll keep my comments brief because my friend and fellow garden blogger Teresa Speight has already written a great blog post about the garden and the event: A Gem in the City – Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer means great gardens in Washington, DC

Garden
National Museum of Natural History (Constitution Avenue entrance)

I'm privileged to work at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC and a beautiful garden greets me as I arrive at work every morning.  As the summer gets hotter and hotter, it just keeps getting better and better.  I know a lot of people don't like the heat and humidity of a Washington, DC summer but this is when our public gardens really start to hit their stride.  Don't get me wrong, I love spring gardens with their tulips, daffodils, peonies, bleeding heart, foxglove, poppies, and bluebells, but by mid-summer, most of these plants look the worse for wear.  Some of them, like oriental poppies, bleeding heart, and most spring bulbs, have the good sense to go dormant in our summer heat but gardens that depend too heavily on these spring-flowering plants aren't worth seeing the rest of the year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New begonias, off to a late start

Begonia seedlings
Begonia seedlings, about to be planted outdoors

I should have done this 6 weeks ago, but this morning I finally got some of my begonia seedlings outdoors and in the ground.  These are hybrid seedlings from a cross I made last summer, and they've been growing under fluorescent lights since germinating during the winter.  They got off to a slow start because begonia seedlings don't like the cool temperatures and low humidity of winter, but they grow explosively in the spring.  If I wait too long, as I did this year, they get a bit too crowded.  Summer also brings heat they don't appreciate and I know from past experience that they'll begin to decline indoors, succumbing to pests and diseases.  The south-facing sun porch where I grow them is the hottest room in the house, and even with air conditioning gets a bit too warm for comfort in July and August.  They do quite well in the ground, and are best planted out in early May but this year I held off, waiting to see what might come back from last year after a very cold winter put my plants to the ultimate test.  Many plants didn't make it, but I did have a few surprises.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stormy weather

June sunset
Washington National Cathedral at sunset (click here for larger image)

Having lived here for 24 years, I often take for granted this amazing city.  Washington, DC has given me some interesting views of some familiar icons, over the years and through the various seasons, and the unsettled weather of the last couple of days has given me some especially good photo opportunities.  Above, this was my view of the Washington National Cathedral from my roof deck last night, looking west over Rock Creek Park.  Please be sure to click on the link below the photo to see a larger version!