Monday, April 28, 2014

Hardy begonias emerging

Begonia pedatifida
Begonia pedatifida showing creeping rhizome and new growth

To most gardeners, "hardy begonia" means Begonia grandis, a tuberous species from China that for years has been considered the only reliably hardy member of this huge but mostly tropical and subtropical genus.  That has changed as recent collections in China have turned up a number of rhizomatous species that are also fairly hardy.  I'm trialing several of these in my zone 7 garden (see But where are all the begonias?) and some of them are already emerging after my area's coldest winter in 20 years.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Why does our neighbor's garden look better?"

Late April garden

"Why does our neighbor's garden look better than ours?"  These are words that, coming from one's spouse, will make any self-respecting gardener wince.  And it's true, this time of year I'm a bit jealous of the daffodils and tulips blooming in the garden next door, and the perennials that are practically filled in already.  Their garden is lush and green, and mine kinda looks like crap.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Clerodendrum bungei
Clerodendrum bungei

For Throwback Thursday, I'm looking back at some of the photos I've taken over the years.  I've been using Flickr to post and share my photos online since September 2007 and I've just passed 400,000 views on my DC Tropics Flickr account.  That's a pretty random milestone and I should note that I only checked it after a friend and fellow Flickr user announced that he had reached 10 million views.

So far I've posted almost 3,800 photos.  Many Flickr users have posted far more photos than that (my friend has over 62,000 photos posted) but like many of those users I'm not very happy with Flickr lately (suffice to say their ugly and clunky "new and improved" version sucks) but there are still some things I like about Flickr.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Survival of the fittest?

Early December    Spring garden
Garden, early December (left), mid-April (right) (click on photos to see larger version)

This side-by-side comparison shows very graphically how bad a hit my garden, and especially my palms, took after this winter.  The photo on the left was taken in early December, after a hard freeze had knocked down the hardy banana (Musa basjoo) but before the series of cold waves we had in January.  The photo on the right was taken just today; daffodils may be blooming merrily but not much else is looking good!  Note the windmill palms: Trachycarpus fortunei "Bulgarian" in the lower left, T. fortunei "Nainital" at upper right, and T. wagnerianus immediately to its left.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bulgarian wins!

Signs of life

I've been trying to put together a blog post with some photos I took over a week ago, but right now I have to share this photo that I took just a couple of hours ago.  A few weeks ago I asked the question, Is my palm dead?  For at least one of my palms, the answer is no!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy birthday, Mom


I was going through some old photos last night and came across this one from my high school graduation in 1980.  I really like this photo because we all look so happy, and I especially love my mom's smile.  It's hard to believe that in this photo from 34 years ago, my parents are both younger than I am now.