Monday, April 25, 2011

The Arboretum in April

Columbine in Fern Valley Photo: LAM
Last week I started back at the National Arboretum.  This is my second term as a Horticultural Intern in the Friendship Garden. On my return, I was reminded of my worthy foes Poison Ivy and The Leaf Blower.   Lucky for me, I requested an April start date so that I am ahead of the game with the poison ivy, who hasn't emerged yet.  Better, I remember where it was last year, so at least I know where it might pop up.  The leaf blower bested me my on very first day, BUT in my defense, it had not been started since last November.  Since the first day back, I have been victorious over starting it myself in about three pulls. (Maybe be the end of the season I could get it in one pull!)

Sadly, I don't think the visitors who come to the Arboretum looking for peace and serenity much appreciate what I have gone through to become so skilled at leaf blowing. They seem to resent the noise and me-- even though I've managed to avoid getting dirt in their eyes and in my own... so far.

Bleeding Heart Photo: LAM

Cercis Canadensis Redbud Photo: LAM
The Friendship Garden looks very different in dormancy and re-emergence. It's fascinating to see exactly when the buds begin to open.   Bleeding Heart is a low growing, shade loving perennial that is in full bloom right now.  I missed this one last year because I started much later.  There are hundreds of types of Narcissus growing in the recently saved Boxwood collection.  Getting to see the first leaves of each grass pushing through the soil leaves me wide eyed as I understand how these plants begin .  As promised, there have been a few special days when the Redbud's flowers and leaves cling to the branch together and I can't help but want to knick-name this shrub, "the sweetheart of the lower canopy."

Magnolia Blossom Photo: LAM
On my very first day it was about 75 degrees and sunny. I visited the Holly Magnolia collection, where the trees were exploding with fragrant pink and white magnolia blossoms and at the same time, the ground was layered with soft petals. Someone was napping underneath one tree and it looked like a dream. The Dogwoods and the Azaleas are in all their glory on the hill in the Azalea Collection.  These blossoms always remind me that it only takes a few weeks of breathtaking beauty to make waiting a whole year, worth it.  In comparison, my second day of work was about 50 degrees and raining, so Spring is a real tease this year.  

I can't help but think about the circumstances of my first day last year.   How things have changed. How fast a year has flown by.  How lucky am I to get to return to this wonderful place a little more experienced and still excited about weeding? 
Magnolia Stellata Photo: LAM

All the usual suspects are back for the spring and soon there will be a string of new interns.  The lunchtime stories should abound.  It's a bit quiet now, but it's still early.

"Wisdom begins in Wonder" --Socrates

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurie, looking forward to all your posts, they are so entertaining. Have you wrote any gardenguide articles yet?