Friday, September 28, 2012

Sassafras in the Washington Park Arboretum

Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

 Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

 Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

Sassafras albidum var. molle Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

A friend took me to see Sassafras albidum at the Washington Park Arboretum.  I was glad because I had never seen Sassafras & didn't know where to look.  I was quite impressed by the beauty of the foliage & the thicket of canes.  My friend pointed out that the leaves come in 4 shapes: 1 lobe, 2 lobes (both right-hand & left-hand mittens) & 3 lobes. I realized I had seen the leaves before when they were brought to a garden group meeting.  Gabriel Rochard wrote, 'One of my favourites. I've discovered it in a nursery in France, a great Lauraceae and beautiful in Fall.'  In Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines, William Calluna writes, 'While you need to take a certain rambunctiousness into account with sassafras, in the right situation, like the boundary between lawn & field or field & forest, it is interesting in carriage, flower & leaf, & I highly recommend it.'  In the city, I can see sassafras between properties, or at the boundary between lawn & alley.  I would fear to let it loose in our Northwest forests.  Calluna also writes, 'I have had some trees in my yard that grew contentedly as a single trunk, while others were readily thicket forming.'  As a medium tree with a single trunk, it would be appropriate almost anywhere.

From the US Forest Service: Sassafras albidum is common on abandoned farmlands throughout its range. Sassafras is a common component of bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia) scrub on dry sites along the Coastal Plain. In dry pine-oak forests, sassafras sprouts prolifically & is a dominant shrub producing extensive thickets where few other woody plants can establish. In the northern parts of its range, sassafras occurs in the understory of open stands of aspen & in northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) stands. On poor sites, particularly in the Appalachian Mountains, sassafras is frequently associated with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) & amp; sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum). In old fields with deep soils, sassafras commonly grows with elms, ashes, Acer saccharum & Liriodendron tulipifera.

Friday, September 14, 2012

August Garden Pictures


Anemone x hybrida August 2012


Asclepias speciosa August 2012

 
Calluna vulgaris 'Wickwar Flame', Hebe x pimeleoides 'Quicksilver' & Pratia pedunculata August 2012


Eryngium planum & Sedum selskianum August 2012


Eucomis comosa 'Can Can' & Lilium 'Black Beauty' August 2012

Click here to see more August Garden Pictures.
Click here to see August Bloom Times 2008-2011.

August 2012 in Seattle was warmer than normal & very dry. The mean temperature was 67.9F/19.9C.  The normal mean temperature is 66.1F/18.9C.  There was only a trace of rain on 2 days, no measurable amount.  Normal precipitation is 0.88 inches.  The highest temperature was 94F/34.4C, the lowest 50F/10C.  There were 11 days over 80F/26.7C, 4 of them over 90F/32.2C.  The record high temperature for Seattle in August is 99F/37.2C.   There were 3 days with fog, 3 days with haze, 5 cloudy days, 14 partly cloudy days & 12 fair days.  It was dry & increasingly dusty.  A few very hot days alternated with a few cooler days with highs of 70F/21.1C on 3 days.  Irrigation was essential.  Watering the potted plants was a major chore.  I did very little work in the garden because it was mostly too sunny & warm.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fothergilla major

Fothergilla major at Washington Park Arboretum October 2011 

Fothergilla major at Washington Park Arboretum November 2011

 Fothergilla major at Washington Park Arboretum October 2011

In Seattle we seldom see Fothergilla major (Large Fothergilla).  This is a pity because it's an impressive shrub that tolerates some dryness.  More common is Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla) which is lovely, but much smaller & needs regular water through the summer.  You can find Fothergilla major at the top of the Woodland Garden & along the East Drive, just north of the Pacific Rim Garden, at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.  William Calluna, author of Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines, writes that Fothergilla major is native to ridge tops & dry slopes in the southern Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina & Tennessee to Georgia & Alabama.  It is rare in the wild.  It has brilliant fall foliage, lovely flowers & a pleasing form.  It can reach 15 feet in height & spread 12 feet.  It is hardy to USDA Zone 4, recommended for USDA Zones 4 through 8. Fothergilla major 'Mount Airy' is a smaller form with reliably good fall foliage color.