Sunday, January 20, 2008

Revisit: JC Raulston Arboretum

While in North Carolina for Christmas, my planned visit to Greenbridge Development in Chapel Hill. The closest I got was a peek through the closed windows of the office, and a quick driveby to the building site, which was vacant. Alas, not much to report, until I get some materials... although the real-estate folks were quick to call me back after the holidays, as they may have percieved a potential sale.

A side visit to the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University proved a worthy, and probably more informative field trip. My girlfriend SuSu worked at the arboretum while getting a horticulture degree at NCSU, so I was also equipped with a wonderful tour guide and plant nerd. Plants, much to our delight, seldom require much commentary... so i will abide by the rule of pictures=1000 words, and keep it brief.

:: Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia faurei)

:: the right coast OG - Media Mahonia (Mahonia x media)

While not incredibly striking, Mahonia spp. in the PNW are a native staple and do evoke the regional landscape. The above Media Mahonia was lush and continually striking whenever I saw them. In addition, there are some rare specimens, or just those with striking placement and seasonal color. These Dwarf Loblolly Pines are unique features not found in many locations.

:: Dwarf Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda 'Nana')

:: Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus)

A roof garden project I designed in mid-2007 made use of the Muhly Grass, which was a new species to me (and a SuSu recommendation) to provide waves of reddish tufted seed-heads that would wave in the breezes atop the building. I was doubly convinced of this choice after seeing this grouping along the perennial border.

:: Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

In addition to the ability to see and experience firsthand materials and seasonal change, as well as full-grown forms that bely their nursery sizes, the arboretum (read: ANY arboretum) is a great opportunity to study the beauty and variety of plant form. Looking at shape, color, texture, contrast, and unique character is only accomplished firsthand - thus maybe a picture is worth 1000 words, but a visit is priceless.

:: Fruit of the Hardy-orange (Poncirus trifoliata)

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