Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Follow the Expansion Right Here

The unveiling of the new website finally happened this week. New York-based ESI did a bang-up job designing the website. The most exciting part is the slide show of construction photos that lets you see the progress of the construction and expansion.

The blogs should be great, too. Brian Holley has his own—the Director’s blog; of course, there’s mine—called the Gardens blog. Chad Washburn, natural areas manager, will be writing the Preserve blog. The Community Forest blog has potential—it allows readers to post information and images of trees they are growing for the future Garden or their own personal garden photos. Of course, any website lives and dies on its currency. Amy Kessler, communications manager, is charged with feeding the monster. The Gardens blog will be my weekly contribution.

In the meantime, while we hold our breath waiting for hurricanes Hanna, Ike and Josephine, it’s been a mostly dry, brutally humid week. The main irrigation lake has returned to its normal level. We continue with the summer routine of renewal pruning and thinning. This week the Burgundy Border and Pink Courtyard were tamed. At its prime, the Burgundy Border was a lovely collage of the pink and purple hues of variegation provided by various alcalyphas. Alcalyphas are sometimes called copperleaf, but that’s a misnomer, as the genus includes a wide range of colors and color combinations.

In the Pink Courtyard, the tropical snowballs (Dombeya spp.) had out grown their space. We have two hybrids—the smaller growing and dark-pink flowering D. burgessiae ‘Seminole Pink’ and one we suspect is D. wallichii. The Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ was well on its way to blocking the entrance to the Windstar Garden Room as it scrambled across the brick. The coral creeper (Barleria repens), that coral flowering groundcover along the walkway to the Welcome Center, has always been unruly. Its mass has been reduced considerably and for the moment is under control.

This time of year we also do non-horticultural housecleaning. Two days are set aside to organize and clean offices and garages. That went a little faster this year as we only had one garage to empty out (having turning the other one, the former horticulture garage, over to Kraft Construction’s command central). We even made some headway in the horticulture office, discovering surfaces we’d forgotten were there.

I have been remiss in not mentioning that the Garden enjoyed a visit by an international star of the plant kingdom—David Mabberley, one of the foremost botanists of our time. He is perhaps best known for his invaluable plant dictionary, The Plant-Book. He has been described as a renowned plant systematist and botanical historian whose interests are wide-ranging and include economic botany, the tropical flora, and botanical art history. In March of this year he was appointed Keeper of the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. A few staffers and board members joined David for socializing and dinner one evening in mid-August—the following day Brian Holley gave him a personal tour of our Garden.

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