Garden Diary - July 2020

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A Visit to Aquascapes
Thursday, 30 July 2020

Public gardens have been closed for months and months. Some are slowly beginning to reopen their outdoor grounds - limited number of visitors, advanced ticket purchases, of course face masks required. I have made a couple of visits to Janet's exemplary vegetable garden. And driven around looking at flowers around town. But when I got an email last week from Randy Heffner of Aquascapes wholesale water plant nursery suggesting I come "Stop by soon." Why? Because "I have a new Made In America lotus I want to introduce next year. Come take some pictures. I call it "Banana Split" It is really cool!" Sufficient reason for me!

Upon arriving I was told to go look in the greenhouse for propagating sarracenia
while Randy got the golf cart. Not a problem as there's so much to see and enjoy.
A bench filled with pots of the deep red Sarracenia purpurea, native from New Jersey northward
another with Sarracenia leucophylla, their white cladodes enticing insects who fall in, and die.

And exotic Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, native in the southeastern United States.

Here's Randy with the golf cart. I hand over my camera bag then hoist myself up and in.
We drive past the sarracenia growing beds. In these covid-19 times there's no market
for them in the wholesale cut flower trade; all the elegant parties restricted, minimized.

Onward, to the growing beds for the familiar shallow water aquatics, lotus and water lily.

Beautiful sacred lotus. A Buddhist icon because it has its roots in the muck,
rises through the water, to flower in the air. Lotus also has kitchen values.
Most familiar, perhaps, is fresh lotus root. Widely available in Asian markets.

Fresh lotus leaves to use as a wrap is a different matter. Randy cut some for me.

We also sampled fresh raw lotus seeds, just turning from green to barely brown.
Randy pried them out of the pod, peeled the seeds . . . and we ate them right up!

The aquatic beds also have double pink lotus, popular in ornamental ponds.

Here's what I came to see! Lotus 'Banana Split'. It's a hybrid between our native
yellow water chinquapin, Nelumbo lutea and a white N. nucifera. Randy plans to
release it next year. I tell you, this man has a good eye for stand out plant variations.

In 2013 it was Hydrocotyle 'Crystal Ball', with lovely variegation the color of heavy cream.

Even earlier this century it was black as coal Sagittaria 'Silk Stockings'.

Water lilies are perhaps the most familiar aquatic plants. This is a night blooming
tropical water lily, beginning to close up for the daytime. Hardy kind are only day
flowering. Tropicals may be either day or night, and only tropicals come in blue.

This peachy pinky water lily is also a tropical, as may be known because the stem
holds it above the surface of the water. Hardy ones float on the water's surface.

Nw we are off on one of the trails through the back of the Aquascapes property.

We pause while Randy tells me the story behind his hanging baskets of Nepenthes,
a unique tropical insectivorous plant very different from the Sagittaria and Dionaea.

Up on Randy's own personal "High Line." The power company built something nearby.
A neighbor got the excavated soil. Which Randy in turn acquired and had dumped, to
create this extensive berm. It is carefully sited so as not to impede drainage, and create
some vernal pools, very popular with amphibians such as woods frogs that breed there.

Down in the woods, a good size colony of Sagittaria, the typical green leaved form.

Time quickly passes. It's been two hours since I arrived and we began our perigrinations.
Back to the office barn, a welcome glass of iced tea, and our last conversations. A screech

and one of the wild peacocks steps out on the terrace to bid me adieu.
A fitting farewell to my morning's outing at Aquascapes.

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