Thursday, April 12, 2018

Quarry Gardens at Schuyler

On Sunday, the Potomac Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society visited the newly opened Quarry Gardens, a native plant garden developed around old soap stone quarries.  The garden is about a half hour south of Charlottesville, VA.  

Check it our if you're in the vicinity.  It's a gorgeous place.  

Like many quarries, the old pits have filled  with water that's an amazing blue green color.  

They have one of the largest expanses of Reindeer Lichen in the state. (I think I have that right.) 

This is probably an old tool box belonging to a quarry worker.

New bridges help connect paths over waterways.

Beech benches installed for taking in the dramatic views.

Elaine L. and her husband equipped with walking sticks.

Big woodpecker activity!

The ridges are formed by the drills used to cut the stone.  I thought it looked more dynamic in black  white.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Stoners: What Rock Gardeners Do in Winter

Friday I spent the blustery morning with fellow "stoners," collecting beautiful rock from the Medford Quarry in Westminster, MD, pictured below.   We are members of the Potomac Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society Most of our field trips focus on plants, but thanks to Kevin M. and Dick H., this one is all about finding rocks to go with them.  It's our second visit in two years.

As so often happens in quarries,  the deepest portion is now a small lake filled with startlingly blue-green water, probably due to the minerals in the stone.  I used to swim in an abandoned quarry in upstate New York where the water was a similar color.  Does that mean it was similar stone?  I don't know.

This quarry features marble of varying colors -- mauve to pinkish tones, grey-green, tan, and stone with black and white striations. 

John W. combing the area for the perfect rock  
You can appreciate the scale of the place when you see how small we look in comparison to the landscape.  Above, John walks through an expanse of pink marble.

Geologically speaking, marble, a metamorphic rock,  forms when limestone, sedimentary stone, is exposed to extreme heat and pressure.   
John would love to take the big boulder home, if only it would fit in his truck. 
Lynn T. carries one of her treasures back up the hill. 

Like several of us, Janet M. has returned for this second winter excursion to collect rocks. 
Behind Janet, you can see where the gray-green stone buts up again the pink stone. 

Things are quiet at the quarry in winter, with few big trucks coming and going, which is why they let us in at this time of year.  Medford generously allows us to take what we can fit in our vehicles. 

Ken W. collecting 

I'm not sure how this fine, pinky gravel came to be -- is it naturally occurring, left over debris, or manufactured?   In the right garden, it could look fantastic as material for a path.   

   That could be Little bluestem growing at the top of the ridge. 

  Some of the stone includes beautiful calcite crystals like the one above.  The calcite could be what       makes the water such a gorgeous blue. 

Dan S.  and Lynn T.  'Got room in that wheelbarrow?'

  It was considerably colder this year than last.  But with the ground frozen, at least we were spared  the mud of last year and vehicles were less likely to get stuck.  Some of us dared to drive in without 4-wheel drive. 

What will become of my stones?  I will add them to a trough and build more cairns in the garden.

Same time next year, stoners?  I'd go back just to look at the other-worldly scenery. 


Friday, March 17, 2017

Gardener's Bloom Day: The Vagaries of Spring

Early spring in northern Virginia has been more like late spring or early summer with multiple days of temperatures in the 60s and 70s, even reaching 80°Fahrenheit one day in late February.  Many plants responded by coming out of dormancy earlier than usual. 

Below is a view of my Corylopsis with bloom beginning to open ahead of schedule about 10 days ago.  

And here it is yesterday after snowing 3 to 4 inches the night before.  Temperatures remained in the 20s overnight, a shock to many plants, but not all.  Magnolias went brown almost a month ago, cherries got nipped, forsythia is generally okay, tulips not so good, daffodils might be okay if their heads aren't down in the snow.  My Corylopsis flowers look a little muddy today, but I hope will still continue to open.  Temperatures will be rising again into next week.   

I wasn't enthusiastic about this late snow storm, a week shy of the first day of spring, but I wasn't surprised.  If March "comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb" as they say. It's an unpredictable month.  I'm going to look back at what was blooming before winter arrived (the pre-lamb lamb time). 

Cyclamen coum planted last fall

Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Gold Finch'

A young Draba hispanica with what looks like a milkweed seed stuck to it

Iris reticulata is probably my favorite early bulb.  They are delicate, diminutive and a beautiful blue, though they come in other colors. They show up well coming up through the tan leaves of last year's Carex pensylvanica.  

'Harmony' is a particularly nice deep violet cultivar.

Tulipa kaufmanniana 'The First' 

Aubretia x cultorum 'Royal Red' in the rock garden.  I grew this from seed last spring and this is its first bloom.
Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' 

Narcissus canaliculatus

Pulmonaria longifolia 'Diana Clare'
Even though I complained about the return of winter, I'm also glad it came and slowed down the early charge of spring.  Climate change seems to be bringing more extreme fluctuations in weather and this spring is a prime example.  Will March go out like a lamb? 

To see what else is blooming in other gardening blogger's gardens, go to May Dreams. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's March: The Signs of the Day

No, this post has nothing to do with gardening....  It's about the political landscape instead... 

Yesterday's Women's March in Washington, DC, brought some relief from the scene in the city the day before--the inauguration of someone so utterly unsuitable, so moronic, it seems unreal, almost inconceivable, that he is President. 

The sheer numbers at the March--more than the inaugural crowd, yes it's true--was uplifting to see and feel.  Here are some of the signs marchers carried -- and scenes.   

In front of the Daughters of the American Revolution  Constitution Hall. 

It was a good day, a fitting global rebuke of Mr. Thin-Skinned who, true to form, sent his press secretary out for his first appearance to lie about the size of the inaugural crowd.  Wow!  Narcissist in Chief!  

I hope we can keep the momentum going, keep pushing back.  This guy is not to be believed. Literally.    

Check out Les at  A Tidewater Gardener for views of another March.