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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just for Fun!

February is often a month of cutting back and pruning plants for those of us with landscapes and gardens to maintain.  The landscape is generally pretty drab with muted colors this time of year.  There are exceptions of course such as the attractive reddish colors of 'Firepower' Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica 'Firepower').

'Firepower' Heavenly Bamboo on February 12, 2012

Benjamin Courtyard Garden on July 26, 2012
 In February, landscapes that were ablaze with colorful leaves and flowers last summer are just mere vestiges of their summer glory.  The colorful, exuberant late July garden becomes a much more monochromatic, sedate garden in February.

The Benjamin Courtyard Garden on February 12, 2012

Pampas Grass on January 5, 2012
While the Pampas Grass (Cortedaria selloana) still looked fairly attractive on January 5th of this year, it was definitely taking a beating from the weather by the first part of February.  We tried using a pair of light weight, high quality hedge shears to trim off the unattractive ends of the Pampas Grass leaves.  This left a relatively stiff, bottle brush type of appearance to the plants. 

Growing up in Kansas, one of the heartland states that has the largest remnant of the United States once vast prairies, I was familiar with a plant called Leavenworth Eryngium.  The flower/seed head of this prairie plant is shaped like a bottle brush or miniature pineapple and is colored a fabulous intense dark purple color during a certain stage of its life cycle.  The trimmed Pampas Grass had a similar texture and shape, although on a much larger and grander scale.  It seemed a natural to me to color the Pampas Grass a dark purple as a personal tribute to this wonderful western plant.  To this day, I still remember the exact location of my first encounter with Leavenworth Eryngium on a hillside with a spectacular view of the valley below on the former Fletcher ranch in the Osage cuestas of Kansas.

We secured permissions and support to go ahead with my plan to paint the trimmed Pampas Grass a dark purple color, although there were certainly plenty of questions such as 'Why do you want to do that?', 'Why purple?' and 'Is that normal?' and the restriction of making sure that it was not the school color of a competitor of the Terps sports teams that we would be playing.  Luckily, Leavenworth Eryngium purple was not Duke blue; however, I still not convinced that a sports team or school can own a color that plants such as Leavenworth Eryngium have owned for millions of years.

In our climate, the Pampas Grass and the 'Sweet Caroline' Hardy Hibiscus that was painted the light purple color are both perennials.  The above ground portions of these plants die back during the winter; however, they will send up new shoots from the base of the plants as the weather warms up in late spring.  We will cut these plants back to the ground in just a few weeks to allow for the new growth to emerge unimpeded by last years growth.  The bright colors will be dramatic, but a short lived experience.

More pictures of the purple Pampas Grass can be seen in a Flickr photo album
 Hopefully the dichotomy of the painted plants and the nearby natural plants will spark an interest and questions from some of those that walk through, but yet often don't see the landscape.  We are hoping that this unexpected landscape will brighten someone's day during the short cold days of winter, much as a smile or shared laughter can warm the heart.  If not, at least we had fun painting the Pampas Grass purple!

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Contact Information for the University of Maryland Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Mailing and Shipping address (This is the location of our partner, UMD Landscape Services, and the office of our Assistant Director, Karen Petroff):
University of Maryland
Wye Oak Building (428)
4201 Landscape Ln.
College Park, MD 20742-7215
phone: 301-405-3320
fax: 301-314-9943
hours: 6 am to 2:30 pm, M-F

Horticulturist's Offices and Meeting Room (No mail delivery or shipping to this location):
University of Maryland
Arboretum Outreach Center (156)
3921 Stadium Dr.
College Park, MD 20742
phone: 301-405-3320
fax: 301-314-9943
hours: 7 am to 3:30 pm, M-F, by appointment or prescheduled times only, as sometimes everyone is out on campus and the building will be locked

Click on the below link to a campus map, click on the address search tab and then enter the campus locations to find out where buildings are located. As of September 10, 2015, Google does not have the correct locations, while this map does. http://maps.umd.edu/addressing/ There is a second, more complex, interactive campus map that has much more information on it such as parking locations, public transportation etc. when you use the red 'layers' tab. http://maps.umd.edu/map/ The red 'directions' tab will allow you to get directions from one building to another.

blog administrator, Sam Bahr, 301-405-7926 or 301-405-3320
e-mail: sbahr@umd.edu

updated 10/6/2015


Our gardens are free and open to the public. There are some parking lots (read the signs for that parking lot carefully) that are free to park in after 4 pm and before 7 am and on weekends, except on game days and during other special events. There is public parking in four large parking garages at the rate of $3 per hour with a daily maximum of $15. On weekends in the garages, the rate is $3 per hour with a daily maximum rate of $5 per hour. There is a small amount of additional pay parking along some streets. Navigation around campus is much easier with these interactive campus maps: http://maps.umd.edu/map/. You can look up parking locations and building locations using this map. Use the search tab to bring up the page to search for campus building names, locations and addresses.

updated 10/6/2015

Butterfly feeding on the nectar of Russian Sage blossoms

General Information about the UMD Arboretum and Botanical Garden

The University of Maryland, the state’s flagship campus, is located in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The American Association of Public Gardens, by designating the university as an arboretum and botanical garden in 2008, recognized former President C.D. Mote, Jr.’s commitment to becoming a green campus. Maryland is also the first university in the state to be honored as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The Arboretum and Botanical Garden consists of our entire 1,250 acre College Park, Maryland campus. The Campus collection of over 8,000 trees, garden plantings and nearly 400 acres of undeveloped urban forest is a beautiful reminder of Maryland’s history and a harbinger of Maryland’s future. The university looks at the campus’ green space as a major resource for its educational, research and service missions.

Hornbake Plaza

Hornbake Plaza
Honeylocust fall foliage color

UMD Arboretum and Botanical Garden Plant Inventory

You can look up the identity of many trees and a few other plant materials using this interactive campus map: http://maps.umd.edu/map/. Click on proceed to map. Then click on the dark red 'layers' tab in the upper left corner. Next select 'Arboretum and Botanical Garden' and then click on the box in front of 'campus plant inventory.' Wait for green dots to slowly fill up the map, then click on the green dots on the campus map to identify the plant materials.

Our plant inventory or plant collections database can also be considered a plant database, plant search, plant locator, plant finder, plant collection database, living collections management system, plant records system or plant mapping system for campus plantings.

updated 1/6/16

Photo of the Interactive Campus Map Showing the Campus Plant Inventory

Photo of the Interactive Campus Map Showing the Campus Plant Inventory

Tawes Plaza Gardens

Tawes Plaza Gardens
Kim's Knee High Purple Coneflower, Russian Sage, White Out Rose and Dwarf Pampas Grass are featured in this planting in 2010.