Today, it seemed to me, was a little cooler than yesterday–although it was still warm by all means. I was working with Vic and Walker again today.
This morning, Vic gave me an overview of the scree garden and what he calls “the scab” (in an earlier post, I referred to this as the “bald”). As you are coming up the driveway of Mt. Cuba, the bald is to your left, and the scree will be on your right.
To accurately explain what a ‘scree garden’ is, one must know the definition of ‘scree’. First, it starts in the mountains. The mountains go through the weathering process, and eventually turns into a talus (which is a sloping accumulated mass of normally larger in texture detritus) further down. This then gets weathered down even further, which produces scree (a finer texture of rock debris). The scree at Mt. Cuba was started in September 2007 and was mostly completed in March of 2008 (they are still installing a dry-laid stone wall to keep the slope from eroding). They used indigenous rocks/stones that were found on the property for the project. This area (as well as the rock bald I’ll be describing shortly) are showcasing native plants that can withstand harsh conditions. The scree itself is composed of 80% minerals, which is expanded shale and calcine clay. The other 20% is made up of organic mushroom compost. It’s an extensive green roof medium, which they purchased from Laurel Valley Soils.
Just to give you an idea of what they now have growing in the scree garden:
- Cheilanthes linosa
- Bigelowia nuttalli
- Amsonia ciliata var. tenuifolia
- Leptopus phyllanthoides
- Ipomopsis rubra
- Ionactius linariifolius
- Silene virginica
- Viola pedata
- Clinopodium georgianum
- Liatris microcephala
- Liatris pilosa var. pilosa
NOTE: There are a few rare and endangered plants that have been planted in the scree garden. These are not available in commerce for the public,and one also needs a permit to own, collect, or to even sell them. While I am at it, I’d like to make a general disclaimer: If you are out at a public garden…do not pull out flowers! It may seem like common sense to some, but there are people who are *completely* oblivious to what they are plucking out of the garden. Remember the Golden Rule: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it!!
The rock bald has been a more recent project. It was a project that was started in the Fall 2010 and was partially completed in early 2011. It’s still a work in progress, and they will be developing a plan further about what plant materials they would like to install, and allocating money in the budget to its cause.
They are also:
- still removing pockets of soil by hand
- deciding how far back to remove soil/other plant materials (I’ve been told they want to go back at least another 20-30′)
- discuss with Rick Lewandowski (the Director of Mt. Cuba) about what plant materials will be going in once the hardscape is complete.
This, like the rock scree, is to showcase predominately wild collected native Piedmont plants of granitic and dolomitic outcrops and balds, and to show the public that there are plants for difficult sites. Two plants that are being used in the rock bald are Rosa carolina and Phermeranthus teretifolius.
We did some paperwork after my crash course in rock bald/scree gardens. We had to meet with Amy, who is the plant recorder for Mt. Cuba, and pick up some accession labels, and to tell her that we would be removing the Coreopsis from the bald, as it is too much of a hassle for little reward (if you don’t understand what it means…go dead-head some Coreopsis).
Towards the end of the day, Walker and I pruned some suckers off the dogwood at the base of the rock bald area. Walker found a female toad resting *on* the tree. We supposed that she was a little confused, and must have been a tree-frog in her past life (hehe!). Then Walker, Vic and I did some weeding around the rock bald/scree area and removed those bothersome Coreopsis.
All in all, not too bad a day at Mt. Cuba. I’m getting closer to the end of my first rotation, and I really don’t want to leave Mt. Cuba. I’ve really enjoyed working with the staff, and it’s been a blast.