Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Today (2-2-2016) at the Arboretum

It was a beautiful day at the Arboretum today, Groundhog day,  and there are some interesting plants and things to talk about. 

Sinkhole in the Bauer Lawn. 

A fairly impressive sinkhole has opened up on the Bauer lawn, just about where the band-shell stands during the summer concert series. It's about six to eight feet deep and at the bottom is an opening that leads to who-knows-where. One of my hobbies is cave exploring so I find this quite interesting. It is thought that this sinkhole formed when an old abandoned water well collapsed -however there is another explanation that is a bit more Indiana Jones'ish; that somewhere under the Arboretum is an old tunnel that used to lead from the racetrack, under the arboretum to who-knows-where. It's rumored that it existed to serve as a bomb shelter during World War II, and went from about where the Baldwin service entrance to the track is to the far side of the Bauer lawn. Is this a sinkhole resulting from the partial collapse of the rumored tunnel? Would it be possible to explore the tunnel if safe entry could be made into it, and if so, what kind of surprises might there be inside of it? Somebody call the History Channel, I feel a series coming on. 
Sinkhole in Bauer lawn; what caused it?

Looking into the sinkhole a small passage  trends westward. 

Meadow-brook Section Surprises

Taking a stroll through the Meadowbrook was interesting today. For the most part it was a symphony of naked branches waiting for spring to make them decent. There were some interesting items however. First, right in the middle of the Meadowbrook's southern lawn (the Meadowbrook section has  southern, northern, and western lawn areas), was what looked like a display of Liquidambar balls. They were probably collected there by Arboretum gardener Bryan Burks who was working nearby. The pile struck me as interesting so I took a picture of it at ground level. 
Pile of Liquidambar seed balls on the South Meadowbrook lawn. 

Magnolias Starting to Bloom -Are My Worries Valid?

Just adjacent to the Meadowbrook section is our Magnolia collection. This year is a big question mark for it. Several of the trees have bloomed out of season this early fall and the big question is; how will this (and the drought, and a moderate infestation of shot hole borers) influence this years bloom? Every year, despite all threats from the drought, insects, strange fall weather, our collection of some 40+ types of  Magnolia never fail to put on a show. However this year they seem oddly late - is this perception valid? Is there a problem with them that could stymie the annual spectacular of bloom I'm so used to?

So to check out this hunch I went back into our recent photo archives and looked for pix of Magnolias blooming here from several years back. Here's what I found:
January 22, 2011

January 21, 2012

The image on the left was taken in late January 2011; It along with others from the same time show that the Magnolia collection was in full bloom by now in 2011. The image on the right is also from late January, but in 2012. So in these two years the collection was in pretty good bloom by now. However:  The below images were taken February 11th, 2010 -so it's probably not time to panic just yet. 

February 11th, 2010
February 11th, 2010

Keep Your Handroanthus off of my Tabebuia -Sometimes Botanists Have a Hard Time Getting it Right

This beautiful little blooming tree pictured below can be seen in full glory in the east shore of Baldwin lake. It's name here is Tabebuia impetiginosa 'Paulensis'. It is a natural variety of its origin plant that occurs in South America on grassy plains between 500 and 800 feet above sea level. The genus Tabebuia is now the genus Handroanthus. This plant is now Handroanthus avellanedae (Lorentz ex Griseb. ) Mattos var. paullensis (Toledo) Looking this particular plant up it's apparent that this is one of the most confusing genus of plants out there. For some reason taxonomists haven't done very well categorizing it. Here's a list of most of the names that his plant has had over the years:

Tabebuia avellanedae var. paulensis 
Bignonia heptaphylla Vell.
Handroanthus eximius (Miq.) Mattos
Handroanthus impetiginosus var. lepidotus (Bureau) Mattos
Tabebuia avellanedae var. paulensis Toledo
Tabebuia eximia (Miq.) Sandwith
Tabebuia heptaphylla (Vell.) Toledo
Tabebuia impetiginosa var. lepidota (Bureau) Toledo
Tabebuia ipe (Mart. ex K.Schum.) Standl.
Tecoma curialis Saldanha
Tecoma eximia Miq.
Tecoma impetiginosa var. lepidota Bureau
Tecoma ipe Mart. ex K.Schum.

 Handroanthus avellanedae (Lorentz ex Griseb. ) Mattos var. paullensis (Toledo)  -but for how long?

Other Interesting Things Out in the Garden:

Armillaria mellea, the 'honey mushroom' growing on the infested roots of an African Acacia tree in the African section. 

Beautiful gum oozing out of a Red river gum tree -if you look close you can see flecks that look like golden glitter suspended in the dark amber-colored gum. 

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