Goodbye Florence

Thank goodness Florence is finally heading away from our area. Thankfully, we dodged the worst of the storm, since the prediction models were dreadfully off target as late as 24-48 hours prior to landfall, when they showed the eye of the hurricane headed directly toward PDN/JLBG. Thankfully for us, Florence headed three hours south, passing instead over its namesake, Florence, SC. Top winds here were only 27 mph, with only 5″ of rain. Our thoughts go out to our friends in the actual storm track, who are coping with both wind and water damage. We’re on track to dry out by Friday, as we resume our final Open Nursery and Garden weekend for 2018…now scheduled for Sept. 21,22 (8-5) and Sept 23 (1-5)…see you soon and thanks for all the notes of concern!

Oh Florence!

It's the calm before the storm here at PDN/JLBG...or to quote the late philosopher Yogi Bera, "Deja vous all over again." In September 1996, a wild woman named Fran visited our Fall Open Nursery and Garden Friday, and now it's another F'er...Florence. Florence currently sits in the Atlantic Ocean, with a strong desire to stop by the NC coast on her way to Raleigh. Normally, the hurricane prediction models have coalesced by now, but instead, they are still diverging, with a wider range of potential impacts than a few days prior. NC has never had a hurricane come ashore with winds greater than 135 mph (Hazel in 1954), so Florence could be Fred Sanford's "big one", unless she gets dizzy from all the spinning and weakens on the way to land.  Here in Raleigh, we're still in the dead center of the average projected path, so everyone is busy getting prepared...as much as possible. All greenhouse covers are either being removed or battened down with excessive strapping, while Read more [...]

Perennial Plant Association coming soon

We've had quite at year already, but the best is yet to come. In just under three weeks, we welcome the Perennial Plant Association meeting back to the Triangle region for the first time in 21 years. The Perennial Plant Association is a professional association of folks in the business of perennials. This includes growers, retailers, marketers, writers, landscape designers, etc. So far, over 435 folks from all over the world have signed up.  The Monday plant talks are the only part of the meeting open to non-professionals, but what a day of talks it is. Monday Speakers include Dr. Patrick McMillan, Director of the SC Botanical Garden, and one of the top plantsmen in the country. Patrick is a dynamic speaker, plant explorer, and Emmy Award winning television celebrity.  He will be speaking twice, once on Native Plants of the Carolinas and again on Growing Southwest native plants in the Southeast. Dr. Kevin Vaughn is a highly-awarded breeder of hostas, hemerocallis, Read more [...]

Petered Out

A great time was had by all who attended and met Peter Grande in person. Peter's opening brought out the most first time visitors we've ever had at the nursery & gardens. It's truly quite an event to witness the largest inflorescence "flower" to ever occur in North Carolina. Despite the nearly constant caressing, Peter could only keep it up for 44 hours, and by mid-day Sunday, he was literally petered out. Fingers crossed for good seed set, which we should know in a month or two. Thanks to our great staff who both grew Peter and then hosted the long hours of visitation. Special thanks also to amorphophallus guru and JLBG adjunct researcher Alan Galloway, for sticking with us for the entire event and sharing his amazing knowledge. Peter has a twin brother, which could grace us with his presence in the next couple of years...the wait is back on.    Read more [...]

Peter Grande – A Living Sculpture

Here are a few images from the blessed event, starting when Peter began to open around 2pm Friday 4pm Friday - Do you think this view from below makes his hips look big? Below...a view from above @ 4pm Friday as the spathe unfurls, creating a bicolor effect Fully open around 7pm Friday evening having a Georgia O'Keeffe moment By 5pm, it the female parts were receptive, so it was time for the artificial insemination to begin.To reach the female parts, we cut three window in the base of the spathe. Inside are hundreds of female ovaries/stigmas, covered in a sticky syrup to hold the pollen. Next, we made a withdrawal from our sperm bank and recovered the pollen from our own Amorphophallus albus that flowered a few weeks earlier. Our goal is to create a winter hardy, offsetting version of Amorphophallus titanum that we could grow in the ground here. Small paintbrushes are used to apply the pollen to all of the stigmas. The final step is for our surgical Read more [...]

It’s Alive !

Just after lunch today, the blessed event began as our Amorphophallus titanum ‘Peter Grande’ began to open. Here is an image from 215pm Friday, with our County Register of Deeds, Charles Gilliam, looking on…making sure it was indeed opening..  Peak viewing will be tonight from 5-8pm and tomorrow from 8am until 8pm. Artificial insemination will take place this evening…probably between 7 and 8pm…voyeurs welcome! 

A Really Large Peter

Our Amorphophallus titanum, Peter Grande, continues to expand, hitting the 76″ tall mark today. This ties it for the 30th tallest flower (inflorescence) recorded in US history. Flower opening, which starts between 3 and 4pm, could begin any day now…stay tuned!  Plantsman Alan Galloway, one of the worlds’ leading authorities on the genus Amorphophallus will also be on hand for the grand opening to chat about anything amorphophallus. 

Amorphophallus titanum…the countdown to flowering has begun

This morning, the flower bud on our Amorphophallus titanum, Peter Grande measured 67"...that's one big Peter! Only 7 more inches to make it into the top 100 tallest Titanum inflorescences in history. We're still expecting flowering to start this Friday for our Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days, but with the caveat that nature really doesn't care about our plans, so the viewing dates could change. We've added a special Titan page to our website that includes a live feed Peter video cam, fascinating new Titanum trivia, and an amazing sortable spreadsheet of every known Amorphophallus titanum to flower in cultivation. Despite spending three years compiling the table, we sure there are a few others that we missed, so please let us hear from you with any additions and corrections. We hope you'll make plans to come see Peter in his full glory as soon as he's ready.  Read more [...]

Nerd Night in Raleigh

I had a blast last week speaking on horticultural diversity at Raleigh’s Nerd Night…held at the Big Boss Brewery. I’ll admit to being skeptical when committing to speak in an un-air conditioned beer warehouse in late June…an obviously non-horticultural venue. The group of about 125 people…mostly Gen X – millenials was incredibly entheusiatic with great questions that continued well into the night. I hope you’ll check out the Nerd Night events, now held in over 100 cities. Special thanks to NCSU hort grad Alice Hinman of Raleighs’ bee enhancement program, Apiopolis, for the inviation to speak, Eric Self, the Nerd Night organizer, and my college classmate and fellow boomer, Debbie Hamrick for the photos.

Guess who is visiting for Summer Open Nursery and Garden???

Yes, it's our first flowering of Amorphophallus titanum...the Titan Arum.  The scheduled release date is July 6, 2018, so tell all your friends and come join us. We will continue to update the progress in case the date of the opening night performance changes. June 22 with our Taxonomist, Zac Hill 6.25.2018...not sure what it's been eating over the weekend, but darn, it's put on some weight and height...40" tall so far. We probably would have flowered one sooner, but back in winter 2005, we heard news that the heat went out in the UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden greenhouses, killing their flowering-size Amorphophallus titanum, so we donated out largest specimen as a replacement.  Here is our visit to see "Bella" ready to flower in 2007.    Read more [...]