Here’s another favorite winter combination in our parking lot drought border, involving Opuntia aurea ‘Coombes Winter Glow’, Agave x loferox ‘Stairway to Heaven’, a new gold variegated Yucca flaccida, all backed by Phlomis monocephala and a lovely tan-colored Andropogon.
In 2008, we met the deeply-lobed Fatsia polycarpa (aralia family) on its’ home turf in Taiwan. From our expedition, we were able to import several seedlings, which are now mature. Only one clone had ever flowered before this year, and cold temperatures always killed the developing buds. Finally, this winter, a second clone, Fatsia polycarpa ‘Taroko Treasure’ flowered for the first time, and these flower stalks have withstood the winter temps, which so far, have only dropped to 21F. If these seed mature, we may finally be able to offer this rarely available species…finger crossed.
Checking our fern spore pots and found this stray Pickerel frog looking for some dinner. Nothing like a warm, damp greenhouse in the middle of winter.
Here’s another example of the fun combos that can be created in the winter garden. Here is Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Kyoto’ in the middle of a patch of Ajuga reptans ‘Planet Zork’, backed by Sedum palmeri ‘Mendoza’…love the use of groundcovers.
We highly value our cast iron plants (aspidistra) in the winter garden. When we started collecting them in 1980, there were only 20 known species. Today, there are over 200 species known to science. Here are a few in the garden this winter.
These are just a few of the 139 different cast iron plant clones we grow. We hope you’ll come see them in person during our upcoming winter open nursery and garden.
Here’s an image from last fall that we never got posted of Cardiocrinum cordatum flowering in the garden. Our climate isn’t ideal for most cardiocrinums, but this one has been outstanding. Where we have it, this gets sun from noon until sunset.
This was a fun color echo we caught right before our first frost as the last of the monarchs stocked up on food before their International flight left for their winter vacation in Mexico. Cestrum (Solanaceae) seems to be a monarch favorite in our garden. Hopefully, we have someone who can work on producing a sterile clone, since they seed a bit too much in the deep south.
Sarracenia rosea looked particularly adorable this week under a light snowfall. Everything melted within a day, but it looks like we might see more this weekend.
Having lived in Juniper Level, NC for 35 years, we’ve driven past the old Juniper Level School (just a few hundred feet from JLBG) countless times, anxiously waiting for promised renovations, before the building fell too far into disrepair. Well, after numerous starts, renovations are going full speed and we’d like to share the amazing story.
The two oldest buildings remaining in the unincorporated township of Juniper (Juniper Level) are the Juniper Level Church and adjacent schoolhouse. The 3,000 square foot Panther Branch/Juniper Level Rosenwald School, operated from 1926 until 1956, and is one of only sixty remaining Rosenwald Schools in existence.
If you don’t know the story of Rosenwald schools, here’s the back story. In the early part of the 20th century, Sears & Roebuck president, Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) teamed up with renowned African-American education leader Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) of the Tuskegee Institute, to try and remedy the chronically underfunded, segregated education system for African American children. They worked together to fund construction of state-of-the-art middle schools for African-American students around the country. Between 1913 and 1932, 5350 schools (and associated structures) were constructed thanks to a matching grant program (1/3 Rosenwald funds, 1/3 local government funds, and 1/3 community funds) devised and set up by Rosenwald and Washington.
Walter Magazine recently wrote a great article on the restoration and history of the school, so instead of repeating their work, here is a link to their article.
The Rosenwald schools were all based on designs by the country’s first accredited black architect, Robert R. Taylor of the Tuskegee Institute. These plans were later standardized by Samuel Smith of the Rosenwald Foundation. Some Rosenwald schools accommodated as many as seven teachers, while others had only one. The schools, which were all conceived to also be used for community functions, were designed based on daylight considerations and the effect on the light on student eye strain. All schools have an east/west orientation, along with pale colored walls and expansive windows.
Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church, which owns the Rosenwald School property, was first established in 1870 in a small log building, which continued to expand, culminating in the current main building, which was constructed circa 1920. Other adjacent structures were added later as the church grew.
We are honored to be part of the Juniper Level community, so perhaps now you understand more about why we named our garden after this tiny, almost forgotten, but historically significant community here in Southern Wake County. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the Rosenwald School renovations and will let you know when it will be open for visitors.
As an aside, another of the many connections we have with the JC Raulston Arboretum is that they are also adjacent to another defunct African American school where the same Julius Rosenwald helped fund additions. This Rosenwald partnership was with local educator/businessman/philanthropist Berry O’Kelly. By 1931, The Berry O’Kelly School, located in the former emancipated slave village known as Method, was the largest African-American high school in NC. Only two buildings, which are now preserved, remain from its glory days. O’Kelly’s daughter, the late Beryl O’Kelly Brooks, is the namesake for the road where the JC Raulston Arboretum resides and the arboretum itself sits on land purchased from O’Kelly’s estate in 1936. I hope you have time to also read about that project and the incredible work of Berry O’Kelly here.