Hortus Club of New York

Few things invigorate on a 96-degree Baltimore day. Our garden being the first stop on the three-day summer expedition of the prestigious Hortus Club of New York did just that.

With membership limited to 30 horticulturalists from the finest nurseries, botanical gardens, arboretums, and universities in New York, the level of experience and knowledge among these visitors was exceptional. We so enjoyed sharing the garden here on Walnut Hill with them and hearing their comments.

In a shady spot on the lawn, we began with a short history of the garden. Members then browsed the hillside, woodland and terrace gardens. They wandered the paths, talking to us about some of the plants that Kurt Bluemel had found, particularly the Davidia involucrata, Disanthsus cercidifolius and the Hakonechloa macra, a refreshing shade of lime on a steamy morning.

Of other interest to some was our collection of Acers, particularly the old variety, Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Viridis,’ at the top of a woodland and the size of the Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Seiryu’ by the terrace.  The yellow Clivia miniata we grow in pots on the terrace struck several. We’ve had good luck with them, and they seem helped by summering outdoors in a shady spot.

Having visitors to the garden is always instructive. On of the Hortus Club members was a holly specialist, so we learned the possible cause of a problem we’re having with the hollies in the woodland. They may have been planted too deep in an area that collects water.

The biggest surprise with our visitors from New York was that the mystery plant up by the house was identified. With florets like lilacs, and on a woody shrub, we’ve always suspected from its leaves that it was part of the hydrangea family. After no one could settle on just what it is, one member took a photo and texted it to someone at the New York Botanical Garden. Immediately, the answer came back: Platycrater arguta, an unusual Asian plant in the Hydrangeacaea family.

Thank you, Hortus Club, for mid-summer invigoration, investigation and a lot of fun.