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Potomac Valley Chapter
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American Rhododendron Society
Newsletter: Spring 2006

Canadian Gardens in the Pacific Northwest
Bill Bedwell - March 19, 2006

Donít miss our next chapter meeting on March 19th. Bill Bedwell (pictured right) will be our featured speaker. It has been quite a few years since Bill has spoken to our chapter, but if you have heard him speak before, you wonít forget his spectacular photographs and delightful commentary. At our meeting, Bill will discuss some gardens visited last spring in conjunction with the 2006 ARS Convention in Victoria.

Billís talk will feature four beautiful but very different Canadian gardens. First on the list will be VanDusen Botancial Gardens located in the city of Vancouver, BC. (pictured below)

This 55 acre site was originally owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and logged at the turn of the century. The site then became a golf course, but then in 1966, fearing that this lovely property would become yet another housing development, J. W. VanDusen helped secure the tract so that it could become a world class botanical garden.

The second garden, also in Vancouver, is the impressive Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia. Established in 1916, the 110 site originally focused on native plant research but soon expanded to study a wide range of plant materials. Of special interest to the rhododendron enthusiasts is their large and mature collection of species planted in a naturalistic setting among huge fir trees, ferns, and native plants.

The third garden Bill will share with us is the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a small but pristine traditional Japanese garden located on the UBC Campus. This peaceful and elegantly manicured landscape (pictured below) is one of the finest of its type anywhere in North America.

Bill will conclude his tour with a return visit to the famous Butchart Gardens near Victoria, Canada. The rhododendrons, tulips, and other flowers were in perfect condition.

Happy 100th Birthday, Margaret!

On March 31st, our senior member, Margaret K. White, turns 100 years old. Congratulations, Margaret! We wish you a very Happy Birthday!

What an inspiration Margaret has been. She has graciously opened her lovely garden to us for chapter picnics and garden tours. She has provided us cuttings, seeds, and flowers for our chapter exchanges and flower shows. In an act of extreme generosity, Margaret has now made it possible to preserve that beautiful garden for generations to come by transferring title of her 13 acre estate to Fairfax County so the garden can eventually become a horticultural park.

Thank you, Margaret, not just for all you do but just for being you. Have a wonderful birthday and may you have many, many more.

Grayís Way - An Above Ground Coldframe
by Gray Carter

Have you need for a cold fame, but donít want to go out and dig that big hole in the ground? Hereís a plan for an above ground cold frame that is low cost, easy to build, and can be easily moved to another location without hauling dirt to fill in. My estimate is that once you have all the parts assembled, it will take you about a good Ďlong afternooní to put it together. I have assembled two without help, but it would be nice to have someone around to when you are assembling those long boards, or if you want to move the whole box over a bit. All the parts can be gotten at any building supply like Lowes or Home Depot, or at one a couple of miles down where that guy next door got all his house stuff. Get treated lumber and look for boards that are as aged and as straight as possible. This is not easy since everyone else is trying to do the same thing; before aging, treated lumber is very heavy and subject to warping as it dries.

The foam-board should be rigid, and if possible coated with foil on both faces. If you canít get this, take whatever you can as long as it is rigid. If you donít have a c truck, you can get all 8-foot boards in a small car if you make several trips and are careful with loading. To transport the sheets of foam-board, take a ruler, felt tip pen, and a four foot long piece of thin straight board or a straight edge, and a sharp utility knife with you when you go to get it. On a flat surface on the store apron or in the parking lot, lay down the panel, mark it into 15 ĺ inch sections across the narrow width, and cut them apart; you will need six sections from the first panel and two more from the second. If you are pressed for cash, you can probably get by with just one panel by not putting the foam-board on the interior center walls; the ones I have built have foam on all side walls.

To set-up, find a reasonably level place with some residual shade; mine are under a gigantic Tulip Poplar. If you have a choice, locate so it gets the minimal sun with maximum exposure to the north. With a shovel and a rake, level off a place about 5 x 9 feet. If you have significant ground water runoff, let the level spot slope an inch or two down hill. Give the spot a good spray of Round-up to kill the weeds and grass. Start by cutting three of the long boards in half (into two 4-foot pieces); be as accurate as possible to make sure all six pieces are the same length.

Then attach one end of an 8-foot board to the end of a 4-foor piece; look at the sketch. It is helpful if you have someone hold up the other end resting on a 4-foot piece; in any event, you will somehow have to support the other end. With a 1/8th inch drill bit, drill two holes in the end and attach with two of the 3-ich screws. Repeat this until you have a 4 x 8 foot frame. Find the center of the long side, and install the 4-foot divider. Make two of these frames and stack them onto the prepared level spot; then join them together with 16 penny galvanized nails driven at an angle. Next put the 8 foot 1 x 4ís front and back, using 2 inch galvanized screws. Measure the length for the three short pieces, cut to size, and install. Next install the foam board on the inside of the short sides and the center board if you choose to use it there. If you are careful, you can probably fit these pieces tight enough so they stay in by themselves; if not use a few #4 galvanized nails to secure them. Now cut the foam-board for the front & back to length and install them.

The cold-frame is now ready for use. I would put about a two inch layer of mini pine bark nuggets on the bottom to raise the plants up a bit and keep the inside a little cleaner. In the summer time, I cover it with a sheet of lattice panel to reduce sun exposure and to keep the little animals out. In the cold months (starting around Christmas until April Fools Day), cover with something to keep the cold out; also not a bad idea to put in some mouse poison since to them it seems nice and cozy inside with plenty of good food.

For several years, I have used a sheet of Ĺ-inch sheathing plywood as a cover, and this has worked out pretty good; the plants donít seem to mind the absence of light for these months. This winter I found a couple of 8-foot glass doors, and I have used them to cover the cold-frames; I wonít know for a while if this is better. However some people say that the glass should be coated with a white paint & I still have the lattice panel in place to reduce the sun in the cold months; Iím not sure I see a significant difference between a glass panel coated with white paint plus a lattice panel on top, or a solid cover. Stay tuned.

Copyright © Donald W. Hyatt