Monday, June 22, 2009

Emily Goes to Washington (and More Orchids)

Last week, I worked some more with Lee and Marie and the orchids, which I am still enjoying. I find myself constantly becoming distracted with the amazing cattleyas and paphs, all of them! I am learning more about issues that orchids have, like scale, mealy, and viral infections. Sterile tools and single-use blades (as well as single-use gloves when re-potting) prevent the spread of a few viruses that are rampant in the orchids. It causes some splotching and blackening of the leaves eventually. I made a slew of accession tags, which is a long (but really enjoyable) process in curatorial. I think I might really enjoy curatorial work after spending some time in the office with Kristina, Erika, and Nick. I made a total of 300+ accession tags for the orchids last week, just to prevent it from being such a heavy burden. Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants, so naturally the taxonomic classification is crazy! So many complicated naming rules... But the tags come out nice and shiny. :)

Thursday's field trip was fun, but very wet. It rained on and off the entire day, including the 3 hours of driving each way. We went to Hillwood, which is the estate of Marjorie Merrwether Post, and had a nice tour of the gardens there. The gardens there seemed like lots of separate little areas quilted together. There were a few creative buildings like the Russian country house (Dasha?), and some greenhouses. The Japanese-style garden was probably my favorite, with a bird statue theme throughout. Lots of bridges and pretty, dainty plants throughout. I liked that many areas of the gardens were created for entertainment, like the putting greens, for example. I enjoyed walking through the property; the gardens were not astonishingly elaborate, but very comfortable and beautiful. We also mosied around the mansion, which is elaborate and amazing like all the others.
We then went to the National Conservatory, which was very pretty, but we sped through there quite quickly. We also toured the production greenhouses for the conservatory, which was nice, but after working at Longwood, I have to admit, it takes a bit more to impress me. ;)

My new favorite plant is ginko biloba! There are huge, incredible ginkos here at Longwood. They are such beautiful trees, so perfect. I learned that they are dieceous, and that the fruits on the female are SO smelly, like rancid butter or cheese. One day I'll get a male.

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