JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update
December 2020
Your Monthly News and Updates
Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

It is hard to believe that December is already upon us and what a year it has been. Thankfully, we all know that the new decade starts on the "1" as in 2021. Here's hoping it will be a whole lot better. Thanks once again to my amazing team, this has been a much better year than it could have been. They have worked tirelessly to ensure we continue to do the job we are so passionate about—we just hope we will have you all here soon to appreciate it in person.
We have managed to weather the past eight months with no layoffs, furloughs, or cutbacks despite the lack of onsite programs like Moonlight in the Garden and Raulston Blooms!, or rentals. We have been able to continue distributing plants and providing meaningful education because our members—you—have stepped up. You have renewed your memberships, you have attended our virtual programs, you have watched our YouTube channel, you have purchased and bid on plants all because you know that this is your garden. And for all of this support, I and the rest of the JCRA team say, "thank you!"
This time of year we usually send out a year-end appeal to help us finish projects around the garden and every year you come through with gifts large and small. This year, rather than a list of projects, I'd like you to consider making a gift to our general fund of whatever you might be able to afford. Whether it is a recurring monthly gift of $25 or a more significant stand-alone gift, every dollar is needed more than ever this year. These general fund gifts will allow us to pay salaries, invest in technologies for remote learning, and improve the gardens.
If you are interested in making a contribution, please visit https://go.ncsu.edu/JCRA2020. Or mail checks to the NC Agricultural Foundation, Campus Box 7645, Raleigh, NC 27695-7645. Please include JCRA General Fund in the memo line.
Like Bonsai? Check out Koten Engei

By Mark Weathington, Director

The JCRA is introducing a new horticulture technique to American audiences—koten engei. Unlike the well-known bonsai tradition and the growing ikebana flower arranging movement, this traditional Japanese practice of elevating often common Japanese native plants to the peak of perfection as indoor plants is mostly unknown. The koten engei tradition has been a draw for me personally since my first visit to Japan and I've wanted to develop and display plants in this manner ever since.
We've been accumulating some of the traditional plants at the JCRA since J. C.'s time like Ardisia japonica (yabukouji), Rohdea japonica (omoto), and threadleaf Nandina domestica selections. In fact, the JCRA has the largest collection of Ardisia japonica in the United States now. We'll be kicking things off with a morning symposium on December 12, featuring an introduction by Dr. Hiroshige Matsuoka, a discussion about the traditional plants used in koten engei pot culture by Ozzie Johnson, and my musings on the practice from a Westerner's point of view.
As part of the program, we will develop an online gallery of the JCRA's yabukouji and omoto collections with plans to have a selection of plants on display when we re-open for visitors on a rotating basis. This is the perfect opportunity to find a fresh hobby, experience something new, or grow your love of plants. We're all stuck inside anyway, we might as well grow interesting plants!
Ending 2020 with Crafts and Visions of Camp

By Elizabeth Overcash, Children's Program Coordinator

It's been a crazy year to say the very least, but we aren't letting that stand in the way of a favorite children's program that has become tradition for many familiesHoliday Creations! Even though we can't meet at the gardens to craft together, we are gathering supplies and putting on the program. We have created craft kits that each participant will pick up prior to the program. Then on Saturday, December 5, we will meet on Zoom to craft together. It'll be the same fun materials from the Arboretum's gardens and creative recycled materials that we will show the kids how to transform into holiday decorations for your family to enjoy a little bit of the Arboretum in your homes this holiday season!

Make sure to sign up now as there are only a few spots left and you need your supplies before Saturday! More details and a registration link are available via the buttons below.

While crafting may be certain, the status of summer camps is more "in progress." Usually by this time, my desk is full of calendars, summer camp topic ideas, and rough outlines of daily camp schedules. Not sure about your calendars, but mine is all in pencil and only planned a few weeks in advance these days. But don’t fretthere is a loose camp plan floating around my desk and we very much hope to be able to offer summer camps in 2021. Hopefully, in the January 2021 JCRA e-Update, you'll see that camp schedule and feel the warm sun rays of summer to come. Stay healthy, stay happy, stay hopefulsee you in 2021!
Winter Educational Programs

By Sana Sheikh, Programs and Education Assistant

The holiday season is finally here, and what better way to celebrate than learning a plethora of skills to help make your garden shine? From photography to climate patterns, the JC Raulston Arboretum has plenty of events to keep you busy and help you leave the year with an abundance of knowledge.

Digital Photography Essentials Workshops for Canon and Nikon Photographers
Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography
Mondays, November 30 through December 14 – 7:00 PM–8:30 PM – Canon Photographers
Tuesdays, December 1 through December 15 – 7:00 PM–8:30 PM – Nikon Photographers

Ready to get started with your Canon or Nikon digital camera? Are you a beginner in photography? Learn all the camera essentials as well as how to interpret your images for better future pictures. You'll be taking beautiful photographs in no time! While all concepts and features discussed will be relevant to all types of digital cameras, please register for the correct class depending upon the maker of your digital camera. These classes are already in progress, but you can catch up with the video of the class after registering.

Koten Engei Symposium
Saturday, December 12 – 9:00 AM–12:00 PM

Japan's influence on Western horticulture has been nothing short of profound, whether it is the plethora of plants introduced to America from Japan or the specialized horticultural techniques. One of the most uniquely Japanese horticultural traditions and one of the least well known is koten engei. Koten engei focuses on showing off minor variations and mutations in several Japanese species. Learn more about this Japanese horticulture tradition at the JC Raulston Arboretum's Koten Engei Symposium.

Plant Taxonomy and Nomenclature: A Home Gardener's Guide to How Plants Are Classified and Named
Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University
Mondays, January 18 through March 8 – 6:30 PM–8:30 PM

A eight-week class that helps the home gardener understand how plants are organized, classified, and named. All too often we don't know much about the plants we select for our home gardens. When we understand plant taxonomy and nomenclature, we are more equipped to select and care for all the plants we grow in our gardens. Did you know that most plants have two to three different kinds of names? That can lead to tremendous uncertainly and confusion for the home gardener. In this class, we will learn and use the botanical knowledge about plant classification and naming to improve our gardening activities!

Garden Soils Class
"If You Build It, They Will Come: Understanding and Improving Garden Soils"
Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University
Saturday, January 23 – 8:30 AM–12:30 PM

To become a great gardener, we must have a great understanding of the soil that we put our plants into. Plants are equally dependent on the quality of their environment "below ground" as they are on the quality of their environment "above ground." The difference between a flourishing garden and a flagging garden can have everything to do with soil chemistry, biology, physics, and fertility. In this class, learn all about those very things and more, including basic soil principles as well as how to maximize garden growth! 

What's the Forecast? Understanding Climate Patterns and What They Mean for Our Weather
Rebecca Ward, Assistant State Climatologist
Saturday, January 23 – 9:00 AM–11:00 AM

Understanding local weather patterns can impact how we plan and treat our gardens. In this program, learn about the global climate patterns that impact North Carolina's weather during seasonal and shorter timescales. We will go through activities to help hone our abilities in interpreting and applying resources for weather forecasts and climate outlooks for future seasons! 

Propagation Workshop
JCRA Staff
Saturday, January 25 – 9:00 AM–3:00 PM

Learn how to propagate some of your favorite plants from the JC Raulston Arboretum's own expansive collections through hardwood cuttings! The techniques discussed will be fully replicable at home, and participants will go home with both their own set of freshly propagated plants as well as a new bounty of knowledge. All experience levels are welcome!
Welcome Hsuan Chen—New Landscape Plant Breeder

By Mark Weathington, Director

We are very excited to introduce Hsuan Chen, Ph.D. as the new landscape plant breeder for the JC Raulston Arboretum and Department of Horticultural Science. Hsuan hails from Taiwan where he started down his career path as an ornamental guppy breeder before joining an orchid breeding lab in college. He worked in plant cytogenetics in graduate school before joining NC State University graduate, Ryan Contreras, Ph.D., at Oregon State University where his Ph.D. work centered on hibiscus flower enlargement, plant shape conversion, and lilac reblooming. Following graduation, he also worked on triploid hemp breeding at Oregon CBD.
Hsuan will begin work at NC State in January where he will help continue Denny Werner and the JCRA's redbud breeding program and develop a broad portfolio of traditional and next generation breeding projects. In addition to plant breeding, Hsuan continues his interest in fish breeding as well as cooking. He says, "Next time you see me, ask if I have any extra fish or cactus to share from my personal breeding project!"
The JCRA and Tom Ranney are working to prepare for Hsuan joining our team. A JCRA grant from the J. Frank Schmidt Family Foundation is helping to install deer fencing on 20 acres of research land at the Lake Wheeler Research Farm. Recent Ph.D. graduate, Nate Maren is helping to install irrigation and prepare beds for planting as early as spring 2021. With the combined collections of the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Juniper Level Botanic Garden as well as the knowledge and experience of Denny, Tom, and the rest of the NC State faculty, Hsuan is set to bring the Arboretum's plant introductions to the next level.
It is very exciting to welcome a new tenure track faculty member with a focus on breeding of nursery and landscape crops. This is part of our overall vision to enhance the green industry in North Carolina through the development of new plant releases, innovative science, and training of students as future leaders. I also am deeply appreciative to the green industry partners who have supported the Horticultural Science Green Fund as we leverage opportunities with this new position.
We Value Our Members

By Kathryn Wall, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator

We want to say thank you to all our members who have supported us by renewing your membership, making extra donations, and upgrading your membership level during this most unusual year.

As we enter the holiday season, here's a few tips for your consideration:

Arboretum membership makes a perfect gift for plant lovers and those who don't want any more "stuff!" Our programming will remain virtual for the foreseeable future, but even when things get back to "normal," we will make a commitment to offering virtual and hybrid content. So you don't have to live in the Triangle area for membership to be valuable.

You can purchase JCRA 2020 botanical T-shirts, sweatshirts, and caps online and have them shipped to you, or to directly to your gift recipient.

Take advantage of our member benefit providers and thank them for their support.

One last note - This is a great time to consider a membership upgrade. All members at the $300 or higher levels by December 31 qualify for Connoisseur Plants. Send me an e-mail at kbwall@ncsu.edu and I'll send you more details.
Moonlight in the Garden Music Nights—Giving Thanks

By Arlene Calhoun, Assistant Director

We are all about pushing our limits and testing new things—creating new experiences or venturing into the unknown. We are a resilient bunch; gardening has its way of regularly reinforcing this trait in each of us. 

So, what to do when a global pandemic stands in the way of a popular Arboretum event? You take opportunity found in your inbox from someone you haven't met; you discuss it multiple times with multiple colleagues, and bring it up in several meetings with larger audiences until one day the light comes on. The switch clicks. An idea is born. You have a unique experience to offer to new and faithful audiences alike, no matter what state or country they call home. (Now that’s reach!)

In true Arboretum style, we found a fun, talented group of people to bring our idea to life. Truth be told, I questioned how and why many times during the last several months.

Well, two music video premieres later, I'm here to tell you it's all about providing enjoyable virtual entertainment during a difficult time and increase Arboretum awareness and reach. Reach continues to increase, but at this moment, our first video with Tea Cup Gin has 1.3K views on YouTube and 987 views on Facebook. That's a sellout crowd on any Moonlight in the Garden night.

Moonlight in the Garden Music Nights has introduced us to many new friends and would not have been possible without the gracious time and talent of others.

Thank you to:

  • Samantha Pulley, the booking agent for 2Digh4, for planting the seed of a virtual concert from the garden.
  • Southern Lights of Raleigh for the design and temporary installation of our "Moonlight" set.
  • Denver Dan at DNVR Media for the time, vision, and expertise needed to create music videos.
  • Tea Cup Gin and 2Digh4 for sharing your passion for music, original debuts, and rocking the Arboretum on a lonely night in 2020.

Here to looking ahead to Moonlight in the Garden 2021—live music, food trucks, cider, firepits, and marshmallows with 2,000 Arboretum friends!

Until then, both bands are playing live at limited engagements, have a look at their calendars or watch the videos again on our YouTube Channel or Facebook page.
Just Plant It

By Douglas Ruhren, Gardens Manager

Several weeks ago, the JC Raulston Arboretum horticulture staff stood in for JCRA director Mark Weathington when he needed a break from his Midweek with Mark to help with the November elections. This Midweek without Mark was conducted as a Q&A for those attending this Zoom meeting. There were numerous questions as to whether to plant particular plants that person had on hand.
There are many benefits to planting now and not postponing it until spring. The planted plant will need far less frequent watering. The potted plant might need watering once a day while fall planted plants might need only weekly or twice weekly watering while the weather is still mild, but then probably none all winter unless it is unusually dry.

In this area, soils rarely freeze, at least not more than the top inch and only overnight. The fall planted plant can spend the entire winter getting established, spreading new roots out into the native soil. The plant planted now will have a huge advantage over the same plant planted in the spring because it will have an established root system before dry spells next spring and summer.

Potted plants above ground often need protection during freezes. Many plants hardy in zone 7 will not tolerate having their root balls frozen solid. Once planted, their roots are protected from freezing temperatures. The root systems of potted plants that are not going to be planted can be protected by storing them in a location where they will not freeze or by moving them so they are pot on pot and burying the pots with tree leaves or mulch or other similar material.
This won't be necessary if your plants are winter hardy in climates colder than your local area. For example, I do nothing to protect my potted daylilies and bearded iris because they are not fazed by freezing solid, but my potted crinums go under the house where they will not freeze.

Are there plants that would be best held to plant in the spring? Yes, those that are marginally winter hardy in your area. They would have a much better chance of surviving their first winter if they were well established and not just recently planted. The same is true for very young plants of otherwise winter hardy plants that are still in new growth. These plants should be kept from freezing, perhaps even treating them as houseplants for their first winter if you don't have a frost-free sunroom.

So do plant now all that you can plant. It will be good for the plants; their root systems protected from freezing will grow all winter. And it will be less work for you because you will need to do much less watering. Just do remember to water them if there are dry spells. This is far more critical for evergreen plants than deciduous ones.
Upcoming Events, Programs, and Sales

While many of our regular December events and educational programs weren't scheduled due to COVID-19, the JCRA has many opportunities to learn and purchase plants throughout the month to offer.

Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month except December 24, 29, and 31 – 8:00 AM–4:00 PM

Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography
Mondays, November 30 through December 14 – 7:00 PM

"Keep Hope Alive: Winter Bloom and Other Plants of Interest"
Douglas Ruhren, Gardens Manager
Tuesday, December 1 – 1:00 PM

Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography
Tuesdays, December 1 through December 15 – 7:00 PM

"The Colorful Life of Marianne North"
Mark Weathington, Director
Wednesday, December 2 – 3:00 PM

"A Piet Oudolf Story"
Deborah Chud, Piet Oudolf Researcher and Retired Physician
Wednesday, December 2 – 7:00 PM

Bob Payne, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Saturday, December 5 – 9:00 AM

Saturday, December 5 – 10:30 AM

"Plant ID App Throw Down"
Mark Weathington, Director
Wednesday, December 9 – 3:00 PM

Friday, December 11 – 10:00 AM

"Rock Gardens I Have Loved"
Mark Weathington, Director
Wednesday, December 16 – 3:00 PM

✽Denotes a children's program.

Many programs require advance registration. Please register early to reserve your spot.
Coming Attractions

By Nancy Doubrava, JCRA Volunteer
Daphniphyllum macropodum
Mahonia 'Marvel'
Danae racemosa
poet's laurel
Hamamelis vernalis
Ozark witchhazel
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'
yellow-berry winterberry holly
Camellia 'Yume'
hybrid camellia
Arbutus unedo 'Elfin King'
compact strawberry tree
Ajania pacifica
silver and gold chrysanthemum
YouTube Channel Update

By Christopher Todd Glenn, Programs and Education Coordinator

Many new videos were recorded in November and posted to our YouTube Channel. In addition to a Plantsmen's Tour, a NARGS (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture, a Virtual Garden Storytime, and two concerts, three new Midweek with Mark presentations were uploaded. The latest Midweek with Mark will premiere soon so be sure to subscribe to our channel to receive updates when new videos are posted.
"Beyond Camellia japonicaThe Other Camellias and Their Relatives" is coming to YouTube soon.
We've also gone through our archives and pulled one of our favorites from 2011 and uploaded it to YouTube. New videos from the archives premiere on YouTube on Thursdays.
Receive announcements about our latest additions by subscribing to our YouTube Channel. Click on the bell icon to adjust your frequency settings from occasional notifications to all notifications and vice versa.
Please Join or Renew Today!

The JC Raulston Arboretum is free to the public, but it is not free to operate. Memberships keep the gates open and the gardens in top shape. Membership gifts are the primary support for the Arboretum's daily operations and vital for its success. Thank you for your support and advocacy of the JC Raulston Arboretum through the membership program. It's fast and easy to become a Friend of the Arboretum, and there are many great benefits for you and your family. Join or renew now using our secure Web site, or contact Kathryn Wall, membership and volunteer coordinator, at kbwall@ncsu.edu.
Christopher Todd Glenn
Programs and Education Coordinator
NC State University
Campus Box 7522
Raleigh, NC 27695-7522
(919) 513-7005

You're receiving this e-mail because you're a member of the JC Raulston Arboretum. JCRA e-Updates are published electronically every month. If you are a member and need to update your contact information or wish to be removed from this mailing, please contact Kathryn Wall at (919) 513-7004 or kbwall@ncsu.edu. Please do not use the links below to update your e-mail address or to unsubscribe.