Plant of the Month
Hardy Hummingbird Trumpet
Location: XEPE grid P31 Xeriscape Garden along the west edge chip trail
I learned this plant as the species name Zauschneria arizonica; but there has been a recent name change to put it in the genus Epilobium. No matter what you call it, I think it is a great plant. There is a sub species Epilobium canum ssp. garrettii that is native to southern Idaho. It is also flowering now in the Southern Idaho native section of the Xeriscape Garden. It is just a little further past peak flowering.
They are both remarkable in that they flower profusely right in the middle of the hottest, driest part of the summer when very little else is flowering. All with no supplemental irrigation in the Xeriscape Garden! The plants in the lower part of the garden were some of the first plants installed in the Xeriscape Garden in 2002. They have spread politely to fill a space, and have dependably returned every year.
I didn’t see any hummingbirds when I took pictures in the heat of the afternoon—but, I am confident that they find it sometime during the day.
We achieved a major milestone this month—all of the mowed turf grass in the Arboretum is now covered by automatic underground irrigation! When I started at the Arboretum 18 years ago, we tried to water the entire space with hoses and sprinklers. Besides taking a huge amount of time it was horribly inefficient and impossible to cover the entire space. So, fifteen years ago we started installing relatively small, underground irrigation zones that are controlled by battery operated, remote controllers. Over the course of fifteen years, we have installed over 20 miles of plastic pipe, 150 automatic valves and over 1100 sprinkler heads! All of the materials for the installations have been funded with private donations to Arboretum Associates.
Of course, just because the system is now automatic does not mean that it is maintenance free. One of the challenges of the campus reclaimed water system is that the pressure fluctuates a lot depending on how much water is being used and where that usage is happening. Since the main lines for the Arboretum are at the highest point in the system, virtually any other usage affects our pressure. That means that we have to constantly adjust start times and run times to compensate for those changes. Also, as the earlier installations are now 15 years old there are always valves and heads that give out and need replaced.
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