Note: The JCRA launched a new Web site on March 1. Please visit us at This site,, is no longer being updated.

Lyons' Den 2000

Date: November 15, 2000
Subject: JCRA....milestones!

As we close down this Y2K, by all accounts an incredibly productive year for the JCRA, there are a couple of points very much worth mentioning and of great interest to our members and other interested parties (although I'd sure like all interested parties to be members!...visit our Web!

I'm so pleased to announce that our first and NEW Assistant Director as of January 1, 2001 (the start of an "Odyssey??!!) will be Mr. Todd Lasseigne. I will elaborate much more on Todd and this new position in the next newsletter but suffice it to say that we have found a truly brilliant plantsman in Todd! His work with us over the past 7 months as our Plant Collections Management Fellow has already paid great dividends in bolstering our inflow of accessions, evaluating our current collections, and working with other staff and volunteers to produce a lucid and up to date system of labeling of plants on the grounds themselves. Please join me in welcoming him....more about his background in our next newsletter.

GROUNDBREAKING!! On December 20, we added a new chapter to the JCRA by groundbreaking for the new Ruby C. McSwain Education Center! The day was a bit cool (a bit??? reminded me of the mountains! I'm being blamed for record snowfalls and low temps!) but the sun was strong and the speeches were short! We will be posting photos to our Web site soon so that all of you can feel a part of the day......these buildings that comprise the center will house classrooms, offices, and workspaces. Feel free to come by and see the progress for yourself, but please mind the fences, everything inside the West is now off limits and restricted!

Happy holidays from all of us! I've attached a copy of our card via a PDF file....remember that snow of last January, it gave the Klein-Pringle White Garden and extra boost!! Best to all of you in the new year and thanks for all of your support in whatever form it took!

Date: November 15, 2000
Subject: JCRA....CANCELED!

We regret that Thursday's (Nov. 16, 2000) Friends of the Arboretum Lecture that was to be presented by Mr. Todd Lasseigne will have to be canceled and rescheduled due to Todd's illness. This presentation based on Todd's plant acquisition trip to the West Coast is destined to be a great one so we want Todd to be at his best, as does Todd! We'll post the rescheduled date to this list and via our Web site ( as well as to our other publications as soon as we know it. Thanks!

P.S. Don't forget our ground breaking on December 20 at 2 PM at the JCRA!!!

Date: November 9, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Ground Breaking!

Once again I can relay some GREAT news! Can you spell R.E.A.L.I.T.Y.? I am ecstatic to announce that the JC Raulston Education Center will go to construction with a ground breaking set for December 20, 2000, and EVERYONE is invited for this special event. We'll be getting letters out shortly but consider this your first notification. Clear your calendar for 2 PM that day at the JCRA. Please let us know if you're coming by December 14: telephone (919-515-9260) or email ( will do.

I'd like to also express my appreciation this time to the people of North Carolina for their support of the Higher Education Bond Referendum which just passed...we were in there (like you haven't heard me say that before!).

And to my friends in Virginia, a special invitation to see what the JC Raulston Arboretum is all about....come on down on December 20!

Bob Lyons Professor & Director

Date: November 2, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Lights!!!

I previewed the "Moonlight in the Gardens" event scheduled for Friday and Saturday night and it is nothing short of S.P.E.C.T.A.C.U.L.A.R!!! This is a "must see" event and a rare opportunity to view such an array of landscape lighting all in one place....accent, decorative, spot, aquatic submerged, uplighting, and all other types. It will be a nocturnal hypnotic experience! Having our curators there to talk about the plants in their "lit" areas will be exceptional. Tickets may be purchased at the door, too......landscape lighting has come a long way from those harsh spotlights at the corner of the garage door, beleive me! You may never see our crape myrtles, dwarf loblolly pines, and lace parasol elm highLIGHTED like this again! Bob Lyons

Dates: Nov. 3 and 4 Time: 6-9 PM Place: JC Raulston Arboretum (phone 919/515-3132; Cost: $20 members, $25 non-members

Date:October 29, 2000
Subject: New Course

To everyone on this list......I wanted to share this information from Tracy regarding a new course offering she is giving in Spring Semester....very neat! Bob


NEW Special Topics COURSE OFFERING for Spring, 2001:

Global Gardens, HS495W

Do you like gardens?? Do you ever wonder how the different styles came to be? Do you know why certain plants are found in some gardens and not others?

This course examines different garden styles from around the world and explores the cultural, social, political and historical influences that shaped and molded their unique forms and elements. Slides from numerous gardens in Europe, India, Asia, Russia, and Indonesia will be used to demonstrate garden elements and structure. Student groups will be asked to present a garden of their choice in a poster session, present one aspect of their garden to the class and be tested on general information. Suitable for all undergraduate students from all disciplines.

Instructor: Tracy Traer Time: Monday Evenings, 7:20pm - 10:10pm Place: 159 Kilgore Hall

Date:October 24, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Will's travels

Heads up everyone!.....below I've pasted an announcement of an upcoming presentation by Will Hooker of the Dept. of Horticulture. It is open to anyone and should prove to be excellent! Bob Lyons

--------- From Will:

I've mentioned to a number of you that I will be giving a lecture on my world travels this semester. I will occur on Tuesday, November 14, starting at 7:00 PM in the Witherspoon Student Center Cinema, and will summarize my around-the-world Study Leave last year. During the year, with my wife, Jeana, and our two-year old son, Eli, I traveled to California, Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Bali, Egypt, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland, studying Permaculture, sustainable design, and organic and bio-dynamic agriculture. In our travels, we tended to move between places, then stop for extended periods of time, enabling us to gain greater insights into the whys, wherefores and specific methods employed by the various cultures in living in closer harmony with the natural environment. It is my belief that a number of the lessons learned are applicable to our state and region, and, further, are imperative relative to the ways we lead our lives if we hope to make our human cultures on this Earth sustainable. To see samples of the images that will be presented, check the web site:

Hope to see you there! And please pass this on to any other colleagues, friends, etc., that you believe might be interested. Thanks. Will

Date:October 19, 2000
Subject: JCRA...Roses

Here's a special reminder of the next Friends of the Arboretum lecture coming up this SATURDAY....yes, a different time than the traditional Thursday evenings. It's ROSES!

October 21, 2000 (Saturday) 7:30 p.m. Room 159, Kilgore Hall

Dr. Charles Walker "Heritage Roses: Their History and Uses in Modern Gardens"

If you are new to our group, here's a great way to experience one of the most popular reasons for becoming a new member....our lectures! If not, you can come and join. And we have an excellent slate of upcoming speakers (see the Web site: Here's a nutshell,all are held in Kilgore Hall room159 at 7:30 PM:

November 16, 2000: Todd Lasseigne - New Plants Galore from the Left Coast (Todd will also be leading a Farewell to the West tour on Nov.11 at 1 PM to view and discuss the plants which will soon be removed to make way for the Education at the JCRA brick building.....with Todd leading the tour, you can be sure it will be MEMORABLE...don't miss it!)

January 18, 2001: Pam Baggett - Bold Plants for Timid Compositions.....look up the words "excitement and knowledge" in your plant dictionary and Pam will be there!

February 15, 2001: Tony Avent - In Search of Horticultural Excellence.....will be a botanical travelogue of Tony's year 2000 travels in the US....must not be missed, what a great opportunity to see materials which might just show up in the Plant Delights catalog someday!!

Date:October 5, 2000
Subject: JCRA....streaming imagery!

Hot off Chris Glenn's may now see movie-like presentations from the JC Raulston Arboretum Web site! Go to our homepage, click on "JC Raulston Arboretum's new Web site" link on the first line, then place your cursor over any photos on the page that comes the movie!

Then, go to the left margin, click on "Weddings" and view the entire Klein-Pringle White Garden in panorama in the same way. This is the only area we permit wedding ceremonies to take place, so now you can see it ahead of time before you decide for sure!

This is our newly developing Web site so watch it grow......

Date:October 5, 2000
Subject: JCRA...Fran

Thanks so much to Nancy Margaret and the News and Observer for the terrific story today (Thursday) about our "retiring" Fran Johnson who is retiring from matching JCRA tour guides with tours. Fran has an enviable track record of never having to cancel a tour and we will be lucky to find another who can be as skillful to the JC Raulston Arboretum......thanks, Fran!

Don't forget, the Friends of the Arboretum plant give-away is this Saturday and is a MEMBERS ONLY event.....but you can join on site that morning! It all starts at 9 AM but you should get there much earlier! There are tons of volunteer and staff hours in this event and special thanks to Mitzi for managing it!

Date:October 2, 2000
Subject: JCRA...Newsletter

The next issue of the newsletter is now up and on-line! Get a jump on the reading while the "hard" mail version moves through the system! Here's the address, and note that you are now getting into the "currently under construction" new Web site. Still a work in progress......


Don't forget our tried and true Web site which is still very much functional until the new one is launched: (no longer active)

Date: October 2, 2000
Subject: JCRA...Give Away List!!

The much anticipated Friends of the Arboretum plant give-away is Saturday, October 7, 2000 at 9 AM at the JCRA! This is a MEMBERS ONLY event so bring your card! You can call (919) 515-3132 to become a member or come to the JCRA that morning and sign up....come early, the line forms quickly and long, but great care is given for fairness thanks to Mitzi!

Want to see what will be available? Here's the Web site for the list: <>.

Members form the core of the JCRA and their support is vital to our general operations, maintenance and position support.....please join us! The JCRA is all about plants, it is the backbone....come see why!! The new T-shirt design will also be available for purchase by our faithful corps of volunteers!!

Date: September 25, 2000
Subject: November 7, 2000 Elections

To quote Chancellor Marye Anne Fox of NCSU from the Web site <>: "On November 7 the voters of North Carolina will be asked to consider a $3.1 billion building bond issue for the University of North Carolina system and community colleges. Approximately $468M of that money could come to NC State to renovate existing facilities and to expand others so we can accommodate more students."

This Bond Issue will contain within its list of vital projects $500,000 targeted for the McSwain Education Center (classroom space) at the JC Raulston Arboretum. This $500,000 would put the JCRA in a position to begin construction of Phase I almost immediately. I hope that you will plan on voting on November 7, 2000!

As we continue to raise funds for all three Phases of the entire McSwain Education Center complex, there are numerous naming opportunities still available. I cannot overemphasize how excited I am about this building and the potential it holds! We have terrific momentum and I would be delighted for your participation in the overall project.....please contact either myself or Ms. Donna Walker, Development Associate for the JCRA at 919/513-3826 or via email at <> for additional information.

Date: September 14, 2000
Subject: JCRA....last call!

Fall is busy indeed with plant people around the Triangle region so here are a couple last events I'll post.....take them in! I'll toss in a few more JCRA images also!

* THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY (Sept. 15,16) the Chatham County (NC) Growers Association Tour will take place 9 AM to 5 PM each is a self-guided tour which can be followed from a map obtained from a variety of 663-3725 to find out where. Nurseries will have visible yellow signs out front with numbers corresonding to those on the map. We are pleased that one of our own, Andy Upshaw, has one of the tour's nurseries (Pleasant Gardens Nursery)!


* The Sarah P. Duke Gardens will holds a Plant Sale for its own benefit on Oct. 7 from 9 AM - Noon....they're in Durham on the Duke campus, and the sale will be in a new location, look for signs. They will feature mums, spring flowering bulbs, botanical crafts and gifts by the Garden Guild, and garden advice from the Durham County Master Gardeners....bring you own box! It is a great place to visit!

That's it...enjoy and visit! Bob Lyons

Date: September 13, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Up and Coming!

OK, so I took a bit of a hiatus from posting these notes....Italy was great, Orlando was different, and I'm hooked on gelato....I'm back. Now for something completely are our own programming efforts and collaborations for the near future. Please read down, check out new JCRA images placed between the announcements; these events are listed in order of upcoming "appearance" on our calendar..MY ADVICE...PRINT OUT THIS EMAIL! Until next time....Bob Lyons

* LECTURE:HORTICULTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY .....only the Part I lecture remains open, the other parts closed within hours of posting.....was I ever surprised. This 2 hour lecture is Sept. 22 starting at 7:30 PM in Kilgore Hall rm.159 on the NCSU campus and will cost JCRA members $15 and nonmembers $25; I'm giving the lecture; photography is my other life.....learn about some basics, elements of composition, the effects of light, what f-stop is all about, and many other aspects of photography, using plants as the primary subjects....make the jump from snapshots to photographs....No experience is necessary for this lecture, and neither is a camera, just come and pick up some pointers to start or improve your photographic techniques..... No advance registration required.


* FRIENDS OF THE ARBORETUM GIVE-AWAY on October 7 at 9 AM at the JCRA but come early for a good place in line! This annual event is open to MEMBERS ONLY but you can join up that day and participate immediately! Hundreds of plants from our nursery are set out for the taking but ONLY if you are a member. Remember, $30 gets you an individual membership ON THE SPOT.


* On October 21 at 7:30 PM, Dr. Charles Walker presents a Friends of the Arboretum Lecture entitled, "HERITAGE ROSES: Their History and Uses in Modern Gardens." This is part of our regular lecture series throughout the year in Kilgore Hall 159 on the NCSU campus and offered free to our members, $5 for nonmembers....but you can join up on the spot if you wish! Roses enjoy incredible popularity so come by and hear about the older types that still occupy prominent positions in the garden.


* "WINTER GARDENING IN THE SOUTH" NOT miss this presentation resulting from a partnership between the JCRA and Horticulture Magazine out of Boston!! Scheduled for 9 AM - 4 PM on October 28 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center in Research Triangle Park, NC....just west of Raleigh and the JCRA. We are pleased that we are one of only 3 stops this tour of speakers is making in the southeast (Charleston and Atlanta the other two). Basic price is $109/person with a $14 discount given to JCRA members and the speaker list is superb.....listen to Cole Burrell (a Virginia resident, so come on down Virginians!), Scott Ogden, Tom Peace, and our own Doug Ruhren who co-curates the JCRA Perennial Border with Edith Eddleman.....PLEASE CALL 800/395-1901 for a brochure and registration information....there will be book signings, too! Travel in, stay the night, and visit the JCRA while your in town.


* "MOONLIGHT IN THE GARDENS"....a brand new fundraiser and membership cultivation event by the JCRA....and this one promises to be absolutely incredible, you've got to see it! Mark your calendars for November 3 & 4 when the JCRA will open from 6 PM to 9 PM to showcase landscape lighting courtesy of Southern Lights in Raleigh. Enjoy a rare, after-dark visit to the JCRA to see the plants and curators in a "new light" from uplights, downlights, accent lights, and de-lights! I just saw the near-final plans for this event and was amazed, and I think you will be also. Refreshments will be available and entry to the event will be $20 for JCRA members and $25 for non-members. This is the first announcement, so please call 919/515-3132 for further gotta come; the view from the Beltline will change completely for these evenings! Wish we could've arranged a full moon.

Date: September 12, 2000
Subject: JCRA....friends events

We've had a flurry of announcements lately regarding events being held by some of our departmental organizations and neighboring institutions.....we hope you'll check them out and they are listed in no particular order!

1. "For the Birds" event hosted by Niche Gardens ( with the opening reception with artists Sept. 17, 1-5 PM, and the event continuing through Oct. 22. Visit and see this rain or shine exhibition and sale of "extraordinary birdhouses, baths, sculpture and plants;" featuring N.C. artists, too. phone: 919/967-0078 or see the Web site.

2. Pi Alpha Xi Plant Sale....usually these words say it all as eager plant enthusiasts line up for blocks just to get in for the best selection offered by the honor fraternity of floriculture and ornamental horticulture! It is held at the JCRA on Saturday Sept.30 from 8 AM - 4 PM and again on Sunday Oct. 1, 10 AM - 3 PM. Want something unusual, you have to come early for this sale!!

3. Montrose Garden Open Day.....this lovely site in Hillsborough opens its doors with no admission on Sept. 30 from 10 AM - 3 PM so that visitors may see the late summer and fall garden at its peak. Specially propagated plants will be for sale. Call for directions (919/732-7787) and park next to the Cameron Park School.

Date: May 8, 2000
Subject: JCRA......Million$$$

Here's a terrific news flash, as I just returned from an incredible Gala Event this evening at the JC Raulston Arboretum! There was so much good news!

1. It gives me great pleasure to announce the single largest gift given to the JCRA in its history.......$1.2 MILLION targeted for the Education Center from Ms. Ruby McSwain. In light of Ms. Ruby's generosity, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox will be requesting NC State's Board of Trustees to consider our desire to name the Education Center in Ms. Ruby's honor....and we couldn't be more delighted! What makes this even more significant is that this gift is also the largest planned gift in the history of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.....wish I had just a single key on this keyboard to yell out loud! I have enjoyed getting to know Ms. Ruby over these past months and know that her gift is a sincere expression of her personal love for the JCRA!

2. We also announced this evening that Mr. Willie York, along with his late wife Lib, decided to convert their $300,000 building campaign challenge to a $300,000 pledge to be paid immediately upon commencement of the Education Center construction! Willie is a great supporter of what we do, as was Lib, who graciously served on our Board of Advisors and contributed so much. Thank you!

3. The Corporate sponsorship of this year's Gala was nothing short of astounding, totaling over $40,000! We are indebted to our friends in the NC Assoc. of Nurserymen, the A.E. Finley Fdn., Alcatel,, Frank Grainger/Fair Products Company, Hunter Industries, Lynch and Howard PA, J.W. York Co., The Hamlin Companies, and York Properties. The weather was incredibly sunny and warm, the silent auctions were fabulous, and the dinner exceptional!

More to come, but I wanted to post this exciting news as fast as I could....we are going to see this Education Center built!!

Until next time.....Bob Lyons

Date: April 28, 2000
Subject: Duke Gardens Plant Sale

We like to encourage support of our fellow gardens around the I thought I'd forward this announcement along....Be sure to stay and walk
these gardens after you make your purchases....very cool!

Perennials, herbs, shrubs, trees.
Saturday, May 6, 9 am - Noon.
At Duke Gardens; Anderson St. Entrance

Please bring your own box....or better yet, a minivan so you can get lots!
Gardening advice provided by the Durham County Master Gardeners, too!

Date: April 27, 2000
Subject: JCRA.....Update!

Well, the past few weeks have certainly evaporated from the calendar pages but I'm pleased to update you on lots of new "stuff" from the JCRA. The speed of spring's march towards summer can be measured with ease by the dynamism of our collections. And while it is a bit too late to catch our redbuds in full flower, these plants constitute one of our more significant groups. The genus Cercis, as the redbuds are also known, are familiar to many of us.....during my many years of traveling throughout Virginia, I loved Interstate 81 in spring as it traced the Shenandoah mountain spine along the Commonwealth's western edge. This may have been the only time when this ordinarily truck-littered highway became inviting, being draped in a "purple haze" (careful, children of the 60s!) of familiar origins...the redbuds! They were as anticipated as the disappearance of the last skiff of snow. The native redbud, Cercis canadensis, has a habit as intriguing as its limbs and branches appear almost spidery and chaotic, with leaves fashioned in contrasting symmetry, a broad heart shape. So, if you missed our redbuds, take a look below; if you saw them, enjoy them again. Here are some cultivars of Cercis canadensis:


'Tennessee Pink'

And for the white aficionados amongst you....the "white" redbud!

We are also pleased that Dr. Dennis Werner of our department has begun to breed our species and cultivars; here is his (left) with his associate, Mr. Layne Snelling. Patience and good eyesight must prevail here:

Dennis also has a special interest in the butterfly bushes (Buddleja species), so when we removed the Leyland cypress from the labyrinth, we inserted a terrific collection of these in their place in the West JCRA......dozens to be "approximately exact"...this will be great by midsummer, you've got to view
them. I'm sure I'll be sending images later...none yet!

We have also bid farewell to the winter annuals in the past couple of weeks; they've had to make way for the onslaught of summer color, sure to blind the eye soon enough.....but in case you haven't had your fill, here's the last look at the pansies; this was a beautiful winter for them:

And this year, we trialed some California poppies (Eschscholzia californica; yep, that spelling is right!). They survived the winter fine here, grew beautifully and vigorously, but just couldn't bloom soon enough before we needed the space back. These are called long day plants, not even concerned with flowering until the daylength gets longer (or night gets shorter, more correctly put!)....lots of buds in this picture, and I think lots of potential, too, we're putting out many more next fall:

The Perennial Border is being judiciously and meticulously brought back to life by Edith and Doug, and their able cadre of volunteers....remember what it looked like last year? Now look what's evolving:

This site is also being mapped concurrently under Val's guidance and with the assistance of several undergraduate students interested in this vital aspect of any arboretum.

The Paradise Garden also makes great progress, as evidenced by folks like Austin Proctor involved in this process.

And finally, the great labeling effort is now in progress. Nancy has been hard at work with the Engraver Volunteers getting our computerized system set up to accommodate the enormous project ahead.

But we're pleased that we'll have this system standardized in label color, size, information composition, and display logistics. The Finley Rose Garden is one of the first areas to get 'em, with the Lath House a close second. This is VERY exciting!

And have I mentioned the Gala Web site to view the Silent Auction items??? This is a "first" for the Gala and we're excited to bring it to you! The Gala is May 7, but you knew that already!

Until next time!...........Bob Lyons

Date: March 19, 2000
Subject: FOA Lecture!

I'm pleased to remind you of the upcoming Friends of the Arboretum lecture gives me great pleasure to also announce that our speaker, Todd Lasseigne, has also recently accepted our temporary position in new plant acquisitions and collections management while we continue our search for the Assistant Directorship......come by and hear and welcome Todd with us!


Friends of the Arboretum Lecture

Friends of the Arboretum lectures are free to those with current JCRA membership. There is a $5.00 fee for non-members. Please bring your membership card. We will have a current membership list at the door. Memberships will be available for purchase at the door. Admittance is free to all NC State students with ID and Department of Horticultural Science faculty and staff.

All lectures are in room 159, Kilgore Hall on the NC State University campus and begin at 7:30 p.m. There is plenty of free parking at the intersection of Hillsborough and Brooks in the Brooks lot. Please call (919) 515-3132 if you need directions or information about any of the following events.

March 23, 2000 (Thursday)

Todd Lasseigne: "A Plantsman in China"

China offers an opportunity for unparalleled study of temperate-zone botanical diversity. Boasting nearly 30,000 species of vascular plants (150% that of US and Canada, combined), no other temperate zone flora remains as complete as that of China, which escaped the widespread plant extinctions in North America and Europe during the Pleistocene glaciations. In this talk, vignettes will be presented of the botanical diversity, emerging horticulture industry, and rich cultures observed on the recent Sigma Xi trip to Yunnan Province, China.

Date: March 5, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Stars & Saucers

I'm not sure whether to be happy or hesitant regarding the recent spate of unbelievably nice weather we've been having here in Raleigh.....can you say 70s! It has indeed had an impact on the emergence from dormancy for plenty of materials...but first, here's a bit of a recap following that freak snowstorm and ice. After all melted, we discovered some losses but also observed some interesting responses; after all, it also got down to about 12 degrees for a few days....another season of records, I guess. Here goes for the damage report:

Mitzi removed Cupressus arizonica var. glabra sulfurea in E27, Picea glauca (standard) in E43, Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald' in W1-3, and the Leylands in W39. These were the same Leylands which I reported to you earlier about coming down from the labyrinth area in the West JCRA.....she also removed the large Juniperus communis in W2. We also heard from Tony Avent, who walked the site after the meltdown, and he had this to report:

"Many plants such as the Callistemons, Nolina nelsonii, etc. which should not have suffered damage showed severe leaf damage, while the agaves should have had severe foliar damage due to the ice look great. Also, I suspected more damage on many of the broadleaf evergreens if you got as cold as the airport. (we almost did)."

It would be unforgivable if you could not take in our magnolias, so I've included a set of 4 images, but nothing beats the real thing. So often the appearance of the "star" types only means that a freeze is not far behind! Titled "stars and saucers," I'm making reference to the common names of a couple of major magnolia groups in the JCRA.....I was a bit worried going into winter last year. After our drought and then deluge of rain in September, there was plenty of premature flowering. These guys formed their flowers for this year back in 1999, so the more that flowered out of sequence, the fewer we'd have to see. Rest assured, it remains quite a sight....why it's even enough for our narcissus to raise their heads in a split second of modesty, just to take notice of the canopy of flowers.....listen closely and you might just hear them whine in hopelessness at the encompassing and distracting canopy above them:


A quick trip (hard these days with so much to see!) over to the newly-repaired lath house (thanks Paul, Brad, and Mitzi!) should bring you right to a most unusual species before entering.....Chamaedaphne calyculata 'Verdant' of those intriguing monospecific genera (have I got your attention!) often called just plain Cassandra, for short:


It is an unassuming evergreen shrub whose cascading and droopy racemes of flowers are in full flush at the moment. It might also remind you of the common Andromeda shrub (Pieris japonica), a close relative and cultivated the same way. And speaking of Pieris, how about a deeper, richer, and more captivating color....:


Incredibly draped in a shower of bell-like flowers, seemingly knotted together for effect against a lustrous green foliage, Pieris japonica 'Shojo' may not ring out loud, but who needs noise when your eyes start pulsating with interest!

There's still plenty of time to catch the display of hellebores, primarily in our winter garden, directly behind the White Garden. These plants are taking the market by storm, providing some sorely needed diversity to an otherwise singular display of winter annuals:


Rough textured and bold, long lasting and permanent in appearance, hellebores are no longer on the horizon, they are here to stay. The most common may be H. niger, H. foetidus, and H. orientalis, but the one you're looking at is H. x sternii 'Boughton Beauty Strain'.....lovely!!

And within in the same vicinity, another harbinger of warmer days to come are the our Primula vulgaris ssp. sibthorpii which hails from the Balkans:


Primulas are an absolutely huge group with about 400 listed perennials much for monospecific genera! But they are also well known for some of the most welcome and delightful color when its cool. They generally detest the heat, with some more apt to flourish further north, being better tolerant of colder winters than sizzling summers...enjoy ours!

There's tons going on these days, so make your visit soon...and remember, the Gala is coming on May 7. Need an announcement, drop me an email and we'll send one out! Never been, then you NEED to come...I'll let you know when the Gala Web site is done, courtesy of Chris Glenn, keep checking our Web site (

Until next time............Bob Lyons

Date: February 21, 2000
Subject: JCRA....On-Line

I'm pleased to say that Chris Glenn has posted our next issue of the Newsletter to our Web site, in color with internal "clicks" to bigger photos and direct, as on-line recipients of information from the JCRA, you are getting this much sooner than the regular mailing group, and the hardcopy will not be in full color.

This will likely continue, giving the electronic world a bit of an advance look, that is. This is a special double issue of the newsletter as we attempt
to get ourselves back on the publishing track....comments welcome. I'm most appreciative of your patience. Renewal reminders also went out recently, as
did membership category forms if yours was left out of your renewal. We are getting there!!

I'll be in touch shortly about some of the damage uncovered after the snow melted, accompanied by photos. Here's another scoop as per this mailing, last
week we decided to remove the ring of Leyland Cypress surrounding the Labyrinth in the West JCRA. Snow weight damage, along with other
deterioriation of these specimens moved us to this conclusion.....look for other plantings to take their place this summer.....with endings come new
beginnings....and photos a bit later!

Hellebores and Witch Hazels in full flower and fragrance, right now!!!

Date: Feb 5, 2000
Subject: JCRA.....Update

There is a terrific and wonderfully detailed article about the winter blooming plants at the JCRA on the FRONT PAGE in today's Home section (Saturday, 2/5/00) of the News and Observer.....thanks so much to author L.A. Jackson, who I might add is also a subscriber like you, to these broadly dispersed email updates from the JCRA we call the Lyons' Den! Bet some of you didn't know that was the name!

For those of you out of town and out of reach of the N & O, don't feel left out.... check out the story on-line, also FRONT SCREEN (!) at:

Thanks, and until next time........Bob Lyons

Save the date....the Gala in the Garden is coming May 7....more details will follow!!

Date: January 25, 2000
Subject: JCRA Weekly.....More SNOW!

Ok, who's idea is this! It is midnight, The wind is blowing hard outside my window, the snow is almost horizontal and the predictions are for 6-12 inches of snow by morning.....Raleigh??!!

In the interest of safety and fairness to our JCRA Asst. Director interview candidate, Mr. Todd Lasseigne, and those scheduled to meet with him, I am canceling the Tuesday interview/seminar and will get back in touch regarding a new date....I'm beginning to think that Rod Serling is lurking around here somewhere! AARRGGHH!!!

For those of you for which this makes no difference at all, let me give you a brief update and images from the JCRA!

In addition to plants, the JCRA can be a great area to view display research. Of course we have winter and summer annuals in our testing program, but when we've got some extra space in the winter, we've got a chance to do something a bit different. Take a walk out in the next couple of months and check out the winter weed suppression experiment in progress, under the coordination of Dr. Joe Neal; so you don't think weeds grow in winter...don't we you don't think this is significant? Well, have you noticed the incredible numbers of pansies moving through nurseries and mass merchandisers just this fall alone??? Check this out:


This image, taken before our spate of snowfalls (!!!), shows the type of experimental conditions we're looking at and we've got these labeled for the passive visitor. The plants are pansies, the most popular of winter display annuals, one variety. We're looking at the suppression effects of regular, familiar pine straw; no straw or mulch cover at all (i.e. bare soil); pine straw and an herbicide; a unique pelleted material made of old newspapers; and another organic product called Wulpak (no, not a play on the NCSU mascot!) a pelletized wool waste product which expands with water absorption to form a porous "cover." We'd also like to see if there are any toxic effects of these mulches on the pansies. Since the wool is organic, it can be turned back into the soil where it decomposes. So far, so the way, thanks, Robbie, for the uniform method of plot setup!

In the same vicinity, you cannot miss the test plots and planned designs (thanks, Jamie!) using other winter annuals, more correctly cool season veggie friends are probably howling with delight as they witness the transformation of the kid who wouldn't eat his greens to one who finds them at the height of ornamental aesthetics during the "off season"...take a look:


I am absolutely taken by the new rage and interest in these plants, and Icannot get enough of them! A deep freeze may not get them through the winter as well as pansies can cope, but do we really care? They get us a few more months of color when we used to think there were no possibilities. Color, color, color....the buzz phrase in the landscape industry these days!

Winter is also the prime time to witness one of our most elegant woody specimens, the lace parasol elm (Ulmus alata 'Lace Parasol'), certainly a landscape reincarnate of the word "class", and one whose silhouette is captivating:


And if you truly MUST have floral color in the shortest days of the year, there are always camellias, a group I'm becoming more and more familiar with (pardon the dangling preposition!). I suspect, and I'm sure I'll hear if I'm wrong, that there will be more buds to open even after our latest freeze/snow. The first group to flower, the Camellia sasanqua types, are nearing their end at the JCRA, but here's a sample:

The C. japonicas are on their heels!

I was talking to Mitzi the other day, right after the third (?) snow of the week, and she mentioned the peacefulness and tranquil feel of the early morning ambiance at the JCRA.....perhaps you should try to experience that, too!

Until next time..........Bob Lyons

Date: January 19, 2000
Subject: JCRA....Postcards

Well, they told me that it never snowed down here, and if it did, why, it melted as quickly as it came......HA! And more to come "they" say for tonight! But it gives me a rare opportunity to share with you some scenes from the JC Raulston Arboretum in winter, courtesy of Chris Glenn. We think they are pretty sharp!

I won't say much more, I'd rather let you view the images, but do come and visit....and remember, The Gala is May 7...mark your calendars now and save the date! Here goes, view away! Until next time......Bob Lyons


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