Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another Perfect Day

Today was a cold start again and the bees took some time to warm up and get moving.  The one above is on the 'Mesa Yellow' blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) just waiting to warm up and continue collecting pollen.  I sure hope frost is weeks away but the cooling trend looks to continue well in to next week too.  It was another gorgeous day with a mixture of sun and clouds but also the perfect gardening temperature of 68 degrees F!  We had a productive day outside but also had a reminder of the looming Holiday Lights Show preparations with a delivery this morning of 25,000 LED twinkle lights to be added to the show this year.  We had a nice turnout of volunteers and were able to accomplish many tasks throughout the day.  Below are some additional photos from today.

 'Sky Rocket' variegated fountain grass (Pennisetum x advena) looking nice in the reception garden - annual
the red wall theme has shrugged off the cold evenings (so far!)
Rozanne geranium (Geranium hybrida 'Gerwat') - perennial
 'Moonshine' lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) - perennial

We did have a solid corps of volunteers help out today. Eva (above) and Kathy (below) continued weeding and purging unsightly annuals from the reception and sunken gardens respectively.  Kay focused her efforts on tidying up the pink themed areas around the terrace garden behind the Parker Education Center.  The ladies did a great job.  Dr. Gredler was in for mowing and our afternoon crew of Gena, Myrt and Mary did an excellent job planting 40+ new daylilies (Hemerocallis) in the Potter Daylily Collection.  Bob K. did some preliminary work for a project in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and we saw Dr. Yahr, Dick P. and many others today as well.

This time of year provides countless tasks and our grounds staff dove right in early this morning.  Cindy worked on hauling mums to the Parker Education Center (still for sale at $7 each, bulbs for sale inside too!).  She also worked on mum planting in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden along with some additional clean-up.  Cheryl continued tidying in the gazebo garden and English cottage garden.  She also had some major watering duties in and around our holding yard. Big John and Terry picked up some donations today and worked together on many projects such as hauling in more lights for testing, preparing a greenhouse for winter storage of tropicals, etc.  The guys also ran irrigation, set up strategic sprinklers and checked all the containers for watering needs.  I had a brief presentation and continue to work on post plant sale duties and pre Holiday Lights Show tasks.  Below are additional photos from this morning out in the gardens.

 Endless Summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer') - woody shrub (can be blue with more acidification of the soil...)
 Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) - perennial
morning star sedge (Carex grayi) - perennial
 'Brass Lantern' foamy bells (xHeucherella) - perennial
 'The Giant' Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) - perennial
the always photogenic arched bridge this morning

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autumn Is In The Air

Today was an absolutely perfect fall day with morning dew and temperatures right around 40 degrees F.  It warmed up nicely to 65 degrees F and was a sunny day with blue skies.  I could live in this weather year round for sure!  The gardens have avoided frost thus far although we're poised to start removing tropicals for storage once we start heading in to early October.  Wisconsin weather can be quite variable with our first hard frost coming between late September and early November (average around October 15th) never know!....  Above is a fortuitous combination of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) arching in to a 'Shockwave' variegated garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  Below are some of the plants being installed for fall interest over these coming weeks.  These pansies (Viola) and kale (Brassica) are destined for the English cottage garden and will fill gaps created by annuals that are being removed.  We had a great crew today of both grounds staff and industrious volunteers!  Below are some additional images from today...

'Trudy' toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) - perennial
 bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) - perennial

Ron K. (above) was in for planting in the woodland work where he also continues to collect leaves and other debris from this large garden area.  Ron has added many plants in this garden space over the years and it looks better each year.  Directly below (left to right) are Kathy, Peg (started last week) and Eva tidying up our front garden bed which is looking a bit tired.  The game right now is maximizing and extending color but also purging annuals that are really looking spent and unsightly.  The ladies brought back many loads of debris.  Both Dr. Gredler and Bill O. were in for their mowing duties and Urban popped in for more pruning duties.  Kay (second photo down) did another dynamite job of tidying in the shade garden and is a master at extending interest as long as possible.  Maury ran errands and Shirley and her husband stopped by to drop of lights they've been testing and repairing for the upcoming Holiday Lights Show.  They left with another 12 crates of lights to work on at home too!  We also saw Mark S. and many others today.   Further below are additional plant photos from this morning.  Do see the bottom of this blog for information on our upcoming Fall Symposium entitled Wee, Wild & Woody!

 'Red Head' fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) - perennial
 "thousand-flower aster" (Boltonia sp.) - perennial
'Jaws' stonecrop (Sedum hybrida) - perennial

It was a great day to be outside and the grounds staff (Cindy, Cheryl, Big John, Janice and Larry) all had plenty of tasks.  Above is the beautiful and textural 'Aureola' golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra) which is a dynamite grass for part shade.  Cindy and Cheryl did a nice job primping various garden areas and both had watering duties as well.  We missed the rain yesterday and while things aren't drying out yet, we'll keep up with watering as needed.  Big John converted containers with new mums, push mowed, pruned birches (Betula sp.) and had myriad other tasks as well.  Janice had some gardening projects but focused most of her efforts today on packing away Fall Plant Sale signs, labels, etc. which is no small task.  Larry continued running irrigation, push mowed and even started bringing out Holiday Lights Show displays for testing.  I toured the gardens and had some post plant sale involvement as well.  I'm also keeping up with desk work, Holiday Lights Show preparations and preparations for looming presentations as well.

 'Gryphon' begonia (Begonia hybrida) - annual
'Oriole Orange' Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) - annual
See below....sorry if it ended up spread out after my "cut and paste" of the information which is also on our website at
Don’t miss Wee, Wild & Woody! 
RBG’s Fall Symposium on Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 9:00am-3:30pm.

As always, it’s a great opportunity for Master Gardener Volunteers to get some education hours and this time, we’re also offering a Master Gardener discount even if the attendee is not a Member of RBG.  Lunch is included in the registration fee.
Speakers & Presentations:

Ed Lyon, Director of Allen Centennial Gardens
Dwarf Conifers: Small in Size, Not in Stature

Neil Diboll, President of Prairie Nursery
Prairie Plants for Pollinators

Dave Wanninger, Horticulturist in Charge at Boerner Botanical Gardens
New and Exciting Woody Plants for the Upper Midwest Garden

$67         RBG Friends Members
$72         Active Master Gardeners (must list county/state)**
$78         General Public

**Active Master Gardeners who are also RBG Friends Members can get the lowest pricing.

Register online with a credit card at or by phone or mail at the contact information below.

Rotary Botanical Gardens
Attn: Kris Koch
1455 Palmer Drive
Janesville, WI 53545
608-752-3885 ext. 17

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back To Business

Today was overcast the entire day with the perpetual threat of drizzle.  At the time of typing this blog, it hadn't rained yet but I think we'll have received something by tomorrow.  It was a great day for photography out in our early Autumn garden (see formal gardens above - this morning).  Despite the chance of rain this morning, we had an excellent turnout of volunteers with everyone hustling to beat the rains which looked imminent at the time!  With the Fall Plant Sale being over, we still have mums and bulbs that we'll be selling out of the Garden Gallery at the Parker Education Center.  Mums are $7 each and bulbs are priced as marked.  Overall, the sale went fairly well although it would have been nice to sell more as this is a vital fundraiser for the gardens.  We still have bagged mushroom compost as well and will come up with some opportunities yet this season to pick up some of that product.  Below are some other images from today.

American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) - woody shrub
'Autumn Colors' gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) - annual
'Moonlight' caladium (Caladium sp.) - tropical

The Grumpies above (left to right are Dick H., Ron R., Dick P., Gary, Lloyd, Larry H. and Gary B.) took down our large plant sale tents in quick order and some of the guys continued working on dismantling some of the plant sale tables.  Larry H., Lloyd, Ron P. and Gary B. were also out collecting leaves and debris off the paths.  The carpenters (Jim, Dave and Bob K.) headed out to work on a siding project and Ken (below) started painting our giant Adirondack chairs.  The third photo down shows Dave and Jim (driving).  Bob also had some other projects including electrical troubleshooting with Larry (see second photo down).  Shirley, Kay and Eva all worked on tidying up the entrance garden and purging spent annuals.  They came back with plenty of loads of debris.  Maury ran more errands and helped haul mums up to the Parker Education Center for purchase.  Del helped water the mums and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Bill O., Rollie and many others today.

The grounds staff was able to salvage an entire day outside with plenty of gardening tasks.  We did finally get a little drizzle at the end of the day.  John and Terry hauled bulbs over to the gift shop, ran our borrowed wagons back (thanks Flower Factory!) from the plant sale and had myriad other tasks out in the gardens.  Cindy did a nice job tidying up the front entrance garden and Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  She's poised to do more mum planting later in the week as well.  Larry ran irrigation all day, did some push mowing and had various other tasks as well.  I toured the gardens briefly and was happy to see that our tropicals made it through the last three nights of 40 degree F temperatures.  The gardens continue to transition smoothly in to Autumn but are still very colorful.  I'm also working on details for our next big event; the Holiday Lights Show.  Below are additional images from today.

 'Ocean's Fury' crested painted fern (Athyrium hybrida) - perennial
 'Emberglow' montbretia (Crocosmia sp.) - marginal hardiness
 Kickin' 'Lilac Blue' aster (Aster hybrida) - perennial
'Razzleberry' stonecrop (Sedum hybrida) - perennial
 'King Theodore' nasturtium (Tropaeolum nanum) - annual
Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale 'The Giant') - perennial

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Chilly Day

Dr. Gredler's apparel above (including long underwear) should clue you as to the weather this morning.  The high was around 50 degrees F with a cold breeze and afternoon drizzle; certainly very "fall like" for everyone outside.  The Fall Plant Sale Extended Clearance Sale did have some patrons and we look forward to a busy Saturday morning tomorrow (9 am - 2 pm, 15% off everything).  Special thanks to Polly, Joy, Janice, Bev, Mary W. and Gene B. for helping facilitate the sale today.  I'm glad we had a relatively dry first portion of the day with some great productivity from grounds staff and volunteers.  I was able to tour the gardens this morning and the color is extremely vivid on this cloudy day and the tropical plants all withstood another cold evening around 40 degrees F.!  Below are some additional images from today.

the fern & moss garden still looks great
the Jungle Garden continues to be impressive in scale
the red wall theme is still hanging in there
this container with dark foliage anchors the North point garden

We had a great showing of volunteers this morning and were able to get the gardens tidied up for the weekend.  The weather will be cool this weekend but tomorrow looks nice for the Fall Plant Sale Extended Clearance (9 am - 2 pm, 15% off everything) and three outdoor weddings.  Above is Ron K. collecting leaves in the woodland walk garden.  He did a nice job but noted that about 75% of the leaves above his assigned garden have yet to come down!  Below are Resa (left) and Cookie heading out to tidy the North point garden and areas surrounding that garden.  They always do a nice job (of smiling too!).  Kathy and Eva continued their work in the entrance garden and we'll be going through their weekly to tidy and purge as needed.  The second photo down shows Kay working in her assigned section of the shade garden which had a fresh batch of leaves and twigs that didn't escape her attention.  Dr. Gredler did his mowing rounds and we had help from new volunteer John (third photo down) out in the gardens.  We also saw Dr. Yahr, Maury, Bonnie, Fred S. and many others today.

Our grounds crew had a productive day with outdoor activities until lunch and then a shift to more inside work as the drizzle continued.  Cindy worked on tidying up in front of the Parker Education Center and did some work near the gazebo garden.  She also shifted to lights testing which is one of the early preparations for the Holiday Lights Show that we like to tackle during these rainy days.  While Terry helped with the lights after lunch, he had a busy morning of push mowing, shearing, weeding and other gardening duties.  Janice helped with the plant sale but also worked with John (above) in the Thomas Jefferson Collection.  Janice also did some gardening and worked on the cutting display.  I had various tasks including some preparations for upcoming presentations and the Holiday Lights Show.  Below are some additional images from today.

'All Gold' Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra) flowing out of our boulder wall - perennial
Short's aster (Aster shortii) in part sun - perennial
chicken gizzard plant or bloodleaf (Iresine herbstii) - annual
'David' garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) - perennial
stonecrop (Sedum cauticola) at peak bloom above plum/blue foliage - perennial
'Miyazaki' toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) mirror imaging as one of Cindy's tattoos!