Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hottest Day Of The Year

Today was not really sunny but was oppressively hot and humid.  I think the heat index was in the 90 degrees F range and everyone was dripping by the end of the day.  That heat should help the tropical plants and annuals.  Oddly enough, this hot spell will be quite brief with a return to the upper 70 degrees F tomorrow.  Above is the 'Blue Angel' gentian sage (Salvia patens) looking great for our visitors (including the hummingbirds!) in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden which is featuring our "Pollinator's Paradise" theme.  That garden is looking spectacular and we're heading in to a great time to see peak summer color at the gardens in general!  Despite the heat, we had a very productive day which included lots of watering.  Our 20% chance of rain didn't materialize but Friday looks promising.  We saw lots of visitors today and were happy to have a great volunteer turnout as well.  Below are some additional photos from today.

'Summer Beauty' ornamental onion (Allium sp.) - perennial
'Golden Dreams' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual
'Arnold's Daughter' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial

Volunteers took advantage of the cooler morning.  Ron K. (directly above) continues to tweak the woodland walk garden which looks great.  Here he's tidying up hostas and wont run out of weeds any time soon (job security).  Directly below is Kay working near the gazebo garden.  She put the finishing touches on weeding a large berm that looks awesome now.  The next photo down shows Eva working near the shade garden.  She and Kathy (next photo down with Big John) did a superb job weeding an area that really was an eye sore.  The ladies did an excellent job as usual. Vicki came in to help Cindy weed in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  Maury ran some errands for us and both Dr. Gredler and Bill O. focused on their mowing duties.  We also saw Ron W., Chuck S., Bruce R., Joel R., Chris, Tom, Kris K., Ray Y., Deb G. and many others today. 

The grounds staff contributed quite a bit of "sweat equity" today.  Big John (above) worked on setting up sprinklers, air edging and a wide range of other projects (when he wasn't leaning on a shovel).  Cindy watered, fertilized and focused her attention on the children's garden as well.  She's done a nice job maximizing the look of the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme that has a strong All-America Selections (AAS) component.  This display is also entered in their Landscape Design Competition for the third year in a row.  We were proud to have our last two displays (very unique) win first place and feel we have a "solid" entry this year as well!  Larry watered, ran irrigation, weed whipped, fixed irrigation sprinklers and had other tasks as well.  Janice weeded, planted, watered and fertilized today.  Everyone kept busy and showed their toughness out in this sticky weather.  I was able to spray more herbicide this morning in some nightmare areas and am preparing for our Fall Plant Sale (September 6th and 7th, pre-sale for RBG Members on Sept. 5th, 9 am - 4 pm daily).  We are in need of many volunteers for this event so contact Mark ASAP!  This sale will again feature hundreds of perennial varieties (for sun and shade), mums, bulbs, shrubs, compost, pansies, kale, etc.  Below are more photos from this morning.

'Illumination Flame' foxglove hybrid (xDigiplexis)
giant elecampane (Inula magnifica) - perennial
'Sparkler Rose' spider flower (Cleome hybrida) looking great near our 'Biota' sculpture (O.V. Shaffer).  These plantings are lovingly tended by Hal and Doris and they seem to bump their heads on the sculpture quite often (no damage...to the sculpture)
the prairie is looking sharp and adequate rains have made it quite lush
Jordan's elevated planter is filling in nicely!
'Pied Piper Red' cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) - annual

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Heat Cometh

Above is a nice shot of a hummingbird headed towards a scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea).  Captured and shared by Marsha M. (thank you!), this is evidence that our "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden is effective.  We're seeing lots of butterflies as well.  It was a warm, sunny Monday with a hot day looming tomorrow (heat index near 100 degrees F).  It will be nice to get some heat for our tropicals and summer annuals although we're starting to dust off the hoses and sprinklers which haven't been much needed over the past couple of months.  It was another nice day out in the gardens and we're all commenting on how many visitors we're seeing out in the gardens daily.  Staff and volunteers worked on myriad projects today and we're shifting in to more watering duties as the weather dictates.  There is a slight chance of rain tomorrow night but we wont count on it!  Below are some images taken this morning.

'Magellan Pink' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) - annual
'Passion Flute' coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) - perennial
'Peach Parfait' coral bells (Heuchera) - perennial

Our weeding crew above consisted of Taylor (left), Shirley (mid center) and Kathy.  The ladies were weeding the front sign area and other garden beds near this location.  Eva joined them and this quartet was very successful in their weed eradication program.  I'm not sure what Maury (directly below and to the left) and Mark S. were doing but they sure look relaxed.  Actually, Maury was cleaning up and refilling one of our many water features; this one being the lady fountain in the English cottage garden.  The next photo down shows Lloyd (left) and Ron R. looking confused as well.  The guys were working on skimming and replacing gravel along some of our paths.  Ron B. spent the morning working on an edging project and Maury and Dick P. also worked on fountain repair.  Dick H. was in for dump runs and other tasks.  Maury and Rollie went on a fuel run and Dr. Gredler accomplished his typical Monday mowing goals (third photo down).  The fourth photo down shows Shirley C. back in action and weeding in her assigned garden area.  The carpenters (fifth photo down) did a nice job working on obelisks which are in high demand.  Lisa I. was in to evaluate our daylily (Hemerocallis) collection and we also saw Joan, Corky and many others today as well.    

All of the grounds staff had some watering duties today and while it hasn't dried out entirely yet, if we don't see rain tomorrow, we want to be well situated for the rest of the week.  Much of our watering is timed to allow us to move on to other duties and we're very proactive with this duty. Larry (directly below) ran irrigation all day, worked on weed whipping and did oodles of hand watering as well.  Cindy also had watering duties, yard watering and worked on further planting and weeding in the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  Pat worked on significant weeding in two locations and did some fertilization as well.  Big John set up sprinklers, watered containers, had pruning work and bounced between multiple projects.  I continue to catch up on indoor projects after being back from vacation last week.  More photos, taken today in the gardens, can be seen below.

'Cherokee Sunset' gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) - annual
'Banana Boat' broad-leaved sedge (Carex siderosticha) - perennial
'Leilani' hybrid coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) - perennial
'Golden Torch' cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) - perennial (lime/gold foliage)
'Thailand Giant' elephant ear (Colocasia gigantea) is filling in nicely - here in a copper cheese vat 
this photo was taken from the back porch and shows off the formal gardens nicely

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another Perfect Day

The weather was again perfect with a cool morning, a mix of sun and clouds and a high temperature right around 80 degrees F.  We haven't had much of a heat wave yet but next week looks promising.  With the heat comes more watering needs but ultimately, our summer annuals, tropicals and vegetables would benefit from some hotter weather.  Above is a colorful shot of the Pollinator's Paradise theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  This garden also features our All-America Selections (AAS) Display with the best selections for pollinators.  Note the use of repurposed (plastic) containers to elevate some of the AAS winners for viewing and pollinator access alike!  Directly below are some of the coneflowers in that collection with 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Echinacea hybrida) showing a dynamite color mix (2013 AAS winner too!).  Further below are some other coneflowers (Echinacea sp.) at peak today.

'Cheyenne Spirit' coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) - perennial
'Pica Bella' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial
'Green Jewel' coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial
'Prairie Splendor' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial
'Milkshake' double white coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial

We had a solid turnout of volunteers this morning.  Above (right to left) are Kay, Eva and Kathy heading out to weed in the front entrance garden beds which had become very weedy seemingly overnight.  The ladies did a great job collecting weeds and tidying two sizeable areas.  Ron K. worked in the woodland walk garden while both Betty H. and Bev W. were in to do some tweaking in their respective assigned gardens.  Below are Roy and Mary weeding in the Jungle Garden this morning which is filling in nicely. The use of these doors and windows has mostly been well received although some folks seemed understandably mystified... The next photo down shows Marv and Marianne doing an unbelievable job tidying up our moss island.  This was their second day working on these two areas and they've never looked better (Marv and Marianne too!).  Dr. Gredler and Bill O. came in for mowing duties and we also saw Mary D., Flora M., Bill O. (#2), Bob T., Rollie, Shirley C., Big John, Jackie and many others today.

The grounds staff had a busy day of preparations for the weekend including quite a bit of watering.  Cindy focused her efforts on watering multiple areas first then did a nice job fertilizing and tidying up the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  Cindy primped the award-winning AAS garden last year (awesome job) and we have her working her same "kung fu" in this space.  Janice had watering, weeding, tidying in the Thomas Jefferson Collection (TJC), the cutting display and other tasks.  See Janice further down authentically taking notes in the TJC with her feather pen....Nice touch.  Terry had push mowing, watering, container watering and various odds and ends throughout the day.  Pat (half day) weeded and tidied up the parking lot islands and then moved to push mowing later in the morning.  I was able to tour the gardens and then tour them again twice with an herbicide-laden backpack sprayer that I used to focus on some very weedy areas.  We're catching up but this bumper crop of weeds has been challenging to say the least!

Ruby Ribbons switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'RR1') - perennial
bubble bath in the lady fountain...suds have finally settled!
The Thomas Jefferson Collection

Monday, July 14, 2014

Business As Usual Continues...

Today was unseasonably cool with a high around 75 degrees F.  It looks like a cooler week although the weekend should be back to normal in terms of temperature.  It was nice getting rain Saturday night (0.7 inches) as the gardens are nicely watered by Mother Nature and we didn't have to do too much additional watering today.  Above is the Thomas Jefferson Collection which is really filling in nicely.  A recent article in the Janesville Gazette has brought down many visitors to see this collection of 105 historic plants, all with descriptive signage.  The green signs seen above are part of 13 total signs that all have a gardening quote from Thomas Jefferson.  It was another typical Monday with lots of volunteers and the cooler weather made for a very pleasant day out in the gardens.  Below are more photos from this morning.

the impatiens planting is really filling in nicely as seen above
'Bishop of Llandaff' dahlia (Dahlia) - annual
'Electric Blue Gecko' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta)

We had a new volunteer today.  Taylor can be seen above to the right.  She did a great job weeding and despite working with Kathy and Patrea (also in the photo), we think she'll come back.  The ladies did a great job weeding one of our larger flower beds that has become quite weedy.  Bev W. (directly below) weeded her area in the sunken garden and installed a couple more plants.  Shirley spent time weeding in the Scottish garden and Stan was in later for pruning/tidying in the Japanese garden.  The second photo down shows Bob (driving) and Ron B. working on sweeping up paths.  The next photo shows Larry H. (driving), Ron P. (standing) and Ron R. (the confused one) en route for some weeding duties after accomplishing some mulching.  Kevin also worked on path tidying and Pat M. jumped in to a major weeding project.  Jim, Vern and Ron Y. all worked on carpentry projects and Maury ran errands after cleaning up some of our fountains.  Dr. Gredler was out mowing (fourth photo down) and Rollie stopped by (in that same photo).  Gary worked on creating some new signage and helped with some details regarding the Home Garden Tour which went very well this past Saturday, July 12th.  We also saw Ron W. Barb T., Bill O., Dr. Yahr and many others today.

Terry can be seen above touching up some recent hedge trimming.  Terry also worked on edging, watering and many other duties.  Cindy spent most of her time primping, priming and planting the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  There will be no shortage of color in that garden setting which is also our All-America Selections (AAS) display and is entered in their annual Landscape Design Contest.  The bulk of the plants in that garden are AAS winners and in regards to the contest...we're "in it to win it!"  Larry worked on getting our "everflowing urn" water feature fixed and running.  He also worked on some mowing and other duties.  Big John did some rock work, pruned, watered and bounced between other projects as well.  Jenny worked on minor planting and some significant weeding this morning.  I placed more plants for installation this morning and spent the day getting ready for being gone this week on vacation.  There are lots of lists, schedules and other factors involved with these preparations but the team always does well and is impressively self-sufficient.  Below are more images from this morning.

'Mona Lavender' spurflower (Plectranthus hybrida 'Plepalila') - annual
'Lavender Mist' meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum) - perennial
above and below are some images of the Jungle Garden this morning which continues to fill in nicely!