Friday, November 21, 2014

Awesome Grounds Staff

It was another cold day with not too much activity going on outside  We're ready for the premiere of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) as part of the Taste of Chocolate tomorrow night.  Pat was here today to repair lights and do some pruning. Big John did some final tweaking of the HLS.  Bill O. got our snowblower ready and Janice was in for a bit as well.  We also saw Maury (errands), Dr. Yahr, Dr. Gredler, Vern and a couple others.  I was outside for some HLS tweaks and now start the next four months of desk work to include budgeting, seed orders, etc. 
This blog is dedicated to another great year from our dedicated grounds staff.  Above are Terry (left) and Big John cooling off in the koi pond.  The grounds staff are truly the unsung heroes of the garden and are the backbone of so much that happens on our 20 acres.  I can assure you that they don't work at RBG for the pay and are all personally invested in the gardens.  In fact, every one of them started as a volunteer at the gardens.  Most recently of course, the HLS has been a priority (well done team!) but the gang is involved with such an increasingly diverse range of duties well beyond planting, weeding, watering and mowing.  The collective years of experience at RBG (not including me) for our grounds staff from 2014 was 62 years!  We look forward to having a great year next year but need to celebrate the significant and much appreciated contributions of Jenny, Janice, John, Terry, Pat, Cindy, Cheryl and Larry (all seen below in action).
Cheryl (driving)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Warmer Thoughts With Alocasias

Today was another cold one (18 degrees F with some wind) although we did have some activity both out in the gardens and in the Horticulture Center.  This was a rare day where I didn't take any photos but wanted to share some additional elephant ears (Alocasia sp.) that we hope to include in our 2015 Elephant Ear Collection (like Alocasia odora seen above).  After our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) test last night, we did have some modifications to make and Big John, Larry, Bob K. and I were out doing our tweaking.  This fine tuning should add some closure before the premiere this Saturday at the Taste of Chocolate (get your tickets before 12 noon tomorrow, Nov. 21st!!!).  Pat M. was in for some significant lights/cord repairs and Maury ran more errands for us.  Peg and Carl came in and helped get sand loaded for our winter path treatments and did some odd jobs as well.  We also saw Gary S. and some others today.  Below is some more eye candy showing some fun Alocasias that we will be hoping to display next year. 

'Malaysian Monster'
 'Black Stem'
 'Gloss Black'
 'Shock Treatment'
 Alocasia longiloba
 'Jurassic Dark'
Alocasia x amazonica
Alocasia macrorrhiza 'Lutea'

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

HLS Testing

We had our first test night for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) this evening (see above and below) and it went very well.  We had some staff, volunteers and two photographers from the Janesville Gazette come down to take a look.  My photos don't do it justice and the 20 or so of us that toured thought it looked significantly better than last year.  Big John and I had finished running cords and were doing some tweaking of the HLS during the day.  We actually had the entire show turned on all day to see what we could address.  The importance of the test night is to see what isn't working right or correctly and to identify additional tweaks that we'll accomplish over the next two days prior to the Taste of Chocolate (TOC) event his Saturday.  There are still tickets for the TOC available and this event will also feature the premiere lighting of the show.  We added another 25,000 or so LED lights this year and they look great (see below).  The LEDs have certainly helped with our past power issues in that they don't draw much "juice" and we've amassed them in certain areas this year including the Japanese garden.

It was another cold day although we had some sunshine and it was about 15 degrees warmer than the last two days.  Big John and I spent the day working on the HLS.  Above is a massing of 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  This grass has a nice upright form and can withstand some snow too.  The perennial grasses are looking quite nice (see further below) and there is still some other interest out in the gardens.  We also saw Maury (ran errands), Dr. Yahr, Chuck, Bill O. and Pat today.  It's nice to have some closure with the HLS although we'll do some final improvements tomorrow and Friday.  Below are some additional shots from today.

 late fall color on the 'Chanticleer' callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) - woody tree
 inforescence of 'Silver Tower' maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) - perennial
 curled leaves of rhododendron responding to cold temperatures
 evidence of our breeze today with this row of 'Blondo' maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) - perennial
 Big John and I saw this mass of birds over in Lion's Pond (on thin ice) and John said, "Now that's a Flock of Seagulls"...and we couldn't remember any of their songs.....
here's Bill O. (photo editor for the Janesville Gazette) practicing safety this evening

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Of Frost & Colocasias

Due to another brutally cold day (-1 degree F wind chill) and the fact that my camera froze (before I dropped it), I thought I'd show some "warmer" photos.  These are all elephant ears (Colocasia sp.) and my reason for showing them is twofold.  We have done well growing them (like 'Royal Hawaiian Maui Gold' above) over the years and in 2015, we'll have a large collection of these on display (including everything you see here and more!) in the three demonstration beds.  We'll include all types of Colocasia sp. and Alocasia sp.  I hope to acquire 50+ kinds for display.

With the premiere of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) looming this Saturday as part of the Taste of Chocolate (tickets still available!), we tested the show today and finished both set-up and running cords.  Big John, Larry and I spent the entire day outside and became living ice cubes.  We had electrical help from Tom C. and Bob K. and also saw Maury (ran errands), Mark S., Marv B., Vern and a couple others.  We'll be testing and tweaking the show over the remainder of the week.  Below are some shots to make you think "summer"!  These are all Colocasias (with Alocasias to be promoted in a future blog).

 'Royal Hawaiian Black Coral'
 'Royal Hawaiian Hawaiian Punch'
 'Royal Hawaiian Blue Hawaii'
 'Coffee Cups'
'Coffee Cups' (side view)
 'Royal Hawaiian Diamond Head'
 Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant'
'Midori Sour'
standard Colocasia esculenta (from behind leaf)
 'Heart of Darkness'
'Red Eyed Gecko'
 'Electric Blue Gecko'
'Puckered Up'
Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant'