Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Muggy But Beautiful

Today ended up being another very hot day although the morning was still comfortable (albeit muggy)!  The gardens continue to look great with many perennials and annuals still at peak bloom.  Our late season perennials are just getting started and most of our annuals are still hanging in there.  Above is the relatively new hybrid foxglove (Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame') which still looks excellent!  We had a VIP visit from Chris (below) of K&W Greenery here in Janesville, WI.  Chris grows a lot of plants for us every spring (including baskets) and we toured the gardens and are preparing our 2016 strategy!  Our staff and volunteers had a great day and the gardens continue to get the best treatment with weeding, tidying, mulching, planting and additional TLC.

Our volunteers were real troopers today in this heat.  Kathy and Eva worked on weeding in the Japanese garden while Don and Pearl touched up their area at the east end of the shade garden.  Dr. Gredler was in for mowing duties and Bill O. had some projects as well.  Jenny and Dave gussied up the hosta hollow garden (looks great) and Kay was in to tidy up her area of the shade garden which is now experiencing the start of six weeks of cottonwood (Populus deltoides) leaves drifting down daily!  Jenny also worked on a labeling project for our incoming tulips (Tulipa).  Marv tidied up our moss areas nicely.  Stan spent some significant time in the Japanese garden and Dick H. was in for some equipment and vehicle repairs.  Mary, Myrt, Nancy and Patti came in after lunch for some weeding and tidying out in the shade of the gazebo garden.  Janice was in to give a tour and orientation to our fall crop of Chestnut House volunteers (two photos below from Janice).  We're looking forward to their help during this busy time.  We also saw Maury F., Dr. Yahr, John J., Glenn D. and many others today.

 the raised planters both above and below were recently built by our Grumpies!

The grounds staff continues to show their toughness (not me as I was in air-conditioned comfort all day) out in this heat.  Cindy worked on a clerical project, watering and tidying.  Cheryl also had tidying duties in two locations and watered the yard.  Larry H. was a mulching and composting demon today and probably hauled a record amount of those materials on this hot day.  Big John and Terry worked as a team today on planting, mulching, pruning and watering.  They had a full day with a wide range of tasks.  My primary focus is currently the Fall Plant Sale which is coming up in two weekends.  See for more details on this fun event.

 'Red Stem Rhubarb' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) - tropical
'Hilo Beauty' elephant ear (Alocasia sp.) - tropical
 fruits of the cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) are changing to bright red
 'Tinkerbell' flowering tobacco (Nicotiana hybrida) - annual
 Bismarck palm (Bismarckia nobilis) - subtropical
variegated giant reed (Arundo donax 'Versicolor') - not hardy

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

July Returns On September 1st

Today got sticky very quickly!  The morning wasn't too bad but we had weather more reminiscent of July by noon or so.  It was quite hot but the recent precipitation has made it humid as well.  Our tropicals, like the elephant ears (Alocasia) seen above in this copper cheese vat planter (English cottage garden), should enjoy this warm up!  The entire week looks quite warm with a chance of rain late in the week.  We haven't had to run any irrigation since last Friday and are riding this "recent saturation" as long as possible.  We've had so many visitors recently which is wonderful to observe and they are sure catching some nice late summer color.  We pride ourselves in extending our seasonal color all the way until hard frost and this year will be no exception.  Our excellent staff and volunteers provide plenty of "sweat equity" as they accomplished a wide range of projects in the sticky heat today!

 'Hot Biscuits' amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus) - annual
 variegated obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana 'Variegata') - perennial
 bloody dock (Rumex sanguineus ssp. sanguineus) - perennial
 sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) - perennial vine
 'Waterfalls Encanto Orange' begonia (Begonia boliviensis) - annual
'Costoluto Genovese' tomato (Lycopersicon) - annual

We had some excellent volunteer help on a day that became quite hot quickly!  Above are Kathy (left) and Eva weeding in one of many areas that they targeted today.  Bill was in for his mowing duties too.  Kay came in for some more planting and tidying and Vern worked on some carpentry projects.  Maury ran errands which included picking up more supplies for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  We also saw Tina B., Bev D. and a couple others today.

The grounds staff had a busy day with everyone here except Terry (who apparently needed a day off...).  :)  Janice worked on tidying, watering, freshening up the cutting display and pre-Fall Plant Sale duties.  With the sale starting next Friday, September 11th (9 am - 4 pm) for RBG Friends Members only, our window is getting tighter for preparations.  The sale does extend through the weekend and RBG Members will have a 10% discount over the duration of the sale.  Cindy worked on tidying multiple areas, yard watering and did a nice job mulching a border in the terrace garden that really needed it!  Cheryl continued her tidying excellence in the rose garden and woodland walk garden throughout the day.  Larry H. continued with both composting and mulching and ended up covering a lot of square footage today.  Big John worked on fertilizing containers, clean-up, planting and many other tasks.  Bob K. had some electrical projects, re-graveling duties and some odds and ends.  I was able to place plants for installation (by Kay) and continue to prepare for the looming Fall Plant Sale.  It was another great day!

 crested male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas 'Grandiceps') - perennial
tatting fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizelliae') - perennial
 silver cloak fern (Cheilanthes argentea) above and below (underside) - perennial

 'Malaysian Monster' elephant ear (Alocasia portei) - tropical
 'Portora' elephant ear (Alocasia hybrida) - tropical
 balsam apple (Momordica balsamina) above and below in the Thomas Jefferson Collection - annual

 purple hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) - annual vine
'Thailand Giant' elephant ear (Colocasia gigantea) with 'Blazin' Rose' bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida) - tropicals

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Warm Up Begins

The gardens continue to be very colorful.  Above is a small vignette in the shade garden which features 'Unstoppable Upright Fire' begonia (Begonia) and the silvery 'Pegasus' begonia (Begonia) as well.  We had some nice rain on Saturday which has mitigated our need for irrigation or sprinklers for at least yesterday and today as it still looks quite damp out there.  While the temperatures should be increasing this week in to the upper 80 degrees F and lower 90 degrees F, the plants wont mind the warm up.  Some of the tropicals, including our Elephant Ear Collection, would sure appreciate the heat!  We had another super turnout of volunteers today and with watering needs minimal, we all collectively dove in to gardening projects and many other duties.  All the photos in today's blog were taken this morning.

 kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Polygonum orientale) - annual (drops LOTS of seed!)
 'Blue Boa' hyssop (Agastache hybrida) - perennial
 'Gnash Rambler' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual
 'Boule de Neige' double pearlwort (Achillea ptarmica) - perennial
 'Curly Fries' hosta (Hosta) - perennial

I had a tour this morning and lacked the time to photograph all of our wonderful volunteers but was able to capture Eva (above) on her way back to join Kathy with primping and tidying in the entrance garden and terrace garden.  The ladies always do a nice job.  Rollie (directly below) mowed along with Dr. Gredler.  Lloyd worked on path repair and improvements while Ron R. collected leaves and debris from other areas.  Vern, Dave, Jim and Ron Y. continued on their carpentry projects which included building some neat raised beds for all-accessible gardening.  Dick P. was in to help out and Dick H. ran to the dump and was working on equipment repairs.  Pat M. continued with his pre-Holiday Lights Show duties which are significant.  Gary was in to help with some pre-plant sale activities and Pat C. popped by for label production.  Maury ran many errands for us and Alan continued with his edging/weeding project around the Horticulture Center beds.  We also saw Dr. Yahr, Terri N., Karen, Skylar and many others today including Larry Olsen who stopped by around the lunch hour.

We had a quartet of VIPs arrive this morning from Cantigny Gardens ( in Wheaton, IL.  I love this garden and have visited many times over the years.  The gang can be seen above and we had a delightful stroll through the gardens and talked "shop" all along.  We enjoy receiving these visits and making these trips ourselves as we find we have much to share and learn.  Botanical garden folks are very cordial and we enjoyed having these folks from Cantigny visit us today.  

I spent some time with these folks and moved on to more desk work related to getting our Fall Plant Sale in order and other upcoming events.  Big John and Terry hung out today and worked on planting five trees, removing a good sized, dead Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), container watering and many other duties.  Bob K. cleaned out the far end of the pond including our "water movers", watered, repaired a mower and bounced between other duties.  Larry H. did a nice job continuing his mulching work in the Scottish garden and woodland glade garden and did quite a bit of push mowing as well.  He is a productive and steady worker which we already knew with his many years as a Grumpy!   Great day overall!

 'Varied Directions' larch (Larix x marschlinsii) - woody tree
 'Midori Sour' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) - tropical
 'Banana Boat' sedge (Carex siderosticha) - perennial
 shade garden annuals featuring 'Blazin' Rose' bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida) in the center
 'China Purple' bush clematis (Clematis heracleifolia) - perennial
 strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum) - annual
 'Tidal Wave' katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) - woody tree
 'Elephant Head' amaranth (Amaranthus gangeticus) - annual
 the mushrooms are coming up quickly after the heavy rains on Saturday
Mums are starting to arrive for the Fall Plant Sale!....make sure you mark the calendar for September 12th and 13th (9 am - 4pm daily) for mums ($8 each!) and a whole lot more (RBG Members are invited to our Friday, September 11th Pre-Sale from 9 am - 4 pm with everything 10% off)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Storms On The Way

Today started with the strong promise of rain which is reinforced on the doppler radar!  We had some drizzle this morning but the bulk of the rain should arrive later this afternoon and evening.  Tomorrow might be soggy as well.  We'll see what happens.  The gardens continue to look lush as seen in the photo above of the formal annual sections and the two photos below.  We had a solid morning of gardening with some excellent volunteer help as well.  With the Fall Plant Sale looming soon, we'll be spending more time on preparing for that important fundraising event.  Actually, the pre-sale for RBG Members starts two weeks from today (9 am - 4 pm) with a 10% discount and "pick of the litter"!  Folks can come down and become members that day and start shopping. The discount extends throughout the duration of the sale and the other benefits of membership are worthy of consideration as well.

 Hal and Doris' garden area (above) is looking sharp!

The Story Walk 2015 (above and  two photos below) has been very successful this year.  Called the Alphabet Jungle Garden, this sequential experience features (and interprets) the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.  This is the third year we've had a "jungle garden" experience that has become so popular with all of our visitors.  The doors and windows will come down after this year and we have an interesting concept for next  year (top secret of course!).

 variegated giant reed (Arundo donax 'Versicolor') with Easy Wave 'Red Velour' petunias (Petunia)

I was remiss again with photography of our volunteers but we had a decent showing today.  Above is Resa on her way out to the North point garden which is looking spectacular.  She (along with Cookie) has done a great job out there.  Kathy P. was in for entrance garden primping which includes lots of deadheading of spent blooms and removal of any unsightly annuals.  We are having to remove a few annuals here and there but the color is still quite excellent.  Kay came in to weed and tidy around the formal annual garden sections and Jan R. primped and tidied in the Scottish garden.  Bill O. and Dr. Gredler did their mowing rounds and Pat M. came in for some pre Holiday Lights Show duties (it's never too early to start!).  Marv was in to tidy up his moss areas and we also saw Karen M., Dr. Yahr, Robert K. and many others today.  Jumbo Jim brought in four RECAPPERS and the guys did a great job out in the gardens with clean-up and preparing a new garden area.  This baby bird below was quite stubborn and wouldn't move off of the main path. Mother was nearby though and probably resolved the situation.  This is the look I get from my wife too by the way...

We had a small but efficient grounds staff today.  Cindy worked on primping multiple areas and has an excellent eye for detail.  She also did some watering along with Janice. Janice also did the cutting display, tidied the front entrance garden and had some clerical projects as well.  Bob K. ran some irrigation, checked water features, continued his gravel project and did a nice job creating more space out in the yard for the mums that will be arriving for the Fall Plant Sale next week!  I was able to tour the gardens but find myself at my desk with a pile of "to do list" items related to the upcoming sale and Holiday Lights Show.  Another excellent day though!  All these blog photos were from today.

 big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) - perennial
 'Benary Giant Scarlet' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) - annual
 'Stripe it Rich' Hakone grass (Hakenechloa macra) - perennial
 white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) - perennial
 'Raiche Form' wood aster (Aster divaricatus) - perennial
 'Scarlet Pimpernel' caladiums (Caladium) - tropical
 'Lemon Queen' perennial sunflower (Helianthus hybrida) - perennial
 'Chocolate Drop' stonecrop (Sedum hybrida) - perennial
 'Scarlet' kale (Brassica oleracea) - annual
'Serenade Mix' Chinese aster (Callistephus chinensis) - annual