Friday, October 24, 2014

Another Busy End of the Week

Today was supposed to be sunny and 65 degrees F.  While it was milder than previous days this week, it was overcast with the lightest of drizzles all day long.  The overcast skies made the golden fall color on the willow-leaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) above glow nicely.  The sun finally did peak out in the afternoon.  It was a productive day with lots going on throughout the gardens.  We didn't get a lot of volunteers but those that did come were extremely productive as usual.  The balance of work today was split evenly between Holiday Lights Show (HLS) set-up and gardening.  This will be our pattern for another week or so and then it's almost all HLS work!  Below are some additional photos from today. 
start of fall color on oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) - woody shrub
 fall color on 'Jazz' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) - perennial
pinkish tinge on drying blooms of Little Lime panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Jane') - woody shrub
intense fall color on bloody cranesbill geranium (Geranium sanguineum) - perennial

Our volunteers did another wonderful job today.  Above is Kay who spent the morning continuing to tidy up the shade garden and areas adjacent to the sunken garden.  She is thorough and came back with many cart loads of debris.  Directly below is Ron K. finishing up much of his fall clean-up in the woodland walk garden which he kept looking great all year.  Kathy and Eva finished clearing annuals in the entrance garden and also added significantly to our compost pile with repeated loads of debris.  Dr. Gredler was in for his mowing rounds and we had the boys (John, Vic and Matt) from LP Tree Service at the gardens (second and third photos down) to hang our "dangling icicle lights" with their two bucket trucks.  We appreciate the donation of time and support of the event by LP Tree Service every year.  We also saw Maury and a couple others today.  The fourth photo down shows the start of some work in the center of the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden which will ultimately be an awesome new feature (more to follow).  Note the 15" of topsoil on pure sand which is no surprise as the original site of the gardens was a sand & gravel pit mined by the Wilcox Sand & Gravel Co. 100 years ago.

The grounds staff split duties between gardening and HLS set-up.  Above is Pat balancing the lower portion of our second "Tower of Power" which he'll get up next week.  Pat worked on finishing up the first tower in the reception garden and will focus on this one next week.  Cindy continued garden clean-up outside the reception garden and in other locations.  She also did the cutting display and helped mark the dangling icicle lights with bright tape so they can be seen by people, mowers and deer alike!  Big John and Terry emptied out more containers this morning and moved on to some significant progress with getting more HLS displays out in the gardens and secured.  Placement of displays changes each year but essential considerations are view angles, power source and proper securing against the elements.  The guys also helped the LP fellas later in the afternoon.  I was able to run a good 2,000 feet of cords this morning and then caught up on desk work in the afternoon. Below are more photos from this morning.

fall color of Little Quick Fire panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'SMHPLQF') - woody shrub
 fall color on Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) - woody shrub
 start of fall color on three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) - woody tree
 patch of 'Toffee Twist' "dead sedge" (Carex flagellifera) - not hardy for us
 English ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) stretching out with fall color - woody vine
 'Orange Fantasia' Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) still looking good - annual
the reindeer are "poised for placement" soon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Full Speed Ahead

It was another beautiful day although overcast skies in the afternoon led to some light drizzle. Above is some morning light coming through this bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) as it gets its amber fall color.  We had another very productive day out in the gardens with lots of volunteers and our dedicated grounds staff.  We are still doing plenty of garden clean-up as more leaves fall hourly.  We've removed over 75% of our annuals and will likely finish purging our seasonal plants by next week.  Set-up for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) will become more focused next week as we're able to get up more lights and displays in areas that have been "winterized" and are open for decoration.  Below are some additional photos from this morning.

 fall color of American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) - woody tree
 ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) leaves in a granite basin in the Japanese garden
 fall color of the Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) - woody tree
peak fall color for the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) - woody tree

It was a great turnout of volunteers this morning with a good showing from the Grumpies as well.  Above is Ron P. working on never-ending lights repairs for the HLS.  Below are Bob K. and Ron  Y. (second photo down) painting a new "elf house" for the HLS.  This will be decorated both inside and outside for the event and is a new addition for the 2014 show.  The boys look dapper in their matching blue smocks.  Jim D. and Dave T. were also in the mix for working on this and some other carpentry projects.  Ken was nearby continuing his painting project on the giant candy canes.  The third photo down shows  Ron R. (left) and Bob C. working on bringing back the doors and windows from the Jungle Garden.  The guys did quite a bit of work in that area including bringing in many of the stakes.  The fourth, fifth and sixth photos down show Peg, Sue and Bonnie all collectively working in the fern & moss garden and Japanese garden collecting leaves.  The ladies did a great job and both Kathy and Eva did a super job too continuing to purge annuals from the front entrance garden.  Jumbo Jim and two RECAPPERS did a nice job of continuing to remove annuals from the garden and worked on other tidying activities as well.  The seventh photo down shows Alan M. and the eight photo down is Gary S.  The guys were the dynamic duo with raking in a wide range of areas.  That next photo shows our yellow, "Tower of Power" poised and ready to be put up (which it was with plenty of helping hands).  Pat M. did a great job of getting this structure ready and up in good order.  One down, one more to go.  We also saw Hal and Doris R. (gardening), Maury, Bill O. (mowing), Bill O. (#2), Sue M. and many others today.

The grounds staff worked on a wide range of activities today.  Larry (above) started pounding stakes for the arches that will go over many of our paths for the HLS.  Larry also had many other duties related to the HLS and helped keep our volunteers moving today.  Big John (below) worked primarily on HLS duties like installing displays (bunny below), stringing lights, etc.  He and Terry started the earliest on this event and will likely be among the most involved in terms of total hours.  Cheryl did a great job gardening primarily in the sunken garden which needed to be finished in order for HLS decorations to be set up there.  She is a thorough gardener for sure!  I had grandiose ideas about running cords today but had some meetings and other budget preparations and duties for 2015.  Further below are more photos from this morning.

 another American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) with increasingly orange fall color - woody tree
dwarf feather reed grass (Calamagrostis hybrida 'Cheju-Do') - perennial
 nice shot of the waterfall in the Japanese garden this morning
the Japanese garden still has plenty of color!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cords Out, Debris In

It was another nice fall day although we had our most significant frost yet overnight as evidenced below on the turf and the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) in the second photo down.  We haven't had that "hard frost" yet but this would be our fifth light frost and has prompted further removal of annuals from throughout the gardens.  We do continue to make progress daily with our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations.  Fall color is still spectacular as seen above on this oak (Quercus sp.) seen directly above.  I'm not sure which species this is but it's certainly in the red/black oak family. We had some handy volunteer assistance today and enjoyed the sunshine once it warmed up to 55 degrees F or so.

frosted cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) - annual 
frosty turf
fall color of variegated Shantung maple (Acer truncatum 'Akikaze-Nishiki') - woody tree
Green Bay Packer fall color on this ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) looking good - woody tree

Volunteers today included Bob K. above who, along with help from John, Terry and myself, ran a couple thousand feet of temporary electrical lines for the HLS.  These rolls were not light but we unrolled and dragged them in place.  Bob then connected them as needed.  He has been a huge help during his first year as a Grumpy.  Below are Kathy (left) and Eva who continued clean-up efforts in the gazebo garden and entrance garden respectively.  The ladies did a nice job as usual.  The second photo down shows Kay who continued her excellent tidying duties in the shade garden which included perennial cutting and lots of leaf collection.  Urban was in later for more pruning and tree removal and we also saw Maury, Marv, Rollie, Dr. Gredler, Dr. Yahr, Kris K., Cheryl D., Gary S. and many others today.

The grounds staff had a productive day.  Above are Big John (left) and Terry putting up our giant wreath for the HLS.  The guys helped run electrical cords, emptied containers and continued with their daily dose of HLS set-up.  Cindy (half day) continued tidying up in the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden which is almost cleared out.  I helped with cords for a bit but had some other duties as well.  Overall, we had a pretty small crew today of staff and volunteers but got a lot done.  Below are more photos from this morning.

fall color of Chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) - woody tree
yellowing fall color of bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) - large woody shrub (thicketing!)
fallen leaves (fall color) of 'Aconitifiolum' fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum) on ferns
 fall color of 'Autumn Brilliance' serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora) - woody tree
colorful fruits on the 'Sparkler' hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) - annual (variegated leaves)
Autumn scene in the fern & moss garden