Today was pretty damp at the gardens. We had intermittent rain showers all day although there were some gaps that allowed staff and volunteers to get outside and continue spring clean up efforts. The nearby image is of a redbud (Cercis canadensis) from last year. We're about 4 weeks from this but are looking forward to seeing spring blooms and emerging foliage (for sure!). However, we're still cutting down ornamental grasses, cleaning up paths and even collecting the remnants of our Winter Wonderland Walk that were frozen out in the gardens. The grounds staff started today for the year. Jerry started a month ago but today we added Marv, Marianne, Janice and Terry. Jenny will be with us for 5 weeks this year as well. Despite the rain, we accomplished a lot of projects and kept busy indoors as needed. After a nice lunch, we had our annual meeting to lay out the year. It should be an exciting year with lots on "the proverbial plate" for everyone. Despite budgetary limitations, it's always been our goal to improve the gardens each year and I think 2008 will not be an exception. A wet spring will create other challenges but we have a fairly rigid timeframe for completing certain tasks (i.e. planting, fertilizing, etc.). It's really amazing the number of things that we have to consider at this time of year; irrigation, water features, equipment maintenance, labels, supplies, etc. I prefer worrying about plants but that's really only a portion of what goes on around the gardens. We're looking forward to volunteers coming back to help out and have some workdays coming up very soon. This image of our reception garden (blue and white themed) last year shows the final results of a volunteer workday in which the Noon Rotary Club came out to plant that entire garden. We are truly fortunate to have such wonderful volunteers. Unfortunately, we have about 50% of what we truly need for volunteer assitance that will allow us to develop in to the next caliber of botanic garden. We will continue to recruit and retain volunteers as best we can and certainly do appreciate the support of so many wonderful people.