Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Frigid To Delightful in 6 Hours

Nice shot above of lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) at Earthspirit Farms. That variety is 'Diana Clare' and has almost silver leaves. This perennial tolerates low light, tough soils and drought. I like the silver-leaved varieties but you can get these in all sorts of leaf patterns although the brief spring flowers (blue, white, pink, etc.) are nice too. Deer don't nibble on them much either. Nice shot to the left of amaranth (Amaranthus 'Fat Spike') down in the wishing well garden.

The weather was cold this morning and after driving around the gardens looking for frost damage, I realized I was two layers short of frostbite. Actually, it was cold but warmed up nicely and was a perfect fall day. Some herbs, impatiens and tropicals looked a little rough after 39 degrees last night and we started our preemptive strike of removing some annuals before they turn mushy. This is a crapshoot as you risk clearing beds and then having nice weather for weeks. We are being conservative with removals but cleared two large areas today. Kay was here and was in perpetual motion with her removal of impatiens while I worked with Jessica and Brian (from Shepherd's College) clearing another area. These young adults (and their instructor, Leslie) were very helpful and had a good day at the gardens accomplishing various tasks such as plant removal, planting, bulb sorting and clean-up. Marv, Terry and Bill worked on composting the new shoreline border in the wishing well garden and all three moved on to other tasks around the gardens. Marianne tidied up the entrance garden, ornamental edible wall, watered, etc while Little Jerry worked on various pruning projects. Larry worked on water features, cutting bricks and helping out as needed. It was Dr. Gredler's 85th birthday today so we celebrated by making him take us all out to lunch. I love the golden black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia') to the right. It offers some tangible "brightness" in the fern and moss garden and really catches the eye in a garden that is primarily green. Lots coming up including Shelley Ryan from The Wisconsin Gardener (WPT) show here tomorrow to film some segments. Looming weather looks damp so we'll see what we can accomplish! "Death Row" below with elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) and begonias enjoying their last days before frost (although we do save the elephant ear bulbs over winter).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Crescendo To A Nice Day

Another nice shot from Santos can be seen above. This shot is taken from our porch overlooking the formal gardens. Still lots of color but there is a chance of light frost tonight. We'll see what happens. I hope it misses us as we can still have nice seasonal color for a couple weeks and like to offer something for the early October visitor. Today was windy and chilly this morning but turned out to be a sunny, blue sky day. I don't mind temperatures in the 60s and 70s so this agrees with me and I think our volunteers as well. We had Patty and Sally here today as well as Kay, Barb and Joyce. The ladies were involved with some planting in the alpine garden (donated plants) but then shifted to cleaning up more annual beds. We are continuing to weed but remove any seasonal that isn't "pulling its weight" out there. We had four ladies from Lab Safety Supply come in and volunteer for the day. They did a great job removing annuals from the reception garden and planted 400 daffodils in the new wishing well garden. They get paid for a day of volunteering and this same group has come for three years now! I'm trying to get them to use their vacation time next year to get more work out of them!? Nice shot below of one of my favorite annuals blooming well until frost. This is the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch') that tops out around 6' tall. Try 'Fiesta Del Sol' if you want a shorter (3-4') version. The last of the butterflies will flock to this plant and while it doesn't look like much until late August, it sure becomes an eyecatcher.
Dr. Yahr and Dr. Gredler were both here helping out today as was Bill with his superior tidying abilities. Little Jerry mowed and worked on pruning and clean-up around the gardens. Janice helped facilitate our many volunteers this morning and push-mowed, planted, tidied, watered, etc. Larry finished work on his spigot, push-mowed and has helped with projects as they came up today. Rod and I did a nice presentation for the Edgerton Rotary Club and hope they will consider personal membership and perhaps some type of sponsorship as a group. We'll see. The bottom images feature our giant papyrus (Cyperus papyrus 'King Tut') that is around 8' tall right now. Note the interesting "appendage" of thread-like stems at the top. This monocot is a member of the sedge family and while not hardy, it sure grows well in our summers. The bottom photo shows this plant with elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) and other goodies.

Monday, September 28, 2009


It has been extremely windy since yesterday as evidenced by the maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Silver Towers') arching over above (in the reception garden). This morning was around 40 degrees F and it really felt like a "breath of winter" as we all came in bundled up. It has been overcast for the most part but the sun has peaked out here and there. The gardens still look quite colorful (see sunken garden border below) and this morning was perfect lighting for photography.
Marv and Terry worked on removing annuals, trimming hedges and helping haul out leftover supplies from the wishing well garden projects. Janice has been tidying in the hosta hollow and will work on signage and possibly some watering as needed. Marianne cleaned up an "area in need" and is also focusing on the entrance garden again. Larry has been working on his water spigot repair among other duties, including helping with Grumpy "facilitation". We had a great Grumpy turnout and the guys worked on dismantling plant sale tables, helping Dr. Yahr, cleaning up leaves/debris, hauling mums and various carpentry projects. It should get plenty busy around here when frost arrives as it is a monumental task to remove all our annual beds and relocate tropicals as needed. Nice shot below of the fruiting clusters from blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) that has nice blooms in mid-summer that later create pods that open to reveal these structures. The bottom image of Dahlia 'Mystic Desire' shows that dahlias only get better this time of year (until hard frost beats them done mercilessly).

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Weekend Off

Above is sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) that explodes with small white, fragrant blooms in mid-September and blooms well in to early October. The specimen above is about 8 years old and is cut down every winter to 6". The new growth will engulf an arbor or other support and the real show begins later in the year. This is one of my favorite clematis'. With the plant sale over, it will be nice to get the weekend off. I had planned on plenty of gardening at home but the forecast looks rainy. Ugh. See below for a close-up of the exquisite blooms of the sweet Autumn clematis (you can almost smell it!).
We had some drizzle this morning but have been able to work thru most of the day. Terry and Marv helped Dr. Yahr with some work near the wishing well garden and have shifted to garden clean-up in advance of some weddings this afternoon and tomorrow. Marianne helped put away plant sale "stuff" and had been able to spend a good portion of the day in front of the building in the garden area that she has maintained nicely since May. Janice pushmowed and worked on various tidying projects. Kay came in and helped Marianne inside while it drizzled then went out later to tidy up our flower beds east of the building. Her tidying skills are matched by very few. Dr. Gredler and Dr. Yahr were here as well and Kristine is coming later to hopefully do some wedding before the rain falls. Directly below are the seed capsules of another castor bean (Ricinus communis) called 'Zanzibariensis'. This monster normally gets 12-15' tall but was stunted this year with the lack of heat. A previous blog showed the pink capsules of 'Carmencita Pink'. The capsules below, while green, will turn brown in October, split, and drop seeds. We sometimes get castor beans coming up in the gardens for those seeds that make it thru winter. We prefer to collect the seeds (remember, very poisonous) and put them in the crisper drawer of the fridge. The next picture downs shows the ongoing construction of a shoreline bed in the wishing well garden (almost complete) that will offer lots of color along the West edge of that space. The bottom photo shows the arched bridge in the distance with variegated maiden grass in the foreground (Miscanthus sinensis 'Dixieland').

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Webs We Weave...

The spider above had quite an impressive web throughout the plant sale and with a bit of dew on the web, I was able to get a decent picture. Rotary Botanical Gardens is also attempting to "weave a web" of sorts by continuing to encourage more visitors and supporters of the garden. Of course we don't consume our prey but hope they will become engaged with what we are trying to do here and will hopefully spread the word about the gardens. Nice monarch (on 'Magellan Coral' zinnia) shot below from Santos. The flowers in the background are wheat celosia (Celosia spicata 'Flamingo Feather Pink').
Our volunteer cookout went well last night with over 120 attendees. The weather was perfect and the food was great. I think everyone had a good time and our director Dave, Mike and I all said a couple of words. We are so fortunate to have so many committed volunteers and the future of the garden will always be tied to this special group of generous people. Marianne counted out our plant sale this morning and we're happy that we made it thru the event and did fairly well with income. We'll see how the numbers look but we sure moved out a lot of plants. The Grumpies took down the tents today and hauled some leftover mums up the visitors center to sell them from the gift shop. Surplus bulbs will continue to be sold as well and we'll deal with the remainder of the leftovers. I was at a retreat all morning and am out of touch with all the "happenings" this morning but it looks like the Grumpies kept busy with fence installation, plant sale take down, etc. Jumbo Jim is here with RECAPPERS collecting leaves and Marilyn, Suzy and Glenna accomplished some much-needed weeding in the parking lot. Little Jerry and Janice have kept busy and we have some high school kids taking price labels out of the remainder of our plants. Another productive day although looming showers will make this a wet weekend. Please enjoy more of Santos' photography below. He's good catching shots of hummingbirds too!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Last Plant Sale Day

The aster shot above was from this morning in the entrance garden. I'm not sure what variety this is but asters sure offer late color although many can be tall, floppy and in need of staking. Although overcast today, we haven't seen rain yet and hope to have a successful last day of the sale. Yesterday was essentially a "rain out" for the sale and most outdoor garden activity. So far, the traffic has been steady and we hope that continues. Once the sale ends, we'll spend the rest of the week inventorying, sorting and dismantling tents, etc. By next week, the sale should be a memory and overall, we're pleased with how well the sale did this year although we always hope to have sold more plants. See to the above left for one of my favorite borders this year near the wishing well garden. The reddish daisies in the foreground are the 'Cherry Brandy' gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) which are annuals. This border just has a perfect mix of flower and foliage with the feather reed grasses (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster') offering vertical punctuation. The border to the right is another shot of the terrace garden periphery that echoes that pink and chartreuse theme. Those huge purple grasses repeated along the back are elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum 'Prince') that we have grown up over 8' in some areas. Although we don't see any flowers, the sheer mass is impressive! Flowers are great but look for other ornamental features from plants. Below are the spiky seed capsules of the castor bean (Ricinus communis 'Carmencita Pink'). The seeds in these capsules are poisonous but few would disagree that this isn't an ornamental feature of that plant.
Marv and Terry have been working on dealing with path washouts and debris out in the gardens that resulted from the heavy rains. Marianne started up the plant sale and has periodically ducked in to the gardens to get some work done. Little Jerry worked in the alpine garden, Hosta Hollow and Japanese garden with various projects and Dr. Gredler has been mowing and working on additional seeding and turf repair. I've been catching up on more deskwork which is well over 50% of my job this time of year (napping being the other 50%). Sandy is helping all day with the plant sale and Chuck and Bev have been in to help. Kay came in today to work on weeding and cutting back some irises (see below). She is also tidying around the terrace in preparation for our volunteer cookout tonite. The bottom image shows one of our latest blooming perennials which should be looking good in to October. This is a toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki') which, while having smaller, intricate blooms, there is such a profusion of flowers on arching stems that they really stand out in the late garden.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Deluge - Good Timing And Bad

We've noticed lots of hummingbirds lately and this one above was caught with the camera of Santos out in the gardens a couple of days ago. Today started with a light drizzle and fluctuated between a light misting and a moderate downpour. The gardens will benefit from the rain although the plant sale has not received that benefit today as customers have been few and far between. I was able to get on the local radio (WCLO) to promote the sale but mentioned that an umbrella might be a nice shopping accessory! Marianne came in this morning to get money settled and came back later to fill in for me due to some meetings. The sale has been slow to say the least with one more day to go. I was excited to see the plant to the left out at Jean's Earthspirit Farm yesterday. This is the Arizona fuchsia (Zauschneria arizonica) which is hardy to zone 5 and likes heat and tough soils. She had it all over the place and it has overwintered for her and was blooming very strongly. The masses of orange/red tubular flowers were very conspicuous and I'm determined to use lots of it next year in our alpine garden to extend color in to the fall. If you like orange/red in the shade garden, plant Italian arum (Arum italicum) which will form these fruit clusters (see to the right) in September and offer this color until snowfall. These look very similar to our native Jack-in-the-pulpit fruiting structures. WARNING! Italian arum is an invasive in the Pacific Northwest. See for more information. The leaves of this plant are pretty neat too (see below) and will foliate in very late winter. The foliage is quite ornamental and the fruits are a real "eyecatcher"! See the bottom photo of a nice clump of fruits that I saw at Swarthmore College this summer.
Little Jerry mowed today (mostly in the rain) and Dr. Gredler was able to do some seeding and ran a load of debris to the dump. Although it was consistent rain from 7:30 am until 2 pm, Bill and Larry went out in rain gear and cleaned up debris and worked on some faulty water spigots. Janice helped run the plant sale, worked on labels and kept busy with office work. I've been at my desk catching up on various tasks including ordering the last of our bulbs for planting in the coming weeks. We also saw Maury, Vern, Urban, Rose, Chuck, Margaret, Gary, Doris, Patti and Sally today and all volunteered as the weather or their situations allowed. I finally cleaned my pool at home (below) but wont have much time to use it with cool weather approaching.
Just kidding. This is at Chanticleer in Wayne, PA.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The "Calendar Autumn" Arrives Tomorrow...

Nice shot of showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) above that Marv and I saw at Earthspirit Farm this morning. We went to pick up hostas and got a wonderful tour from Jean. This goldenrod was a beacon but be warned, it is rhizomatous and will create a large, spreading colony as it did in this location. Marv and I finished our road trip up at Olbrich Botanical Garden where Mark from grounds passed along some nice phormiums and a large bamboo. We'll utilize these next year for sure and appreciate our colleagues sharing. Below is another shot from Earthspirit of the variegated Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus') that offers wonderful color, movement and texture. As with any larger ornamental grass, be sure to accomodate the "real estate" that that plant will engulf and realize that division is eventually imminent.

Janice and Terry did some planting today (daylilies, lilies and columbine) amongst other tasks while Larry worked on irrigation repair, hauling various things around and odds and ends. Dr. Gredler mowed and did some lawn aeration with his little tractor (see below to the right). Marianne spent most of the day in the clearance sale but was able to do some work with the irises as well. As a side note, Earthspirit Farms (mentioned above, is one of the other sites for displaying irises as part of the 2010 American Iris Society meeting. The golden dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Gold Rush') image to the left was taken there as well. We've lost all four that I've planted at Rotary Gardens but Jean had a nice 9' specimen doing very well in a sheltered (from wind) spot.

The Grumpies had a productive day removing annuals, digging up leaking water spigots, hauling block, collecting leaves, etc. I missed most of their morning due to my trip with Marv but it sounds like they accomplished plenty of work and continue to be the stalwarts of our summer gardening efforts. Mary was here to weed and we saw Mary and Dave H. tidying up their area as well. Lisa continues to organize our daylily lists and current donations and we look forward to an organized approach to that collection. We have a volunteer cookout this upcoming Wednesday evening and it looks to be a good turnout. I'll be happy to relax after the plant sale is over that same evening. Then of course, we reinventory and start the process of dealing with what is left over (some plants go back, some are donated and some we'll continue to sell). Today was beautiful weather and the gardens continue to look great and draw late season visitors. Below is a shot of wooly thyme growing with a golden juniper (maybe 'Mother Lode'?) and creating a nice combo of color and texture. This was taken in Jean's rock garden today.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last Plant Sale Day...Or Is It?

The light this morning was coming right thru this Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris 'Orange Fantasia') leaf this morning so I had to take a shot. This plant is doing well along our "ornamental edible" wall planting (see below) and I've become more impressed with that display as the year has progressed. There are lots of neat plants in there and hopefully visitors have taken home some ideas for using plants that not only look good, but can be used in the kitchen. Note below along the wall for the punctuation of the marbled nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus 'Alaska Mixed') and see a close-up below. The leaves and flowers of nasturtium are edible and can be a nice component in a salad or used as a garnish.
Today is the last "official" day of the plant sale although we'll repeat history and offer three clearance days (15% off everything) starting tomorrow. The weekend was a bit slow and of course the Green Bay Packer game has affected our attendance today. Overall, this was one of our best sales for weather and organization (thanks to Marianne). I think we learn something new each year and will continue to "fine tune" this event. Rose and Urban came in today to work on repainting a sign while Bill was nice to stop by and do a quick round thru the gardens to check water features and debris issues. Despite cooler temperatures looming as we approach fall (officially Tuesday!), the coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) are looking great. One of my favorites ('Henna') can be seen below. My drive thru the gardens was nice this morning and the contributions of our volunteers are evident everywhere.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Starting A Bit Slow...

Above is the ripening fruit (drupe) of the fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) in our color rooms garden. This is one of the female plants that had wonderful white spring blooms and many would consider these fruits quite ornamental. Native to the southeast, this woody plant is hardy in our climate and does well as an understory tree in part shade. Although slow-growing, it is always a showstopper when in spring bloom (see to left).

The plant sale seems a bit slow today and we hope it picks up soon. Janice is working with seven volunteers out in the gardens as part of our workday while Larry is out running irrigation and prepping two garden spaces for weddings later today. See our youngest volunteer today, Lilly, to the right! At that age, trains are more important than cutting back irises! Dr. Gredler was here to make a dump run and Maury hauled two loads of cardboard flats from the grocery store for our plant sale. There is plenty of wonderful plant sale help and the weather is divine. I'm leaving early today (noon) to participate in a vegan chili cookoff competition (sponsored by The Alliance for Animals Hopefully the blog tomorrow will allude to my crushing victory. Below is a nice "hodge podge" of annuals in front of the Parker Education Center that has a variegated morning glory (Ipomoea nil 'Mini Bar Rose') weaving thru it. Marianne planted 50 or seeds of this morning glory out there in June and it has become an awesome accent plant.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Autumn Approaches...

Look closely above for the dragonfly waiting for some warmer temperatures before it launches from the 'Limelight' four o' clocks (Mirabilis jalapa). I took some great pictures this morning but it was definitely hooded sweatshirt weather with fall on the calendar. I sure love autumn as do many! Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Eliot. Don and Pearl's border below has had "autumn tones" all year and still looks great today. Lots of activity as usual and the plant sale saga continues with plenty of customers.
Marv and Terry worked on irrigation, sprinklers, mum planting, edging and many other tasks. Janice pushmowed, planted and did lots of watering as well. Marianne was able to escape plant sale duties for a bit to finish tidying up the entrance garden. We have an event tonite (Fest-i-Fall) that includes wine, food and hopefully lots of attendees enjoying the event and gardens. It should be a nice evening for this event. Little Jerry was in to mow as was Dr. Gredler. Kay spent most of her time in the reception garden today removing spent annuals, weeding and making that space look A LOT better. Hal and Doris cleaned up their berm as well. Plant sale volunteers were very helpful today and it looks like we have ample help for the weekend portion of the sale.

Ornamental grasses are really starting to look nice out in the gardens. To the left is the Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) that blooms later than the more common feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora). Look at the great wispy inforescences (flower/seed heads). These will turn pinkish as the leaves get a yellowish/orange fall color. I love this grass and here it is in part shade in our woodland walk garden at 3-4' tall and looking good. To the right is the variegated moor grass (Molinia caerulea 'Variegata') that tops out around 2.5' tall but is a nice bright, arching beacon in the Scottish garden here. Other Molinias tend to be taller but I like this more compact form and nice clumping habit. For a nice September blooming perennial for full sun to part shade (rich soil), try the Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis 'September Charm') seen below. I don't think this perennial and the other varieties like it can ever be overplanted. Don't let them ever dry out though! The bottom picture shows Dr. Yahr, our founder, in the entrance garden this morning. He was here at 7:15 am today!