Thursday, March 25, 2010

Improving My Juggling Skills

Well, the moss (picture above from yesterday) sure is enjoying the weather and can be seen above in the 'sporophyte stage' of reproduction. Like ferns, mosses are very primitive (400 million year history) and reproduce by spores. This patch is growing on a rock and is able to do so as moss doesn't have true roots. Mosses have rhizoids, which allow it them to adhere to surfaces. That's why you see moss on rocks, logs and other surfaces that might be impermeable to roots. George Schenk wrote a great book on moss gardening (look for it) and we continue to develop our moss garden here. See below for some unbelievable shots of Dale's moss garden in Waukesha, WI. I call Dale "Mr. Moss" as his garden would inspire anyone to encourage (not discourage) moss in the shade garden. His 1 acre garden is unbelievable and I use these images (from 2009) in all of my talks on moss gardening. Today was a juggling act with a Grumpy day, lots of volunteers, meetings, irrigation guys and pop-in visits . While the weather was cool and overcast, Bob C., Dick H. and Charlie cut back our 'Flame' willows (Salix sp.) as we like to keep them short and the new growth will pop up 5-8' this year. This is one of the varieties that gets reddish stems in winter (see Bob C. to the left with a load) and are a great slope stabilizer on the west end of the gardens overlooking the beach. Marianne worked on labels and she and Janice brainstormed on preparations for our spring plant sale. Thank goodness for their well-organized approach to these events and all that is involved for set-up, running the event and take down. Janice also had two of her youth volunteers here today as well. Marv and Terry worked on various projects and Larry bounced around as well. Little Jerry and Urban continued pruning and Bill was here most of the day cutting back the remainder of our ornamental grasses and hauling loads of debris. The carpenters kept busy (Bob A., Jim and Dave). Dr. Gredler ran more loads to the dump and continued to aerate some of our tougher lawns. The gardens seem to be "greening" more each day. John and Ron finished taking down the deer fencing (see below) and I'm happy with the protection that it offered our arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) hedges. The deer still found munchies but were denied their traditional fare this year. We also saw Dave, Larry S., Jean, Janet, Barb and Mike over here today. I'll be off tomorrow so next post will be on Monday. See below for one of my favorite perennials just emerging (first shot from yesterday) and what it will become in a couple short months. Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is one of the toughest perennials I know and is so tolerant of a wide range of soils and lighting conditions. Some consider it fairly "basic" but I like the chartreusy flowers in late June and appreciate its value as an "edger" as seen at the bottom (Olbrich Botanical Gardens). If you've ever grown this plant or observed it after a rain, water beads up nicely on the leaves. Early alchemists thought this the purest form of water and used it in their quests to turn base metals in to gold. We will actually shear this plant back severely in mid-summer for a fresh flush of foliage. The flowers are nice in a vase too...Utilitarian? Yes? Ubiquitous? Never!

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