Saturday, August 28, 2010

Very "Eventful"

Not much time to type but it was an awesome day at the iris sale and the 5th Annual Garden Festival today. Lots of great volunteers and both events were very well received. See some of the highlights below (although the iris picture is from May!). I'm on vacation (Door Co.) until next Fri. Have fun out in your gardens!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Enthusiasm For Moss

All if the images in this blog with the exception of the bottommost shot were taken yesterday at Dale's garden in Waukesha. His moss beds are truly exceptional and his interest in mosses for containers has also become one of his addictions. He has over 200 pots with mosses although many also have miniature ferns, hostas and other perennials as well as interesting rocks and other personalized elements. Dale is a retired economics instructor and it is obvious that his passion is his 1 acre garden. I met him 6 years ago when he came over to see our fern & moss garden. We chatted and he obviously knew his mosses and became more of a teacher than a student! Dale is also a top notch photographer and we were able to see some framed shots of his travels around the world. Very impressive.
Today was another delightful day of 80 degrees F and sunshine. Larry started the day by unloading 20 pallets (900 bags) of our bagged mushroom compost that we'll be offering at our upcoming fall plant sale (September 11 thru the 18th). He then moved on to running irrigation, mowing, watering, etc. Janice was here this morning and helped get our volunteers organized then moved on to planting, watering and other gardening tasks. We had a nice turnout of volunteers as well. Suzy, Winnifred, Mary and Glenna came in and did a weeding sweep of the sunken garden, reception garden and shade garden. They always do such a nice job and work well together. Margo came in and did her own weeding sweep of the terrace garden, wishing well garden and the color rooms. Margo has been a volunteer for many years and was in the Master Gardener program way back when I started at RBG. She's quite a gardener and a great volunteer. Dick P. and Big John worked further on the venting system for the laser engraver while Dave, Jim, Bob A. and Vern worked on various carpentry projects. Charlie, Ron B. and Del helped get tents set-up for the upcoming iris sale and layed our our temporary plant sale parking lot across from our frontage road. Dr. Gredler continued to mow and Dr. Yahr helped process labels. Marianne came in to start working on iris sale preparations and we also saw Deb, Laura, Maury, Barb, Marv, Mary Kay and many others. The gourds at the bottom are just some of those that will be featured at the Garden Festival this Saturday. Note the neat "Prickles" gourd that looks painful but is quite rubbery right now. Pretty cool. I sprayed herbicide today and worked on a dozen different tasks that are all becoming quite time sensitive.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Delightful 289 Mile Journey

We had a great fieldtrip today. Above, from left to right, are Big John, me, Marv, Terry, Marianne, Janice and Jenny. This shot was taken at the Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL). Unfortunately Larry and Little Jerry couldn't make it. Larry did come in to work this morning to take care of watering and to facilitate our morning volunteers. The day started out with a bummer when I realized that I had forgotten my camera which is almost unheard of for any sort of visit to a garden. Marianne was kind enough to lend me hers at our first stop and my dad let me borrow his at the arboretum (more about that later). We left promptly at 6:45 am, arriving at Dale's ("Mr. Moss") residence in Waukesha, WI a little before 8 am. He gave us a wonderful tour of his 1 acre property and we stayed for about 1.5 hours. I'll post pictures of his place later in the week as I'll have to get the pictures off of Marianne's camera on Friday. We had visited Dale's garden over four years ago and it was again amazing and impressive. His garden looks like the Pacific Northwest in many areas with lush ferns, huge expanses of moss and lots of vivid colors and textures. He is extremely knowledgeable about plants too. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves but aside from a fun visit, we've been picking Dale's brain on how to improve our moss garden and I think Janice has some good ideas (which primarily entail copying Dale). After departing Dale's, we had a 1.5 hour journey thru some horrendous construction to get to the Morton Arboretum. We met with Todd, Director of Horticulture, and he gave us a nice tour. My dad, John, is a volunteer at the arboretum in the research department and joined us for lunch and the tour. My dad did 35+ years with the U.S. Forest Service as a researcher and is a bonified tree hugger as well. It was great to see him and it was nice that he got to meet the crew (some for the first time). Below are Marv and Terry wandering thru the hedge garden.
With our 11:20 am arrival, we decided to eat lunch in their cafeteria (quite nice) and then moved on to a 2 hour tour from Todd. He took us thru his garden areas of responsibility and talked quite a bit about his staff, equipment and how they operate. He also oversees their new children's garden and some peripheral garden areas as well. Todd pointed out many of his favorite plants as we wandered thru and we met some of his staff. He was very cordial and we appreciate his valuable time and the professional courtesy. He also arranged for a tram ride thru the rest of their 1700 acres which was enjoyable and very informative. I should also mention that it was absolutely perfect in terms of weather with 75 degrees F and a slight breeze. To the left are my dad, Big John and Janice on the tram and to the right are Marianne adn Marv (resting his eyes and meditating...). Below is the gang (minus me) as they started in to the hedge garden (Todd is on the far right).
I usually visit the Morton Arboretum at least twice each year and was fortunate to spend many hours there this past May to get spring pictures and enjoy the arboretum. It was nice to come back in late summer and I enjoyed seeing the Children's Garden in full swing prior to the start of school in that area. It was extremely busy but nice to see kids outside enjoying the garden. See to the left and right (respectively) for Jenny and Janice who couldn't resist going thru the rope bridges in the tree walk area. This garden looked great considering the daily wear and tear and overall, I was very impressed with everything we saw. After our tram ride, we hit the road, returning home at 5 pm. It was a relatively long trip but I think enjoyed by everyone. At the bottom are some additional shots of the arboretum including a very applicable quote. Go visit if you haven't been or haven't been there recently!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fieldtrip Tomorrow

Above is the neat bloom of the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which is always beautiful to behold. We plant 50 or so cardoons each year around the gardens and this close, artichoke relative always is impressive with rugged silver foliage and the occasional bloom as seen above. Most years we never see a bloom on this non-hardy plant. The stems of cardoon are edible but should be blanched prior to use to alleviate some of the natural bitterness. I would never have a full sun garden without cardoons! We had our small crew today and I hardly get out in to the gardens due to various meetings. I met with Kathy and Tom who grow our hanging baskets for us and supply the vast bulk of our specialty annuals. It's always nice visiting them and their nursery (Jenka Blossoms) is one of the cleanest and most organized I've visited. Kathy and I went over the order and are always both collectively excited about the upcoming season. To the right is the fragrant tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa 'The Pearl') which comes as a bulb in early spring that we start in containers in April with the anticipation of these very fragrant bloom spires (almost 48" tall) in August and September. This is one of the more fragrant plants that really emits a sweet scent over a wide area, particularly at dusk. We stagger the planting of this bulb in pots so their final bloom window is staggered as well. This shot was taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden but ours are starting to bloom as well. Below is the shot of our cover crop display starting to fill in over the past couple of weeks (thank you UW Extension!). These thirteen beds were irises for the past two years and once the irises were lifted in July (for sale this Saturday!!!), we opted for this eItalicducational display. Janice researched and created the signs while Big John got all the sign posts installed today. This has been a learning experience for me as I've not heard of many of these "green manures." Our intent is to till all of these in to the soil this fall or next spring to improve these beds for a different spring planting (as yet to be determined). These cover crops include berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum), winter rye (Secale cereale), oats (Avena sativa) and the Daikon "tillage" radish among other selections. The radishes have gone bonkers and will also loosen up tough soils. Neat stuff. Larry spent the day running irrigation, watering and mowing. Big John, aside from his sign work above, worked on mowing, watering, fertilizing and some odds and ends. Janice did a lot of watering and came in later to pick some gourds for the upcoming Garden Festival (also this Saturday the 28th, 11am-4pm). Kay was here to weed and tidy up and Dr. Gredler was out doing a nice job with his mowing. We also saw Kay F., Dr. Yahr and many others stopping by as well. Tomorrow is our ground staff "day trip". We're going to a home garden in Waukesha that we visited many years ago and were very impressed. Dale's one acre garden is meticulous and features expansive moss gardens, containers, water features, a formal garden, rockery, etc. Unbelievable. I've mentioned Dale in past posts as "Mr. Moss" for his talents. We'll then travel down to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL (Chicago suburbs) which is one of the top 5 arboretums in the country. We'll get a tour, have lunch, and do the tram ride around 1700 acres of collections and gardens. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and my dad dragged my two brothers and me to the arboretum as kids. We sure resented him taking us out in to nature (for goodness sake!) but it is now one of my favorite destinations and a wonderful place to visit for relaxation, education or both. The "Morton" is tied to the Morton Salt company. Interesting history worth looking in to. They have a neat new children's garden and their display gardens continue to expand and improve. Looking forward to it and I should have some sweet shots for the blog tomorrow night. Nice shot below of elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) looking bold near the gazebo garden. This is another "can't do without" tropical for the full sun or part shade garden (needs lots of water!).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun In The Sun

We had a nice sunny day although the mornings still have that cool, touch of "Autumn pending". Above is a shot of our front sign planting which still is holding strong with the maroon/red theme although most of our beds are getting a bit bedraggled after such a wet season with vigorous growth, Japanese beetle nibbling and other inputs. Mondays are always quite busy at the gardens and today was no exception. We had another great group of Grumpies with most of the guys working on graveling, leaf collection and carpentry this morning. Many of the guys later shifted to helping set-up tents for the iris sale this Saturday. Bob C., Del, Gary, Ron B., Charlie, Bob T., Pat, Bill kept busy while Dick P., Dick H., Maury and Big John worked on installing the venting system for our new laser engraver (see pictures towards the bottom). They ran in to some challenges but should have those resolved soon. Vern, Bob A. and Dave T. finished repairing our Japanese garden fence and moved on to other carpentry projects. Dr. Yahr and Dr. Gredler were here as well. Bill came in later to help mow too. To the left is the fine textured cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) smothered with little red trumpets that are currently attracting the hummingbirds. This annual vine has worked its way up our red obelisks throughout our red/maroon theme. There is also a nice white and pink variety as well. To the right is the 'Fat Spike' amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus 'Fat Spike') with such interesting bloom clusters. Below is a nice cluster of variegated palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme') that I saw last Thursday at Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, IL). It was nicely contained and irrigated (essentials in the landscape). I was disappointed in their landscaping over all which looked "under attended". There were some nice containers but it has looked better in past years. Larry got the irrigation going early as things are starting to dry out and we don't want to rely on just a slight chance of rain tomorrow. Marv and Terry did a great job pruning the arborvitae (Thuja sp.) hedge that separates the formal gardens from the terrace and wishing well gardens. This is a MONUMENTAL task and the guys spent the majority of the day shearing away. Marianne and I worked on some preparations for the iris sale and Marianne then move on to weeding, cutting display and lots of watering. I helped water containers and have a greater appreciation for the task that I assign to others so often. To the left is Marv posing along the 120' long hedge. It will be nice to have the laser engraver up and running soon and once the pictured venting system is up and running, we'll start honing our templates and getting our labels produced.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another Great Workday!

We had another great workday today with over 27 volunteers helping out along with the grounds crew of Janice, Marianne, Big John, Marv, Larry and myself. All the images here are from the workday with the exception of the shot to the lower left of the fruits of the native cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) which I thought looked neat will look increasingly delictable to birds later in the winter. We had the perfect amount of volunteers today and had 20 volunteers in the horticulture center, guided by Marianne and Janice, processing the irises to the final stage (to the right) prior to the sale next Saturday (August 28th, 10am-4pm). That day is also the 5th Annual Garden Festival (see our website for more info). The remainder of our volunteers went out and raked/collected leaves and debris from the gardens after the short but powerful storm last night. Larry, Bill and Big John got all three wedding sites tidied up and ready to go. Dr. Gredler was out mowing and Dr. Yahr was around as well. Below are Marv and Bob D. fighting over some containers. I appreciate their enthusiasm but wish they would have shared instead of this embarassing display. Actually, they had to separate 400+ containers that were nestled snuggly together.
Maury and Big John brought all the bearded irises (Iris germanica) this past Thursday from Dan's warehouse in Beloit, WI (thanks Dan!) and they were in good shape. Stored in over 400 boxes (see to the left) since July 10th, these rhizomes were processed by our crack team in only three hours. We had to cut the irises back again and put them in labeled bags and finally in to their sale container complete with picture (for almost all varieties). Mary brought four female RECAPPERS and they were a huge help (picture further below). I was pleased with how smoothly everything ran and special thanks to Marianne and Janice who are so good with keep everything on task. Bev and her helper were ready with the labels and all steps of our process went quite nicely. More pictures below...