Friday, October 8, 2010

Sugar Maples Reign Supreme

I spent most of the day up in Madison today as Mike M. and I were on Larry Meiller's Garden Talk program on WI Public Radio. I've done the show seven or eight times and it's always fun. We answered some call in questions and were also part of the annual membership drive for WI Public Radio. They were offering our 2011 RBG calendar as an incentive for a membership level of $60 and above. I didn't realize that 40% of their funding comes from donations like this and we were glad we could help. It will be nice to have our calendars on more walls to entice more potential visitors. Larry is a wonderful host and the producer, Jim is top notch as well. The show has always been great exposure for RBG as the listening audience extends throughout WI but also in to parts of MI, MN, IA and IL. I got to Madison a bit early and was able to enjoy the fall colors around campus. Of course the sugar maples (Acer saccharum) as seen above have few rivals when it comes to vivid fall color. It looked like Madison had received some of the same light frosts that we experienced but the entire campus was beautiful with fall color (see the Boston ivy turning red further below). I've been putting together a talk regarding therapeutic gardens and sensory plants and took the picture of the tools to the above left. These extended tools are meant for older or impaired gardeners that would have an easier time using these ergonomic tools. To the right is one of our sunken garden borders still looking good late in the season.Many of our roses are perking up for one last show before a killing frost. I thought the variety above was 'Electric Blanket' but am not entirely sure. Regardless, this late flower contribution is welcome. Marv, Terry, Marianne and Janice all did a superb job today with their myriad tasks. They had to do plenty of tidying up for our weekend weddings, watering and completed preparations for our work day (bulb planting) tomorrow and the compost sale as well. Kay was here to work in the gardens as was Dr. Yahr and Dr. Gredler. It was a gorgeous day and quite a warm-up from this morning. I have most of my tasks complete prior to my trip next week but will have to make sure everything is covered for next week when I am gone. A lot of our daily gardening tasks will fluctuate and vary depending on the number of staff and volunteers that we have as well as the weather. It looks to be a fairly warm week so we'll leave as much in the ground as possible and stretch the color out for our late season visitors. To the left is the "skeleton-leaf" silver maple (Acer saccharinum 'Born's Gracious') that we planted years ago as a little 2' stick. It is extremely eye-catching and while I wouldn't plant a standard silver maple because of their soft wood, this one has some visual merit. To the right is the 'Redbor' kale (Brassica sp.) getting some nice late season color and laughing off all but the worst weather thru the rest of the year. Unfortunately when you mention an ash tree, people cringe as they've heard of the Emerald ash borer and the possible implications of devastating ash losses across our state as has happened in MI, OH and IN. Tough to say what will happen but the 'Autumn Purple' ashes (Fraxinus americana), which are actually white ashes, sure get some nice fall color as seen below. Few trees are as urban tolerant as ashes.

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