Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mini-Heat Wave On The Way

Tomorrow and Friday will be reminiscent of our hot July weather this year with temperatures in the mid 90 degrees F. With incoming plant sale plants, we're keeping up with watering both in the gardens and in the yard. The top picture is the 'Disco Orange' marigold (Tagetes patula) with the remnants of last night's drizzle on the petals. We have a small garden space, including these marigolds, dedicated to orange and it has attracted quite a bit of attention this year. Directly above is Marianne's cart in the North American garden. She filled this cart many times with her purging of the annual beds (spent annuals and weeds). The cooler nights are a subtle reminder of the looming autumn weather and frost in around six weeks or so. Our intent is to keep everything looking good until that hard frost signals the end of the growing season. While it takes 7-8 weeks to plant all of our annuals, it takes a good week or two to remove them all as well; lots more biomass to contend with from the removals! To the right is the golden tall tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris 'Lightning Flash'). The blooms, just starting, are a nice clear yellow and about 2" in diameter. The really cool thing about this coreopsis is that it has yellow foliage (chartreusy in summer) and gets 3-5' tall. Consider staking this floppy giant but enjoy the yellow contribution of this variety in both foliage and flower. To the left is one of my "top 10" favorite coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) varieties called 'Religious Radish'. This specimen is part of our maroon and red border along the lower path near the pond. I like the pinkish/red borders on each leaf and this is a variety that gets quite large and doesn't mind full sun with adequate moisture.

Our productive grounds staff continues to keep up the nice appearance of the gardens. Aside from her purging of annuals and weeds this morning, Marianne tidied up many areas, did her cutting display and also worked on more plant sale preparations. Yesterday, a visitor mentioned how much she enjoyed the cutting display and the "artistic" arrangement of the samples. While many botanic gardens have similar cutting displays of "What's In Bloom?", few have as many samples (12) that are refreshed/changed three days each week. Marianne has a good system and needs no help finding cool samples. Marv and Terry worked on pruning, path repair, edging clean-up, container watering and did a nice job organizing the "back yard" for our incoming mum arrivals. We have 400 of the 2400 mums that we'll be selling at the looming plant sale (see for more information). Big John edged around the koi pond plantings, watered, excavated/replaced soil, dug out weedy, woody plants in the Scottish garden and did some other odds and ends. Pat continued his weeding attack in the reception garden, ran for cardboard flats (for the plant sale) with Maury, cleared the weeds/seedlings from all the arboretum tree circles (a huge job) and did some pruning as well. I was out in the gardens for a bit but spent most of the day getting the information ready for our six new garden area signs. I'm also preparing nice information signs for the woody plants that we'll be selling at the fall plant sale (a nice selection, including specialty conifers). Nice shot to the right looking upstream to the new waterfall in the Japanese garden. Below is the dwarf lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Minutissimum') which is only 12" tall and about 15" wide. I like this small clumping fern along shady pathways and this fern would fall in to my "top 10" list for favorite ferns as well. Directly above are the fruits of the gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa). You don't see the berries for very long as the birds and squirrels love them. We only had a few volunteers today but they were as productive as always. Dr. Gredler did some mowing and turf repair and is beginning his aeration rounds and reseeding some of the thinner turf areas. Ultimately, all the lawns will get this treatment before October. It's hard to verbalize how much the appearance and health of the turf has improved over the past decade here at the gardens despite the increased foot traffic! Doc is truly our "Superintendent of Sod." Kay was in to continue her work in the shade garden and later moved to the North American Garden to assist Marianne with the task of weeding and removing tired annuals. So many plants will go the distance until frost but we'll remove any annuals that aren't looking their best this late in the season. Maury came in to go pick up cardboard flats from a local grocery store. We stockpile about 2,000 of these for the sale and Maury has been our "go to" guy for getting these the last couple of years. We also saw Mary W., Dr. Yahr, Todd and some others today. The day was nice and warm although we'll get back in to the irrigation mode tomorrow as the light rain we had last night wasn't much of a soaker. To the right is the Ma Chii' structure in the fern & moss garden. To the left are two of the four hanging baskets in the Scottish garden. Those trailing begonias (Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire') are very showy and are packed with flowers all season. I've become a big fan of these types of begonias and we also use them to trail over walls as well. To the right is a combination of red plume celosia (Celosia plumosa 'Fresh Look Red') and the silver mugwort (Artemisia hybrida 'Powis Castle') intermingling with that celosia. Every year I order lots of this artemisia to use as textural filler. I've said it many times over that I feel that white/silver is often overlooked in the garden. Many gardeners focus on the "hot" colors like yellows and reds and frequently forget about "cool" colors like blues and maroons. White is really a unifying color, or "icing" on the proverbial cake, for making a complete combination; whether that combination is in a long border or a small container, sun or shade. White flowers are effective but totally silver-foliaged plants have huge impact! While I don't know the exact variety names of these begonias below, I thought I'd share them regardless. These are trailing out of the hanging baskets under the back porch in the English cottage garden. Wow do they look nice!

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