Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cloudy, Rainy, Sunny, Windy

Today ran the gamut of all possible weather with overcast skies this morning turning in to a consistent drizzle that was later replaced with sunshine, blue skies and high winds. Directly above are two bird photos, neither taken by me. The top picture, from Santos, shows the resident red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) sailing along the entrance garden in front of a planting of yellow plume celosia (Celosia plumosa 'Fresh Look Gold'). If you look closely, the hawk has an unlucky passenger (chipmunk) in its claws.... This hawk has been sitting on our fences for the past couple of weeks and has no shortage of prey in the gardens. Directly above is an awesome shot by Kris K., our education coordinator here at RBG. She is also a talented photographer and caught a nice hummingbird shot amongst the blue anise sage (Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue') in front of the Parker Education Center. We have seen the most hummingbird activity ever during this late summer/early fall. Glad we could be a "fly in" restaurant for these beautiful birds. Sipping nectar is "cuter" than a hawk strike but serves the same purpose I suppose...

We had a great turnout of volunteers today. Our Grumpettes included Mary (directly below), Shirley, Suzy and Doris. All the ladies were involved with tidying up and removing spent annuals. Shirley also planted a good 50 or so perennials and did a nice job weeding the Scottish highlands (alpine) garden. Kay was also here for additional clean-up, particularly in the shade garden. Bob C., Larry, Ron W., Del and Steve all worked on raking and collecting leaves and debris on paths and around the gardens. Unfortunately, the incoming winds will create a brand new clean-up challenge (and job security!). Ron B. worked on weeding along our outer fence line while Dave, Bob A., Jim and Vern worked on installing edging just outside the Japanese garden (second photo below). Maury and Dick H. helped with some repairs at the other building and Dick went on to work on some major vehicle repairs. We have some very handy people around which makes me look less inept at anything involving mechanical issues, carpentry, plumbing and electrical repairs. Bill O. and Dr. Gredler were in to mow and Hal came in to assist with raking. Dr. Yahr and Urban stopped by too. Our Thursday afternoon volunteers were also in to work with Janice. We also saw Mary W. who helped Janice with our Thursday volunteers. The class on Ornamental Grasses last night went very well. Above is Nancy N. presenting to a crowd of 63 attendees. Nancy, co-owner of the Flower Factory Nursery (Stoughton, WI), actually brought living samples of over 60 grasses for a nice "show and tell" program. There were plenty of questions and lots of interest about various grasses and their potential role in the landscape. Nancy is a great speaker and was well-received. Our last three lectures (all at the Parker Education Center from 6 pm until 8 pm) will be Bulbs (October 26), Stone in the Garden (November 16) and Holiday Plants (December 7th). See our website at http://www.rotarybotanicalgardens/ for more information and don't forget about our "very fast filling" Fall Symposium entitled Plant Appreciation (November 5th, also on the website). Directly below are two of the grasses (recent photos from RBG) that Nancy mentioned last night. Directly below is the 'Blondo' maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) which many visitors enjoy in the parking lot islands and think it is pampas grass (not hardy here). Further below are the seed heads for the Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) which look great this time of year and are also nice in both fresh and dried arrangements. The variety 'River Mist' is the variegated version of this species and one of my top 10 favorites! Directly above are some of the members of the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association (WCLA) who came yesterday by bus to visit the gardens. Of the 16 or so visitors, the vast majority had not seen the gardens. I think the group was favorably impressed as I took them on a 2 hour tour. They had lots of questions and it was nice to meet so many people interested in what we are doing at RBG. I knew one of the attendees and I like to think we have encouraged more "word of mouth" advertising for the gardens as these professionals "spread the word". To the right is another sweet shot from Kris K. of the new Japanese garden waterfall. I hope she keeps taking pictures out in the gardens! To the left are the increasingly colorful fruits of the 'Chilly Chili' ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum). This variety is also grown as an edible and gets its name for having a very mild taste with minimal "heat."

Larry checked our water features which is almost a daily task with all the debris coming down which needs to be cleared out of various ponds, streams, filters, etc. Larry also spread fertilizer, push mowed, helped with some work at the visitor's center and did some pruning. Big John watered our recently dug up tropicals, push mowed, dug up more tropicals and continued cleaning up various messes here and there. Both guys helped secure our terrace umbrellas to minimize potential wind damage in that exposed location. Janice helped facilitate our Grumpettes this morning and helped tidy up the North American Garden. She also worked with our Thursday afternoon volunteers and they did a great job picking squash from the display at the Horticulture Center. Looks like we had quite a bit of squash theft as well over 50% of the squash are gone. I have to envision the stolen squash feeding a family and not perched as decoration on someone's front porch. The nerve of some people! Janice is also putting more time in to helping prepare the fall symposium as she did for the spring event as well. I worked on some budgeting for the 2012 season (never to early to start!) and had a series of morning meetings. I'm also preparing for a couple talks in October and will become "cord boy" in the coming weeks as I start running extension cords for the Holiday Lights Show. To the right is the still colorful 'Orange Fantasia' Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) which doesn't mind the cool weather and has been such a stalwart garden plant for us this summer. We featured over 24 varieties and they all looked good. While peak fall color is a couple weeks away, we're seeing a pretty good start already. Directly below is the Fireball burning bush (Euonymus alatus 'Select') in our parking lot islands. We shear this variety in to a "meatball" even though it is naturally rounded. At the bottom is the start of fall color on the Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger'). Note the variability in oranges, reds and maroons on adjacent leaflets! Interesting. Looking forward to my first two day weekend off in four weeks. Hope to catch up in my home garden.

1 comment:

Fée des bois said...

Beautiful pictures!

Amasing, I did not see the hummingbird in the blue sage at first. Congratulations to the photograph.