Friday, September 16, 2011

Preparations For A Busy Saturday

Tomorrow will be a big day at the gardens with five outdoor weddings, our volunteer work day (8 am - noon) and the last portion of our fall plant sale (8 am - noon, everything 15% off). There is a small wedding today in the North Point garden (the third this year for this new space). I've enjoyed the cooler temperatures and the gardens did miss any sort of frost over the past two evenings. We still have plenty of color as evidenced in this blog with all these pictures being taken today. At the top is the ever photogenic arched bridge and I've taken this same picture dozens of times. The reflection was perfect and that view will get better as the fall colors emerge on the deciduous trees in the background. Directly above is the 'Mystic Illusion' dahlia (Dahlia sp.) that not only has these clear yellow blooms, but also almost-black foliage (in full sun). Dahlias really enjoy this time of year and all of our varieties are blooming strongly now at the end of the season. To the right is a shot in the reception garden with our druid statue in the distance. In the foreground is cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) looking nice with a backdrop of dark elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum 'Vertigo'). We had lots of compliments about our first-ever pink theme in that garden but next year we'll get back to the traditional blue and silver with a focus on the deep blues. Or maybe we'll go with orange....? To the left are the interesting yellow flowers of the "yellow waxy bells" or "yatabe" (Kirengeshoma palmata) in our shade garden. This perennial, native to China and Japan, has maple-like tropical leaves with a mature height around 40" and a width around 60". The blooms never open fully but are quite showy even in the unopened stage. While I like the blooms, the foliage texture is quite nice in those partly shaded locations.

We had some good volunteer help today with Dr. Gredler coming in to mow and work on some problem lawn areas. He'll continuing his turf aeration next week and I'll be doing our last lawn fertilization as well for the season. Kay was in to work on purging the terrace lawn of weeds and she also worked in other garden spaces with a focus on removing spent annuals, deadheading and general tidying. Any area she works in benefits immediately from her attention. Bill O. came in to mow the arboretum and tidied up a bit in the Horticulture Center. He'll be in tomorrow to help Larry get our wedding areas situated and to help with all the various functions that will be occurring. Pat M. came in to push mow with Terry (thanks Pat!). We also saw Dr. Yahr and Darcie was here for our Horticulture Therapy Committee meeting (with Janice and me as well). To the right is the start of the toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki') blossoms out in the gardens (this one in the gazebo garden). This variety (and species) has done well for us and blooms well in to October. A hard frost would decimate the blooms which has happened in the past with early frosts arriving on occasion. The flowers are very intricate and look like orchids from another planet to me! We probably have around 20 species and varieties of toadlily (Tricyrtis sp.) but this one always does well for us. Directly below is a nice picture of one of our blanket flowers (Gaillardia x grandiflora) in full bloom. This is 'Mesa Bright Bicolor' and is quite vivid. Blanket flowers, while not long-lived perennials (although they are winter hardy), do flower all summer until frost and are great used as annuals too. The fruiting structure further down is about 8" long and is from the umbrella-leaf magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) in the shade garden. These aggregate fruits get redder thru the late summer and are quite ornamental (and otherworldly).Our Friday crew did a nice job preparing the gardens for the weekend and doing some activities in advance that will help "streamline" all the activities tomorrow. Marianne refreshed her cutting display and tidied in front of the building. That front entrance garden is still looking pretty good and we'll keep most of the annuals out there as long as possible before we shift to some major bulb planting. Marianne will run the plant sale tomorrow with five veteran volunteers. Janice watered all the containers out in the garden and spot-watered in some select locations as well. To complete her full day of watering, she also watered the plant sale in the afternoon to keep it nice and fresh for what we hope is a great turnout of plant sale patrons. Marv and Terry worked on many projects today. Terry push mowed (with Pat) while Marv worked on pushing around and flipping our huge compost pile. Marv has managed our compost pile for the past ten years and I think his compost is better than what we purchase each year. Our own compost has saved us thousands of dollars over the years and it's nice to manage and utilize our own composted materials. The guys also rototilled and prepared a bed for planting next week, removed annuals and placed lots of mums out there for planting tomorrow. Marv also ran irrigation and the guys put sprinklers on the driest locations. I had one of my more comprehensive "walk arounds" this morning and observed every square foot of the gardens. While everything still looks pretty good, I came up with a good "to do" list for the coming weeks. I'm still finishing presentations and my to-do stack on my desk is getting shorter each day (for now!).

To the right is the Pink Knockout rose (Rosa 'Radcon') in a group of three along the lower terrace of the North Point garden. In the distance is the 'Dancing Waters' fountain. Of all the Knockout roses, I think Pink Knockout has the best flowering and disease resistance (based simply on my observations). To the left is the variegated obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana 'Variegata') in the English cottage garden. Obedient plants have a long period of bloom and are nice perennials. There are some that can reseed and become problems but the variegated form (reaches 36" in height) seems a bit more restrained. To the right is a nice picture of the 'Carmencita Pink' castor bean (Ricinus communis) with some showy, pink seed capsule clusters (try saying that quickly over and over). This specimen is around 8' tall but we've grown it well over 12' tall in past years. Directly below is the round, woody cone (not ripe yet) of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the arboretum. These structures are quite prevalent this year and interesting to observe. Along those lines (interesting to observe), at the bottom is the 'Galeux d'eysines' french heirloom squash (Cucurbita maxima). What an interesting look and apparently these are also tasty and easy to carve for Halloween. Now that would be an interesting Jack-O-Lantern!

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