We had some nice volunteer assistance today. Kay was in to tidy up in the North American garden and continues her purging of spent annuals and continues to target our ever-diminishing supply of weeds. She hauled back plenty of debris and we'll see her next week for plant sale preparations. Dr. Gredler did his Friday mowing around the gardens and continued his turf aeration program. Larry and Amy H. came in to scope out an assigned garden opportunity and it looks like they'll maintain part of the fern & moss garden. Larry is also a Grumpy during the week. Our Home Garden Tour Committee met which included Jean, Tim, Bill, Cora, Barb and me (sans Janet, Patrick, Dave and Ruth). We have our seven homes selected for next year already and will move for even earlier promotion of this fun event. Maury went out to pick up more cardboard flats for the plant sale and is about half done with that task. The flats are very handy for the sale. Bill O. came in this afternoon to do our arboretum mowing. Urban was here bright and early to sand our entrance gates in preparation for a repainting by Rose early next week. She has a good hand for painting and she and Urban are a good team that has tackled this project and many like it in the past. Rollie and Andy came in and did some timely brick work for me too. We also saw Dave G. and others here today. To the right is the 'Black & Blue' Brazilian sage (Salvia guaranitica) that looks great throughout our blue and yellow theme this year. This annual species, native to a wide range of South America, gets up to 36" tall and attracts lots of hummingbirds. I've seen more butterflies and hummingbirds this year at the gardens than ever! You can see how this variety gets its name with those interesting electric blue flowers emerging from black calyxes. Directly below is the fine textured foliage of the narrow-leaf male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas 'Linearis'). Those visitors that take the time to examine the detail of the ferns in the fern & moss garden will undoubtably find some really neat features and subtle differences amongst the wide variety of ferns in that garden space.Directly above is the fruit cluster of the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) which was previously a nice white flower cluster back in June. It looks like the birds have taken about half of these little berries. The edible fruits have a long history of consumption as well as medicinal use by many cultures. There are many other species of elderberries (around the world) with similar, valuable fruits. Current research is looking at the benefit of the high level of antioxidants and other nutrients of elderberry for combating cardiovascular disease, diabetes and influenza among other ailments. To the right is another of our Japanese lanterns, this one near the waterfall in the fern & moss garden. We have about eight nice lanterns, many of which were donated by the founder of the gardens, Dr. Robert Yahr. To the left is a huge leaf from the elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) near the kiosk. With the heat, fertilizer and adequate moisture provided this year, all our elephant ears are enormous.
The grounds staff kept busy today and I finally had a good upper body workout after moving all the shrubs around to fit them in for the plant sale. Terry and Janice push mowed right away and Terry then worked with Marv on watering, running irrigation zones, tidying before the weddings (one in the rose garden tonight), gravel work and loading up some plants for a delivery. These guys work together well and were Siamese twins in a former life I'm sure. Aside from mowing, Janice continued putting out our new labels, watered plant sale items and put up her mum signs. Marianne did her normal tidying out in the gardens and the cutting display. Later she helped water in the plant sale and is getting everything together for the "short week" of preparations next week before the sale starts on Friday, September 9th for RBG Friends Members only (9am-5 pm, 10% off). I worked on plant sale preparations as well. To the right is a seed head from the ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty') in the Ornamental Edible and Compact Vegetable collection. Look closely and see what the finches are doing. They sure love the seed and we're seeing them increasingly target these seed heads as they ripen. Directly below is the always showy cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) in the same area as the millet mentioned above. Janice continues to cut back the lowest leaves on this artichoke (Cynara scolymus) relative as they flop. The bold texture of this silver plant is quite fetching even when we don't see the huge violet-blue flower clusters. At the bottom is another shot of the North Point garden which continues to be photogenic and will host another function tomorrow.