Friday, October 28, 2011

Fast Friday

Fridays always seem to go quickly and today was no exception. Although it was frosty this morning, the day turned out to be sunny and beautiful with highs in the mid 50 degrees F. The top image is the fall color of one of our serviceberry (Amelanchier lamarckii) specimens in the arboretum and directly above is a colorful look in to our woodland walk garden with the glow of those three Beaver Creek fothergillas (Fothergilla gardenii 'KLMtwo') in front of the pillar. That pillar is a portion of one of the original dozen Indiana limestone pillars that supported our pergola in the formal rose garden years ago. In 1999, we had a "wind shear" or sudden downdraft of tornado-like proportions that not only leveled many trees around town but knocked over our original pergola. We saved the broken pillars and eventually used them for a "ruins-like" appearance in the woodland walk garden. Also peppered throughout that space (with the same design intent) are elements from our 2006 vandalism like broken containers, statuary, etc. To the right is the deep maroon fall color and fruiting structure of the Eastern wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) which I only get excited about this time of year because of the fall color. It has shown a recent tendency to establish by seed and is becoming challenging with many seedlings to target. Even after four light frosts, we still have some perennials blooming out in the gardens. To the above left is the 'Dark Beauty' toad lily (Tricyrtis formosana) in the back of the gazebo garden. I'm excited about this variety and love the exquisite, orchid-like blooms. The fact that this perennial has interest around Halloween (at least this year) is also a bonus too.

We had some nice volunteer assistance today from Kay who essentially finished the shade garden clean-up although we know we'll have another round of leaves to collect. She was very thorough and did a great job as usual. Pat came in to help put up lights in the entrance garden and we appreciate his time. Hopefully we didn't "sour" him on that task as we'll see if he'll help us again with lights next week! We also saw Maury, Luis, Gene B., Mark S., Roy K. and others at the Horticulture Center today. Larry and Big John will be in tomorrow with probably some assistance from Bill O. To the right is another of our latest blooming perennials that shrugs off light frost with no problem. This azure monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii 'Baker's Variety') has been in the gazebo garden for a dozen years and always impresses me with the late bloom time (expected of course) but a shade of blue that can't be found elsewhere in the October garden. Very impressive. The last time I featured the plant seen below, it had white flower clusters in late September. This is the seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconioides) which is a large shrub / small tree with late white, fragrant flowers. As the flowers finish, the calyces elongate and turn a rich, rose-red as seen here. This is a neat effect. The calyx (made up of sepals) is the structure that protects the emerging flower bud as it forms and opens up. I've shown the fruits of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the past but we have so many visitors enquiring about these interesting structures as they are very profuse this year. These are actually cones that are covered with green, fleshy, shield-like scales. The seeds are inside and these spheres should start to turn more purple and dessicate (dry). I'm going to observe this and take photos as I've not seen this progression of maturation in the past. Pretty cool. There must be 5,000 of these out on our bald cypress in the arboretum. I took the image to the right out in the arboretum today too. While we're all smitten with orange, yellow, red and maroon fall colors, these "white leaves" caught my eye on the ground. These are actually the leaf back sides of the white poplar (Populus alba 'Fialaspire') that is in the arboretum. Like flipping a coin, those that land "heads first" show this silver backing and it is quite fetching. To the left is the yellowing fall color of the "skeleton-leaf" silver maple (Acer saccharinum 'Born's Gracious') near the gazebo. I'm not a huge fan of silver maples with the exception of this variety.

Grounds staff today included Marv, Terry, Marianne, Janice and me. Marv and Terry worked on the endloader a bit today and spent the majority of the day putting up and securing displays and stringing lights on various hedges and shrubs out in the gardens. Marianne processed many of the new LED lights we purchased recently and headed out in the gardens for some planting of lilies (Lilium sp.) and Jacob's ladder (Polemonium sp.). We should finish our planting (bulbs and perennials) by the end of next week. Marianne also did a nice job tidying up in the English cottage garden (and beyond) which will receive some decorations next week. Janice helped work on lights, assisted me with signage for the upcoming symposium and decorated many obelisks (with LED lights) for placement out in the garden next week. I worked on fall symposium preparations this morning as the garden thawed out and then went out to string another 1,000 feet (literally) of extension cords near the arboretum. I lay out my primary cords first and will hit this task full steam next week. I also finished some small projects and met with some potential donors regarding a memorial tree option here at RBG. To the right is a close-up shot of the true, fall crocus (Crocus sativus) in the gazebo garden. Also called the saffron crocus, this bulb blooms later than the "Autumn crocus" or Colchicum autumnale that blooms in September. The true fall crocus is in the Iridacea or Iris family whereas Colchicum is in the Liliacea or Lily family. Regardless of the botanical differences, the late color from both is quite welcome. Below is a backlit shot of some yellowing foliage of one of our magnolias (Magnolia hybrida 'Yellow Lantern') which looked neat (in spring too with yellow blossoms!) and at the bottom is a photo from yesterday (taken by Janice) showing Mary (bright yellow) and Gena (black) cleaning up in the fern & moss garden yesterday. Along with Myrt and Savannah (not pictured), the ladies collectively did a nice job. The red/orange maple to the right is the previously featured fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium') at peak near the Ma'chii structure. This variety is also called 'Maiku jaku' in Japanese which translates to "Dancing Peacock". ???. I think the deeply dissected leaves look like peacock feathers?

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