Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hitting The 50/50

This is the time of year where the grounds staff has a 50/50 split between gardening tasks and preparation for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). In a week or so, the percentages will shift heavier in to the HLS preparations as we take advantage of some of the warmer days before mid-November cold makes it considerably more unpleasant to be outside. The image above is of an area we're calling our North Point Border. With the creation of the North Point garden this year, we noted the need for a visual and functional separation between that new garden and both the alpine garden and French Formal garden (rose garden). The area above is a raised border about 60' long and 15' deep. For orientation, I took this picture from the North Point garden and what you see is the alpine garden in the distance to the left and the pergola (in the rose garden) at the top of the image. We'll be planting oodles of bulbs out there shortly and will follow up next spring with the addition of woody plants and perennials. To the right is the Autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis) which is a great, short clumping grass that we've used in many tough (full sun) locations around RBG. To the left is a portion of our Horticulture Center that Del is using to "touch up" the plywood deer cutouts that we use out in the gardens for the HLS.

Grounds staff today consisted of Big John, Janice and myself. John went out and continued clearing perennials and pockets of remaining annuals from both the shade garden. He also made a run for gas and decorated obelisks with lights for the HLS in the afternoon. Janice did some office work, went shopping for LED lights and supplies for the HLS and continued to decorate obelisks with lights. The day was overcast with occasional drizzle but never amounted to much rainfall. We saw the sun by the afternoon. I finished my presentation for tomorrow night at RBG (Bulbs, 6-8pm), continued work on our six new garden signs and am working thru my desk work so I can get outside with cords (probably tomorrow). To the right is some interesting pink fall color on the Sunjoy Gold Pillar barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Maria'). This color should go to orange shortly but I love this stage too. This upright variety was bright gold thru the summer. Despite Japanese barberries (Berberis thunbergii) becoming a weedy nuisance in many woodlands, I've always appreciated their vivid and variable fall coloration. Directly below are some of the luminaries awaiting attention and placement from Marianne. Above is a shot of our compost pile today which becomes quite large this time of year. It's tough to visualize the dimensions of this pilefrom the photo but as you view it, it is about 10' tall, 20' wide and 60' long (and growing). Marv has done an awesome job managing our composting and suggested the idea over seven years ago. He has done most of the mixing, turning, piling, sifting and processing which has resulted in budget savings (we buy less compost) and it is very appropriate to recycle and re-use our garden debris. Marv has done some tests with his compost and some of our purchased compost and his has less weed seeds (kept hotter) and is just as easy to work with out in the gardens. Pick up a book on composting basics or scour the internet for sources and see how easy it is to do this process on any scale. The basic recipe involves 3 parts "brown" material (dry leaves,etc.) to 1 part "green" material (grass clipping, etc.). Marv is good at guiding ingredients in to the pile as needed and to the left you see his sifter that is used to create the final, fine compost that goes directly out in to the gardens. The pile just beyond the sifter is next in line for sifting. Marv has spent many a volunteer hour sifting composting which removes (obviously) rocks, twigs, plastic labels and other unwanted debris from the final product. To the right are some of our larger containers, emptied, cleaned out and flipped over for winter.

We saw lots of volunteers around the Horticulture Center today. Kay came in and dodged raindrops for awhile with John as they worked on clearing out portions of the shade garden. She did a great job as usual and we appreciate her continued involvement and valuable time at the gardens. Maury was in to run some errands which also included getting some LED lights for the HLS. We also saw Bev D., Bev F., Mary W., Pam T., Dick H. and Jumbo Jim today at the Horticulture Center. Kris was over to talk with Janice about the looming Plant Appreciation Symposium on November 5th (it's not too late to register! check it out at www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org). Below are the last of the hot peppers (Capsicum sp.) picked at the gardens yesterday. Note the streaked/striped peppers that are from the 'Sparkler' variegated hot pepper (Capsicum annuum). At the bottom are Terry (left) and Marv (right) hunched over the boxwood (Buxus sp.) hedges in the formal gardens yesterday. This is the third time they've worked on these hedges, although this time was to put on lights, the previous two involved shears!

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