Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

Does anyone remember that song (my blog title) by the Bangles in the 80s? 80s music is still the best! Today was a manic Monday with all sorts of volunteers, staff, good weather and a very productive day. Our Grumpies went right down the list this morning and I had to even suggest some additional projects at break to keep everyone busy. In the top picture are Ron W. (left) and Urban (right) along with Dennis (left) and Larry (right) directly above out front of the Parker Education Center planting tulips (Tulipa). Ron Y., Dick K. and Bob C. were also out helping plant tulips. The guys collectively planted 1,000 'White Triumphator' tulips (Tulipa) in the three center planters in the entrance garden patios. Marv and Terry started the process this morning by removing the plants from those circles and loosening the soil. They also helped loosen the planting bed once all the circles had been excavated down 6-7". The guys all did a nice job and made quick work of that project before moving on to other opportunities. Pat, Dave, Ron B. and Rollie (see Rollie in green sweatshirt below) worked on removing the plants from the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display. They were later joined by some others and finished that task in short order. Dick P., Dick H., Gary and Bill S. worked on hauling/storing/winterizing our terrace garden furniture and the guys also brought back the 'Dancing Waters' fountain. Most of the guys worked on multiple projects and went on to other duties like preparing luminaries for the Holiday Light Show, woodchipping and raking leaves. Jim, Dave, Vern and Bob A. worked on some carpentry projects and helped winterize our raised planters and the vertical wall planter. We also saw Polly and Kelli for break. Above and to the right is the yellowing fall color of the 'Blue Ice' hybrid bluestar (Amsonia hybrida) which is a great perennial with plenty of spring interest with dark blue blossoms in profusion. The the left is a shot I took this foggy morning at the Horticulture Center with the rising sun coming thru a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). To the right is the showy fall color of one of our red maples (Acer rubrum) also at the Horticulture Center. Directly below is Rollie removing plants near the arboretum. The crew sure kept busy this morning as evidenced by all the muddy boots (rain last night)! Although I've featured it on many previous occasions, I can't stop photographing the grass above. This is a perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) called 'Red Head' that I've not tired of observing. Those inflorescences (flower/seed heads) were very dark months ago but the fading to a pink hasn't lessened the visual impact of this grass. There are actually three specimens massed in this area creating this effect. The only drawback to this grass species is that is wont stand up in significant snow so has little winter interest. I think I'll bulk up on this variety next spring as I've seen mass plantings up at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) that were quite impressive. To the right are the formerly green, now reddening stems of the 'Flame' willows (Salix hybrida 'Flame') along the west bank near the Parker Education Center (overlooking Lion's Beach). The winter color of these stems rivals any red-stemmed dogwood (Cornus sp.). We cut these back every year to 6" in March and get new growth shooting up to 6-8' that same year. To the left is a shot behind the seating walls in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden. The lime obelisks punctuate a "sea" of over 80 feather reed grasses (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster') which continue to be my favorite upright grass (48"-60" tall).

Larry is off this week but we had Marv, Terry, Marianne and Big John here today to keep things moving along. Aside from the assistance that Marv and Terry gave to the guys planting bulbs in front of the Parker Education Center, the fellas spent plenty of time putting out lights/displays and have again been the "go to" guys for the majority of lights preparations. They also helped move, empty and store the raised beds/vertical wall planter over at the Horticulture Center. Marianne started and finished the day with some serious gardening (removing annuals and cutting back perennials). The bulk of her day involved putting out milk jug luminaries for the Holiday Lights Show. She and Jenny have done this for years and the ultimate effect is really cool during the show with all the paths marked out with these colorful luminaries (with C7 bulbs in each jug). Big John worked on cutting back and removing plants, hauling back obelisks and other odds and ends. I had some meetings, worked on my talk for this Wednesday evening (Bulbs, 6-8 pm) and am working on finalizing some new garden signs (6) for some of our newer gardens. Our consultant is in Puerto Rico but email communication is such a great thing! To the right is the dynamic fall color of the Beaver Creek fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii 'KLMtwo') in the woodland walk garden. The progression of fall color lasts 4-6 weeks and it typically peaks after Halloween. Below (left to right) are Ron W., Rollie, Pat and Gary filling luminaries this morning (still plenty left to go as Marianne puts out 2,000....). The bottom picture shows Vern starting to empty out the vertical planter which, with wet soil and ample plants, was extremely heavy and required Marv and the endloader to move it for final emptying.

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