Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Volunteers Rock!

We had a great volunteer turnout today and the weather was once again perfect. Sunshine and highs near 80 degrees F are most welcome as we know that this weather is a temporary gift from Mother Nature! The top picture above shows our talented group of Grumpettes with Janice this morning. This group includes Glenna, Marilyn, Suzy, Karen, Mary, Shirley, Jenny and Bev. All the ladies did a great job with clean-up around the gardens and they brought back many loads of debris that were later hauled off by Dick H., directly above. Shirley and Bev did some nice work in the sunken garden while Jenny was raking in various "hot spots." Glenna, Marilyn, Suzy, Karen and Mary cut back hostas in three different garden areas and also collected other debris. We typically cut the hostas down before a hard frost that will turn them mushy and less desireable to remove. We've learned some hard lessons in the past regarding the timing for this task. Janice did a nice job coordinating everyone and in the afternoon, we had Mary and Myrt in to tidy up the entrance garden slope where lots of previously frosted coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) were looking sad. Nice shot to the right of some fall color in the Japanese garden. The red in the foreground is from a fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium') and the yellow in the distant left is from our largest redbud tree (Cercis canadensis). Both of these trees have yet to peak and will look dynamite this weekend. To the left is Shirley in the sunken garden. While some volunteers are assigned areas to maintain, Shirley takes care of entire gardens as needed and is a top notch gardener. Grumpies included Bob C. and Ron collecting leaves in various locations as did Ron W. and our new Grumpy, Dave. Dick P., Maury, Dick C., Tom C., Pat M. and Dick H. worked on putting down a new electric line (from the Terrace garden) that will ultimately supply two more outlets in the Children's garden. These outlets will be extremely convenient for our youth education programs and various events down in that garden space. This will also negate the need for 150' of extension cords everytime there is a need for power in that garden. Dr. Gredler was here to mow and collect leaves and our carpenters (Vern, Jim and Bob A.) kept busy with some carpentry repairs and the start of construction on another really neat, all-accessible planting table. Rollie worked on installing the latest batch of memorial bricks and will continue the work tomorrow. To the right is the engaging fall color of the Amur maple (Acer ginnala). This is one of our specimens in the Japanese garden and although this species is starting to show some reseeding/weedy tendencies in only slightly warmer climates, I feel few trees can match the consistent and always beautiful fall color of this smaller-statured maple. These colors will intensify to even a deeper red in the coming week. Below (left to right) are Tom C., Dick P. and Maury (supervising with his hands in his pockets) sizing up the electrical project yesterday. They did a great job with installation today. Further below is Rollie who never passes up a chance to "mug for the camera." Nice shot above of an Amur maple (Acer ginnala) trailing over one of the spillways for the new stream in the Japanese garden. We have three of these trees trained (pruned) to cascade over different areas of the stream or dry sea and they really become conspicuous with the onset of fall color. It was another busy day out in the gardens with the youth education volunteers leading another group of kids out to the prairie for the Bird & Prairies program. It is nice to see so many young visitors form some sort of connection with RBG as they will be our future employees, volunteers, members and word-of-mouth advertisers! Nice shot of Bev W. to the right in the sunken garden today. She adopted a nice chunk of that garden and has given it lots of attention. We could use a lot more volunteers like Bev out in the gardens! The grounds staff had a busy day. Larry worked on more weed whipping around the gardens and helped the crew with the electric project near the Children's garden. Big John cleared more plants, emptied containers, hauled debris and did a nice job tidying up some of the unsightly remnants of the extensive Japanese garden project. Janice coordinated the morning volunteers and had her afternoon group in for leaf raking/collection. She also was out in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable collection (still looking good) to cut back and/or remove select plants. I flitted about and spent quite a bit of time preparing for being gone tomorrow and all of next week on vacation. Limited blogging probably (if it matters to anyone!) but will enjoy the time off before the major shift to final garden clean-up and extension cord slingin' for the Holiday Lights Show. To the left is the fall color of the golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis) which is a "deciduous conifer" that will lose needles in fall and refoliate next spring. Native to China, where this tree can get over 100' tall, golden larch has done well for us and that clear golden needle color really glows in this location near the shade garden. To the right are the blooms (previously featured) of the black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata, unknown variety) that have made it thru some of the cooler evenings. We were just commenting how this annual vine has always been quite "restrained" for us until this year, where it has gone bonkers and engulfed all nearby plants and real estate. At the Ball Seed Trial Gardens (West Chicago, IL), I saw some new varieties of this vine that had pinkish red flowers and a nice reddish orange bloom. I'll seek those out next year but will be prepared to hold this vine "in check" if it explodes again. Directly below is a shot from yesterday of young students enjoying a sensory scavenger hunt in the Smelly Garden. At the bottom is a shot from today with the distant arched bridge framed by lots of fall color. Signing off for now. Get outside and tidy up your yards, plant bulbs and enjoy fall before it's a distant memory!

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