Tuesday, October 18, 2011

VIP Visit & More Clear Cutting

Above is a group of nine visitors from the Chicago Botanic Garden that came to tour the gardens today. Benjamin C. (white hat in center) is the head gardener for the Japanese garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden and brought some staff and volunteers to come see RBG. They were a delightful group and despite catching the tail end of the season, they seemed to enjoy the gardens and of course, spent extra time in our Japanese garden. I met Benjamin at the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) a couple weeks ago when Karen M. and I attended (held at the Chicago Botanic Garden). To the right is the pinkish fall color of the 'Fenway Gold' Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) located in the English cottage garden. The standard Boston ivy goes from glossy green to a deep red or reddish orange. This golden variety gets some really nice pinkish tones and has more summer interest in my opinion with those golden leaves. To the left is my other favorite, late-blooming aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite') that is quite striking so late in the season. This variety is under 30" tall and is a very strong bloomer. How much blue/violet do you see out in the gardens this time of year!? Note the pergola in the distance as this shot was taken in the formal perennial garden.

We had a small staff today with Larry off. Big John worked on removing plants from the terrace garden border as well as one of the annual berms in the arboretum (with help from Kay to the right). He also removed the culvert pipe planters from the terrace border which was no small task and hauled back many obelisks for decoration. Janice worked on some lights testing in the morning but later went out to collect debris as well and did one last collection of Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) and other vegetables for the food bank. She also helped process some of the bulbs that we'll be planting this Saturday. We have a large assortment of very fragrant lilies (Lilium sp.) that will be scattered around the Smelly Garden beds for early summer scent next year. Directly below is one of the herb garden sections. The Janesville Area Herb Society has always done a nice job maintaining our herb garden. What struck me with the situation below is that the lady looks like she's wading thru an encroaching sea of parsley (Petroselinum) and is keeping her urn safe and out of the way. There is a buried memorial plaque for that statue in there for Betty and Luann, two awesome members of the group that passed away a couple years ago and wouldn't mind the parsley at all! Further below is the interesting late season color of the 'Brass Lantern' foamy bells (Heucherella). Coral bells (Heuchera), foamflowers (Tiarella) and their offspring (Heucherellas) all keep their foliage (frequently still colorful) thru the season to be replaced by fresh growth next spring. We had a small but productive crew of volunteers here today. Kay was in to help John remove annuals in the terrace garden and arboretum. She also did a pre-emptive strike to remove the last of our impatiens in the shade garden before they turn mushy with another frost. We always remove impatiens and cut back hostas before they get turned to mush which ultimately makes their removal less than exciting after "going soft." Dr. Gredler was in to do more mowing and leaf collection. His Grasshopper riding mower has a shredding attachment and attached bin which allows him to mow/shred/distribute chopped up leaves right on to some of our recently cleared annual beds. The shredded leaves are great amendments and have certainly had a positive effect on our soil quality, particularly the flower beds. Years ago, Dr. Gredler would feed collected leaves in to a small shredder to create some great leaf mulch. He shredded so many leaves that we started calling him Dr. Shredler. Bill O. came in to collect leaves from the hosta hollow garden and fern & moss garden. He is one of our best tidying volunteers and takes the time to really address an area. Below and to the right is Luis O. He and I spent about 2 hours reviewing his woody plant inventory. Luis has been working on this all year and has done a great job going thru the gardens and updating our inventory of trees and shrubs. To the right is the interesting fall color of the golden Shirasawa's maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon') which has golden leaves in summer that later gets this reddish mottling in October. That looked pretty neat to me. To the left is a close-up of the bloom for the 'Party Dress' Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida) that has enormous double pink blooms (supposedly the largest of all Japanese anemone flowers) and blooms well in to fall (here, in the English cottage garden). Below is the fading (but still colorful) bloom of the Endless Summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer') that still has some nice interest this late in the season. In fact, most hydrangeas have extended interest well in to winter with fading blooms that still have some color and texture. At the bottom is some eye-catching fall color on a sugar maple (Acer saccharum 'Legacy') in the woodland walk garden. This is quite vivid and caught my eye from quite a distance.

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