The day started out drizzling and was overcast all day with the exception of an hour or so in the morning. There were also some brief periods of heavy rain this morning. We thought we would have a rain day and not be able to get out in the gardens but as I type, Marv, Marianne, Terry and Big John have been out all day, even thru the drizzle. I played "catch up" at my desk with preparations for the symposium this weekend and other looming duties. I was able to tour the gardens and assess what's next for decorations and garden clean-up. Overall, the gang is way ahead on both Holiday Lights Show (HLS) set-up and gardening. We've had some nice weather though and hope it holds. Pat was in to help cut back perennials and collect debris in the color rooms garden. He and Big John took a big dent out of this space today and the woodland walk yesterday. Thanks to Ron and Bev W. for their decorating skills yesterday too. We also saw Deb G., Tom C., Little Jerry and others today. To the right is the vivid fall color of the 'Crimson Queen' Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in the Japanese garden. While the summer color of this cutleaf Japanese maple is a nice dark maroon, the fall color becomes a very bright red as seen here. This is a real focal point right now in that space and this specimen has been there for over 8 years with very little winter injury. There are still a couple plants blooming out in the gardens including this Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) still hanging in there in the herb garden. A hard frost will take care of this vine and we'll cut it down to a couple inches although it will grow back to full-size with blooms next year with no problem.The image above is the showy fall color of the fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis). This 5-6' tall (and wide) shrub has wonderfully fragrant, pink blooms in early May and is hardy for our climate (not too much further north though...). Most people don't know this shrub but you can't miss it in early May or early November as seen above. We have three of these down along our Smelly Garden perimeter. To the right is a colorful stem on the coral-stripe moosewood (Acer pensylvanicum 'Erythrocladum'). The leaves (turning a golden yellow) have already fallen but the stems go thru a deep transition of color to this "hot red" and become very showy, even from a distance. Although not long-lived, this species/variety has plenty of late season interest. To the left is the golden-yellow fall color of the cutleaf stephanandra (Stephanandra incisa 'Crispa') on arching branches cascading over a path edge. I like this informal shrub and it makes a nice edger as seen here.
Marianne organized some of our lights, etc. in the Horticulture Center this morning then spent the bulk of the day placing the remainder of the half gallon luminary jugs along the route of the HLS. She also started stringing the C7 lights that will be used in these luminaries. We walked the route and made some decisions on where power will be run and how it affects the luminary set-up. Marianne is a seasoned veteran of this process and will be joined by Jenny E. on Monday (they might finish that day). Big John spent the day gardening after bringing some obelisks in for decoration in case of signficant rain. John (along with Pat) did a nice job collecting debris and cutting back perennials in the color rooms garden. John also cut back vines (hops, clematis, etc.) from many of our structures this morning and brought back many loads throughout the day. To the right is the start of the fall color for the native chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) in the woodland walk garden. The leaves will totally turn a light chocolate color by mid-November and tend to stay on the tree over the winter (particulary on the juvenille specimens). Directly below is the fall color on another of our cutleaf Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) although I don't know the variety. This one sure shows up nice with that fence in the background. At the bottom is a shot of one of the new carpentry projects for the Grumpies. This all-accessible table allows a wheelchair with occupant to roll underneath and garden in those three planter boxes. The boxes will be inset in to the table and the user will be able to access and garden in those boxes directly. I saw this design at the Chicago Botanic Gardens' Buehler Enabling Garden (thanks for sharing CBG!). Cool. Can't wait to see it in use next year.