Monday, November 21, 2011

HLS Tweaking

Today was another nice day for weather with plenty of sunshine and highs in the low 50 degrees F. Nice shot above of a 'Venus' coral bell (Heuchera) leaf in the shade garden. That white marbling is quite exquisite! It looks like this week will be quite pleasant which bodes well for our final Holiday Lights Show (HLS) touch-up work over the coming days. With the seasonal grounds staff finishing this past Friday, it was just Larry and I here today ("on the clock"). Larry started the day by turning on and plugging in the entire HLS display. He spent most of the day fine tuning each area as we found some power issues, displays that still needed to be plugged in, etc. He and I went out after lunch and did quite a bit of troubleshooting as we have a test night tonight with staff, volunteers and media folks getting a first peak at the show. Larry and Tom C. found some power problems early and to the right is Dick P, who along with Tom C., added some additional power outlets on this primary electrical box. Their modifications and additions will be a huge asset for the HLS and minimize power problems for us during that event. We have a couple more issues to share with Tom and Dick but appreciate their progress today. I helped with the lights later but had some morning deadlines with other projects to address.

We had a good turnout of Grumpies today as well and we were happy to see Dr. Gredler stop in to say 'hi'. The picture to the upper left is from Friday but both Marv and Terry continued (and finished) that same project today and secured lighting on this white tree that will be part of the model train display over in the Parker Education Center during HLS. The guys also shifted a large HLS display and helped troubleshoot some of our early HLS problems. Pat and Dennis did the rounds to make sure the tree staking was complete and then moved on to spreading shredded leaves and applying woodchip mulch along our east border. Dick P., Maury and Dick H. worked on various projects while Tom C. spent the morning troubleshooting electrical issues with Larry. Rollie was out working on placing the last of our memorial bricks. Urban was out pruning more crabapples (Malus) while Del worked on cleaning, sharpening and organizing our hand tools. Dave T., Bob A., Jim and Vern continued their oak leaf cutout project (see to the right). These will be the new "canvases" for the garden art project in 2012. They are turning out quite nicely. Gary was in as well. We also saw Luis who brought in his 2 year woody plant inventory for the gardens. It looks very impressive and his work is already extremely valuable for not only our records system but for our new labeling system. Below are some "leaf claws" which are like small hand rakes that have the primary value of allowing the user to pick up large piles. We've asked volunteers to come in over the next two weeks to help finish our fall clean-up efforts in the gardens before the snow flies. We still have some deer fencing installation to finish and will then transition in to wrapping our yews (Taxus sp.) with a light burlap to minimize browsing. A couple years ago we had an injured deer in the gardens that nibbled on most of our yews over the course of a couple weeks in winter, causing severe damage. The browsing damage here has been significant and while our protection/prevention methods have increased over the years, we've found it's hard to deter starving deer if it is a rough winter. We have some repellants left that we'll use once we see more evidence of active browsing out in the gardens. The ornamental bark to the right is on the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) which has some nice shades of reddish brown with plenty of texture. The contribution of ornamental bark from this deciduous conifer (needles turned orange and dropped already) just gets better with age. To the left is some of our ornamental kale (Brassica sp.) still looking good after some tough frosts. Years ago we planted a large donation of kale (500+ plants) late in the season and couldn't believe how good it looked through most of the winter before it was buried with snow.

Once the HLS is set and ready to go, we make very few adjustments and focus on snow removal and keeping the paths for the event safe. I shift quickly in to seed ordering mode and also start securing orders for our specialty growers so they have time to secure and prepare plants for a spring pick-up. I also have another full winter of presentations that I'll pull together and the WPT Garden Expo is less than three months away (Feb. 10,11,12)! Two of my big winter projects include a revised Wellness Garden plan (future garden) and lots of work getting information finalized from Luis' woody plant inventory so we (Gary & team) can start cranking out labels yet this winter. To the right is the evergreen 'Ice Dance' sedge (Carex morrowii) in the woodland walk garden. While it does slowly colonize a space, it offers extended interest in the fall / early winter with pristine, variegated foliage. The forsythia blooms below (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana 'Kumson') think it's April but will "know their place" shortly. Still, always nice to see some late (or very early!) blooms.

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