Thursday, December 15, 2011

Setting Up Some Winter Work

Today was quite busy with volunteers at the Horticulture Center and despite some cooling temperatures, quite a bit of gardening was accomplished today. Most of my activities today resulted in creating more work for others and/or myself! At the top is a picture of the beginnings of our 2012 seed order. As I put together the orders, I enter everything on to this sheet which will later help us sort and organize the seeds and ultimately the returning plants from the greenhouses in May and early June. To the left are the remnant blooms of the 'Ozawa' ornamental onion (Allium thunbergii) which is actually still blooming (note buds in the middle right of the image)! To the lower right is a neat winter container arrangment I photographed yesterday at K&W Greenery (Janesville).

Directly above (left to right) are Pat M., Urban and Larry. The four of us walked through most of the gardens for 1.5 hours this morning to talk about pruning priorities, target plants, severe cutbacks and five larger removals. I put flagging tape on many of the "targets" and the guys will have no shortage of work over the coming months. I do hope for good snow cover this winter but hopefully not enough to dissuade these guys from continuing their "pruning onslaught." After our tour, Pat and Urban went right out and started on pruning and some of the smaller removals. They'll be back tomorrow and I think they'll make a good team. Larry (and Little Jerry) have done most of the winter pruning in the past and I hope we're able to get thru the entire gardens as there is not a woody plant out there that couldn't use at least a little attention. Larry H. was out in the gardens collecting more leaves (see directly below). The carpenters (Dave, Jim, Bob A., Vern) had multiple projects to work on and the second image below shows the guys figuring out the support system for some horizontal, elevated planters we'll have next year (should be cool!). Dick H., Del and Maury were in to help with various projects and we also saw Big John, Bill, Dick P., Glenn D. and many others today. Bill O. was in this afternoon to help Larry with some tasks and we also had Evergreen Irrigation here to repair some major valve issues that are connected to the water supply for the gardens proper. During our walk around this morning, I saw the flower structure above and did a double take as I didn't recognize it. There were a couple of these near the zig-zag bridge and as I got closer for a photo opportunity, I recognized these as the last remants of our spring ornamental onions (Allium 'Purple Sensation') which bloom in late May / early June. Many people leave the spherical flower/seed heads as they dry for summer structure. They will typically hold on to rounded ends at the edges of the sphere and those I noted today had shed those and looked like "starry tumbleweeds" for lack of a better description. Flower structure in the garden is always important although I've never observed it in December until now! To the right is one of the thorny stems of the Devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa) which is also called Hercules' club. This woody plant spreads vigorously by suckers and our only specimen "grove" is along the edge of our Horticulture Center property as the perfect screen. The best attribute of this woody plant are the huge, creamy flowers in late summer.

We had a meeting of our Spring Tree Sale Committee today and finalized our order for the April 20th-21st Tree Sale (8 am - 3 pm) that we'll offer in conjunction with the Blackhawk Golden K club as we did last year. This sale will correspond to our Earth Day activities next year and we're offering seedlings of white pines (Pinus strobus), Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca var. densata), Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens glauca), Norway spruce (Picea abies), concolor fir (Abies concolor), Eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). All seedlings will be $1.85 although there is a 10% discount for 50+ trees. More details will be on our website in January regarding this event. All proceeds from this event benefit RBG as well as the Golden K efforts for children around the world. Directly below is a nice patch of smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle') at K&W Greenery which is still showing some nice winter interest and will stand up to snow. At the bottom is a photo shared by our grounds horticulturist Janice. Her daughter was married at the gardens late this past year and this is a photo of both rings on top of Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale 'The Giant'). I thought this looked pretty cool although Janice hasn't seen the bill yet for abusing those tender flowers....

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