Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A "Sign" Of The Times

Today we received our new signs (as seen in the top photo) that will have to be secured on all the doors of both our buildings. Regardless of how people feel on this contentious topic, I never thought I'd see the day we'd be putting up signs like this at the gardens. I've watched the NO BIKES, NO PETS, NO ROLLERBLADES, NO SWIMMING, NO FISHING (in our water features!) and NO SMOKING signs go up and this I suppose is the continued progression of informing our visitors (and addressing liability concerns). The photo directly above features some of the last blooms of the 'October Skies' aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius) in the garden. I imagine they will be frozen off this week as we'll be hovering around freezing temperatures for the high temps for the next couple of days. To the right are our ornamental kale (Brassica) planted near the gazebo. While some are looking better than others, they don't mind the cold and I'm interested in seeing how long they last (we'll leave them in until spring). To the left is the autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis) looking good out in the gardens. While many may see this grass as ordinary, I look at it as uniform clumping grass that has done well everywhere we have planted it and certainly looks good late in the season as well.

We had a couple volunteers straggle in today. Bill O. (lower right) was in all morning to do some clean-up and helped Larry straighten a couple more pine trees for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). Bill does a nice job and has been a huge asset over the past couple of years. He comes in every Saturday to help Larry too. This morning we also saw Dick H. and Dr. Gredler. Del was in most of the afternoon working on making more deer cutouts for the gift shop. The second photo from the bottom shows both he and Ron W. working on the start of the newest batch yesterday. Urban was in to do more pruning this afternoon near the arboretum. We also saw Maury, Kris, Matt and some others at the Horticulture Center today. Directly below are the cones for the Japanese hemlock (Tsuga diversifolia) in the gazebo garden. We only have two specimens and they are both doing fairly well. The second photo down shows a view of the observation pier with a look over the inflorescences of the 'Morning Light' maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis). Larry was outside most of the day and worked with Bill on some HLS tasks. Larry finalized our "trail packs" for the HLS which include fuses, pliers, bulbs and other troubleshooting supplies. During the event, we have two teams of two volunteers each roving the trails. They replace some bulbs here and there (mainly luminaries) but also make sure visitors are safe (and staying on the paths). Larry and I alternate nights for the HLS and hopefully don't have to deal with major outages or problems but that occasionally does happen, particularly if it's raining! Our Grasshopper mower came back today after getting a tune-up and replacement parts. We'll replace some tires, get the snowblower on and be ready for Old Man Winter. To the right and left are the colorful coral-red stems of the 'Erythrocladum' moosewood (Acer pensylvanicum). I featured these stems a couple months ago and they are even brighter now. It will be nice to see this specimen get some size.

I continued my progress on myriad projects and have gone thru my first dozen or so seed catalogs. I do like to cross reference prices and am starting to accumulate our listing for the 2012 moss rose (Portulaca) collection. We'll also be incorporating a "Grains of the World" collection in our ornamental edible garden with a focus on (at least) the top 10 nutritious grains. It's interesting how RBG has expanded it's collections and themes to include such a wide variety of edibles. Over the years, we've probably grown 200+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 230+ varieties of hot peppers, 100+ varieties of eggplants and our specialty collections of heirloom cucumbers, pole & runner beans, squash and miscellaneous edibles. Janice and I will talk tomorrow about our plan of attack for edibles for 2012 as she coordinates the volunteer team that maintains our veggie collection. Of course, we'll focus on varieties that will also be sold at the spring plant sale (May 11, 12 13). The spring sale next year falls over the Mother's Day weekend which is typically very well attended at RBG and we hope to capture that traffic and maximize our sale. We'll have all sorts of cool stuff including more perennials, compact veggies, bagged compost and edibles for containers. Don't forget the lecture on Holiday Plants - Past & Present by Patty Bailey (Patty's Plants, Milton, WI) tomorrow night, December 7th from 6 pm - 8 pm at the Parker Education Center. To the right is the furry stem of the staghorn (hence the name) sumac (Rhus typhina). This is the golden foliage variety 'Bailtiger' which goes by the trade name of Tiger Eyes. Below are Ron (left) and Del (right) working on deer cutouts yesterday and at the bottom are the State Street (Madison, WI) planters with plenty of greens, colorful stems and that red thingy is plastic but offers some winter cheer.

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