Friday, January 6, 2012

A Balmy 50 Degrees F

Today was another balmy day in the January garden with temperatures right at 50 degrees F. The image to the left is a shot of heron sculptures frozen in the lower fern/moss garden pond. We wont have much ice left after this warm weather but the shoreline ice patterns (right) caught my eye yesterday. Our 3 acre pond rarely freezes over as it is fed by multiple natural springs. Of course that means a Canadian geese population over the entire winter although the adjacent Lion's Pond freezes fairly well. We're looking at some options for maintaining water quality in our pond as we have not had the time (or funding) to do much over the past couple of years and the water quality, particularly in May thru August, is quite poor. The City of Janesville used to have money in their budget (Parks Department) for pond treatments but with tight budgets, that funding has not been available for over five years. The female cottonwood (Populus deltoides) population contributes to much of the debris every mid-spring with millions of drifting seeds. To the left is a nice patch of moss on a rock in the Japanese garden. The mosses are loving this weather and they photosynthesize year round if the sun can reach them. To the right is the remaining foliage (dead) of the golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold') in our boulder wall. I've taken dozens of pictures of this planting as it's matured over the years and looks great most of the year with the only "down time" in early April when we cut it back.

We had a nice volunteer turn out today with Dennis coming in to continue taking down lights. He focused on our icicle lights on structures and the overall progress on Holiday Lights Show (HLS) closure is going at a record pace. Temperatures next week indicate continued mild temperatures and we could have most of the show down by next Friday. Urban and Pat came in to work on pruning and some of the last cutting back of perennials out in the gardens. They focused on the far west side of our property which includes the garden areas between the Parker Education Center and Lion's Beach. They also worked near the new North Point garden and cut back a wide array of perennials that we didn't tackle back in the fall. As much as I lament the lack of snow and disconcerting warm temperatures, we would be foolish not to take advantage of this temporary "window". The work the guys did today will free up time in April when we would have accomplished those efforts. There is still plenty of pruning to accomplish and we should see more progress next week. To the left is the showy bark of the 'Whitespire Senior' grey birch (Betula populifolia) which really shows in winter. Although short-lived compared to maples and oaks, the white-barked birches have a charm all their own. To the upper right is some lily-turf (Liriope spicata) with light frost (photo from yesterday). This grass-like perennial is a great groundcover for us although it does spread significantly in rich soils. This is not a true grass but offers nice texture along a path as seen here. To the left is the ornamental bark of the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the arboretum. I like the texture and the hints of red on this deciduous conifer. Take the time to enjoy the contribution of colorful bark and stems in the winter landscape. To the right is the seed pod of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which caught my eye in our prairie yesterday.

Today we also saw Janice who continued going thru catalogs to select vegetable varieties for our collections and the spring plant sale in particular. She is focusing on heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, basil varieties and is locating those vegetable varieties that have been developed for higher nutrient value. We should have some awesome offerings at our spring plant sale (May 12, 13, 14, 9 am - 4 pm daily) which will include oodles of herbs. All our plant offerings for the plant sale will eventually be on our website. Additionally, we had Dr. Gredler and Bill O. in to wrap cords and also saw Maury, Big John, Bill O. (we have two!) and some others. Below is a cool sonnet that Janice wrote recently. Very neat. All I know about sonnets is that they have fourteen lines. Well done Janice!

Throw Me Into The Compost Heap

And so throw me into the compost heap.

My vines have withered and my leaves decay.

I have no fruit, no seeds for you to reap.

My beauty, like your love, has gone away.

Yet, when I was young and barely rooted

You chose me! It was springtime, all was new!

I gave you air and love undisputed,

You gave me sunshine, nutrients and dew.

But now the snow falls and you are alone

With catalogs, searching for your next Eve.

A new variety, a sport well-cloned,

Double-flowered with variegated leaves.

I but pray she's perfect in form and hue

And never reverts, and always grows true.

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