Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Efforts Continue

We had an elite crew here this morning to continue dismantling and packing away the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). Above is Urban who emptied the sand out of 2,000 half gallon milk jug luminaries and packed the jugs away in bags for storage until next October. We've had some of these jugs for over 10 years and will need to replace some as they do become brittle with age. We'll take any donations as long as they are clean and "sticker-less." I could always identify a new visitor to the HLS when I heard positive comments about the luminaries that lined most of the paths of the show. We've used these for the past 13 annual shows and they are showy and functional. Dennis and Larry H. were in as well and headed out in to the gardens to start taking light strands off of our temporary white pine (Pinus strobus) trees that were donated back in November. This task is timely so we can get the trees hauled back for chipping in to our mulch pile (used later this year) and we'll then be able to get the stakes out of the ground before they freeze too solid. The image to the right shows our notched wrapping boards that our carpenters have made that allow for easy wrapping and storage of a standard (100 bulb) strand of lights. We wrap as much outside as possible and Larry has been packing and storing crates as we fill them. The black crate seen there is one of hundreds that we've saved from past spring bulb orders. Our quantity orders (in fall) of tulips (Tulipa), daffodils (Narcissus) and ornamental onions (Allium) typically come in these heavy duty crates. They stack nicely and are better being used then sitting in a landfill in perpetuity. I'll be blogging more about plastic usage in horticulture later this winter. UGH!

I made two seed orders today and am currently working on our biggest order which accounts for about 50% of our seeds. To the above left is the new Pinetree Garden Seeds ( catalog which has a nice assortment of seed, plants and garden-related products. I also ordered from Park Seed ( today and hope to get thru 2-3 catalogs each day. Ordering the seeds is only the first step in a five step process. The next steps include receiving/organizing the seeds, matching color-coded labels to each, sorting them by grower (+ delivery) and then finally pick up the finished product in May or early June. We have two primary growers for our seeds and have added a third this year. We also have three other growers that are ordering/starting vegetative selections for us as well. To the right and directly below was Dr. Gredler's project today as he unwrapped over 32 obelisks and has plenty more to go. We also saw Rose and Maury today.

While I consider all of our HLS efforts over the next month or two to be closure for 2011, we still have plenty of work to accomplish both inside and out for 2012. This "down season" goes all too quickly I've learned. While Larry, Bill, Urban and Pat started some significant pruning back in December, we'll need to continue our efforts over the next three months as we still have plenty of thinning, trimming and about six significant removals. To the left is a textbook pruning cut (don't flush cut!) in the arboretum which is just the start of our pruning efforts. The lack of snow is very concerning as we need the insulating blanket that will then provide needed moisture as it melts. I can't say I didn't mind not running the snowblower for the HLS (or at home!) in December but the snow would be welcome any time soon. However, we can currently access the entire garden and will take full advantage of this factor with the continuation of our pruning efforts. I think Pat and Urban will continue pruning tomorrow. In a couple of weeks, we'll start repainting our obelisks, re-sealing benches and the carpenters have some "new creations" yet to build. Our indoor projects are numerous as they relate to ordering plants and figuring out our collections. However, a huge priority is the continuation of our labeling momentum. New grant funding will allow us to bulk up heavily on labeling supplies (pre-cut labels for perennials and woodies) as well as aluminum stakes, etc. Gary already has a good start on the woodies based on Luis' comprehensive inventory. To the above right is a bear-foot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) in the gazebo garden that I photographed right before Christmas. This evergreen perennial actually does look good even thru tough winters and laughs at winter temperatures. It's starting to send up it's flower stalks (early) as it typically blooms in late winter (normally late February / early March). Flowers are lime green, small arching bells. This plant is also called stinking hellebore or dungwort although those names don't refer to a flower odor but the smell of the crushed foliage (haven't tried it yet). Directly below is a sunset shot I took last week of the geese out on Lion's Pond (west of the Parker Education Center) on very thin ice. They were positioned nicely to enjoy the HLS and the sound of geese was part of the holiday experience. The bottom photo shows the annual effort that Marianne does (as a volunteer) each year as she collects, mounts and saves all articles, ads, publications, etc. that relate to the gardens. She has done this since 2005 and these huge binders have enormous value for future readers and we appreciate Marianne's efforts and scrapbooking skills.

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