Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yummy Chili

Our Volunteer Soup Dinner (actually chili) went very well last night and we saw between 75-80 attendees. Janice's vegan chili was yummy and no one went home hungry (there were two other options too). It was nice to see many of our veteran volunteers but we also had six new "potentials" that we hope will join our RBG volunteer family this year. Above are Margaret (left) and Rita (right)...or is it the reverse? Rita joined the RBG staff recently as the Administrative Coordinator and Margaret, a long-time RBG volunteer, is doing an internship at RBG and helping streamline many of our forms and processes. Her business background will be very beneficial for RBG. They have been called twins by many and each is used to being called by the other's name. Last night they stood up together and it was like seeing long lost sisters! Gary and Lori made some nice comments last night and my presentation on Japanese Gardens seemed well-received. I also talked about some of the upcoming events, activities and collections for 2012. These volunteer-oriented events have proven so valuable for maintaining a connection with our volunteers over the winter months and we hope it becomes a nice recruiting opportunity too as we see new faces at each of these. Our next event in this series is on Tuesday, February 28th at 5 pm. I'll talk about Garden of Philadelphia-Revisited which is based on seeing more gardens last summer at the American Public Garden Association (APGA) conference. To the upper right are Gena (left) and Myrt (right) who were in today to remove lights off of our last remaining obelisks from the HLS. The ladies made quick work of this project and packed up the lights nicely. The obelisks will receive a different paint color shortly... To the left is Dr. Gredler continuing work on painting obelisks today. We also saw Maury, Mary W. and Bill O. today. Bill assembled some new recycling containers and worked on some inside projects. Dick H. also popped by to size up some of his looming vehicle repairs.

I split my day with presentation preparations and seed ordering. I put in a good sized order from Johnny's Selected Seeds ( which has a great assortment of vegetables and plenty of annuals as well. While my biggest seed orders are in already, I still have about 30 catalogs to peruse as I finish out selections for the grounds as well as our spring plant sale varieties. The bottom left and bottom right images were taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden this past year and show some of their vertical wall planters. I finished my presentation on Gardening Vertically today which I'll give twice at the WPT Garden Expo ( and will present here at RBG on Wednesday, May 16th as part of our 2012 lecture series. This topic, while not new, has become very popular as gardeners attempt to maximize their space and use opportunities to grow plants in situations that are efficient and low maintenance. This topic covers living walls, vertical planters, container options and some innovative "re-purposing" of materials to create opportunities to garden vertically; even on balconies, decks and in tight locations. I'll also feature some of the living wall work being done internationally by Patrick Blanc. If you GOOGLE his name with the words "living walls", you'll see some of the interesting things he's been doing. I plucked the bottom image off the internet as it shows some of his work. Interestingly enough, those plants are not growing in soil but are rooted in to an "engineered" fabric system that has water (with nutrients) distributed over this wall. Essentially, this is large scale hydroponics that avoids the additional weight of wet soil and also protects the structure from excess moisture. Mr. Blanc wrote a book ("The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City", 2008) on the subject and I encourage you to look in to it further as I'm still trying to grasp all the details. This "urban greening" has lots of merit but at this point is still quite expensive to install retroactively....

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