Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Already Cutting The Grass

Today was another mild one with temperatures around 50 degrees F. When the sun was shinining earlier, I thought it felt like early May! This weather has pushed more plants out of the ground and the rain last night was welcome. I remember that old line, "April showers bring May flowers...". Now we're seeing "February showers bring March flowers..." It certainly was an odd winter and my blog title certainly doesn't mean we're mowing turf quite yet although I bet Dr. Gredler is ready to head out there! We're continuing the cutting and removal of perennial ornamental grasses as you can see above. That's Pat M. in both pictures above adding to the growing pile of grass debris that will go in to our compost pile. Cool season grasses that emerge early are coming up already which necessitates a timely removal of the older foliage while we can still cut it low to the ground. It was windy today which made it challenging for collecting and hauling debris but we had four volunteers out there most of the morning doing just that. Aside from Pat above, who later moved on to pruning too, we had Dick W. cutting back grasses in the main parking lot and both Gena and Myrt came in and gave some attention to cutting back smaller grasses and doing "spring" clean-up around the east end of the gardens. To the left are Rose and Urban continuing to paint the next three culvert pipe planters. These planters have rebar cross supports that will help contain a literal trash can insert that holds the soil in the top 30" of the pipe. I have a neat idea for what to put up in these and hope it works out. To the right are some of the thousands of winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) blooming out in the gardens. After planting so many over the years, we're starting to see some significant colonies forming and nice patches of yellow can be seen in the gazebo garden, hosta hollow and fern & moss garden. We also saw Luis (making tree signs), Bill from The Janesville Gazette, Chuck, Janice and Big John at the Horticulture Center today.

To the left are more snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) which are always nice in a photograph including snow. Our first snowdrops were up three weeks ago and they are now blooming nicely in hundreds of locations. I worked on a couple different projects including some details regarding our annual Home Garden Tour (July 21st, 10 am - 4 pm).
This year will feature many home gardens in the neighboring town of Milton, WI. I'm excited as I've heard many good things about all seven of our locations. I also ran about half of our seeds to one of our local growers (Evansville, WI) and it was nice to chat with owners Pat, Herb and to see Rochelle, Zack and Jane. It's always nice catching up on news and we reminisced about when I first met them 14 years ago as we started these special growing arrangements. It's amazing how none of us has aged!... I'll haul the remainder of the seeds to another grower tomorrow. I'm glad we have three seed growers and three other sources that are preparing plants from plugs or cuttings. We've "gone local" as much as possible and most of our purchases are from within 50 miles of the gardens. To the right is the collection of concrete-anchored stakes that Larry has created. They are ready for their labels and with the ground almost thawed out, we can start putting these in early this spring.

Directly below is a shot of our Volunteer Soup Dinner from last night. We had around 55 attendees and it was another fun evening of chatting, enjoying three soup selections (thanks volunteer committee!) and my presentation on the Gardens of Philadelphia - Revisited seemed well received. I also talked about some of our 2012 events, collections, etc. Our third of three volunteer events like this will be on March 27th (5 pm). I'm going to do a neat historic retrospective of the gardens using old images (before and after type approach). At the bottom is a shot of Land of the Giants Hosta Farm ( in Milton, WI. I show this image for two reasons. Number 1. The owner, Jeff Miller, will be giving a talk on hostas (Hostalicious!) next Wednesday evening, March 7th (6:30 pm) at the Parker Education Center. Number 2. Jeff and his wife Penny's garden/nursery will be one of the sites of our Home Garden Tour in July too!

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