Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Diversity = Sanity

The title of my blog today refers to the fact that diversity (at work) really equals sanity (at work) as well. As stretched as I feel this time of year with the myriad spring preparations, I'm glad I can work on so many different projects and today was no exception. I was also able to get out in the gardens this morning where I observed more progression of our earliest blooming plants. At the top are more snowdrops (Galanthus) in the woodland walk garden and directly above is an opening bud of the vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Sandra') in the shade garden. This early bloomer looks only a week or so away from blooming which would be about 4 weeks earlier than usual. It has been that type of year thus far. To the left is the winter adonis or "pheasant's eye" (Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai') which I've shown in some previous blogs as the buds just started to open. What a tough plant to take these tough conditions and still bloom so strongly. To the right are the male catkins on the contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorted') which is also commonly called Harry Lauder's walking stick. This picturesque variety, shown in previous blogs, was originally discovered growing in a hedgerow in England back in 1863. Apparently all specimens ultimately can be traced back to that specimen. Most of the filberts (Corylus) and birches (Betula) are showing their March catkins at this point in time.

I worked on finalizing our seeds and where they will be delivered over the coming days. The bottom photo shows just one box of the seeds I've been double checking. It's interesting that this "shoebox sized" container will result in 25,000 plants that will become our All-America Selections display garden and will cover 6,000 sq. ft. or so. We are so fortunate to have talented and committed growers that help us out. I also worked on preparing woody plant labels for Luis, annual sign information for Jenny, plant orders and had some meetings. Again, that diversity keeps me from going insane. I'm not sure I would have done well in a repetitive action career. Of course, our "repetitive action" involves holding a planting trowel for six weeks as we plunk all these plants in the ground. To the left is a shot looking up the trunk of our bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) out in the arboretum. That exfoliating bark with hints of red is quite showy. I was out in the arboretum with members of our youth education committee as they are preparing some youth programs utilizing this space. See the second photo from the bottom and from left to right are Bev, Barb and Marlene. We had a nice walk and enjoyed a brisk, late winter morning. To the right is Rose who helped paint in the Horticulture Center today. That flying saucer is actually one of the upside down bowl planters that will be used out in the garden (and placed on its own pipe/column which will be planted the same color). The bowl that Rose is planting is one of five that will be used in an area that is "strongly orange!"We had another great turnout of volunteers today. The second photo above shows Bill who was here all day working with Larry as they continued their pruning efforts in the Scottish garden. They worked on some large honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) trees and thinned out some congested specimens. Urban, directly above, helped with some painting this morning but then moved on to cleaning these next three culvert pipes that will receive their next three coats of paint (white, semi-gloss) over the coming days. Larry, Bill and I tipped them back up on end for painting and they were not light! Dr. Gredler finished the last of the obelisks to be repainted for the 2012 garden. He still has some other painting projects to accomplish and will likely start putting more sealer on some of our benches that are in need. Jenny came in and we touched base about this year. She took home our big list of annuals and will start data entry (for label production) at home and I'll just try to stay ahead of her as I provide more lists that need to be converted in to labels in a timely manner. We have really streamlined the process and want to have labels installed as the plants are planted (which makes sense but is not always that easy!). We'll continue to label our annuals and seasonals with the white sticker labels as that will differentiate them from the new black labels which indicate a permanent plant (perennial, shrub, tree or woody vine). Pat was in to cut back some ornamental grasses and we also saw Del. To the above right is a book, The Heirloom Life Gardener, from Jere & Emilee Gettle that we received for our reference library. I've heard good things about this book and the story of the Gettle's and their cool nursery, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com) is amazing as Jere started this business when he was just a teenager and now they offer over 1400 varieties of heirlooms! To the left is a photo shared by John and Jackie which shows the snow from last Friday in their backyard. Their blue bottle tree and bird house look neat with that layer of snow. I hope to include a bottle tree like this in my garden yet this year. To the right is a respite from observing deer tracks as it looks like the geese were on a jaunt as well. Tonight is our second of three Volunteer Soup Dinners (5 pm) and we're hoping for a good crowd despite the chance of freezing rain. The next one is on March 27th and I'll do a presentation on the history of the gardens using past images. March will be a busy month for programming so check out www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org for more information.

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