Sparks were literally flying today at the Horticulture Center as seen in the top image. This is Jim cutting off some old casters from a cabinet. Jim was one of many volunteer that stopped by to help out today. Some of the images in this blog were also taken out in the gardens today. With more sun and temperatures near 35 degrees F, I thought I'd find more blooms out there and wasn't disappointed. Directly above is the start of the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) which is also blooming about five weeks early. This small, minor bulb is one of the first to bloom and we'll see massive drifts of this bulb coming up around the gardens in the coming weeks. The snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) continue to bloom around the gardens (see to the right) and those that are in sunnier spots or warmer spots (near the water or next to a warm rock) are already up and blooming. I really like snowdrops and am glad we planted so many thousands of them in the past. To the left is the flower bud of one of our hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) in the gazebo garden. These flowers are frost resistant and still have a ways to go before they unfurl. However, this warmer weather has really triggered the start of the bloom process early. We've accumulated quite a hellebore collection over the years and I always enjoy their appearance in early spring.
I spent much of the morning finishing preparations for the Garden Expo (www.wigardenexpo.com/) this weekend up at the exhibition hall of the Alliant Energy Center (Madison, WI). There was a nice article in the Wisconsin State Journal this Sunday that not only mentioned the Expo but also referenced my talk on "Gardening Vertically". There was also a program booklet for the Expo in the newspaper and it was nice to see the RBG ad in that publication. The article provided some nice exposure for the event and certainly my talk to a wide audience. I put in some time on the next batch of woody plant listings that Luis will be entering tomorrow for later production with the laser engraver. I also worked on some seed issues with Marianne and Janice who both were in to help out with myriad projects at the Horticulture Center. I also took a nice tour of the gardens and talked briefly with Mike M. and one of his UWEX co-workers who was here taking photos of the ergonomic tools. To the above right is the ornamental bark of the oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) which has a nice "cinnamon-look" with this exfoliating texture. We had another great volunteer crew today. Directly above is Bob A. painting one of our newly rebuilt / refurbished trash bins. This light blue will be part of our big silver theme in the entrance garden and "Yes, even our trash bins will coincide with a chosen color scheme!" The picture above also shows Del and Dick W. continuing their work on reindeer and sleigh cutouts. Dave T. and Vern were also in to help (Bob and Jim) with the carpentry projects that included additional repairs on our trash can bins (see to the left). Dick H. was in to work on some vehicles too. Rose and Dr. Gredler spent the morning repainting some smaller obelisks. While we still have some obelisks to work on, we will have to check our benches for repair and/or restaining needs. To the right are just some of the many seed packets that Marianne is organizing and preparing lables for prior to their delivery/shipment to the vendors that will "grow these on" from seeds. We really keep everything organized between our four growers and appreciate them helping us experiment with some wacky and/or very specific stuff. Maury was in to run some errands and had some meetings as well. Bill O. came in later and helped Larry with some pruning and clean-up out in the arboretum. I went out to look at some trees with Larry and he pointed out a Shantung maple (Acer truncatum) that they had just pruned and the sap was really flowing out of those cuts! Marv and Terry were in briefly this morning and Marv was helping figure out how to create our "bowl on a pedestal" contraption (see to the right). The liability of keeping these watered was pointed out to me many times today by grounds people. We'll see how it goes. We also saw Lori and some other volunteers. We had two new "potential" volunteers come visit and Janice gave them a nice "orientation tour". To the right is the plastic bowl on pvc pipe planter idea. The end result should be pretty cool and I have three areas that will have some of these featured. At the bottom are some more obelisk painting shots. The first one down shows Rose with her designer shirt that shows all the obelisk colors from the past three years. Her shirt would be a good historic reference for our color changes! At the bottom are Rose and my younger daughter painting last Friday. We've had such a great team effort this winter and have made lots of "pre-spring" progress in record time.