Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another Beautiful Day

Today was a beautiful day with a blue sky and temperatures in the mid 60 degrees F. I was able to get out in the gardens for quite a duration with Janine from Northwest Quarterly magazine

which serves Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. They will be doing a feature article on the gardens and we talked about our history, collections and features for this year. We've been featured previously by Northwest Quarterly and greatly appreciate the exposure to past and future audiences. We also had a nice walk around the gardens and watched the continued advancement of our spring garden. At the top are the blooms of the Korean Sun ornamental pear (Pyrus fauriei 'Westwood') which also features some top notch orange/red fall color. All of our pears (Pyrus) are in bloom and they look spectacular this year all around town. To the lower right is one of our upright Chanticleer flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana 'Glen's Form') in the reception garden. Two photos above is the double flowering plum (Prunus triloba var. multiplex) at peak bloom and directly above is one of many peony (Paeonia) buds showing some color. To the right are some of the European anemones (Anemone nemerosa) in the Scottish garden. There are some sizeable patches in that garden (including a blue variety) that are offering some great color. Janine and I covered most of the garden and encountered our hissing goose duo near the observation pier. Some visitors mentioned their encounter to us as well and it didn't sound pleasant. To the left is the always beautiful blossom of the 'Coral Lake' magnolia (Magnolia hybrida) overlooking the water to the west of the Parker Education Center. Our star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) and saucer magnolias (Magnolia x soulangiana) are past peak but these hybrids are starting up along with many of our yellow blooming magnolias.

I bounced between many projects today including finalizing my presentation on Sensational Shrubbery which I'll present tonight at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI). They have lots of great educational programs and the gardens are always worth visiting (highly encouraged!). I'll try to get up there for some pre-presentation photography. I also met with Mike M. regarding our April 25 program here at RBG. We're offering a program entitled Gardening to Enhance Well-Being - Working With Older Populations. As a joint venture between RBG and UW-Cooperative Extension, this event is targeted towards activity directors, occupational therapists, physical therapists and care givers. Check out our website at for more information on this event and all of our exciting April opportunities (Earth Day, Tree Sale, Arbor Day, Compost Sale, Healthy Soils lecture, etc...). Directly below is Dr. Gredler mowing in the area that will again become our Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection. There will be eight (8) of those structures out there with trailing vegetables coming out of the pipes and runner beans climbing up the supports. Doc will be able to mow right underneath and perhaps pick a trailing tomato from time to time! Further below are the buds of the white redbud (Cercis canadensis f. alba 'Royal White') just starting to open. The third photo down shows one of hundreds of our grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) groupings blooming out in the gardens right now.
We had a nice turnout of volunteers this morning. Marv was in early to work on a wide range of projects which including organizing some of the yard, painting and many other duties. He brought in a tasty coffee cake too! Luis arrived this morning to create more perennial labels and he organized some of his "previously produced" labels for Marianne who later came in to start the process of securing these signs to the bases that Larry created (see second photo from the bottom). Kay was in to continue peeling and organizing more lables for the Spring Plant Sale (see our website) and later moved out to do some clean-up and weeding in the shade garden. She did a great job as usual. Myrt and Nancy came in to do more gardening work in the Japanese garden and did an efficiently ruthless job of removing a carpet weed (unknown) that seems prevalent everywhere and was just starting to bloom (and thereby reseed quickly)! To the right is a white variety of pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) in the alpine garden. There are about 20 specimens (three different colors) of pasque flower in this garden looking dynamite in that garden. The alpine garden will continue to offer strong spring color and should be at peak soon. To the left is one of our nice yellow-blooming magnolias (Magnolia hybrida). This is the variety 'Yellow Lantern' located just inside our east gate. The blooms are quite large on this one and while this is a softer yellow than some of the others, it is still very striking. We also saw Big John, Maury, Pat and many others today as well.

Our Volunteer Soup Dinner last night went very well. I think there were close to 100 attendees or so. The chili was delicious and a big thank you to our volunteer coordinator Lori, other RBG staff and the Volunteer Committee for their efforts in preparing these three events. It was nice to see some new faces in the crowd and I believe there were a dozen or so "potentials" that we hope will become part of our family shortly. Our new Executive Director, Mary Penny-Fanning, was introduced to the group and said some nice words of appreciation to the volunteers. We collectively look forward to her tenure at the gardens. My historic talk on the gardens went well and I think I broke a world record in showing 579 slides in roughly 70 minutes! Many volunteers commented on the transformation from the early years but we all got a better feeling for all the hard work that was done in those early years. The bottom photo shows some of our volunteers at the event last night. To the right is the Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) which has such clear, lemon yellow blooms. Also called wood poppy, this native woodland perennial does like to "relocate" via re-seeding but we let it do it's thing as it is a showy filler and can take some pretty tough soils.

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