Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

Today was another warm one with temperatures just over 80 degrees F. This isn't just May weather anymore, this is early June! The gardens are responding quickly with plenty of bulbs blooming and emerging. Our 5,000 white tulips (Tulipa) in front of the Parker Education Center will probably be blooming in 2-3 weeks if this weather holds. While they were timed for Mother's Day originally, they'll be there to celebrate Earth Day I suppose! The top picture is my annual shot (usually in mid April) of the arched bridge from our North path. We saw plenty of visitors out in the gardens today and the education volunteers were working on preparing all sorts of programs for the near future. We also had a nice volunteer turnout this morning which included Dick W. above who finished removing burlap from our yews and finalized the removal of all of our winter deer protection. To the right are the early blooms of the donkeytail spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites). As nice as this looks, I can now see why this plant is despised in warmer climates for its ability to drop seed and spread everywhere. I noted many clumps of this plant in areas that it was not planted and we'll have to "thin the herd" this spring. To the left is another cool hellebore blooming out in the gardens. This is the 'HGC Pink Frost' hellebore (Helleborus x ballardiae) and I'm quite smitten with that flower color. Our hellebores are really peaking right now and I hope are getting some notice from our early visitors! To the right is Pat doing some early weeding near our east gate. Pat is "on the clock" already and had a full day of activity. Some of the earliest of the "carpet weeds" are growing quickly and will soon bloom and drop more seed. We'll be targeting these weeds aggressively over the next week or two and I'll probably get some herbicide out next week after the incoming rain system passes through the area. Dennis came in and was out tidying in the gardens while Bill O. was in to work with Larry on many different projects. Kay returned to process more labels and was later helped by Julie G. We also saw Big John, Little Jerry, Mary W., Kris K., Kay R., Ron R., Elsa and many others. Dr. Gredler was overseeding some of our thinner lawn areas and Janice came in to work on plant sale duties among other tasks. Directly below is the blue glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii 'Blue Giant') looking good in our entrance garden. Further below are some nice backlit daffodils (Narcissus). Our daffodils are currently peaking and the warm weather is pushing them along quickly.There is lots of activity going on in regards to our symposium this Saturday. It sounds like we have a nice crowd of 125 or so and it should be a great day (although possibly rainy). There is quite a bit of work in coordinating this event although Kris is doing a nice job with the help of Janice, Julie B. and some others. I'll be talking about Sensory Gardens and am looking forward to this presentation which was just completed last week. The rest of the program looks good as well and there will be some fun auction items too. To the left are the blooms of bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) which seemed to appear overnight. To the right is a reflection of one of our weeping willows (Salix alba 'Tristis') which looks the most golden this time of year with early flowers and the foliage just starting to peak out.

I met with Tom and Kathy at Jenka Blossoms (Lima Center, WI) today and took a look at all the fun stuff they are growing for us. I think we take up a big chunk of their greenhouses and all of our items looked great including the hanging baskets. Despite the advanced growth of everything outside, the greenhouse plants follow the same annual schedule of shipment, planting, potting, etc. and are timed for sales starting in late April. Kathy runs a tight ship and has been thankfully very adventurous in her willingness to try so many neat new things. I saw some groupings of colorful tropicals in her greenhouse and said, "I'd like some of those for the gardens!" to which Kathy replied, "You ordered those!". My memory isn't what it used to be! I'm also still working on some other presentations and will be talking on Sensational Shrubbery at Olbrich Botanical Gardens next Wednesday evening (March 28th). However, next Tuesday night, March 27th will be our third of three Volunteer Soup Dinners at the Parker Education Center (5 pm). RSVP if you are interested. I've almost finished my presentation for that evening on the history of the gardens and really found some neat historic photographs. To the left is the pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) in the alpine garden. What a neat plant and I imagine that light "fur" on the backside of the petals helps insulate the blooms during the colder nights as they are closed up. Below are some of the many obelisks that the carpenters will complete Thursday and at the bottom is a shot from this morning that captured the observation pier (note the new roof!) arched bridge and that weeping willow. No shortage of color out there. If you are one of our volunteers, we need you for clean-up and weeding!

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