Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Short Sleeves Today

Today was a "scorcher", at least for March, with temperatures in the low 70 degrees F. The daffodils (Narcissus) above are the first of the season (along the North Path) but many other clumps are poised and ready to open up. Normal timing for daffodil blooms for our region is mid-April so we are still about a month early in general. With all the tulips (Tulipa) poking up I'm worried that our "advanced spring" will have our mid-season tulips, timed for Mother's Day, blooming before Earth Day (April 22) this year! Oh well, they'll be beautiful nonetheless. To the left is the snow scilla (Scilla mischtschenkoana) in full bloom near the gazebo. This is our first squill to bloom and I had to get an identification on this from Russell Stafford of Odyssey Bulbs ( as I've never stumped him on any plant. Russell was Director of Horticulture at Fernwood Botanical Gardens & Nature Preserve (Niles, MI) when I was there prior to RBG. Check out his mail order nursery for some rare and choice bulbs.

To the left is Dick W. who started a monumental task of digging out soil for the soon-to-be-installed retaining wall extension leading out of the sunken garden. He had a good start until a flat tire slowed him down. We'll continue with this prep work and some additional excavations in other locations in the sunken garden for retaining wall improvements. Pat M. was also out in the gardens and continued some clean-up efforts around the perimeter of the new North Point garden. Myrt and Gena were here as well and did a nice job tidying up in the shade garden this morning where there was still quite a bit of debris to collect. To the right are some crocuses (Crocus sp.) coming up in my favorite "bulb lawn" a couple blocks from my house. I was glad to have my camera with me as my daughter and I went on our daily dog walk. I was also happy (relatively speaking) to catch a photo (to the left) of some "tree staking" gone wrong....I can imagine this stake 15 years ago next to the trunk of a new tree. The roots probably trapped the stake after a couple years making it difficult to remove and the homeowner ignored it for the next decade. This tree will ultimately "absorb" the stake and in another 40 years someone will get severely injured as they cut this tree down with a chainsaw. Examples like this are not hard to find unfortunately.

In the Horticulture Center today, Luis was in all morning to continue his woody plant label production and he put a good dent in some of our last remaining garden areas. Kay was in to process more plant sale vegetable labels and prepared some special event handouts for me. She was joined by Mary W. and Vern was in to work on some carpentry projects and helped make a new "butterfly" sign for the youth education program. To the right are the uprights for our 20 new obelisks (recently sealed by Bob A.) that will be assembled soon. Dr. Gredler was in to finish painting cucumber supports. I went around the gardens earlier with Bev F. to look at some stations for the upcoming children's programs and noted more blooms too. She also stopped back with Mary D. to discuss some other details regarding the program. We also saw Janice, Gary, Dick H. and many others today. To the left is one of our new, heavy-duty tripod sprayers that Marv and Terry requested for our summer irrigation needs. This elevated sprinkler will have a wider radius of watering and not batter plants as it launces water overhead. These guys have some established and creative ways of keeping everything watered and hopefully this type of sprayer will be beneficial.

The roofing contractors were back again today and couldn't have better weather for roofing the gazebo. There were six guys up on the gazebo this morning (see below) and their progress with installing the cedar shake is impressive. They've essentially finished the observation pier structure and may finish the gazebo yet today. As I took the bottom picture across the pond, I noted more of the "activity" seen to the right. Those holes are where rocks were installed as path edging. We've fought for 23 years with this problem of visitors, usually teenage fisherman, rolling these rocks/boulders in to the water. They are frequently looking for worms or other bait but it is SO frustrating to find this activity so prevalent and widespread around the gardens. It simply creates more work for staff and volunteers that are already spread way to thin. I'm done venting. Thanks for listening (readin). I'm off to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show (Navy Pier) tomorrow but will blog late with some shots of that event. Marv, Terry and Marianne will keep an eye on things and we should have a productive rain even with potential rain moving in to the area.

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