Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Awakens Quickly

Today was another warm one (78 degrees F) and it looks like next week will also have significantly above average temperatures. Rains this weekend will further spur on the growth that is making the gardens quickly look like late April and early May. Aside from my concerns about a relapse back to frigid temperatures, it's also sad to see early blooming bulbs "flush out" so quickly. The winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) and snowdrops (Galanthus) will finish shortly with this heat and their typical window of 2+ weeks of bloom is narrowed with these warm temperatures. The top picture shows the 'Ruse Black' hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) blooming strongly in the woodland walk garden. Directly above are the blooms of the corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas 'Golden Glory') in the Scottish garden. These small trees will offer a "haze" of yellow soon as all these blooms emerge (4 weeks early). My walk thru the gardens this morning revealed many other treasures emerging quickly or blooming. To the above right is the purple-flowered Christmas rose (Helleborus purpurascens) in the color rooms garden. Speaking of color, the left photo features a sample of our pedestal/planter combinations. Marv set this up for me this morning and it looks great. Imagine cool plants spilling out of this elevated planter. He sprayed most of the silver PVC pipes already and we discussed what soil we'll use for these. We'll also have orange and blue versions of these in different garden areas. It will be an interesting look for sure! To the right is the quickly emerging and expanding foliage of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) which will probably be blooming in the next two weeks. The emerging foliage as seen here has a neat grey/blue/green cast to it although the leaves turn a bright green as the light blue, tubular flowers peak.

Our roofing contractors finished yesterday and directly below can be seen the gazebo with its beautiful new roof. Dr. Gredler (seen below) spent some time out in that garden this morning raking up lawn debris. Further below is the new roof of the obervation pier platform. We appreciate the nice job that was completed and are appreciative of our supportive donors that funded this project. While checking out the gardens today, there was ample evidence of some great progress from yesterday. Above are our "pyramids" that Marv and Terry installed yesterday. Note the way our carpenters built these to rest on that specific slope. This is the second year of using these gardene elements. These will be real focal points along this sloped portion of the entrance garden. While our primary color theme in this area will revolve around white and silver, the light blue will help add some depth to these plantings. The timing was good to get these elements in place as the emerging plants in that area would make it an increasingly more challenging obstacle course. We'll be spending the first part of next week removing all the fencing, stakes, netting, etc. that were used for deer protection for the same reasons of avoiding emerging plants and fresh growth. Both digging projects for wall expansion and repair near the sunken garden were completed nicely and we've had some great volunteer help with tidying up the gardens. Of course the spring clean-up has become more pressing not only because of advanced plant growth but also a significant increase in visitor traffic with these beautiful days. To the above right is the striped squill (Puschkinia libanotica) starting to bloom and we should see thousands of these peaking by next week. To the left is another hellebore (Helleborus sp.) opening up although this one will mature to a solid white. We do have some "green" hellebores too which are neat to observe.

Marv continued working on spraying the silver pipes for our containers and worked on some other projects. He also helped another volunteer clean-out our wood duck houses and was a big help yesterday. Dr. Greder, aside from his raking duties seen above, spent the morning putting primer on our "soon to be repainted" bike rack. We also saw Pat, Gary, Mary W. and others today. To the right is another crocus (Crocus sp.) which is one of thousands now peaking at the gardens. We don't plant them anymore as the critters like to nibble them but every year a couple make it up in time to show some color. Below is the emerging foliage of lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller') and at the bottom, the turf grass hasn't wasted any time in emerging between the warm brick cracks in the sunken garden. I may be applying herbicide next week to these opportunistic invaders and will get an early crack at the garlic mustard (Alliara petiolata) which is growing nicely as well. The advanced bloom stages, if continued, will mean an earlier bloom and seed set/dispersal for that garlic mustard too so go on a "search and destroy" mission soon!

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