Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Spring Progression Continues...

Today was the continuation of a very mild week with temperatures again reaching 80 degrees F. It looks like we may have more rain later this week and temperatures still appear mild thru next week. I keep wondering when we'll have to "pay" for this borrowed mild weather. I spent the morning on desk work and continued chipping away at my "to do" list. I'm glad I took some time to head out in the gardens where I noticed more plants blooming and many others fading quickly with the heat. During my brief tour, I noted many nice blooms and also saw quite a few visitors strolling through the gardens. At the top is the underside of the blossom for the 'Leonard Messel' magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri) which is peaking right now near the sunken garden. The second photo down is the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) in full bloom along the shoreline near the Japanese garden. Directly above is the 'Royal Star' magnolia (Magnolia stellata) peaking as well. I'm not so worried about the magnolia blooms anymore. I thought that a frost might catch these early blooms and turn them brown. I'm now thinking the magnolias will have a safe "bloom window" but I'm now concerned that early leaf emergence for many deciduous plants (including magnolias) might result in foliar damage if severe frosts return. To the right is a ground level (literally) shot of more hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) near the gazebo. I don't get up off the ground like I used to! To the left are the clear white blooms of the twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). The upper left portion of that image shows the interesting leaf structure and you can see how it gets its common name. This perennial is named after Thomas Jefferson. To the right are the always jaunty Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). We have some significant patches of these in the woodland walk garden and see more seedlings every year. I love the bluish-green, lacey foliage of this plant and the flowers are always exquisite. The seeds of this perennial are distributed by ants with this event called myrmechochory. Look this phenomenon up as it is fascinating how and why this occurs.

Tonight is our orientation for the trip to the Netherlands (April 10-17). We'll meet at the Parker Education Center and go over travel details, itinerary, etc. I'm not sure all the attendees (22 people) are from the area but I know at least four of the people going on the trip. I think I'm only one of two fellas too! The day started out for me with an 18-wheeler pulling in with one of our shredded bark loads (seen directly above). Last year the truck got mired in our wet soils behind the Horticulture Center but no such problems today. We'll end up with 180 cubic yards or so which is just enough to give a good topdressing to most of our areas. To the left are the cones of our golden weeping Norway spruce (Picea abies 'Gold Drift'). I love the form of Norway spruces although this one has never been real "gold" in my opinion. I thought the cones were striking for sure though. To the right are the showy flowers of the Golden Peep dwarf forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Courdijau') which is a strong bloomer from top to bottom.

Three photos above are Myrt (left) and Gena (right) who have been coming in on Wednesdays to do clean-up and weeding. Today they did a great job weeding and tidying in the Japanese garden and had no trouble filling their cart a couple times. I had them target the earliest weeds that are already going to seed! Keep an eye out for this first wave of weeds and eradicate them before they set you up for a nightmare scenario with the next generation coming up in late April (lots more). Kay was here this morning to work in the shade garden and did a nice job tidying up the far east portion of the shade garden. With so many plants emerging, the timing is critical (and ideal) for clean-up before the plants really fill in that space. Dr. Gredler (two photos above) loaded up our truck and was out working on our lawns most of the morning. Janice was in to work on preparations for the looming symposium this weekend. I'm pretty excited about the content for this one and the other three speakers (Evelyn Hadden, Tim Gruner and Dr. Norm Lownds) have not spoken at RBG in the past. Should be lots of fun as should the Market Mingle event the evening prior (Friday, March 23). Check out the details on this event, open to everyone, on our website at We also saw Mike M., Bev D., Luis (making more labels), Jumbo Jim, Rose, Urban, Mark S. and many others. To the left and right are some of the many garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus) blooming out in the gardens. Many of these clumps were relocated years ago after we had a large hyacinth display of over 60 types. Now that was some major fragrance! Mid-season (normally second week in May) tulips (Tulipa) will be blooming next and I've noticed the fragrant viburnums (V. x juddii, V. carlesii, etc.) budding out too. Directly below is the brilliant foliage of the golden bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis 'Goldheart') which will probably be blooming in two weeks or less. The bottom two photos were shared by Marianne of our prairie burn this past Monday. The team from the Janesville City Parks did a nice job out there.

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