We had some drizzle that started yesterday afternoon (Sunday) and extended until early this morning. While the gardens were damp (we're glad for the rain) and the sky was overcast all day, it was an extremely busy day, particularly in the morning. It was a great day for photographs and I do enjoy this time of year for observing fresh and vivid foliage throughout the gardens. The top photo is lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) holding rain drops, which I always think is neat. The photo directly above is the patterned foliage of 'Lance Corporal' knotweed (Persicaria virginiana) that has a prominent, maroon "chevron" on each leaf. This perennial is a bit of a reseeder although the late season, slender pink flowers are showy in their own right. To the right is the early dark foliage of the 'Heaven Scent' hybrid Jacob's ladder (Polemonium). While the leaves on this 18" tall perennial later turn to green, the spring show of blue flowers is always welcome in the partly shaded garden. To the left are the showy spring blooms of the double-flowering meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris 'Flore Pleno') in the Scottish garden. This perennial, while a bit of creeping colonizer (particulary in wet soils), sure steals the show early in the season. This morning, Marcia and Rob from Urban Grow company (http://www.theurbangrow.com/) stopped by to donate a three-tiered, repurposed, pvc planter that we'll display out in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display this year. I'll post a picture soon as this is a neat set-up. I took them on a tour of the gardens and they enjoyed seeing some of our other innovative pvc, culvert pipe and pallet planters in the gardens. Later in the morning, we had four students (Occupational Therapy) from Madison College (MATC) come and do a presentation on sensory gardens and the demographics that will utilize these spaces. These four are students of our volunteer (and MATC instructor) Darcie O. This group did a wonderful job and we had members of our Horticulure Therapy Committee (Art, Sharon, Darcie and Elaine), volunteers and some of the Board of Directors in attendance. To the right is the showy English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) starting to bloom in the Scottish garden. Directly below is the showy flower cluster of the native blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium). This large shrub also gets a nice fall color and has proven to be one of our shrubs for tough locations. Directly above and to the right is the foliage and appearance of the golden Norway maple (Acer platanoides 'Princeton Gold') which is one of the most "asked about" trees every spring. While the spring foliage is the most vivid, this selection maintains a nice gold coloration until the leaves drop in November. We started with one specimen of this variety in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden a couple years ago and had so many compliments that we installed three more last spring in very conspicuous locations where they would be real "beacons of color." To the left is the quite vivid spring foliage of the Lady In Red ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Tuilad') which will maintain much of that reddish tint throughout the summer and to me, looks quite a bit different than many of the other maroon-leaf varieties (Diabolo, Summer Wine, etc.).
Marv and Terry hauled three weeping willows (Salix alba 'Tristis') to an approved location across the pond from our west garden edge. This is off of our gardens proper but is viewed from across the water (North point garden, terrace garden, children's garden). Big John and Pat, after starting on installing woody plant signs, shifted over to planting these with help from Dennis and some others. They seemed to go in quite well. John and Pat later moved to some painting (back porch) while Marv and Terry planted their own tree, a Rosehill oak (Quercus robur x bicolor 'Asjes'), near the main parking lot. This was the eighth of ten new trees that will be planted as part of our WI DNR Urban Forestry Grant. Marv and Terry then worked on various other projects including significant air edging in the children's garden. Larry worked primarily on the sunken garden pool and fountain today with a couple of side projects. Marianne did a nice job tidying up the entrance garden, did some weed removal near the gazebo and put together her cutting display. We had plenty of other Grumpies around with Stan (pruning), Urban, Gary, Rollie, Dr. Yahr, Dave T., Jim, Maury, Dick C., Tom C. and Dr. Gredler (mowing). Luis was in to place more tree signs as well. It was a busy day, simply put. To the right is a 'Remember Me' hosta (Hosta sp.) in the English cottage garden. I love how nice hosta leaves look in spring with colorful foliage and this variety is one of my favorites. Directly below is a group of youths that came in to use our Adventure Backpack Program. They seemed to enjoy the visit although we had to remind them to keep the noise down as they were quite zealous in their explorations. At the bottom is one of the three herb garden sections that will receive a "facelift" soon with new flagstone paths (note the excavation) and new signage.