With some decent rain yesterday, it was damp out in the gardens and mainly overcast until the afternoon. We knew it would be a muddy endeavor out in the gardens but with a busy week, we forged right ahead despite the expectation of muddy boots. The top photo is the vivid foliage of the 'Pewter Lace' Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum). This is my favorite variety of Japanese painted fern for the darker maroon fronds. Directly above are some of our Grumpies this morning. The second photo up shows Stan (look to the right of that photo) finishing the "candling" of one of our layers Scotch pines (Pinus sylvestris) near the oberservation pier. Stan has been doing a great job and is a real asset out in the gardens. Directly above are Bob C. (left) and Ron W. lifting tulips (Tulipa) in front of the Parker Education Center this morning. It's ironic that all of our 5,000 white tulips are done blooming when really, they should have just started opening based on a "normal" spring! We lift these and share them with volunteers as we re-do the color scheme each year (starting with the spring tulips). Big John and Pat had started this lifting process earlier and the entire gang was also helped later by Larry and Dick H. While it was a bit messy, it was definitely timely. To the above right is the cutleaf weeping peashrub (Caragana arborescens 'Walker') in front of the building which is always striking with that texture and yellow spring blooms. To the left is a hybrid false indigo called 'Starlite' Prairieblues (Baptisia x bicolor) which comes from the breeding program of Dr. Jim Ault at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This variety is quite fetching and is an introduction of the Chicagoland Grows Plant Introduction Program (www.chicagolandgrows.org/).
Del was here to do some mulching in the color rooms garden and Dr. Gredler was in for a morning of mowing and an afternoon of small projects. Dave, Jim, Bob and Vern worked on various projects including a new glider they are building for our Dinner Dance in July. Shirley came in for some significant weeding efforts and we also saw Rollie, Dr. Yahr, Ray Y., Steve H. and Dick H. (who helped with many tasks today). To the right is a shot thru the hosta hollow garden to the Ma Chii' structure in the distance (fern & moss garden). Directly below is the colorful growth of the 'Moon Frost' Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) which is "flushing out" in the alpine garden. We've had this variety for many years and it finally caught my eye this morning. The next photo down shows the dark maroon spring growth of the 'Red Fox' katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Rotfuchs') in the hosta hollow garden. While the foliage will turn mostly green with hints of maroon by July, the spring coloration is dynamite. The grounds staff had a busy day today as well and I saw everyone except Jenny E. this morning. While Pat and Big John focused primarily on tulip lifting, John went on to work on some clean-up and he headed out to pick up more of our 2012 art leaf projects. John and Pat's painting progress may be thwarted with rain this week but I can sure use them out in the gardens! Marv and Terry placed and secured our first batch of oak leaf projects that was ready to go out in the garden. We still have 25 or so to place but hope to do that throughout the remainder of the week. Marv and Terry also worked on composting, painting and some other odds and ends. Just about everyone helped out with unloading two truck loads of perennials for the spring plant sale. Janice was in to coordinate some plant sale details and was helped by Marianne (and Dick H.) who was also out in the gardens weeding and putting together her cutting display. To the right are the vine supports (5 total) that are along the west expanse of our visitors center. Years ago, we felt that we need to "scale down" that tall brick wall and these vine supports have done the trick with the addition of this golden silver lace vine (Fallopia aubertii 'Lemon Lace') which has been quite vigorous the past couple of years. This woody vine also gets white flowers late in the season (October) and we cut it back severely each spring. To the left is the showy leaf of the 'Dale's Strain' coral bells (Heuchera americana). I think this variety competes well in terms of color with the other types; including the fancy maroons, oranges, chartreuses, etc. To the right is the fresh spring foliage of tuber oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius). We have this grass in many partly shaded locations (woodland walk, shade garden, fern & moss garden, etc. Note the short, arching form which lends itself to repetition or grouping in the garden. Directly below is the North point garden looking pretty nice as the tulips (Tulipa) fill in around the structure. This garden sure has a nice view and we often see visitors sitting on the many benches and Adirondack chairs in this location. At the bottom is the yellow fumitory (Corydalis lutea) which is one of my favorite perennials for the shade garden. This perennial blooms from April until frost and does like to drop seed and colonize (in a good way!) open areas in the shady or partly shady border. This perennial is indispensable! Our perennials for the looming Spring Plant Sale (see details on our website) were delivered today and tomorrow we pick up all the vegetables. Herbs arrive on Wednesday and with lots of volunteer tagging/pricing help, we'll be ready for the pre-sale (RBG Member only) on this Friday, May 11th (9 am - 4 pm). Become a member and get first dibs and a 10% discount!