Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Prepatory Progress

Today involved lots of preparations for our looming planting projects. We continue to have more plants arrive in the yard daily. Today Big John picked up a load from Ahren's Acres Greenhouse (Brodhead, WI). We have three trips tomorrow for plants... While I usually try not to post pictures of plants that I can't identify to the variety level, I had to include the two "unknowns" above for their beauty. Feel free to print these out on a color printer and match them to a catalog with pictures to find a variety that looks similar. Both of these plants are in the English cottage garden. At the top is a peony (Paeonia) just getting ready to open and directly above is an Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale). The English cottage garden is looking quite colorful and Lynn was in both yesterday and today planting all sorts of good stuff throughout that space. This garden is really the first garden (with the exception of the entrance garden) that visitors experience as they enter the gardens proper. To the right is the extremely dark and glossy foliage of the contorted purple European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa Purpurea') in front of the Parker Education Center. This plant is very happy and has done well over the past 10 years. To the left is the "often featured" hybrid false indigo (Baptisia x bicolor) called 'Starlite Prairieblues' (from the Chicago Botanic Garden). This is our best (and oldest) specimen positioned near the North point garden.

We had a great volunteer turnout this morning. Kay was in to tidy up in both the sunken garden and Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden ("Smelly Garden"). She did a nice job and will continue to deal with lots of weeds in that children's garden. Myrt, Gena, Mary and Nancy came in and did a nice job cleaning up the reception garden and preparing it for planting. Jumbo Jim arrived with four RECAPPERS and the guys did a nice job tidying up the alpine garden and Japanese garden. We also saw Dick H., Marilyn H., Alice, Sue P., Rose, Urban, Maury (ran errands for us), Mary W., Elsa and many others. Dr. Gredler mowed and aerated some lawns. We see lots of volunteers coming and going around here this time of year. To the right is the dark maroon, spring foliage of the purple-leaved catalpa (Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea') near the shade garden. This dark maroon will fade to a maroonish green in summer but looks awesome right now as the leaves are quite large and "tropical-looking." Directly below are some ornamental onions (Allium 'Purple Sensation') near the alpine garden that caught some nice morning light for this photo. Further down are the six silver planters that Marv and Terry put out in the entrance garden today. We'll plant them very soon and they'll definitely be a conversation piece. We call them "flying saucers on a post"! The grounds staff also had a busy day today. The weather was perfect with sunshine and 70 degrees F. We had a brief, but heavy, spurt of rain last night which was enough to wet the beds around the gardens. After his plant run this morning, Big John continued his epic repainting of the arched bridge which has a lot of surface area! From across the water, it's looking great and has a fresh "brightness" to it (except the spots that John missed....). Pat worked on mulching the color rooms, composting the larch wall border and later painted in the English cottage garden. Marv and Terry hung all 23 of our hanging baskets (watered them as well), installed the "flying saucers on a stick", composted, rototilled and worked on some other odds and ends. Jenny was again a huge help out in the yard and organized and matched labels to the plants that we'll install this Saturday as part of our Saturday Volunteer Work Day (8 am - noon). Jenny was able to escape the yard to continue her clean-up efforts in the Hosta Hollow garden. Marianne planted containers, cleared bulb foliage from the terrace and demonstration garden, weeded out front and spent a good chunk of time on watering our extensive collection of plants in the holding yard. To the above right is one of the many beautiful oak leaf garden art projects out in the gardens. This one is in the children's garden. We'll have signs installed for all forty of these shortly and a map of all the art pieces and their locations will be developed as well. To the left are the beautiful blooms of the variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida 'Albo-Variegata'). Note the variegated foliage in the background. There is also a variety (same flowers) with golden variegated foliage called 'Aurea-Variegata'. To the right is the blooming start of the "hard to rival" perennial lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus). This variety is 'The Chatelaine' and looks breathtaking (and appropriate) in the English cottage garden.

Tonight I'm presenting the topic of Vertical Gardening as part of our monthly lecture series (6:30 pm - 8 pm at the Parker Education Center). I didn't realize how popular this topic was until I presented it at the WPT Garden Expo this past February. Both of my presentations for this topic were standing room only (300+ in the room) and I think it was well received (nobody threw anything at me). I hope for a good crowd tonight. Directly below are six of our eight colorful Adirondack chairs overlooking the pond from the North point garden. At the bottom is an unknown peony (Paeonia) variety at my house. I believe this was from Song Sparrow Nursery a couple years ago (if you care to match it). I like that color pattern!

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