Today involved two trips with our truck and enclosed trailer to the greenhouse that started our vegetable varieties for the plant sale. We've had the same arrangement with this grower for many years now and they do a nice job with the seed that we provide. They also start other plants for us which we wont pick up for another week or two. The top photo shows some of the oak leaf art projects up in the gardens. Marv and Terry will continue to place and secure more of these neat leaves out in the gardens tomorrow. Directly above is a robin using our pedestal urn planter as an outlook or possibly a nesting site. The weather today was neither warm or cold and neither overcast or sunny (a typical early May day). To the right is our 'Blue Spruce' stonecrop (Sedum reflexum) in the alpine garden that was planted last year to simulate a flowing stream. It's filling in nicely and we should have a solid patch I would think by next year. To the left is the showy new growth of the dappled willow (Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki') which offers great coloration, particularly in spring with the vivid new growth. We cut our specimens back severely to not only encourage the bright new growth but to keep this variety around 3-4' tall with the newly regenerated growth.
At the end of the day yesterday, "Mr. Moss" (Dale S.) showed up at the gardens to work on our moss island and adjacent areas. Dale, from Waukesha, WI, had visited Anderson Japanese Garden (Rockford) earlier in the day to visit with their Curator of Gardens (Tim Gruner) to chat about mosses as well. Dale brought three sheets of plywood (stacked) all covered with mosses (look to the right). Dale will be improving our moss island (in the fern & moss garden) dramatically and will be installing mosses throughout that garden and our Japanese garden. We appreciate his expertise and look forward to the results. Directly below are the small but showy blooms of the white fernleaf bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa 'Aurora') which we have in many locations throughout the gardens. The lacy, bluish foliage of this perennial (12" tall) is also quite striking. Further below is the cascading form of the common cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus) which I think always looks nice with glossy green leaves, pink flowers (what you're seeing in the photo) and the glossy red berries in late summer. Often overplanted in corporate landscapes, this durable shrub does have a following. One of the few drawbacks of Cotoneaster apiculatus is the the difficulty in collecting leaves and other debris from underneath as it is quite rigid and thick! We use a blower to "relocate" any accumulated debris at the base of all our specimens in late fall.
It was a busy day around the gardens in general. The parking lot was full most of the day as the Parker Education Center is a voting location this year. There were also some building rentals and it was the first day of our spring school programs and we saw little bands of little ones wandering the gardens. After Larry and Pat returned with our first load of vegetables, Pat moved on to work with Jenny in the color rooms garden which we're mulching as we clear the weeds. Jenny worked earlier in the shade garden removing weeds as well. Big John pushmowed early then he and I went for load #2 of vegetables. I'll have to make one more trip tomorrow morning for the last of our plant sale vegetables and we hope to see our herbs delivered as well. John moved on to some mulching with Pat and Larry spent the afternoon weedwhipping around the gardens after doing his round of pushmowing as well. Janice helped organize much of the plant sale and had some help from Deb G. and the guys later in the day. She also planted some fragrant lilies (Lilium sp.) in the Smelly Garden and weeded. To the right is another of Dr. Jim Ault's (Chicago Botanic Garden) hybrid false indigo (Baptisia hybrida) introductions called 'Solar Flare' Prairieblues. I like this one a lot and this specimen is only three years old and starting to fill out nicely. To the left are the showy blooms (look closely at the darker veination on each light pink flower petal...) of the gas plant (Dictamnus albus 'Rubra') which always catch my eye. I like the white version as well although I avoid touching this plant as I get a strange, itchy rash which isn't unlike a reaction to poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
Kay was in to continue her weed battle near the gazebo garden. She is very thorough and much appreciated around here (although any weeds in her vicinity quiver with fear). Dr. Gredler came in for more mowing and Bill O. was in for some quality shearing on some evergreens. The guys from Nature's Touch were here again today and are finishing the second of three herb garden sections with new flagstone paths. Directly below is the result of their first path conversion. I think it looks great and is installed quite nicely. We also saw Bev, Corky, Ron K., Bill O. (#2), Kris and many others today. Our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee met (Dr. Gredler, Big John, Hal, Iza, Christine and Mary). I also saw Marianne, Cindi and Barb C. leading kids groups through the gardens. To the right is our weeping golden Norway spruce (Picea abies 'Gold Drift') which to me, looks only slightly yellow but sure has a nice form here on the west side of the Parker Education Center. At the bottom are the three musketeers (John, Pat and Janice from left to right) with their matching hats. Note all the headache medicine in front of Janice that might get her thru the spring plant sale (maybe...).