Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Great Conference

The conference today went very well. Held at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI, this event was organized and facilitated by the Marquette Beautification Committee. I met many of the committee members from this organization the night prior and was very impressed with all their civic planting projects (which are very significant). I know I won't be able to remember everyone's name but I wanted to thank Emily, Judy, Tina, Suzy, Barb, Lynette, Phyllis and the rest of the group for their hospitality. When I received my information packet upon arrival (see to the right), I noted my ugly mug on the cover of not only my folder, but ALL the attendees' folders. That will be a keepsake as that particular photo that I supplied featured a prominent "alfalfa" tuft of hair in the back. It was nice to see this magnified and shared!

The event was very well organized and I had wonderful conversations with so many of the attendees. It was neat to see a row of planted shoes, boots (see to left) and other footware planted but more importantly, used for the clever idea of guiding event attendees to the right areas. I was told that there were about 112 attendees. The event also had a neat vendor area and many break out sessions. To the right is one of the many planters that were supplied for decoration by a local garden center / nursery. I spoke on both Elements of Landscape Design and Late Blooming Perennials (twice). The lunch spread was amazing and I definitely ate well. There was a neat "after event" tour of a hoop house project on campus that is facilitated by the Marquette Food Cooperative. We had a great tour and some of those photos are included here. At the bottom are some other scenic shots that I captured after the conference concluded.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Marquette, MI

Well, I'm blogging from Marquette, MI where I'll be giving some presentations tomorrow as part of a conference held at Northern Michigan University. The drive was just over six hours straight but was quite nice and I always enjoy trips thru Northern WI and the UP of Michigan. Marquette is a neat town and I walked for about an hour when I arrived to stretch out after the ride. The top photo is the Landmark Inn, a historic hotel (reportedly haunted), where I'll be staying. The other pictures are of various structures in the downtown area. The architecture is amazing. I can see Lake Superior from my room and can see why anyone would want to live here. I imagine the winters can be tough but there is not shortage of scenic beauty to enjoy. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is just to the northwest of Marquette.

I left Marv, Terry, Jenny, Janice and Big John this morning to their Friday duties and saw Kay and Shirley as they came in to help. It was another hot day but I'm sure everyone did well, including all the others that "strayed in" after I left.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

101 Degree Mark In June...

To say today was hot would be an understatement. It was inferno-like and sticky and the transition from our air-conditioned break room in the Horticulture Center back out to the gardens was an uncomfortable 30 degree shift. Despite the start of the morning at 80 degrees F, we still had a great volunteer turnout this morning and tried to keep everyone in the shade as much as possible. The top photo is a shot of our gazebo in the distance which is the area I took care of watering today. I developed a greater appreciation for the nuances of shifting around sprinklers for good coverage over an entire area. The photo directly above shows (from left to right) Ron W, Ron B., Del and Bob C. I caught the guys taking a well-deserved break on this shady bench this morning. Ron W. hauled and spread shredded bark this morning near the Japanese garden. Ron B. edged out many of our beds and Del and Bob worked on skimming and replacing some gravel along our planting beds adjacent to the arboretum. All four guys worked up a sweat quickly as did the grounds staff. To the left is the foliage of the 'Envy' edamame (Glycine max). These short-season plants (located in our Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection) will form edible green, tasty soybeans. Additionally, they are 40% protein and are also high in vitamins A, C, iron, calcium and fiber. We've never grown these so I'm looking forward to observing their progress.

Other Grumpies this morning included Jim, Bob A. and Vern who worked on repairing a bench and some other carpentry projects. Dick H. (seen below in the truck) ran to the dump a couple times and continued cutting strap aluminum in to our future perennial label stakes. We also saw Gary, Dr. Gredler (mowing & watering) and Rollie ran up to Madison to pick up some engraved bricks for the gardens. Karen and Stan did some nice work in the Japanese garden today. Our Grumpettes included Suzy, Karla, Mary, Shae, Karen, Nicole, Zoe, Renee, Mary and Sue. The ladies collectively did a great job weeding in the woodland walk garden and throughout the daylily (Hemerocallis) collection. To the right is Mary D. and directly below are Shae and Mary R.. Doris R. helped weed a bit and started watering the yard plants. Bill O. did some pruning and tidying this afternoon. I found myself near our daylily (Hemerocallis) collection today as I was also running hoses in that vicinity. The daylily variety above is 'Open Hearth' which is one I hadn't specifically noticed in the past. The daylilies are really starting to bloom now and I'm going to stop by more often to enjoy the show. While we have daylilies throughout the gardens, we have an area south of the arboretum that features over 300 varieties in the Potter Daylily Collection. We are a National Display Garden for the American Hemerocallis (Daylily) Society. The bulk of the Potter collection was donated by William Potter over 12 years ago and we continue to add and augment the collection. Thankfully, Lisa I. (one of our volunteers) took on the task of re-assessing, organizing, mapping and inventorying the collection over the past three years. To the right is one of our forty oak leaf garden art projects out in the gardens. To the left is the showy foliage of the variegated tricolor society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea 'Tricolor') which has edible leaves and flowers (lavender-pink), both of which taste garlicky.

The grounds staff had a sweaty day outside but everyone was smart with keeping hydrated. Larry worked on the sunken garden pond and also spent time with our irrigation contractor who was here making some repairs/adjustments. Larry also repaired an irrigation line, mowed and ran irrigation zones all day. Big John mowed, moved around sprinklers, watered containers and many other areas that were getting thirsty. Pat was in for a half day but managed to mow and accomplish plenty of watering. He also did a bit of painting early in the morning. Jenny did some major weeding/tidying along the orange wall and in the hosta hollow garden. She also helped water containers and the yard which was roasting in the sun. To the right is the 'Jack Frost' false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) in the distance. Coming out of the gap between the rocks is the variegated golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Stripe It Rich'). I took so many flower photos today that I just had to share more below. The top photo is the cigar flower (Cuphea ignea) which certainly lives up to it's name. That bloom is only about 1.5" in length and a 1/4 inch in diameter. There are lots of Cuphea hybrids and varieties that work as nice annuals and thrive in our summer heat. The next photo down shows the formation of the hazelnuts on our 'Rosita' European hazelnut (Corylus avellana) in the Scottish garden. I've never seen these form nuts in the past and was glad I noticed them this year. At the bottom is a close-up of the bloom of the annual black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata 'Susie Orange Clear'). This vine blooms solidly until frost and is featured on obelisks along the orange-themed wall border. Other varieties of this vine feature flower colors of deep orange, white and maroon. The flower centers can also be black. More of the same tomorrow although I'll be travelling to MI for a conference.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hot & Productive

Today ended up being quite hot in the mid 90 degrees F but thankfully it was a "dry heat" and not too sticky. The morning was quite bearable and we had a nice turnout of volunteers in the morning that were trying to "beat the heat." The top picture is of the 'Royal Blue Ensign' dwarf morning glory (Convolvulus tricolor) in the reception garden. I'm sure I feature a close-up of this bloom every year as we would not be without it at RBG and it's hard not to stop and take a photo of that showy blossom. Directly above is our sunken garden getting irrigated this morning. We had a solid day of watering and the entire staff was involved with keeping the gardens, containers and yard wet thru yet another day of hot and dry weather. To the right is a showy leaf of the 'Blue Ivory' plantain lily (Hosta) which is one of over 400 that we feature as a National Display Garden for the American Hosta Society. To the left is the yellow fumitory (Corydalis lutea) in full bloom throughout the shade garden. This perennial has a long bloom window (April until frost) and continues to be a large component of interest in many of our shadier garden spaces.

Marv and Terry started the day with our traditional routine of running irrigation, setting up sprinklers and accomplishing plenty of watering. The guys also worked on some more shearing in the formal gardens and took the time to go shopping for more hoses and other necessitites that will be put in to immediate use. Big John set up sprinklers, watered, fertilized, edged and helped out were needed today. Pat also did plenty of watering and fertilizing today. Janice helped water as well in many different locations throughout the morning. Marianne and Jenny worked most of the day together and started with some major weeding and moved on to planting in front of the main building. Both ladies then collectively moved on to major hand watering of garden areas, containers and the yard. I was no help outside today although I did lay out plants in two areas prior to heading out for a presentation for the Blackhawk Golden Kiwanis Club. I then spent the afternoon in air-conditioned comfort going thru a foot high stack of "to do" items (bills, etc.). To the lower right is the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) which is one of the few plants in our prairie restoration that isn't brown and wilting! That orange is quite fetching. Directly below is the 'Queen Lime' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which is a nice double form that will reach 3-4' tall in the full sun garden. I do like chartreuse flowers and this one is no exception. The second photo down shows a small portion of the vertical wall planter over at the Horticulture Center. Look at all those goodies popping out! I see Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris), hot peppers (Capsicum), basil (Ocimum) and many other plants doing well and filling in nicely.
Our first volunteer in this morning was Kay who was followed shortly by Shirley. Both ladies spent some time weeding in the reception garden which is starting to feature its own purslane (Portulaca oleracea) collection. Shirley can be seen to the lower left next to one of our "flying saucer" planters. Kay later shifted to the continuation of weeding near the gazebo garde and Shirley planted in the entrance garden with Marianne and Jenny. Dr. Gredler was in for some minor mowing and major clover control out in our turf areas. Bill O. came in to prune some boxwoods (Buxus 'Green Velvet') in the rose garden. To the right is one of our silver "flying saucer" planters in the entrance garden. These have certainly added to our watering requirements but they should continue to look neater as their contents fill out and spill out!

Gena, Mary and Myrt were in for some planting near the gazebo garden this morning. The ladies made quick work of the 800 or so plants I set out there and moved on to some more weeding in the sunken garden. Sharon came in to help do some watering in the afternoon and Gwen was around this morning hand watering the extensive vegetable collections at the Horticulture Center. We had a meeting of our Home Garden Tour Committee (Jean, Bill O., Barb, Cora and Janet attending today) and are finalizing details for this popular event on July 21st this year (10 am - 4 pm, rain or shine). Tickets ($10 in advance) are already available for this event at K&W Greenery, Patty's Plants (Milton, WI) and RBG. We also saw Maury, Gary, Dr. Yahr, Mary W., Dale, Bev and many others. Dale S. ("Mr. Moss") came today with a friend (Dave) and the guys continued some improvements on all the new moss features that Dale has previously constructed over the last couple of months. His creations look good despite all the heat and the moss seems to be growing fairly well. To the right is the 'Orange King' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). Directly below is the 'Rhythm & Blues' petunia (Petunia) and at the bottom, some of our drooping "dead" sedges (Carex flagellifera 'Toffee Twist') in our orange planters. More of the same tomorrow including plenty of artificially applied precipitation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Calm Before The Warm

At the top is a photo of the tricolor European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Roseo-Marginata') near the gazebo which is one of my favorite trees for foliage coloration. I took the photo from underneath the tree and the pink variegation is quite prominent. It's important to have afternoon shade for this variety in summer so that the light pink edge doesn't get brown and crispy. Of course my blog title refers to the next two days of June weather that will see temperatures in the upper 90 degrees F. Today was fairly pleasant with a cool morning around 50 degrees F. Needless to say, the grounds staff did a lot of watering today as they'll do over the next couple of days as well. To the right is the showy flower plume of Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) which is a showy native and looks a lot like a really tall astilbe (but likes full sun!). Directly above is Jenny's cart from this morning with just some of her deadheading results from our huge patch of lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina) down in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden. To the left is the emerging bloom of the 'Big Kiss White Flame' treasure flower (Gazania sp.) which is one of six entrants in the 2012 American Garden Award ( program. Check out their website for more information as RBG is one of over 20 gardens participating in this unique display that involves voting for your favorite!

Jenny also worked on purging the yard, watering, label inventories, acquiring a bee sting and all manner of projects. Big John set up sprinklers, hand watered, fertilized, bloodied his shin on a rock (twice), dug out dead/dying forsythias and muscled the water lily pots (with Larry) back in to the koi pond. John (and Pat) also did containers. Larry orchestrated his irrigation, sprinklers and other watering duties as best he could although we had to adjust for a couple of tours that enjoyed the gardens today. There were a lot of visitors out there today and I had a nice chat with a fellow from Serbia! Pat fertilized, watered (containers too), weeded and kept out of trouble. Janice spent time in the moss areas today, watered significant areas, planted a bit and fertilized as well. I spent most of the day also watering and hauling hoses out in the gardens. We actually had every hose we own in use today and will do so again tomorrow I'm sure. I also spent some time in our yard sorting out our next plants for installation and helped consolidate and organize as needed. To the right is the showy 'Dolce Blackcurrant' coral bells (Heuchera) which really has a nice silver overlay on those dark leaves. Directly below is the 'Banana Cream' shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum) which is quite showy. The youngest blooms emerge this light creamy yellow although they ultimately mature to a white. We also had some great volunteer help today. Kay (directly above) finished planting our last large bed in the arboretum today and then moved over to another area near the gazebo that needed her weeding attention and skills. We hope to see Kay tomorrow as well during the cooler morning. Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing, overseeding (lawns) and other projects. Bill O. was in to do some shearing and he finished his task of clearing debris out of the pond that he started with Dr. Gredler yesterday. Mary H. and her daughter arrived to do some weeding in their assigned garden area which is filling in nicely. We also saw Chuck giving a tour today as was Polly and another volunteer. Magda was in to tidy up her area and her garden space is looking great. Ron K. spent the morning in the woodland walk and continues to keep up with the horrible onslaught of weeds in that space. We also saw Deb and Bev who continue to work on the oak leaf garden art project. Del also popped in briefly. To the above right is a close-up of the 'Field of Dreams' variegated corn (Zea mays) which I really think is neat. Years ago, we had Japanese variegated corn (Zea mays japonica) growing and as it formed ears, the raccoons decimated the plants. To the left is an extreme close-up shot of the blooms (1/2" diameter) for the 'Lavender Mist' meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebrunianum) which has huge clusters of these delicate flowers held above blue/green foliage. This perennial, preferring part shade, can reach heights well over 8' tall in one season if kept in moist soils and are great for early summer blooms. To the right is one of the new African daisies (Osteospermum ecklonis) called '3D Berry White'. While I like African daisies a lot, it can be challenging to keep them blooming thru a hot summer. This is one of the trial/display annuals from Ballhort (Ball Seed). We also feature and display varieties for PanAmerican Seed and Takii Seed (Japan). Below is a shot of some pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in our prairie. I don't go in the prairie often but made a tour today and it was "crispy dry". Considering how adaptable and drought tolerant prairie plants are out in the garden, it's disconcerting to see the degree of drought. At the bottom is a cluster of samaras (fruiting structures) for the 'Red Wing' Amur maple (Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala). These structures will become increasingly red and are quite conspicuous and showy. Tomorrow and Thursday will be tough on the gardens and all our gardeners but duty calls...