Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cool Plants On A Hot Day

It was yet another hot and sticky day with some significant breezes and highs in the low 90 degrees F (not including the heat index). Today was a rare day in that I didn't take any photos! However, I thought I'd share some neat plant shots that I took this past Sunday at Allen Centennial Gardens (UW-Madison) and Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison). The top photo is the 'Simon Fraser' shrub rose (Rosa) at Olbrich that caught my eye for that nice shade of pink. I think I'll seek this one out for RBG. Above is one of my favorite coral bells (Heuchera 'Plum Royale') that has a nice, light silver patina and very unique leaf coloration.

The grounds staff today consisted of Marv, Marianne, Pat, Big John and Jenny. Everyone was involved with watering to some degree or another. Marv again set-up sprinklers throughout the day and in many areas. He also kept the irrigation running all day and did some significant shearing on some Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo') hedges. Marianne, Jenny and Pat also worked on various tasks like weeding, mowing (Pat) and other tidying duties. Big John and I made a plant run this morning (for donations) and John went back for load #2. The gang kept busy and I give them credit for being so tough in this weather and keeping up with watering duties. To the above right is the bear's breeches or spiny acanthus (Acanthus spinosus) in bloom at Olbrich. This perennial is very marginal and has not returned for us yet (winter hardiness issues). I love those blooms though... To the left is the 'Chuckles' floribunda rose (Rosa) which has a nice bicolor look on single blossoms. Olbrich has a wonderful rose collection that is displayed throughout mixed borders. To the right is the classic Bonica rose (Rosa 'MEIdomonac') which is a powerhouse of double, light pink blooms.

Obviously watering during the day isn't an ideal time for it to really soak in and our visitors have to adjust their routes based on our watering regime. Harsh weather like this unfortunately is quite concerning as we have so many new plantings that need sufficient moisture to establish. A nice soaking rain (2" or so) would save us three days of watering at the least and with a 50% chance of rain tonight, I'll be doing my rain dance for what it's worth! Directly below is the yellow foliage of the golden oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'). While not as vigorous as any of the green-leaved varieties, this selection glows in part shade and has the same, typical white blossoms in early summer. The next photo down shows the Lovely Fairy polyantha rose (Rosa 'SPEvu'). The clusters of 1" blooms also have a slightly fruity fragrance. We had another nice volunteer turnout today despite the quickly rising temperatures. Kay was in to negatively affect the population of purslane (Portulaca oleracea) out in the All-America Selections garden. Dr. Gredler and Dr. Yahr were both in to help water and our morning crew of Gena, Mary, Myrt and Nancy did a nice job weeding in the Japanese garden. The Japanese garden was a nice shaded location and very much in need of some weeding attention. It's been so windy that I haven't dared apply any herbicide. Herbicide drift can cause serious damage and I minimize the chances of this occuring and will not risk spraying with even a light breeze. Barb, Cora, Janet and Jean were in for a Home Garden Tour meeting and many others were in and out all day. To the right is the native pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in the gravel garden at Olbrich. We have a couple nice patches of this plant in our prairie at RBG as well. To the left is the 'Prince Charles' clematis (Clematis sp.) that offers a wonderful shade of blue (particularly when backlit like this specimen which is trained up multiple trunks of a small tree).

We are in the last stages of planting annuals out in the gardens. There are only a few smaller beds left to fill and some various pockets here and there. We will typical
ly carry over "back-up" annuals, many of which are donations, all the way thru July as we like to have some stock to pull from if we have any plant losses here and there. These filler annuals become indispensable in the coming weeks despite the challenge of keeping them watered and ready to go

in this heat. We'll continue to weed tomorrow as our "tip toe window" (as I call it) is fast diminishing. This window refers to our ability to still get in beds between the plants and access weeds before it becomes impossible to navigate thru a full bed... Normally this window is in early July but again, everything continues to be well advanced this year (especially the weather!). To the right is the showy foliage of the 'Blazin' Lime' bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida). I've featured the maroon leaf (with pink veins) 'Blazin' Rose' variety and this is the sister plant. This is a great tropical for the partly shaded border or container. Directly below is the Japanese false aster (Kalimeris incisa) which will bloom thru the entire summer with these pale blue flowers. A little trimming back will expose the new waves of blooms throughout the remainder of the year. At the bottom are the flower globes (umbels) of the 'Red Wethersfield' onion (Allium cepa) in the herb garden at Olbrich. Showy flower architecture. I hope my blog tomorrow mentions overnight rains and a cool down outside!!! UGH.

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