Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Heading Towards A Hot Weekend

Today was sunny and warm with a high near 80 degrees F. The forecast calls for increasing temperatures over the next four days with some 90 degrees F over the weekend. This wouldn't bother me as much if I hadn't seen that there is also very little chance of rain for awhile. We'll be soaking down the garden and as we get towards the end of the week, I ask the grounds staff to "water for Monday." That means, soak areas so they will not dry out by Monday as our weekend staffing (for watering) is more limited than on week days. The top photo is a 'Lauren's Grape' breadseed poppy (Papaver somniferum) in the English cottage garden. What a beautiful blossom. We've let the poppies reseed around that garden and they are just coming in to peak over the next week or two. The photo above shows some of our many volunteers that came in to help today. The group shown above is from St. Paul's Lutheran School in Janesville and included about twenty 7th graders, their teacher (Jim) and four adults (including our Grumpy Vern!). They did a great job planting over 2,000 annuals in the terrace garden. The photo to the mid-left is a nice shot of most of the group planting that long border along the terrace garden. To the above right is another of Dale's creations with moss today. "Mr. Moss", along with help from Terry and Pat, hauled in more moss and created a neat new moss area in the Japanese garden. He does stellar work and he has impressed all of us with the amount of work that he has accomplished in his last three visits to the gardens. We'll see him in a couple of weeks to finish this area and tweak the others.

Other volunteers included Kay who can be seen to the right with a sizeable assortment of plants to install in the gazebo garden. Kay planted these in short order then moved on to some tidying efforts in her assigned portion of the shade garden. Mary, Nancy and Myrt, seen left to right in the photo directly below, did a nice job planting another section of the gazebo garden in the late morning. They put in elephant ears (Colocasia 'Diamond Head') and over 500 impatiens in an area that will look great as it fills in quickly over the coming weeks. Bill O. was in all morning and did a top notch job of shearing a wide range of shrubs in the entrance garden. Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing duties as well. Mary W. helped water and did some significant clean-up in the herb garden as well. We also saw Mary D. and Janice helping with the Story & Stroll program which again seemed very popular. Lynn S. (second photo down) spent the entire day in the English cottage garden and planted a wide range of old-fashioned cottage garden annuals (hollyhocks, cosmos, zinnias, etc.) throughout her assigned garden space. I can't say enough on how nice this space looks right now and the summer color should be spectacular. We also saw Gary, Sally, Chuck S., Ron W., Dick P., Bev D. and many others, including a nice visit from Kathy and Tom of Jenka Blossoms (Lima Center, WI). I've truly never taken our grounds staff for granted. They are an awesome group of gardeners and while they are frequently under-appreciated (behind the scenes) and definitely underpaid, they are a dedicated group. They did a great job today multi-tasking and dealing with many issues as I was involved all morning with our youthful volunteer corps. Aside from their normal tasks, they were asked to help Mr.Moss, work around the contractors in the reception garden (and all the kids/parents from the Story & Stroll) and help guide a semi-load delivery of compost with a rookie driver. They also had many other minor challenges. Overall, all went smoothly and we had a productive day. To the right is the showy leaf of the 'Venus' coral bell (Heuchera). I've photographed and featured this one in the past and never pass up the opportunity to enjoy this variety (located near the sunken garden).

Marv and Terry ran sprinklers and irrigation all day but Marv also scraped up the second of our parking lot islands and really did a nice job cleaning it up for its "new look." This is no small task and we should finish it up on Friday. Terry helped Dale, roto-tilled (see to the left), watered and really bounced around today. Big John helped me prepare for the morning volunteers and went out to pick up one of our last orders this morning (Stonefield Plant Farm, Evansville, WI). John also watered, set-up sprinklers, removed a tree (juniper) and spread pre-emergent herbicides on some of our last remaining garden beds that will be planted soon. Pat was a weeding and bulb foliage removal machine. He cleared foliage and weeds out of two large areas and moved on to some watering at the end of the day. Marianne weeded and tidied multiple areas, worked on her cutting display, helped water plants in the holding yard and continues her ornamental onion (Allium) staking in front of the building. Jenny was in most of the morning and matched perennial labels (new) to perennials (new) that we still have to plant. She then worked with Pat on clearing our east border which used to have a healthy collection of thistles and other naughty weeds. To the right are the showy yellow blooms and golden foliage of the annual ornamental shamrock (Oxalis vulcanicola 'Molten Lava') which is one of my favorite annuals for part-shade. Directly below is the showy single bloom of the Rainbow Knock Out rose (Rosa 'Radcor') that we have planted along our Palmer Drive berm. We have a good 100+ of these in a huge drift and they look pretty good. This 2Italic007 All-America Rose Selection winner is known for its insect and disease resistance and the beautiful coral blooms with a light yellow center. At the bottom is the golden spiderwort (Tradescantia x andersoniana 'Sweet Kate') which has the double whammy of bright yellow foliage as a backdrop for those clear blue blossoms. This selection is also known as 'Blue & Gold'. I love this variety (full sun or part shade, likes moisture) but watch out as it will drop seeds that germinate as green-leaved plants which then start to clutter up the original golden foliage. Cull out the seedlings to keep up the gold/blue combination. More planting tomorrow, Friday and a big planting day on Saturday.

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