Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Late Spring Progress

It's hard to believe that it's not summer yet (at least on the calendar). I've enjoyed the cooler temperatures the past couple of days for sure but it looks like a return to hot temperatures this weekend. I got home later tonight after an enjoyable evening with twenty-one members of the Wisconsin Hosta Society. Phil (their President) did a great job and the group had a fun hosta leaf judging competition at the end of the evening. I saw many old friends as well. I'll post some pictures tomorrow of the event tonight. I led a tour through the gardens for the group and the temperature and lighting out in the gardens was absolutely perfect. We meandered through the gardens and it was fun showing the group some of our plants and garden areas. I think it was the first visit for about six of the attendees. The top photo shows the South entrance to the Japanese garden looking sharp this morning. Stan has done a nice job tidying up this garden space over the past week. Directly above is the fragrant Regal lily (Lilium regale 'Album') which has been planted in profusion throughout the Smelly Garden (Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden).

The grounds staff had a very busy day. Jenny (above right) did a nice job working on labels and weeding some areas that have become "purslane-ridden." It's amazing how many weeds have popped up recently and the haze of cottonwood (Populus deltoides) seedlings is carpeting the entire gardens. We'll keep chipping away at it over the coming weeks between our planting and watering efforts. Pat also weeded, mulched, hauled plants and watered containers. Big John also mulched, watered and went on another plant run for some plants essential to our planting this Saturday as part of our Volunteer Planting Work Day (8 am - 12 noon). Marv orchestrated the masterful set-up of many sprinklers in tandem with our irrigation around the gardens. We're keeping everything wet to hopefully coast thru the hot and dry weekend. Marv also prepared some of the beds in the Smelly Garden. I hauled out more plants, sprayed some herbicide and worked on myriad projects before my evening activities. To the left is the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) in full bloom. A colony of this native has naturalized along our pond and really looks showy (and intentional!) right now. To the right is the nice bright foliage of the variegated fiveleaf aralia (Eleutherococcus sieboldianus 'Variegatus'). This shrub is durable in a wide range of soils and does just as well in full sun as part shade. This creamy/yellow variegation will age to a white by mid-summer. Highly recommended. Directly below is the interesting Pretty Much Picasso petunia (Petunia) which has the very unique lime and grape color combination.

We had some top notch volunteer help out today. Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing rounds and continues to be our "Superintendent of Sod." Two photos up are (left to right) Mary, Pat and Myrt out planting our American Garden Award ( display. We are one of twenty-eight display gardens involved with featuring these six annual variety entrants. Visitors can vote for their favorite. Check out the website for more information on this exciting display. While we were minus Gena and Nancy from our Wednesday crew, Pat filled in nicely and the ladies planted a good 500 plants or so this morning. Directly above is Kay in one of our large All-America Selections beds that she started weeding yesterday with Jenny. She did a nice job finishing that large space and moved on to her areas on the shade garden for tidying and clean-up. Don and Pearl came in to do some planting and weeding in their garden area too. We also saw Gordy, Maury, Mary W., Bev and many others. To the right is the variegated giant reed (Arundo donax 'Versicolor') which we usually plant as a quick growing annual grass. However, the clump you see here has come back for three years in the sunken garden! Granted, we've had some mild winters but I was truly amazed to see this species return so readily. To the left is the American smokebush (Cotinus obovatus) in full bloom. While many prefer the maroon (or even golden) leaf varieties of European smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), this species (obovatus) has some long lasting flower appeal which is apparent from quite a distance.

We'll continue to get ready for a busy weekend around the gardens which also includes the Annual Pie Ride organized by the Morning Rotary Club. We have quite a few weddings and the morning Volunteer Planting Work Day too. To the right is the 'Sundial Tangerine' moss rose (Portulaca) which is one of the sixty-five varieties we're featuring this year. Jenny did another inventory of this collection so we can finish a handout. Directly below is the 'Hot Springs Sky Blue' lobelia (Lobelia hybrida) which is one of our trial/display plants from Ball Seed. At the bottom is a shot of Jumbo Jim and two RECAPPERS from a couple days ago. Jim does such a nice job with our RECAP participants and we've had some very motivated help from those that work with Jim.

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