Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another "Triple Digit Day"

It was another hot one today (100 degrees F) but we did get an entire 2 minutes of raindrops this morning which amounted to nothing. However, overcast skies did keep the gardens cooler this morning. When the sun really starting beating down after lunch, the temperatures jumped up again to create another unpleasantly hot day. Many flowers in the gardens however, are looking great. The top photo shows the 'Caviar' daylily (Hemerocallis) in our daylily collection which is starting to peak here earlier than usual. There are some really neat varieties in that collection including many interesting shades of red, maroon and pink. Directly above is the 'Prime Time Blue Star' petunia (Petunia) in the reception garden. To the right is the arched bridge in the distance but note the sprinkler in the foreground. This sums up the day for the grounds staff (Big John, Pat, Janice, Larry and me) as we continued to "make rain" for our annual plantings and are now also irrigating/watering areas that have parched trees and shrubs. To the left is the border that Pearl and Don C. maintain. They were here today and did a nice job. Shelley Ryan pointed out yesterday that the obelisk color perfectly matched those coleus (Solenostemon). Of course I said that it was all carefully thought out in advance...

Larry came in at 5:30 am to start running irrigation throughout the gardens. He also set up sprinklers in many areas and spent the entire day watering. Pat watered the yard right away and also headed out for a full day of watering. Big John set up plenty of sprinklers, hand watered, push mowed, dug out a dead burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and accomplished many other tasks. Janice spent time removing some unsavory annuals in some of our flower beds and this is where our back-up/reserve plants will come in to play very shortly. She also did plenty of watering as well. I also set-up and moved sprinklers around and took advantage of the sun and heat with a couple backpack loads of herbicide. I'm also working on my "rainy day" projects that I've been waiting on and I suppose a 100 degree F day is not a bad day to crank these out in the air-conditioned office. To the right is the bloom of the Endless Summer hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer') which is usually a nice pink for us and rarely blue (requires a lower pH). Directly below are the showy (and edible!) blooms of the variegated tricolor society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea 'Variegata') which is featured many times in our Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection. I featured this plant recently in the blog for it's nice variegated foliage and grassy texture. Below that is the fruiting structure of the umbrella-leaf magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) in our arboretum. This will turn bright red over the coming months.
With this brutal weather, we naturally see a decline in volunteer attendance until the weather breaks. We did have some great assistance though today. Don and Pearl tidied up their area near the shade garden and Ron K. was in to work in the woodland walk garden. Mary H. and her daughter did some work this morning as well. This morning, Cheryl (relatively new volunteer) came in for a couple of hours and did a great job entirely weeding one of our problem areas. She did a fantastic job and I hope we see her often! To the right is the showy (and huge) bloom of the 'Mauna Loa' daylily (Hemerocallis) near the arboretum.

Lynn S. was a real trooper and worked almost eight hours today in the English cottage garden. We saw her at 6:30 am this morning and she planted and watered all day in her garden space. That English cottage garden is going to look even more dynamite as these plants fill in quickly. She had some space to address because of the seasonal decline of the breadseed poppies (Papaver somniferum). Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing and weeding duties and Bill O. came in later to prune some yews (Taxus) near the French formal garden and he watered the yard (round 2) this afternoon. We also saw Marianne who came in to do some lamination and Jim D. stopped by as well. To the left are the deep indigo blooms of the 'Black & Blue' Brazilian sage (Salvia gauranitica) in the reception garden. Based on all my observations of hummingbirds over the years at RBG, I would say this plant consistently receives the most attention. Santos, one of our volunteer photographers, hangs out around these salvias and has taken some great shots of hummingbirds. To the right is the always showy summer snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia 'Serena Blue') which has very interesting flowers when you look closely and provides color throughout the entire summer. Directly below are the white flower spires of the fairy candles (Cimicifuga racemosa) in the shade garden. Also known as black cohosh, black bugbane, snakeroot and other names, the Latin has also changed on this one to Actaea racemosa. This clump caught my eye as the flowers (fragrant) are going every which way and are eye-catching. At the bottom is the start of fruit maturation on the native pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). These will continue to get darker blue and the birds will nibble on them shortly.

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