Monday, July 16, 2012

The Heat Returns

Today was a return to another hot spell with high temperatures close to 100 degrees F. It was a sticky day and we were all working up a good sweat by 8 am this morning. The top photo is of the flower bed on the southeast corner of the property. The sculpture, entitled 'Biota', is another creation of O.V. Shaffer who is also the artist for the 'Dialogue' sculpture closest to the visitor's center. This piece was moved from another location about six years ago and really anchors that corner. Hal (whom I saw today) and Doris have mantained the bed nicely as long as I've been here. They come up with their own planting scheme and this one looks dynamite with the white and red being offered by annual vincas (Catharanthus roseus). They even snuck in some tomato plants way in the back! Directly above is the beautiful bloom of the eggplant (Solanum melongena). To the right is the flowering structure of our grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor 'Tunisian') which is a component of our Grains of the World collection this year. To the left is an interesting flower that is called winged everlasting (Ammobium alatum 'Bikini') which is one of our Fleuroselect award winners. This annual has a four-sided stem and lots of these small blossoms. It is certainly a conversation piece and has a long period of bloom.

We had a nice volunteer turnout this morning. Rollie, Pat and Ron W. worked together this morning hauling plants and then the guys moved on to a mulching project (see below) that had some accessibility challenges. Rollie had to pass the mulch over an existing fence which was actually the easiest and most efficient way to mulch this area. Del and Lloyd went out to repair some gravel paths and deal with more potholes while Russ and Stan worked on some projects in the Japanese garden with Karen. Dave, Vern and Jim continued progress on the new shed. Winifred, Shirley and Donna were our trio of Grumpettes and they collectively tackled some huge weeding projects (plenty of purslane) and did a really nice job. Gary was in to work on some labels and we also saw Dick P., Janet, Dr. Yahr, Mary W., Pat and many others today. Bill O. was in for some sweeping and Dr. Gredler did a comprehensive mowing around the gardens. Speaking of purslane (Portulaca oleracea), I caught it in bloom today (right) for the first time. We have such a bumper crop of this weed and will continue to deal with it as time and resources allow! Two photos up is the 'Thailand Giant' elephant ear (Colocasia gigantea) in the middle of our copper cheese vat planter (English cottage garden). While we also have this variety planted elsewhere in the gardens, this specimen is really getting enormous and I look forward to seeing it in a month or two. I think we planted the most elephant ears this year (400ish?) representing about a dozen varieties. They haven't minded this heat at all but the moisture requirements have been challenging at times! Directly above is the bloom of the 'Minerva' Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) which is a woody hibiscus that typically will bloom in August. As has been our pattern since February, everything still seems a month ahead of schedule and this shrub is no exception. To the right is the amethyst flower (Browallia speciosa 'Starlight Blue') which is a nice annual for part shade or full shade. While the flowers are quite small, the plant produces blooms throughout the summer and that blue really shows in the shadier spaces. To the left is a new summer snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia) from PanAmerican seed called 'Serenita Raspberry'. This specimen is in the English cottage garden with some bright blanket flower (Gaillardia sp.) in the background.

Larry was in at 5:30 am to start our irrigation rounds yet again. While that .5" of rain last Friday was welcome, it didn't do much to keep the soil wet for any length of time. Larry moved sprinklers around many areas as well and had some other chores throughout the day including round #1 of watering the yard. Marv and Terry both had vast areas to water with sprinklers or by hand. The guys also took care of watering all the containers out in the gardens which is no small task. Marianne tidied in a couple places, watered and touched up her cutting display in the building. Marianne also watered the yard (round #2) and helped me with preparations for our 18th Annual Home Garden Tour which will be held this Saturday, July 21st from 10 am - 4 pm (rain or shine). Tickets ($10 in advance, $12 on the day of the event) are on sale at K&W Greenery, RBG and Patty's Plants (Milton). Visit for more information. I went out and sprayed herbicide today and spent most of my time on the Home Garden Tour. To the right is the 12" wide bloom of the 'Kopper King' hibiscus (Hibiscus hybrida). This herbaceous plant dies to the ground each winter and has no trouble emerging in late spring and gaining height and flowers by mid-summer... Directly below is the clean, crisp and engaging foliage of the 'Carmencita Pink' castor bean (Ricinus communis). This tropical will get 10' tall or more with huge leaves and colorful, spiky seed capsules. At the bottom is our orange wall planting finally starting to fill in nicely. We're glad to see the progress!

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