Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Of The Same

If my recent blog titles seem to be lacking creativity, that's simply because there isn't much more to report other than another 100 degree F day with plenty of watering to accomplish. However, the gardens continue to look more colorful each day and our displays are filling out quickly. The top photo is a portion of our All-America Selections display to the east of the Parker Education Center. We've been soaking this display down every other day and the plants are really filling in nicely. Directly above is one of our fragrant plants in the Smelly Garden which is also doing well. This is the lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) which has a very strong lemon scent when the leaves are crushed. For us, this is a non-hardy annual that will reach 3' tall or so. However, this plant (tree) is native to Queensland, Australia and can reach heights up to 100' tall. Also known as the blue-spotted gum, this tree is extremely drought tolerant and develops very interesting bark as well. To the right is one of our terrace containers featuring the 'Blue Dune' lyme grass (Elymus arenarius). This grass, while hardy in our climate as a perennial, is extremely vigorous and should not be "open planted" in the landscape. We've containerized most of ours and will make sure we remove others at the end of the year. That steely blue foliage is perfect for our color scheme this year. To the left is the colorful 'Pink Flamingo' Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) in our Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display. You can't go wrong with chard as an ornamental and a nutritious, easy-to-grow vegetable.

We had some nice volunteer help this morning (primarily). Ron W., Ron Y. and Dennis came in to set-up three tents for the Smelly Garden Family Fun Day tomorrow (10 am until 2 pm). The guys made quick work of that project and both Rons went on a trip to pick up some donated hostas (thanks Jeff!). Lynn spent a good portion of the day planting and watering in the English cottage garden. She sure is a trooper. Mary and her daughter came in to tidy up their area and Ron K. did some clean-up in the woodland walk garden. Janet T. worked on the orange wall planting this morning and did a nice job. Dr. Gredler came in for some brief mowing duties and we had Bill O. all afternoon. Bill mowed and helped us gather all our hoses at the end of the day. To the right is the start of the dwarf Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe') which is a nice size (4') for the average garden. We use 'Gateway' Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) in the sunken garden and it is quite large at close to 7' tall. Lisa (directly below) came in and we did a "hands on evaluation" of the Potter Daylily (Hemerocallis) Collection (near the arboretum) which involved matching up some labels, removing unknown plants and relocating some others. Lisa has done a great job keeping up with this collection for the past four years and continues to work on observing, evaluating, mapping and assessing the daylilies in this area. Two of the varieties are further below with the interesting names of 'Topguns Anita Causey' (top) and 'Spacecoast Sharp Tooth' (bottom). Directly above is a flower close-up of the 'Lemon Delight' African zinnia (Melampodium paludosum) which has these cheery blossoms (3/4" diameter) all summer long. This variety is one of our Fleuroselect (Europe) winners and is quite showy (as are all the Melampodium varieties). What I like most about the African zinnias is that they are "self-cleaning" meaning they shed old flowers on their own and continue bloom strongly. You may see some chance seedlings the following year but they're easy to remove or relocate. To the right is the showy veins and foliage of one of our beet (Beta vulgaris) varieties. Of course we all know beets and how nutritious they are and it's important to note that the greens are also edible (and nutritious too!).

With two of our grounds staff off on vacation, it was a challenge today to keep up with watering. Larry came in again at 5:30 am and ran irrigation zones all day, all over the gardens. He also set up sprinklers in various areas, push mowed, weed whipped, watered containers and watered the yard (round 2). Pat came in early too and took care of watering the yard early (round 1). Pat also push mowed, watered containers and did a lot of hand watering in our "hard to reach" spots. We are augmenting our irrigation with handwatering which allows us to apply a lot of water quickly in a select location. To the left is the showy bloom (2" long) of the snail flower (Vigna caracalla) or corkscrew vine. This annual vine, native to Central and South America, has a slight fragrance and gets its name from the closed flower shape (see above the open bloom for one ready to pop open). I also spent some time watering today and was rotating five sprinklers around to different areas. While we didn't see a lot of visitors, there was some morning activity out in the gardens while it was still cooler. Our watering regime has become challenging for visitors but I think they are understanding of our predicament which many are also experiencing. To the right is a new Fleuroselect winning plume celosia (Celosia pluItalicmosa argentea 'Arrabona') that caught my eye this morning. We have plume celosias in red, yellow, orange and gold but this burnt orange/red is quite unique and I like the overall look of this new annual. Directly below is our perennial blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) in full bloom which will then be followed by glossy black clusters of berries. This plant is also called leopard plant for the showy, spotty flowers. At the bottom is the 'Senorita' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) opening up in the English cottage garden.

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