Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Return Of The Visitors

We saw many visitors out in the gardens today and it was refreshing to see so many people wandering around the various garden areas. The top photo shows a portion of a large group that visited from a local assisted care facility. Much of the group was in wheel chairs or using walkers but they all seemed to be enjoying the gardens. As this group toured the garden, I envisioned them enjoying our future Wellness Garden which will have some very engaging sensory spaces, no-stoop gardening demonstrations, vertical walls and all manner of neat features for all of our visitors. After seeing very few visitors during the heat wave, it has been refreshing to see more people out in the gardens. This was yet another day with plenty of watering so we had to adjust irrigation or turn off sprinklers because of all the traffic. To the left are the start of showy seedheads of the variegated Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist'). I like this grass quite a bit and the seed heads also display some color variability before they turn brown in August and rattle in the slightest of breezes.

We had great volunteer help today at the gardens. Kay came in early and started weeding in one of our flower beds along Palmer Drive. Pat came in and joined her for her "purslane patrol" as did Marianne. The ladies then moved down to the Smelly Garden and did a great job continuing their weeding progress (when they weren't posing for a photo as seen to the lower right). They sure have fun together and get a lot of work accomplished. Gena, Myrt and Nancy (in sequence above, top to bottom) did a nice job planting flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) in the back corners of the reception garden. We left some open spots for these plants as we we knew they would be planted a bit later and the ladies installed a good 800 or so plants. These will offer some nice white, trumpet-shaped blooms and evening fragrance throughout the summer. To the right is Lynn who beat me in to work this morning and was planting by 6:30 am in the English cottage garden. She spent most of the day planting and watering in that garden space. With all the breadseed poppies (Papaver somniferum) going to seed and finishing up, Lynn had some space to fill. To the left is one of the six entrees in the 2012 American Garden Award program ( This is the 'SuperCal Pink Ice' petchoa (Petchoa x hybrida). Petchoas are relatively new to the scene and are the cross between the petunia (Petunia) and million bells (Calibrachoa). I like the look of these plants and this color is dynamite. The foliage is yellowing a bit (like all Calibrachoa) and will "green up" with some fertilizer (with supplemental iron). Other volunteers included Maury, Joe M., Nancy M., Christine R. and many others. To the upper left is the wispy foliage of the very unique and interesting plant called dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather'). This plant, native to the Eastern U.S., is normally found in pastures and along roadsides (hardy to zone 4). However, it has some nice value as a textural plant (the white flowers aren't showy). We have some small "groves" of this plant in the reception garden and many visitors are asking about it daily. To the right is a nice shot of the Druid statue in the reception garden as well. She is certainly one of our most treasured features and was originally on the House of Mercy nunnery (precursor to the Mercy Health System) and is on permanent loan from the Rock County Historical Society.

The grounds staff had another busy day of watering and other duties. Marv and Terry set up many sprinklers including our "rain trains" down in the sunken garden (see directly below). These sprinklers (on wheels) work their way along the feeder hose. The guys also sheared, painted alliums and accomplished additional watering and irrigation. Big John also had a busy day of watering which included some of our driest areas, containers and other target gardens. Marianne did some major weeding, watering, tidying and her cutting display. I prepared for our potluck tonight regarding our Home Garden Tour (which is coming up on July 21st). The event went well this evening with a good turnout. I also was able to get out and help with watering. At the bottom is our vertical wall planter at the Horticulture Center and it is filling out very nicely.

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