Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soggy Soils

When I was home last night, it started sprinkling around 7 pm and it was still sunny outside. I didn't give it much thought until we received more and more rain (and wind). By this morning, we had a good 2" of overnight precipitation and while it came down fast in some instances, it was a good soaking and we all arrived to a very damp garden this morning. We didn't have much damage aside from some moderate path washouts and various tree branches. This is the first day in literally 57 sequential days (since late May) that we haven't had some sort of irrigation running out in the gardens. We also didn't have to water any containers today as it was overcast and humid with everything appearing to stay quite damp. My established level of anxiety regarding the drought dropped a bit but I wont be duped in to thinking we're back to normal as we're still very deficient in precipitation for the year. The top photo is the beautiful 'Zahara Double Cherry' zinnia (Zinnia marylandica) in the All-America Selections collection. Look for any of the "Zahara series" in your seed catalogs and garden centers as I like all the varieties and they are a nice height at under 18" or so. Directly above is the Moss Rose Collection (Portulaca) that is looking dynamite. These are all some tough annuals that haven't minded the recent heat wave one bit. To the above right is the 'Toreador' crested or cockscomb celosia (Celosia cristata). Talk about interesting flower architecture. Celosias are all good for children's gardens or instances where the sense of touch is being encouraged. Who could resist touching this interesting bloom? To the left is a shot of the 'Queeny Purple' dwarf hollyhock (Alcea rosea). This plant only gets about 3' tall and is covered with these 4" wide blooms. However, Japanese beetles are currently decimating the foliage and this plant becomes unsightly by mid-August. Look at that bloom though!

We had another great batch of volunteers today. Grumpies included Ron W. and Larry H. who both helped Larry haul off the sizeable remnants of a downed tree (old boxelder) on the north path. The guys moved on to some other projects (fourth photo down). Bob C. (directly below) worked on regraveling many of the pathways and Ron B. worked on air edging with Bob T. in the arboretum. Dave, Vern and Jim continued work on their shed project and Dick H. came in later to run loads to the dump and replenish our fuel supply. Dr. Gredler mowed most of the lawns in preparation for the weekend. Gary was also in to help out as was Bill O. in the afternoon. Our Grumpettes included Suzy and Marilyn (to the right, Marilyn in teal). Other Grumpettes included Karla, Donna, Sue and Cheryl. The ladies did a great job of weeding almost all of our flower beds at the east end of the gardens and they had time to work in the daylily (Hemerocallis) collection as well (see Sue and Donna three photos down). Shirley was in early and we positioned her in the All-America Selections garden for some weeding. The second photo down shows Pat edging the moss rose (Portulaca) beds. Hal & Doris continued to work on their awesome garden area too. We also saw Mary F. today and Stan pruned in the Japanese garden this afternoon.

With watering taken off our "to do" list for the day, the grounds staff was able to actually do some traditional gardening. Janice worked with the Grumpettes this morning and spent some time with Karla in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection. They staked plants, removed plants, weeded, re-seeded and picked many vegetables. Janice also worked in the new moss islands, weeded in the formal gardens and did some various odds and ends. Larry worked with the guys this morning and spent a good portion of the day with the weedwhip in hand. He also ran some errands and helped load up three truckloads of debris for the dump (thanks Dick H.!). To the right is the 3" diameter sphere of orange offered by the 'Moonsong Deep Orange' marigold (Tagetes patula). I've recently decided that I really like marigolds and this would be one of my top five favorites. Our marigold (Tagetes) collection last year was interesting and also helped demonstrate not only the differences between varieties but the fact that marigolds are just darn tough in the landscape. To the left is one of our many moss roses (Portulaca) in the collection. This is the variety 'Pazzaz Pink Glow' which really was glowing today with the overcast skies. This variety, and others in the series, are technically ornamental purslanes (Portulaca oleracea) which are bred for these large colorful flowers.

Pat had offered to come in today for five hours to help with our watering efforts. I was happy to use him for gardening though. He did a nice job weeding two huge areas along our frontage road (Palmer Drive) and edged the moss rose collection as seen further above... I think he also enjoyed the break from slinging hoses. We'll have his help tomorrow as well. I spent most of the day in meetings or catching up on desk work before my vacation next week. This morning, I went up to NBC15 in Madison (see bottom photo) where I was taped with Amy Carlson interviewing me about our upcoming Home Garden Tour this Saturday. This segment will air early (6 am?) this Saturday and will hopefully encourage some more attendance for this important fundraiser. The event runs from 10 am until 4 pm and you can get tickets at RBG, K&W Greenery and Patty's Plants (Milton). To the right is the 'Mexican Way' daylily (Hemerocallis) in our collection. Daylilies are quite photogenic and there are so many beautiful varieties. Directly below is a view thru the "bamboo gridded" window in the Ma Chii' structure in the fern & moss garden.

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