Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweet Rain

The forecast for today included a 10% chance for thunderstorms which I usually feel isn't even worth mentioning, particularly during this drought when we get our hopes up! Well, around 11 am it became overcast and we started to hear some thunder. The drizzle started close to 12 noon and we had a pretty good shower over the next 40 minutes or so. At the time I'm typing this blog, there is another chance of further showers later this evening. I sure hope they materialize. That brief rainfall was a huge help and while I wish it was a 24 hour rain, we'll take what we can get! The top photo is the 'Prairie Splendor' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which is a sturdy version of the classic purple coneflower that will also bloom the first year from seed. Most of our coneflowers (Echinacea sp.) are blooming now and offering some nice color. Directly above is the 'Purple Fountains' European beech (Fagus sylvatica). Remember that plant form, particulary with woody plants and perennials, is a landscape asset. When we placed this specimen, we planted some of the golden foliaged Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') nearby so the maroon and yellow would look nice together. You can see the sumac on the right of the beech. To the right are the bright orange blooms of the 'Cosmic Orange' sulphur cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus). These long-blooming annuals are dynamite in full sun. To the left are more examples of Marv and Terry's prowess with silver spray paint. The guys finished the last of the ornamental onions (Allium 'Mt. Everest') in front of the building and they look neat in that color scheme. The front entrance garden is ready to go for the Dinner Dance tomorrow night (which has an underwater theme).

To the right is Janet working along the orange wall planting. Note how Janet coordinates her outfits to fit the color theme! Janet took care of this wall planting many years ago when it had a fragrant theme and later was on the staff at RBG for many years. We know that this space is in very good hands. She filled in some open spots with plants and the shot directly below of the 'Irish Poet' orange tassel flower (Emilia javanica) was taken in this garden space. Shirley came in to weed and plant in the color rooms garden and expanded her weeding range to other areas in the later morning. Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing duties and Maury came in to help facilitate an improvement on our fence at the Horticulture Center which will include a handy new gate. We also saw Dr. Yahr, Bill F., Gary, Kris K., Sarah and a couple others. It was a fairly quiet day but productive. That 40 minutes of rain should help get us thru another hot and dry weekend. The second photo down is the 'Gold Sun' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which is another of our All-America Selections winners (1979) in the display collection. The grounds staff all hit the ground running this morning with watering duties, running irrigation zones and setting up sprinklers. Big John was here for a half day and moved sprinklers around most of the morning, mowed, watered containers, hand watered some areas and accomplished some odds and ends before he left and the rain started. Marv had the most sprinklers to set-up and move around and despite the rain, we continued our watering routine as we only received a quick .5" rain and are still quite deficient. Marv also helped with running irrigation zones, watering containers, hauling in debris from a tree removal project and other needs. Terry also had his own obligations for watering and mowing. He set-up sprinklers in various areas and spent some major time hand watering in various areas. Marianne came in and put together a dynamite cutting display for the weekend. She's finding no shortage of samples to feature! I also hand watered and I don't feel that either Terry or my efforts were wasted with the rain as it all helps collectively and increases the time between waterings. It would be nice to get more rain so we can catch up with weeding and other gardening projects. Based on my recent descriptions of gardening tasks, it's quite evident that watering has understandably dominated 90% of our time over this past month. I also had some meetings and I continue to prepare for the Home Garden Tour on July 21st (check out for more details).

To the upper right is another close-up of the foliage coloration on the 'Field of Dreams' variegated corn (Zea mays). I love the pink striations and the overall look of this ornamental grass. I saw a huge patch of this up at Green Bay Botanical Gardens and it looked awesome. To the left is the 'Green Jewel' coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which I think looks quite showy with that subtle lime coloration. I was impressed last year with this variety as it bloomed from July thru October. To the right is the Sun Parasol Giant White mandevilla (Mandevilla hybrida 'Sunmandeho') starting to climb up one of our blue pyramids in the entrance garden. That collection is really starting to fill in nicely as seen in the photo below. The shades of white and light blue are working well and we'll continue to weed these ever decreasing gaps before everything fills in over the coming weeks. Donna D. has taken care of this space since I started 14 years ago and does a nice job. We send help her way as needed but she is quite vigilant against weed invasion. The bottom photo is of our Smelly Garden today which is the 2nd year theme for the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden. Kris K., Sarah (intern) and I talked about some exciting plans for next year in this space! Larry and Bill have a full day tomorrow tidying up the gardens for the dinner dance, continuing watering and preparing for a wedding.

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