Monday, July 2, 2012

Sweltering Tropics

One of the plants out in the gardens that is really enjoying the recent heat (today was 95 degrees F) are the zinnias (Zinnia sp.). The top photo shows the 'Aztec Sunset' zinnia (Zinnia haageana) which is thriving and looking nice. This variety has a couple different flower colors but most have the cream-tipped petal ends. This in one of our Fleuroselect winnners. We have been one of only six approved display gardens in North America for Fleuroselect which is an organization that promotes flower varieties in Europe. Our tropicals are loving this heat and we've been able to keep all the new plantings watered fairly well up to this point. To the right is 'The Rocket' ligularia (Ligularia stenocephala) in our sunken garden starting to peak nicely with those upright bloom clusters. All ligularias prefer damper soils and benefit from some degree of part shade.

We had Shelley Ryan, host and producer of The Wisconsin Gardener, at RBG today to film some segments. She was joined by Mike (camera), Tom (sound) and Greg (support) and we had a great time filming two segments. Our first segment was on vertical gardening and we talked about the reasons and value for this approach. We featured our pallet planters, cucumber supports and definitely the tiered pvc pipe planter seen directly above. We then did a segment promoting the use of moss roses (Portulaca) in the garden. The second photo up shows the 'Pizzaz Tangerine' moss rose (Portulaca oleracea) which was one of many that we discussed. Needless to say, it's always nice to see Shelley and the crew. Shelley was able to meet many of our volunteers and we look forward to these segments attracting more potential visitors and supporters of the gardens. I spent most of the morning with Shelley and caught up on desk projects in the afternoon. I did have some degree of guilt that I was the only grounds person in air-conditioning while the rest of the crew fried outside in the heat. To the upper left is the dog vomit slime mold in our gazebo garden. I've featured this in the past many years ago and found out quickly that I didn't know much about slime molds at all (very interesting) If you're interested, there is some great information at the link http://featuresblogs/ that I found quite helpful. The grounds staff had a busy day and Larry, John, Marv, Terry, Big John, Marianne and Pat all spent time watering today. Everyone had other tasks too but watering became our most important task of the day. Janice was also in to work with her Chestnut House volunteers. To the upper right is the early fall color of the yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra) that is showing pre-mature fall coloring as a result of the crazy weather we've been having. It's hard to believe that summer just started which makes me worry about July and August in regards to temperatures and rainfall. Directly below is the leaf of the wooly sage after some irrigation. Those fuzzy leaves shed water nicely and I can see why they would be desireable to utilize in the gardens. Speaking of fuzzy, the next photo down shows the flower head of the soft-textured, crested cockscomb (Celosia cristata 'Spring Green') We had some great volunteer help today despite the heat and blazing sun. Directly above is the 'Prairie Sun' gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) which is just one of many annuals we have featured out in the gardens. This particular variety (36" tall) is known for having the dark gold "halo" around the green center. Winnifred was our sole Grumpette today but she did a great job weeding in the hosta beds in the gazebo garden. Ron W. and Urban helped move yard plants and alter watered them in well. Ron also brought back some umbrellas from our terrace garden that look like they need repairs. Russ and Del went out right away to continue skimming older gravel from path edges and adding a fresh layer of gravel. The paths are looking nice and this was certainly challenging work in the summer. Dick P. worked with Maury on some projects at the Parker Education Center and later helped place new bricks with Rollie. Dick H. ran some loads to the dump and helped out here and there. Ron B. did some air edging around the vegetable beds at the Horticulture Center. Gary was in for some label production and data entry. Our Grumpy carpenters (Jim, Bob A. Vern and Dave) worked on their shed structure although Bob A. had time for some repainting of our Smelly Garden signs. To the above right is another one our planting "bags" and that Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) doesn't seem to mind it a bit. To the left is the 'Satisfaction' hybrid lily (Lilium). This variety is one of the Orienpet lilies which means they are a cross of a fragrant Oriental lily with a trumpet lily. Standing around 5' tall, there are 100 of these perfuming the English cottage garden as I type. Lynn was in today to pick out more annuals for "filler" in that garden (planting tomorrow) and we also saw Bob J., Dinty, Joan, Dr. Yahr, Ray, Corky and many others. It was the typical busy Monday and we hope to have more volunteer assistance with watering and other duties later in the week. We still have another week or two of planting but I'm wary of planting on a day over 90 degrees F. To the lower right is the purple orach (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) in our Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection. When younger (under 18") the tender leaves of this annual are a flavorful and nutritious addition to our diets and have been used as such for thousands of years. However, these plants like to grow to 5' tall or so and are impressive ornamentally (but not tasty) at that stage. Below is Janice watering our hot pepper (Capsicum sp.) bed at the Horticulture Center today and at the bottom is a neat glider that the carpenters built as an auction item for the Dinner Dance (July 14th).

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