Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another Delightful Day

I drove in this morning with some light sprinkles on the windshield but that's all it really amounted to for today. It looks like some more rain for tomorrow which would be perfect timing. The day was nice with high temperatures around 85 degrees F. The gardens are still moist in spots from last week but we did do some watering and ran irrigation in select locations as well. There were lots of visitors in the gardens today. I'm finding no shortage of photo opportunities out in the gardens. The top picture is a shot across the formal gardens from the porch overlooking the English cottage garden. The next photo down is the north side of the sunken garden (maintained by Chris, Bob and August) which is at peak color. In fact, I've never seen the sunken garden looking better and I'm sure all the recent and upcoming weddings in that location will enjoy the expansive colors and textures. Directly above is one of our seven beds dedicated to our 2012 All-America Selections Display. To the right is one of the entrants in our American Garden Award program ( which is a fun display that involves visitors voting for their favorites. Check out their website (and our collection!). This 'Santa Cruz Sunset' begonia (Begonia boliviensis) is running neck and neck with another competitor (Gazania 'Big Kiss White Flame'). I saw this begonia many times during my trip to Michigan last week and it was dynamite in hanging baskets and has that arching form with copious blooms. I imagine hummingbirds don't mind a visit either. Top notch. To the left is another colorful shot in the sunken garden.

The grounds staff had a busy day today with a wide range of activities. Marv and Big John both ran irrigation today in some of our drier garden spaces. Marv and Terry also put up some sprinklers, composted, mulched, pruned and dragged in a huge piece of rusty pipe that was embedded just off our shoreline near the North Point garden (unsightly). The guys also watered containers with John. John also mulched, dug out tree seedlings, watered, sheared and pruned. Marianne did some planting, tidying, her cutting display, weeding and more purging/organization/watering in the yard. Our holding yard is almost empty and will soon be filled with plants for our Fall Plant Sale (September 8th and 9th, 9 am - 4 pm, Pre-sale on the 7th for RBG members!). This sale will have huge mums, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, compost, etc. and we hope people will be interested in buying more plants and gardening after that tough spring and summer! Pat was in for a half-day and worked on shearing shrubs, mulching, weeding and is pruning back some of our vines off the archway to the sunken garden (the old archway to the Parker Pen World Headquarters based here in Janesville). I worked on various projects, continued to catch up from last week and had some very productive meetings. To the right is a container near the hosta hollow garden that has the 'Illustris' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) and 'Kona Gold' copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana). Directly below are two more of our All-America Selections (AAS) winners out in the gardens. Directly below is the 'Old Mexico' zinnia (Zinnia haageana) which is a nice, compact variety (mildew-resistant) with many multi-colored blooms (in this orange and yellow tone). Blooms are about 1.5"-2" wide. The next photo down is the 'Toreador' cockscomb (Celosia cristata) which has a wide, showy flower that is perfect for touching too! Directly above is the 'Orange King' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) which we have in many locations, including a large patch near the gazebo garden. Always enjoy coleus from the underside too as many have a different color on the bottom of the leaves. From the top, I didn't think these were "orange" at all (more gold) but from ground level, the underside of orange/pink really pops. This variety is now up to almost 36" tall (plenty of water and fertilizer).

We had an awesome volunteer turnout today. Kay was in and did a great job in the reception garden where she removed some spent annuals and infilled with some nice, fresh color. She did a great job and is such a hard worker. Dr. Gredler and Dr. Yahr tag-teamed on mowing out in the gardens and took care of the arboretum and some other locations. Dr. Gredler also aerated some lawns and spread more grass seed in our thinnest of spots. Our lawns weathered the drought well but of course, the amount of water we used was considerable. We also had Myrt (upper right), Gena (left) and Savannah (lower right) in to help weed out in the gardens. The three ladies weeded and deadheaded (removed spent blooms) in the AAS collection and came back with a good pile of debris. We also saw Maury who came in for a meeting and ran some errands for us. Ruth F. and her husband came in to meet with Janice (volunteering today) to discuss their Grains of the World presentation for the Garden Festival (August 25th at the Rock County Fairgrounds). This is the same event that had been held at RBG for the past six? years and promises to be a lot of fun for the entire family. We also saw Rose, Urban, Dick H. and many others today. At the bottom is a neat component of our white/silver/powder blue theme this year. This is the 'Faded Jeans' spurge (Euphorbia pithyusa) which, while an annual, is great for color and texture. I think we planted 200 or so of these and they are really looking nice. At the bottom is one of our many ornamental hot peppers (Capsicum annuum). This is the variety 'Pretty in Purple' which I appreciate not only for durability in hot, sunny spots but for these glossy fruits. We have a wide range of the ornamental peppers really getting some nice coloration around the gardens. Their merit as bedding plants (and culinary targets!) becomes apparent as the peppers age later in the summer. I'm headed to Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) tonight to give a presentation on Vertical Gardening. I'm going early to get some photos that I hope to share...

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