Friday, August 3, 2012

Keeping Up The Greenery

We've had some recent chances (slight percentages) for rain that haven't materialized but there looks like a respectible chance tomorrow night and in to Sunday. I hope it happens as we continue to spend the bulk of our time out in the gardens with daily watering chores. We've become used to the routine but a break from the daily sprinklers and hoses would be much appreciated by the grounds staff I'm sure. At the top is one of our horizontal PVC planters with cascading tomatoes (Lycopersicon) starting to trail over the edges. We have eight of these installed in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection. This planter is a good 8' off the ground and while it's not easy to water or pick the tomatoes, it sure looks cool. The supports (4x4s) that are holding up this 10' long pipe planter are filling in nicely with a wide range of runner beans (Phaseolus) and other vining vegetables. We're already picking beans and lots of other produce from this garden almost daily. It's tough to keep up with the cherry tomatoes and cucumbers but Janice is doing it well. Directly above is the 'Explosive Ember' ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) which will just get more colorful as the summer progresses. To the above right is a close-up flower shot of the 'September Charm' Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida). Don't let the name fool you, this is also blooming early although we do usually see it by late August. There are lots of buds on this floriferous perennial (likes part shade and damp, rich soils). To the left is a nice shot of the gazebo that I took this morning.

Dr. Gredler was here most of the day taking care of his riding mowing duties (see photo second from the bottom of the blog). Doc gets all of the wedding lawns (rose garden, sunken garden and gazebo garden) on Fridays so they're fresh and ready for weddings. With a mid-afternoon wedding in the sunken garden today, we expedited much of our watering, mowing, etc. to have that done before the guests arrived. Shirley came in for some weeding in multiple area and is very self-sufficient when it comes to keeping busy out in the gardens. Little Jerry stopped by to say 'hi' and he helped Janice for a bit this afternoon. We also saw Kris K., Chuck S., Tina B., Dr. Yahr, Ray Y. and many others today. Gary was in to make some timely signs for me as well. To the right is the 'Coffee Cups' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) which is one of my favorites. Note the cupping of the leaves which will hold rainfall too! What a neat leaf form, color and veination. Directly below is the colorful foliage of one of our copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana) varieties. This is 'Kona Gold' which has remarkable coloration and no two leaves are the same. The next shot down is a close-up of the pink star-flower (Laurentia hybrida 'Avant-Garde Pink'). There is a blue form as well and both have very interesting shaped flowers (1.5") in profusion. The next photo down shows the fragrant bloom of the sweetshrub (Calycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine'). This woody shrub started blooming in June but still has some sporadic blooms emerging. I love that deep red color and the flowers are close to 3" in diameter on this shrub that also features, clean, glossy foliage.

The grounds staff had a full day of watering and other tasks. Terry set up sprinklers, push mowed right away and moved on to other projects around the gardens. He and Marv also planted some groundcovers in the Japanese garden in an area they also composted and rototilled. Marv had his own batch of sprinklers to rotate around the gardens and also ran irrigation for a good portion of the day. Pat was in early to put in some time on re-staining a portion of the Horticulture Center. He then shifted to push mowing and some other gardening tasks out in the gardens proper. Janice had significant hand watering duties which included watering our holding yard plants twice today. She also worked on tidying some areas, consolidating our yard plants, herbiciding a thug clump of plants (Phragmites, ugh!) and creating signage. Marianne was in to freshen up her cutting display and start the process of creating more labels for our alpine plants. To the right are the fragrant blooms of the "popcorn plant" (Cassia didymobotrya) in the Smelly Garden. This tropical plant has greenish-blue foliage and blooms all thru the summer. When the top of the closed buds on the flower cluster are rubbed and sniffed, you can smell buttered popcorn very distinctly. This plant is a real "fragrant hit" in that garden space and most visitors enjoy the smell (some say it smells like peanut butter..?!). Also in the Smelly Garden by the dozens are the peacock orchids (Acidenthera murielae) or (Gladiolus callianthus). These plants are purchased as bulbs in March and are started in pots by late April. We then plant them out in groupings by early June. They are beautiful and have a nice fragrance (better at dusk).

I spent some time out in the gardens and had a meeting with Kris K. The bulk of my time was spent getting maps and lists ready for next week. I'll be attending the All-America Selections Summer Summit Conference in Michigan next week. This should be an awesome experience which will also include visits to botanic gardens and some of the best nurseries in Michigan. I'm sure I'll get my plant fix on this trip and do plan on blogging as often as possible. To the right is another grouping of elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta). This is the showy variety 'Illustris' that really has some neat dusky coloration with green veins. The next photo beneath Dr. Gredler is a green heron photo that Santos took at RBG and has shared with us. Santos has a wonderful eye for all photography but really has a talent for wildlife shots. He is also our resident photographer for hummingbirds as they have accepted him as one of their own and he has no problem getting close to them.

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