I hit the road early today and headed to Boerner Botanical Gardens (Hales Corners, WI) for a commercial field day organized by UW-Extension. I actually never stopped by RBG today but knew it was in good hands with Marv, Marianne, Terry, Big John and Pat. I'm sure we had some great volunteer help as well. I arrived at Boerner with some time to spare and walked a good portion of the gardens prior to the start of the event at 8:30 a.m. I've always enjoyed the gardens and today was no exception. Their staff does a great job and I know they are dealing with the same challenges that we are this season with watering issues, weeds, etc. I spoke with many of their grounds staff and touched base with Dave W., their Head of Grounds, whom I've known for many years. I also caught up with Shirley, the Executive Director for the gardens. The pictures above are just some of the nice shots I took today at the gardens. To the right is the 'Snowcone' hybrid coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) I noted in their trial garden. This variety only gets 18" tall and is an introduction from Intrinsic Perennials thanks Brent!) which is just down the road in Hebron, IL. The trial garden is always top notch (two photos down) with a wide range of perennials and annuals. To the left is 'Rainbow's End' hosta (also in the trial garden) which I've noted on previous occasions. I'll be looking to locate this one shortly.
The event went very well and there appeared to be 120 or so attendees. It was nice to catch up with some UW Extension friends like Dr. Brian H., Mike M., Dr. Susan M., Kristin K., Barb L., Sharon M. and Dr. Patti N. They run a tight ship and the event seemed to run smoothly with a combination of tours and lectures. My talk on The Edible Landscape seemed to go well and I took multiple opportunities to encourage attendees to come visit the gardens. I saw Richard H. from the Chicago Botanic Garden (also a presenter) and some others that I occasionally run in to at these sorts of functions. I spent some major time in their trial garden and took plenty of flower shots. To the right is the 'Aztec Violet Wink' verbena (Verbena hybrida). Directly below was a purple coneflower hybrid (Echinacea hybrida) called 'Sombrero Salsa Red' which I thought had an interesting hue. I enjoyed my day in Milwaukee and it was fun to participate in another field day. On my way home, I stopped by the Open House held at our local Rock County Community Garden (Hwy 14, Janesville). I was amazed at the scale of this operation which included a vast area that is maintained by RECAPPERS (men and women) with assistance from volunteers like Jumbo Jim, Bob D., Deb G., Barb G. and many others. The RECAP program allows select, incarcerated individuals to participate in community service that may result in early release (that was a very basic summation of how I understand the program). There are also many public plots (100+) out there too with a wide range of flowers and vegetables. It was neat to see a young mother watering their plot with her two young daughters. The individual plots certainly showed the personalities (and tastes!) of each of their caretakers. When I arrived, I found Jumbo Jim already giving a tour that included Janice, Marv and Marianne. I also ran in to some other volunteers including Terri, Linda and Bruce. It was nice to see quite a few people taking advantage of the open house and I can't verbalize how impressed I was with this garden, its "tenders" and the amount of food it will generate (particularly for those in need). Below are some pictures of this amazing garden. Many of the RECAPPERS were helping with the tours, selling produce and providing some tasty snacks made directly from the garden produce. They were all duly proud of their involvement in this garden and I recognized most from their work at RBG as well (facilitated also by Jumbo Jim).