Friday, August 17, 2012

Plenty Of Visitors

The morning started out at 48 degrees F which was a bit brisk and reminiscent of a late September morning. However, it turned out to be a nice sunny day with the high temperature around 75 degrees F. This was great weather for visitors and we saw many of them out in the gardens today. There were also some events happening at the Parker Education Center which brought more people out in to the gardens. To the left is one of our 'Skyscraper' sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) which has topped out around 12' tall in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display. That garden continues to look great and elicits plenty of compliments from our visitors. Tom K. has done a nice job maintaining the space as has Janice, other staff and volunteers. To the right is the backlit underside of the 'Diamond Head' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta). Look at the pink and lime that can be seen in the veins. The upper surface of the leaf though is a maroon/brown and very dark.

The grounds staff had a busy day and we had a good crew here today. Marv and Terry worked on a wide range of activities which included installing edging, pruning, hauling back a broken bench, watering, etc. Terry also did some blower rounds to tidy the paths and Marv is consolidating some of our piles in the yard prior to the influx of plants for our Fall Plant Sale (see for more information). Big John was here for a half day and push mowed, fertilized, worked on graveling some paths and accomplished many tasks before he left. Pat was in all day and worked on edging tasks, push mowing, weeding and he did a nice job cleaning up the everflowing urn (one of our water features). We normally don't have Pat on Fridays but he was a huge asset today. Janice worked in the vegetable displays, tidied the moss areas, planted and bounced between some other projects as well. Marianne was in as a volunteer and she spruced up the cutting display for the weekend. To the left are the showy blooms of the purple hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) which is a nice vine with dark leaves and these showy blooms. Normally, Japanese beetles would have decimated the leaves but we've all noticed the lack of beetle activity at the gardens and around town. The beetles are around but I would say I haven't seen this little damage in over 10 years. Maybe the hot and dry summer had some implications on their population? Yay!!! I spent the day working on many tasks. I placed plants for installation, installed tree signs and worked on some details for upcoming events like the fall plant sale and the auction of our Garden Art Projects (oak leaves). Directly below are the small, but colorful blooms of the 'China Purple' bush clematis (Clematis heracleifolia). I featured this yesterday and this is another specimen in our woodland walk garden. The next photo down shows the emerging inflorescence (flower/seed head) of the 'Jade Princess' dwarf ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum). This annual grass only gets about 30" tall and had not only showy golden foliage but interesting flower structures. This flower will get a darker brown and will be more upright. The finches will nibble on the seeds later this summer.

We usually have a nice volunteer turnout on Fridays and today was no exception. Shirley came in early and was here for most of the morning weeding in the color rooms garden, sunken garden and Smelly Garden. She is a very thorough weeder and few weeds escape her notice. Ron K. (upper right photo) came in to plant over 60 new hostas in the woodland walk garden. He was here the entire morning and did a great job installing so many perennials in this nice space. Ron, as a new volunteer, had really stepped up and improved the woodland walk immensely with his attention. I told him it's a 10 year volunteer commitment! Bob T. worked on some significant air edging projects today and is our veteran "air edger" out in the gardens. He did a nice job and really enhanced some areas with his attention. Stan came in to do some pruning in the Japanese garden and he definitely has a real talent for this type of work. He, Karen and Jumbo Jim (with RECAPPERS) are keeping the gardens looking nice. I neglected to mention Jim and the RECAPPERS were working in the Japanese garden yesterday with some clean-up duties. Rose N. was out working in the veggie beds and Dr. Gredler did a great job mowing for the weekend. We also saw Dr. Yahr and Ellie K. was out in the herb garden doing a nice job of tidying up. The Janesville Area Herb Society had always taking care of the three herb sections (there used to be four) and we appreciate all their efforts, including the educational offerings they provide.

To the above left is our summer intern Sarah (student at St. Norbert College in DePere) who has been a huge help for Kris with education programs. She collected the samples from our fragrant garden walk last night and we'll sure miss her when she's gone. To the right is one of our hanging baskets in front of the Parker Education Center which certainly echoes our theme of white and silver. The dangling plant is the 'Silver Falls' aluminum plant (Dichondra argentea). Directly below is some produce I picked from my home container vegetables yesterday. Talk about "ornamental edibles"! At the bottom is one of our fabric containers that we're trialing. We've learned that sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) in fabric containers are no match for a hungry woodchuck!!!

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