Monday, September 24, 2012

A "Tinge" Of Frost

The overnight lows this weekend were in the mid 30 degrees F although I didn't notice any frost until I let my dogs out this morning and saw the turf.  My wife's car also had some frost on the windows.  It was an uber-light frost although it was still noticeable around the gardens this morning when we arrived.  Oddly, the impatiens seem ok and they are usually the quickest to shrivel up after that first light frost.  I noted some damage to tropicals in the lower lying areas but I think we missed the bullet in terms of more significant damage that would necessitate lots of removals.  The weather this week looks quite pleasant with no chance of frost.  We'll continue to primp the gardens as we have lots of visitors over the coming weeks and apparently the weekend was quite busy.  We still have a couple weddings coming up as well.  The top photo shows the colorful rose "hips" of the 'Winnipeg Parks' shrub rose (Rosa) in our French formal garden.  There are quite a few species out there with colorful fruits that will offer interest throughout the winter.  Rose hips have a long history as an herb and food source (high in vitamin C, etc.).  Check it out.  Directly above is a bee working over the 'Mystic Spirit' dahlias (Dahlia sp.) in the formal gardens.  It was around 40 degrees F when this little fella was already working hard.  Directly below is the showy 'Miyazaki' toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) in the gazebo garden.  Those orchid-like blooms (1" wide) are exquisite and thankfully they weren't frosted last night.  Despite the late bloom time of this toadlily, the flowers are not frost tolerant and will blacken overnight with any temperatures under 30 degrees F.

The grounds crew had no shortage of work today.  Larry ran irrigation all day, ran out for supplies, pruned, watered and bounced between some other duties.  While the gardens are still slightly damp, we'll continue to water to help alleviate the overall deficiency for the year.  This will undoubtably help our woody plants and perennials.  Marv did a nice job spreading gravel near/around our new shed.  As he worked on this project, Terry started digging up and potting the popcorn plants (Cassia didymobotrya) from the Smelly Garden.  We will store these in a greenhouse over the winter and are digging them a bit earlier than last year to make sure they aren't subjected to too many more cold nights.  Terry also planted some of our large containers with 'Brazen Brass' mustard (Brassica juncea) which is a cold-tolerant annual and will look great over the next six weeks.  The guys also worked on other projects and watered containers as needed.  Big John also dug up some tropicals and continued his cutting/potting of the 'Thailand Giant' elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea) out in the gardens (see two photos down).  We're digging these early for the same reasons mentioned above and will get them to a greenhouse this week with the hopes that they'll store nicely as a dormant plant that will then be bigger next spring!  John also did some watering, planting and other tasks.  Marianne worked on her cutting display, tidied up here and there and did a nice job planting annual lobelia (Lobelia sp.) in the sunken garden and Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection.  Pat was in as a volunteer and spent the morning getting our 1/2 gallon milk jug luminaries prepared for the event!  See the third photo from the bottom to see Pat in action.  I placed perennials out in the gardens for installation, toured the gardens and have been trapped at my desk keeping up with some other projects including some related to our upcoming Halloween Walk and our Holiday Lights Show.  Janice also popped in this afternoon.

We had a nice turnout of volunteers this morning doing a wide range of tasks.  A couple of our Grumpies started the day by loading up a large pile of scrap metal that we had accumulated and Dick H. ran it to the recycling place nearby.  We made some decent money and it was nice to see that pile disappear.   Our overall horticulture operation is quite mammoth in scale compared to even 10 years ago and we find ourselves dealing with surplus plastic, pallets and all the associated components of a horticultural operation.  Del, Bob C. and Ron Y. went out in the gardens to rake and tidy paths which is truly a daily task now with leaves fluttering down constantly.  We don't have the ability to keep every leaf off the ground but do try to keep the primary paths and patios relatively debris free.  The guys do a nice job and that "job security" is established as this same task will be on their list for Thursday too!  Ron W., Rollie and Dick H. disassembled more of our plant sale tables and did some work around the yard as well.  Dave, Vern, Bob and Jim are currently working on a project that will ultimately provide our largest obelisks yet (20 footers!) that will go out in the gardens next year.  Shirley and Bev W. were around this morning collecting spent annuals and hauling back some good sized loads to the compost pile.  We also saw Russ, Rose and Urban.  Dr. Gredler did his Monday round of mowing and Bill O. was in later for some sweeping duties and boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') shearing in the North point garden.  Directly below is the 'Prairie Sunrise' shrub rose (Rosa).  This is one of the over 80 "Buck" roses introduced by Dr. Griffith Buck of Iowa State University.  The color is quite engaging as is the light fragrance.  We have only a couple of the Buck roses but will include more in the near future.  The next photo down is the 'Explosive Ember' ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) which has looked better with each passing week.  The foliage has become darker and the peppers a brighter red which makes for a stunning show.  The next photo down (3rd down) shows the ornamental fruits of the purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst') which is just starting to show some nice coloration.  Second from the bottom picture of our arched bridge this morning are Terry, Marv and Pat (left to right) last Friday as they tested lights during our rained out day.  These are the lights that will dangle down from our cottonwood (Populus deltoides) trees.  Preparations for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) have begun.  They have begun.  I'll have to get my "cart o' cords" ready in the next week or two...

No comments: