Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cold, Cloudy, Comfortable

While we were all hoping for a solid day of precipitation, we didn't see much until the lunch hour. We had alternating drizzle and light sprinkles throughout the afternoon but it didn't amount to much (at the time of me typing this blog of course!). I'm glad we didn't count on the rain and jumped right in to running irrigation and watering in general. The top photo shows a look back at the Parker Education Center from the formal gardens this morning. The second photo up is the 'Royal Purple' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which has a beautiful, dahlia-like form and is one of our many All-America Selections (AAS) winners. We sent in our entry for the AAS Landscape Design Contest which was offered this year for AAS Display gardens as a friendly competition. To the right are just some of the many tomatoes (Lycopersicon) that we picked today at the Horticulture Center. The photo directly above shows the arching yellow sprays of the 'Fireworks' rough-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) in the sunken garden.

The lack of morning rain allowed us to accomplish many tasks with our volunteers. Larry H., Del, Ron Y., Eugene and Lloyd worked on taking down and packing away our plant sale tents. The guys also shifted the remainder of our plants and started working on disassembling all of the plant sale tables for storage until next spring. Jim and Vern installed our repaired window for the Horticulture Center. A couple of weeks ago, someone broke the window and tried to sneak in the facility. They didn't make it in to the building but the complimentary broken window was a headache we could have done without! Dave T. worked on some carpentry projects as well. Maury was around to run errands and both Rollie and Dick H. took a road trip to The Flower Factory where they returned our borrowed plant sale wagons. The guys also picked up some plants for the gardens. Dr. Gredler spent some time mowing and processing our huge accumulation of cardboard. We later saw Victoria, Dawn and Kayla after lunch. The ladies helped sort and organize our pricing labels for the Fall Plant Sale. See below for Suzy (in pink) and Sue (to the left) working this morning with Janice out in the vegetable beds at the Horticulture Center. The ladies picked lots of produce and later were joined by Amy for some weeding near the gazebo garden. Shirley weeded in multiple locations and had no trouble finding some action. To the above left are the small but fragrant blooms of the sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) which is just starting to bloom. We have this perennial vine in many locations and the fragrance will become more conspicuous over the coming weeks as this plant should bloom thru some frosts too. To the right is one of our fragrant tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa 'The Pearl') in the terrace garden. Planted in pots back in May, this fragrant summer bulb has an unbelievably sweet scent that will perfume a large area. The second photo down shows (from left to right), Larry H., Del, Ron Y. and Eugene working on the tent takedown project. I'll always look back at the summer of 2012 and remember the lesson that was learned regarding rainfall predictions. The lesson learned was simply to keep watering regardless of the percentage chance of precipitation. Big John ran irrigation all day and with the lack of visitors due to the potential weather, it was a good soaking over a large area. One of our visitors today was a gentleman (and his wife) that came with the Morton Arboretum crew on Tuesday! He said that he enjoyed the garden so much that he had to bring his wife to visit. We saw some others here and there but the gardens were fairly empty for the most part. John also watered most of our containers and worked on some other projects as well including bringing in some lights in advance of our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations. To the right is the "otherworldly" bloom of the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). Closely related to artichoke (Cynara scolymus), cardoon has been planted throughout our silver/white/light blue theme this year for the bold silver leaves. However, the blossoms are an added bonus and don't reliably appear every year on this annual. Cardoon is also in the edible garden as the stalks/lower stems have long been used as a food source. To the left are the blooms of the 'Supertunia White Russian' petunia (Petunia hybrida) which we have around the gardens. I like that very interesting throat coloration and patterning.

Janice spent the morning working with our volunteers and kept them moving between multiple projects. Janice also watered the front entrance garden and had some plant inventory projects for me. I caught up on some plant sale details, desk work and had some meetings. While I didn't do much work outside, I was able to do another entire walking tour and am pleased with the general garden appearance and overall color schemes this late in the year. I have some ideas for 2013 that should work well although we need to get thru 2012 first! To the lower right are the beautiful, single blooms of the 'Confetti' rose (Rosa sp.) from Bailey Nursery. This trial rose is at our Horticulture Center and has been blooming strongly most of the summer. I like that combination of pink and white with the yellow center.

While I didn't attend the gathering at RBG last night for the World Water Ski Competition participants and guests, I heard it went well. Team members from China, Australia, Canada, Belgium and the USA were present. Apparently about 300 guests enjoyed the gardens as well as a nice spread of food, drinks and entertainment. The photo directly below shows a boat that was put on display for the evening. Note how the boat color oddly matches the flowers in the foreground. The bottom picture shows the Australian team in our English cottage garden. Thanks to Sue M. for the two photos below.

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