This week will feel a lot more like Autumn with cool days and even cooler nights. The chance of rain did materialize which was nice (albeit brief). While the season has been long and hot, there is no shortage of color out in the gardens. Above are two of the annuals in our Smelly Garden. The top photo shows the 'Limelight' four-o'-clock (Mirabilis jalapa) which has chartreuse foliage and showy pink blooms (1.5" dia) in the afternoon. The flower scent is described as an "orange-honey perfume" but I think that's a bit exaggerated. I like all four-o'-clocks but this one is a real eyecatcher and was part of our charteuse and pink theme years ago for obvious reasons. Directly above is the fragrant trumpet of the downy thornapple (Datura meteloides 'Evening Fragrance') which can perfume a large area at dusk. Be wary as this is a poisonous plant which may be a factor in it's selection and location.
Today saw the removal of our "bog boxes" near the zig-zag bridge. These two structures were originally built back in the early 1990s when the zig-bridge was constructed. The intent was to feature bog or wetland plants and historic photos showed beautiful irises and other moisture loving plants in these large "containers". The boxes were repaired and their height raised eight years ago when the pond level continued to rise. However, deterioration and more fluctuating water levels has made these an eyesore and liability for the past couple of years. Marv (upper right) and Terry (left) spearheaded the start of the removal with some assistance from Russ, Rollie and others over the course of the day. The guys did a nice job and didn't shy away from the muck.
Larry ran irrigation today and worked on repairing more irrigation heads among other duties. John also did lots of watering, hauled bulbs over to the gift shop (still on sale!) and helped with many other projects. Pat was in as a volunteer and he worked on painting and staining projects all morning. I toured the gardens this morning as we had lots of volunteers out there and I was checking on the progress of some of the tasks and projects. Apparently we had a busy weekend and it's nice to figure out some of our more important and/or timely projects for the week. We have a huge mulberry (Morus sp.) tree in the gazebo garden that has split and needs to be removed. We hope to have that done tomorrow morning. To the right are the showy blooms of the native Short's aster (Aster shortii) which is one of my favorites for a woodland edge. This aster can take quite a bit of shade too and combines nice with goldenrods (Solidago sp.) too. Directly below is Dick H. who took many loads of debris to the dump today. Much of the generated debris was from the above-mentioned bog box removals.
We had a nice turnout of Grumpies today. Two photos up are Lloyd (left) and Ron B. (right) working on tidying up paths near the gazebo. Raking paths is becoming a daily chore with so many leaves coming down early off the cottonwoods (Populus deltoides). Larry H., Ron Y., Del, Urban and Eugene also worked on path tidying this morning and I believe they went thru the entire gardens. The guys also ran our terrace garden umbrellas to storage this morning. Russ helped out Marv and Terry with the bog boxes while Stan did a nice job tidying/pruning in the Japanese garden. His attention to detail makes him well suited to that task like all or our best workers in that space (Karen, Little Jerry, Jumbo Jim, etc.). To the right is the variegated giant reed grass (Arundo donax 'Versicolor') which is one of my favorite, large & showy annual grasses. This patch is in the North point garden although we have them around the gardens. This summer, they all grew over 7' tall in one season. To the left is the Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus) in the sunken garden. This is my favorite mid-height tropical (24") for awesome foliage. What a neat plant! To the lower right is the showy foliage and blooms of the red Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) in our vertical planter at the Horticulture Center. I'd never seen it bloom and really liked the rosy/maroon shades on both leaves and blooms.
Rollie helped with the bog box project and also smoothed and regraveled some path areas in need of attention. Maury came in to help out and Dr. Gredler was out doing his Monday mowing rounds. Gary came in and made/processed more plant labels for some of our new perennials and memorial trees. The carpenters (see Dave, Vern & Jim above, left to right, Bob A. off camera) finished up their shed project and will be moving on to some other monumental carpentry tasks. Their work doesn't slow down much at all and is not limited by the seasons. I have plenty of ideas for them! Today we also saw Kelli C. (thanks for the treats!), Barb M., Bill O., Jason, Mary W. and many others. Jumbo Jim and a RECAPPER also did some solid work out in the Japanese garden.
Directly below is one of my better shots of the English cottage garden this morning, capturing lots of color and texture. The bottom photo is one of our eight containers in the sunken garden. The centerpiece of this one is the 'Princess' elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with surrounding 'Defiance' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) with the trailer being the durable creeping golden Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Goldilocks').