Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Incoming International Crowd

Tonight is an important social event at the gardens. This evening reception is held in conjunction with the upcoming World Water Ski Competition hosted by Janesville's own Rock Aqua Jays. There were many preparations going on today, not the least of which were our efforts to tidy up the gardens prior to the arrival of 200+ international guests. The top photo is a shot in the formal gardens. The dark-leaved dahlias (Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit') have filled in nicely and those formal sections defined by boxwood (Buxus sp.) are looking good. Whether you call them fountain plants (Amaranthus tricolor) or summer poinsettias, our leaf amaranths ('Early Splendor' above and 'Illumination' to the right) are still looking good and would also be a healthy addition to the stir fry (edible leaves). To the left are the large yellow daisies on the golden-leaved, giant tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris 'Lightning Flash'). This variety will get 3-5' tall at maturity and has showy golden foliage which is brightest in the spring.

We saw many visitors today and we hope the large crowd tonight enjoys the gardens. The grounds staff hit the ground running as we had our normal tasks and some others that related to preparing for tonight. Big John and Pat loaded up our borrowed plant sale wagons for return to The Flower Factory (thanks Nancy and David!) tomorrow. The guys both ran irrigation through a good portion of day and also had their own watering tasks. John also set up sprinklers, mowed, helped water containers, etc. Pat weeded in the parking lot and helped with a good portion of the watering today which included our containers. Marianne planted pansies (Viola sp.) this morning, touched up the front entrance garden, weeded, watered and continued to help process the end of the plant sale. Marv and Terry helped put more of our plant sale elements away and continued to work on improving a storage area at the Horticulture Center. The guys also set up sprinklers in many locations, helped water and are doing a nice job dealing with some erosion along our north path (connects the gazebo to the arched bridge) near the pond. I spent the morning out in the plant sale area processing our leftover plants. Many are returned to the supplier although a good portion are also donated to the gardens. One of our suppliers came with a truck and we spent some time helping load up the leftovers. To the right is the 'Ruby Moon' hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) which is an annual vine with sweet pea-like, fragrant blooms (pink/purple) followed by these glossy purple seed pods. Directly below are the prolific blooms of one of our boltonias (Boltonia sp.) which is also called the white doll's daisy. I'm not sure which one this is as it reseeded to this location near the English cottage garden. The dainty orange daisies are from the 'Irish Poet' orange tassel flower (Emilia javanica) which is also called lady's paint brush. The standard color is red although this one looks great repeated along our orange border this year.

There were many volunteers at the gardens helping get ready for tonight. Polly, Mark S. and Lori (all RBG staff) were hustling around getting ready for the event. We had some nice volunteer assistance out in the gardens today and at the Horticulture Center. Urban (lower right) and Rose stopped in for another round of painting on one of our sheds near the Horticulture Center. Our smaller sheds are over 15 years old and we're trying to limp them along in to the future. A new coat of paint is definitely an improvement. Urban, and particularly Rose, have done lots of painting and staining at the gardens over the years. To the right is the early fall color changes on the leaves of the native buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). In past blogs, I've featured the white, "ping-pong/sputnik" appearance of the mid-spring flowers which look really cool.

Mary (left), Myrt and Nancy spent time in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection this morning. That picture of Mary gives you an idea of the scale of those overhead planters. The photo directly below shows Nancy (left) and Myrt as they head out in to the gardens. The ladies weeded, removed spent annuals and collected plenty of produce. Dr. Gredler came in for some mowing today. We also saw Rose, Bob T., Gary, Tom C., Dr. Yahr and many others today as well.

This Saturday we have members of the Wisconsin/Illinois Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) coming to the gardens for a work morning. Iza G. (RBG volunteer) and Ed G. will help orchestrate clean-up, weeding and significant planting in the alpine garden. This is the second time this year that members of the group have made themselves available to help out. We received a nice grant from NARGS a couple years ago and will be purchasing some new plants for that space as well. At the bottom is one of the short vining melons (Cucumis) that we have out in the garden that grows nicely on this support which also keeps the fruit elevated and the air circulation steady.

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