Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunny & Pleasant

This morning was quite a bit milder than Monday morning and the day quickly warmed up to the mid 70 degrees F.  It was a very pleasant day with blue skies and a light breeze.  There seemed to be many visitors enjoying the gardens including four ladies that stopped by the Horticulture Center this morning with a very nice collection of iris (Iris sp.) species that we don't currently have out in the gardens.  With a meager grounds budget, we always welcome plant donations if they have a confirmed identity and can be utilized in our collections.  We just planted the last of our second large hosta (Hosta sp.) donations today as well.  I think we easily had another 100 varieties of hostas planted out in the gardens this year (almost all donations).  The top photo shows that classic archway leading from the reception garden in to the sunken garden.  That morning sun provides some great lighting for photos and I was able to tour the gardens this morning and check on the progress of our late summer displays.  Unfortunately, the "light" frost yesterday proved to be more damaging with plenty of coleus (Solenostemon sp.) anad other tender annuals showing that conspicuous tinge of resentment towards the end of the season.  I've blogged about that archway in the past and it's important to note that it originally framed the front entranceway to the Parker Pen World Headquarters here in Janesville for many years.  This piece is on permanent loan from the Rock County Historical Society.  Directly above is the Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') which is one of my favorite larger shrubs for texture and color.  In about three weeks, this golden color will be a brilliant orange fall color.  Be wary as this plant does spread by suckers and will create quite a colony in time.  It is easy enough to keep it contained though.  Directly below are tomatoes (Lycopersicon) trained up one of the twenty-five vining towers at the Horticulture Center.  This is the'Sungold' cherry tomato and it doesn't mind being eight feet up in the air!

Kay was in action today and did a great job purging spent annuals out of various locations.  We've only removed one entire bed of annuals thus far and will take a different approach with the remaining beds.  Although it leaves gaps, we're only removing the most unsightly annuals and are leaving the rest to offer some color.  The next frost will expedite our removals but we'll limp along with the seasonal color as long as Mother Nature allow us to do so!  Kay also tidied up her portion of the shade garden and brought back multiple cart loads of debris.  Mary H. and her daughter did a nice job tidying up their assigned garden area and continue to be some of our most reliable volunteers.  Ron K. spent time in the woodland walk garden collecting debris and planting another 50 or so new perennials (inlcuding the donated hostas mentioned above).  Dr. Gredler was around this morning to do some mowing.  Dr. Yahr came in and helped Kay for a bit with plant removals.  We also saw Nancy F., Tom F., Kris, Dick H. and many others.  Directly below is the rare Australian flowering tobacco (Nicotiana suaveolens) with long, tubular white blooms that have a pink blush at the base.  I've had a hard time photographing this species which we tried for the first time this year.  While the flowers are small, there are lots of them and this is considered one of the most fragrant of the flowering tobacco species.  The plant gets 30" tall or so and is intoxicatingly fragrant in the evening until early the following morning.  The next photo down shows the 'Little Nubian' hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) growing in the sunken garden.  Also featuring dark stems and foliage, the peppers on this plant age from a glossy black to a red and are the size of a marshmallow.  This pre-1900s variety is from Jamaica and was called the "sore throat pepper".  It was mixed with rum and used as a gargle to alleviate a sore throat.  I haven't tried that concoction yet but thought the peppers beautiful.  This variety is also a popular edible with ample heat too! 

We had our smallest crew of the year today with just Larry, Big John and myself.  Thankfully, the rain last Friday has kept most of the gardens damp but Larry still augmented with irrigation throughout the day.  Larry also worked on significant pruning on two 'Camperdown' elms (Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii') which are quite unique in their weeping, umbrella form.  We have two specimens trained over a steel arch and Larry has spent plenty of time over the years keeping the elm trained to the shape of that archway.  He and Big John later worked on removing a large golden black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia') that is too close to the Rath Center.  They'll need a couple more hours to finish the removal but got a good start today.  The guys also watered all the containers, set up some sprinklers, etc.  John also hand watered, processed more elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant') for storage, etc.  The guys kept busy while I caught up on a huge amount of desk work and had a productive meeting with Kris K. regarding education for 2013 and how it relates to our garden themes and initiatives.  Janice also popped in briefly.

Last night I presented the topic of "Vertical Gardening" to the Racine/Kenosha Master Gardeners (meeting in Sturtevant, WI).  I was impressed with the size and dedication of this group and saw many familiar faces (including Patti N. and Barb L. from UW-Extension).  The topic was well received and I hope I sufficiently encouraged the 50% of the crowd that hadn't yet been to the gardens to come and visit!  Neat shot below.  Note how the flowers of the 'Flamingo Feather Pink' wheat celosia (Celosia spicata) have bent upwards after the plant had flopped over in the sunken garden.  The next photo down is the interesting leaf of the 'Kumson' greenstem forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) which is quite unique.  This variety doesn't bloom strongly but the foliage is nice.  In early November, the leaves turn a deep maroon but leave the cream "webbing" over the veins.  The bottom photo is the "fireworks-like" flower plume of the 'King Tut' giant papyrus (Cyperus papyrus).  Now that is some impact as that plume is the size of a beach ball!

No comments: