Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's Bugging You?

This week we've seen the masses of boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) warming themselves on our structures as seen in the top photo.  That location is the south-facing brick wall of the Rath Environmental Center.  We also have plenty of these little guys infiltrating the Horticulture Center as well.  It's no surprise and while it doesn't bother me too much, others are affected differently.  This pattern happens every season and October is the month that they'll be trying to keep warm overnight.  The photo directly above was taken yesterday morning and is one of my better shots of our front entrance garden slope.  While the white components aren't as prevalent as they were a month ago, the blue sure shows up nicely!  Directly below is the Lemon Lace vine (Fallopia aubertii) in full bloom along the west side of the Parker Education Center.  This vine has looked great all season with bright yellow foliage and the late, white flowers are "icing on the cake" for this hardy, woody vine.

We had oodles of volunteers out in the gardens today.  Our Grumpies and Women Weed Warriors (WWW) made a nice showing this morning.  Del and Eugene went out to rake and sweep paths clear of debris right away.  The cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are really starting to drop their leaves and smaller branchlets, necessitating an almost daily raking regime.  Ron and Rollie (seen below, Ron in yellow) installed our ten new tree signs in the main parking lot.  These signs (and the trees) were supplied by a Wisconsin DNR Urban Forestry grant with the intent of displaying urban tolerant trees that would also be good replacements for ash.  With Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) found this year in Janesville, the impact on all ashes (Fraxinus sp.) in our community will become evident in the coming years.  The 'Autumn Purple' white ashes (Fraxinus americana) are all currently turning a nice maroon right now and the green ashes (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) are very evident right now as they are all a beautiful clear gold fall color.  Ron and Rollie also hauled some of our tropical plants to a local greenhouse for winter storage.  Vern, Bob and Jim repaired a portion of a small bridge in the Japanese garden and have plenty of other projects to keep them busy over the coming months.  Dr. Gredler was in for mowing and Dr. Yahr did some tree watering and raking as well.  Our WWW ladies included Suzie, Sue, Glenna and Mary, a new volunteer.  Mary W. worked out in the herb garden and we also saw Bev, Mary Kay, Art, Chuck, Stan and many others. Bill O. did more boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') shearing and garden clean-up.  We also had many volunteers from the Chestnut House help out this afternoon with digging potatoes, watering, etc. around the Horticulture Center.

The grounds staff had a busy day which included quite a bit of watering.  While the days and nights have been pleasant in terms of temperatures, we do have some areas that are drying out a bit.  Larry kept irrigation going all day, helped water containers, replaced another irrigation head and ran out for some supplies.  Big John set up sprinklers, watered (containers too!), rototilled and helped with other projects as well.  Janice got our WWW ladies working this morning then moved on to tidying up the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display.  She also watered, worked with the Chestnut House volunteers and later this evening, she and I gave a walking tour at RBG featuring our ornamental edibles.  The three photos below were taken at Olbrich Botanical Garden (OBG) in Madison, WI last night.  Directly below is the annual "pumpkin-on-a-stick" (Solanum integrifolium) which is really an ornamental eggplant used primarily for decoration.  It was neat to see this element used in many late season container arrangements.  Also called "mock tomato", the fruits of this plant are edible but apparently are quite bitter.  The next photo down is a beautiful zinnia (Zinnia elegans) called 'Queen Red Lime' that I haven't grown yet but think I will next year.  What an exquisite gradation of color on this showy bloom.  At the bottom is the 'Waterlily' Autumn crocus (Colchicum hybrida) used to great effect throughout the gardens.  In this case, the blooms are emerging out of lily turf (Liriope spicata).

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