Monday, October 22, 2012

100% Rain for 50% Of The Day

We knew there would be rain today and after examining the radar, we figured we had until lunchtime to get out in the gardens before a sigificant system hit our area (which is exactly how it all played out...).  The morning, while overcast, was very productive and we didn't see rain until about 11:30 am.  Once it started though, it never stopped and continued throughout the afternoon with varying degrees of intensity.  Some of got saturated on our return to the Horticulture Center and my timing for our fall turf fertilization was perfect.  The top photo of the archway leading from the reception garden to sunken garden (or vice versa) was quite nice this morning with the magnolia (Magnolia 'Spring Grove') in the background reaching peak, golden fall coloration.  This archway, as we mention on all of our tours, is from the Parker Pen World Headquarters and is on permanent loan from the Rock County Historical Society.  Janice just recently passed along the historic photo directly above showing the Parker Pen building and you can see that archway in the lower right of the photo!  I've become so used to seeing that arch and have gone underneath it 100s of times.  However, it is quite beautiful and is a nice transition between gardens.  The archway also frames an axis or sight line from the Druid sculpture (another historic element) in the reception garden to "The Flame" sculpture in the sunken garden (created by George Parker III).  Directly below are some other recent shots out in the gardens.  Looking like a black coneflower, directly below is the dried version of the 'Green Jewel' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).  This stage caught my eye and is probably going to be more attractive to birds as the season progresses.  The next photo down shows the fiery orange fall color on the Sunjoy 'Golden Pillar' upright Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). The golden foliage on this upright shrub is showy all season but the fall color certainly adds to the show.  I'm not a big fan of barberries (Berberis sp.) because of their rampant reseeding, particularly in woodlands (deposited by birds).  However, this Genus typically has awesome fall color that is an unquestionable asset.  The third photo down shows the foliage of the 'Plum Royale' coral bell (Heuchera) in the gazebo garden which hasn't been challenged by extreme cold yet and still offers a nice hint of color before the snow falls.   

Mondays are always busy and today was no exception.  We had a great volunteer turnout this morning.  Ron W. and Larry H. ran out to pick up pumpkins for the education program and upon their return, they helped with taking down the Halloween Walk tents, hauling pumpkins, garden clean-up and some other tasks.  Our team of Bob A., Rollie, Vern (all three seen directly below), Jim, Dave T. and Dick H. all worked on setting up the framework for our third donated greenhouse.  They did a nice job and next week, we'll finalize securing these wonderful additions to the Horticulture Center facility and will get them covered for the winter.  Dick H. also ran many loads of debris to the dump. An emphatic thank you to Tom & Kathy H. for their kind donation of the greenhouses which is much appreciated and they will be well used.  Dick P. was out in the gardens installing new memorial bricks while Dr. Gredler did as much mowing and leaf collection as he could before the deluge arrived.  Pat (second photo down) was part of the convoy involved with hauling back the Jack-o-lanterns from the Halloween Walk (went well this weekend) and he moved on to removing annuals from the entrance garden.  The next photo down shows Eugene (left) and Bob C. also hauling pumpkins.  The guys then moved on to leaf collection around the gardens.  The next photo down shows Shirley who spent time in both the color rooms garden and reception garden removing annuals and cutting back perennials.  Magda and Marleen (next photo) did a dynamite job clearing their berm, tidying up and planting bulbs this morning.  They had no trouble generating some huge piles of debris later collected by the Grumpies.  Gary S. worked on creating more labels and we saw many others today as well including Tom C. who is preparing for some helpful electric repairs/upgrades.

With our split weather today, the grounds staff has a perfect 50/50 day of outside work and then inside work during the damp afternoon.  Marv and Terry organized, stacked and hauled three pallets of bricks that will be used shortly to widen a path that has long been in need of an upgrade (and width increase!).  The guys also put up more lights out in the gardens and spent the afternoon testing/repairing lights.  Marianne collected all the 1/2 gallon luminaries and lights used during the Halloween Walk and ultimately re-processed everything so it will be ready for use during the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  Marianne also devised and trialed a method for displaying lights from our "flying saucer" planters and it looked great.  We'll follow her guidance getting the other ones prepared too!  Marianne worked on HLS project inside as well.  Larry helped collect and organize elements of the Halloween Walk and moved on to clearing plants and containers in the reception garden.  He left early to sharpen our chainsaw blades at home so they're ready for our evergreen "tree procurement efforts" in the coming weeks.  Big John also helped dismantle the Halloween Walk and spent the rest of the morning clearing seasonal plants from the entrance garden, one of our last gardens with annuals left to remove.  He also worked on lights preparation and repair.  I fertilized almost all of our lawns before the rain, had an afternoon meeting and am still finalizing some presentations.  It was a great day with no shortage of either outdoor or indoor projects.  It looks like a warm and damp week but we'll just roll with it.  Directly below is the "orangey" fall color of the American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) and beneath that, the ever-changing fall color of the 'Golden Zebra' foamy bells (xHeucherella) which is one of our more colorful foliage perennials from May thru November.  At the bottom is the pinkish fall color of the 'Fenway Gold' Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).  The foliage on this woody vine is a bright yellow in spring (as opposed to the standard green foliage) and the summer coloration is a chartreuse.  I like this fall transition as well before the leaves drop (next week).

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