There was more frost on the grass this morning and the day didn't warm much over the mid 40 degrees F range. A moderate wind also kept things chilly but of course, we didn't let that slow us down out in the gardens. With the dark morning, we typically start on some indoor projects and eventually everyone trickles outside for Holiday Lights Show (HLS) duties or continued gardening efforts. The top picture shows the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) submitting to the wind and we saw plenty of seeds floating around the prairie restoration area where this photo was taken today. With a finite number of days left for HLS set-up, we're really spending some quality time getting up lights, displays and ultimately I'll be trying to get out most of the cords (see above) so our network is ready to go and we just have to plug everything in as it is set-up.
The grounds staff had plenty of layers on as there was a conspicuous wind chill factor out there! Directly above is Pat cutting back one of many ninebarks (Physocarpus opulifolius) along the east border. These established shrubs are cut back severely every fall to about 4" or so and they "poof" back up to a manageable 5' or so with fresh, new growth. He did a nice job tidying up that section after putting lights on the last three of our obelisks. Pat also cleared out some of our last remaining containers. Janice processed some new lights inside and worked on some other projects before heading out to the gardens to decorate with lights and to do some garden clean up in select locations. Larry helped L.P. Tree Service get started on putting lights on the Parker Education Center which is made easier by their bucket truck. The L.P. guys will be back later to put dangling lights up in the trees throughout the gardens. Larry also helped trench in some cords, worked with Tom C., helped with some other projects and helped consolidate some of our HLS supplies back at the Horticulture Center. Big John secured many decorated obelisks out in the gardens and put lights on some hedges as well. He also worked on a wide range of gardening projects. I ran cords most of the morning and spent the afternoon in a meeting and finally finishing my handout for the symposium (The Winter Garden) for this Saturday, November 3rd. Directly below is the traditionally later fall coloration of the fragrant snowball viburnum (Viburnum x carlcephalum) in the English cottage garden. The fall color is only secondary to the showy flower clusters in spring that release a sweet fragrance over a vast area. The next photo down shows the yellow fall color on the large, subtropical-looking leaves of the 'Sunflower' pawpaw (Asimina triloba) which we haven't seen bloom or form fruit (yet). Note the shadowing on the leaves from the adjacent fence.
We had some very committed volunteers that came in to work in the chilly weather today. Dr. Gredler (directly below) was on the mower most of the day doing some of the last mowing for the season (here in the sunken garden). The shredder/hopper attachment allows us to mow up, shred and collect the leaves and grass which we then use as a mulch on other beds. We'll probably do our last mowing next week to finish the season. Kay came in to brave the wind out in the entrance garden. She did a nice job tearing out more annuals and I saw her go by with a heaping cartload of debris many times this morning. The second photo down shows Dick H. (left) and Dick P. (red hat) up slope from the gazebo garden where they installed a fence extension which should help better enclose the gardens. The guys also fixed the two fence sections that were damaged recently. Maury was in to work on various projects, help with the fence and run out for gas. Tom C. came in to work on some electrical problems at the Horticulture Center and we appreciate his expertise. Jumbo Jim, along with three RECAPPERS, did clean-up in the Japanese garden and alpine garden. We also saw Mary W., Glenna and some others. Three photos down is one of the school groups coming through the gardens with Barb C. At the bottom are the blooms of the common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) looking festive and the colorful fruit of the Golden Raindrops crabapple (Malus 'Schmidtcutleaf') respectively.