Today was another nice day with sunshine in the morning and some cloudiness and sporadic rain in the afternoon. We had a good 20 or so volunteers converge on the gardens this morning and it was a flurry of activity with lots of projects occuring all morning and throughout the afternoon. The top photo shows Hal and Doris in their assigned garden area on the Southeast corner of the gardens near our prairie restoration. Hal and Doris have done a great job in this space for 15+? years and were removing annuals today in advance of the weekend frost. Doris was doing most of the digging although Hal had the supervision covered well. Directly above is the showy cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). This specimen is in the terrace garden and is part of our white/silver/powder blue theme this year. I seem to take lots of pictures of this annual plant which I love for the showy silver foliage. This plant also has edible stems and is a close relative of artichoke. Occasionally it will send up a large, blue, "artichoke-like" blossom that is quite striking. This is one of our best specimens and I wanted to capture the beauty before frost works some "kung fu" on this plant shortly. Directly below are the increasingly red highlights on the 'Cheyenne Sky' switchgrass. This variety only gets about 36" tall and while it has some red highlights all summer, it's gets even more red as cooler weather approaches. I did a more lengthy blog on the colorful switchgrasses (Panicum virgatum) for Wisconsin Gardening Magazine at http://statebystategardening.com/state.php/wi/blog_01/panicums_for_fall_color/ recently. Incidentally, this is a great publication and very relevant to our area. The next photo down shows the 'First Snow' heath aster (Aster ericoides) in the terrace garden. The flowers on this Intrinsic Perennials (Hebron, IL) introduction are small but there are masses of them that create this impressive display.
The volunteer turnout, as mentioned earlier, was impressive. We had lots of gardening volunteers but we also have volunteers with additional skills and talents. Directly below is Dick H. repairing the brakes on one of our RBG trucks. I just wanted a picture of the wheel assembly but Dick just had to get in the shot... He sure is a handy one to have around. The next photo down shows the guys starting to assemble our first of three small greenhouses. Our greenhouse assembly workers included Jim, Vern, Bob A., Dave T., Rollie, Ron W. and Ron Y. See further down for the greenhouse "re-construction" progress by 12 noon. Both Rons went mobile this morning to pick up donated plant benches that will likely be used in or around the new greenhouses. Bob C. and Eugene were out raking leaves around the gardens and it truly was a "shoveling in a snowstorm" type activity as the cottonwood (Populus deltoides) leaves were consistently floating down all day. Pat also collected leaves and Jumbo Jim had four RECAPPERS in the Japanese garden doing much of the same. Many loads of debris came back to our dump bin and growing compost pile. Del and Shirley (third photo down) did a nice job starting to purge annuals out of the Smelly Garden (Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden). Mary R., Glenna, Amy, Karla, Marilyn and Suzie purged annuals in the All-America Selections garden and did a nice job tidying up the beds after they were cleared. Dr. Gredler mowed most of the day and Tom C. came in to repair an electrical issue in the sunken garden. We also saw Geesje, Dr. Yahr, Mary W., Lynn S., Dr. Steve, Tracy, Bev and many others. The fourth photo down is one of the many colorful truckloads of debris that went to the dump today. While we compost most of the plants we're pulling out this time of year (along with many leaves), we haul off the "thicker stemmed" items that would take longer in the compost pile.
The grounds staff was outside all day and everyone, while having their own tasks to accomplish, was also very helpful with the volunteers. Janice facilitated work by our Women Weed Warriors (WWW) and worked with them this morning clearing annuals. She also checked on our moss, matched up labels to plants in the alpine garden and watered. Big John continued clearing annuals, push mowed, emptied containers, composted and watered. He had a full day of tasks and made quick work of them efficiently. Larry ran irrigation and was in the midst of testing Holiday Lights Show (HLS) displays when he was drawn off to help Tom C. repair a problem electrical line. This involved plenty of shovel work by Larry. He later had time to push mow before the end of the day. I worked on gathering information for two grants we'll be pursuing and I also had some meetings. I met with Stacy from Spotlight on Kids (SOK) which is our co-sponsor/co-organizer of the upcoming Halloween Walk (see www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org for information on this family event). We finalized the route as well as the set-up needs for the event. I also met with Kurt N. and Chris W., two of our growers, regarding some plans for next year. Directly below is the 'Double Click White' cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) in the English cottage garden. This variety is still blooming well but wont fare well with the incoming frost. The next photo down is our greenhouse framework; assembled today by the Grumpies. At the bottom are some of our Adirondack chairs in the North point garden with a beautiful view across the pond.