Friday, October 12, 2012

Ah...To Be Young Again

We had a great group of teenage volunteers helping at the gardens this morning (see above).  Fifteen students and their instructor, Kath, helped out all morning at the gardens with a variety of tasks.  The group is from Oakhill Christian High School and we've had students from this school helping every spring and fall at RBG for at least the past four to five years.  They are hard working kids and they did a great job removing our vegetable collection at the Horticulture Center.  This involved lots of snipping and digging as many of the tomatoes had been trained up our climbing towers.  The beds were also cleared of plastic labels, loose tomatoes, metal signs, weeds, etc. and were ultimately raked smooth for next year. After this area was done, the students then finished clearing the remnants in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection.  It was a productive morning and Janice did a great job (with occasional assistance from me) with keeping everyone moving along and productive.  We look forward to these volunteers coming back and hopefully the experience had value for them.  Other volunteers today included Kay who finished purging the English cottage garden of spent annuals and rough-looking perennials.  She then spent time tidying up her section of the shade garden.  Hal & Doris planted quite a few tulips (Tulipa) in their garden space this morning.  Dr. Gredler was in for his comprehensive Friday mowing routes and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Del, Mary W. and some others.  Nice red maple (Acer rubrum) below although I'm not sure of the variety.  The next photo down is shot from underneath a fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium') in the fern & moss garden.  I thought the coloration looked great although those leaves will continue to transition to a brilliant, deep red over the next week or two.  The third photo down is the clear yellow fall color of the native wafer ash (Ptelea trioliata).  This small tree has trifoliate leaves and the common name of wafer ash refers to the thin, wafer-like seed capsules.  This small tree is also called common hoptree as the seeds were used as a hops substitute and another name is stinking ash for the unsavory odor of bruised bark, leaves or stems.

Janice had a busy morning supervising our volunteer group with their various tasks.  However, she started and finished the day with lights testing, repair and preparations.  Marv and Terry also started the day on lights and actually put out our first lights of the season for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). The guys also emptied more large containers out in the gardens and brought back some of our largest containers for winter storage.  Big John tidied up the North point garden prior to the wedding this afternoon.  He also cleared out large containers in the English cottage garden and continued removing spent annuals in the reception garden and Smelly Garden.  Aside from my assistance with our teenage volunteer corps, I continue to work on timely items related to our 2013 displays and events.  Directly below is the 'Gold Bar' dwarf porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis) near the observation pier (note the arched bridge in the distance).  This grass (48" high) has significant creamy banding and is a nice rigid, upright grass in the landscape.  Of course this will turn brown by November but is a contributor over a good portion of the year (winter too).  The next photo down is the Himalayan birch (Betula utilis) in the shade garden.  Note the nice white bark and clear yellow fall color.  This looks to me like most of the white-barked birches but hopefully it has more insect tolerance than other  Betula species.  It is a classic look though and the bark really is conspicuous.  The next photo down is our Ma Chii' in the fern & moss garden.  This is a nice structure for contemplation and we see constant use of this structure for sitting (and shelter during a rainstorm!).  The last photo down is the fall color of the 'Kohanke Red' vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis).  The spring-blooming variety has dynamite fall color.  While the common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has nice, late yellow flowers (just starting), the fall color is typically just a yellow.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of our witchhazel specimens (25 or so) gain size and impact over the coming years.  Rain tomorrow.  Hopefully a good soaker.

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