Monday, October 8, 2012

Frosty Morning

While we missed the hard frost that was predicted overnight on Saturday, we did have some crispness in the air this morning and most of our annuals will have to call it a year!  All the work we did last week to remove tender annuals before the frost was well worth it as we're now looking at another good week or two of removals to catch up on shortly.  Despite the cold touch of Mother Nature today, the gardens are still beautiful and the fall colors are still outstanding.  The leaves are dropping quickly though!  The top photo shows a look in to the Japanese garden from the formal gardens this morning.  The second photo up shows the yellow fall color of our 'Whitespire Senior' gray birches (Betula populifolia) near the North point garden which usually have a consistent yellow coloration.  Directly above, look closely, is an elephant ear that I had to cut down due to frost damage.  Note the chunk of ice to the mid-left of the shot!  All the plant cells were iced over and crunchy when cut and that ice was between stalk layers. 

We received sad news this weekend regarding the passing of Dr. Luis Owano (directly below) at the age of 79.  Luis is a familiar face at the garden and has been involved for many years.  After reading his obituary, I was amazed at all the other things he's done in his life.  Luis, as a Rock Prairie Master Gardener, was involved at the gardens during our work days and other events for 10+ years.  Luis created four very beautiful DVDs that showcased the gardens with a background of classical music.  These were higly sought after and very well done.  However, over the past three years, Luis inventoried, researched and created a very comprehensive listing of all woody plants out in the gardens.  His work was amazingly detailed, organized and well-presented.  He did a fabulous job and his work has now formed the basis for our improved plant records system.  Luis also became very proficient in creating our new labels and the laser engraver never had time to cool with Dr. Owano around!  For those that knew Luis, you would agree that there are too few people like him in this world and he will be sorely missed.    

It was down right frigid this morning but the grounds staff jumped right in to their projects before the arrival of our Grumpies.  Larry did run some irrigation in areas where we could use more moisture.  While we're not worrying about annuals any more with the exception of a few containers, we're still so moisture deficient that our watering focus has turned to perennials, woody plants and turf.  Larry also ran extension cords for me that will be utilized for our upcoming Halloween Walk (see and will also serve double duty by being utilized for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  Big John spent most of the day in the sunken garden cutting back perennials and removing frosted annuals.  He also took time to do some planting in the Scottish garden.  Marv and Terry purged the terrace of annuals and brought in many of the frosted hanging baskets.  The guys had various other tasks as well.  I had a brief meeting, toured the gardens and am trying to get thru some time-sensitive desk work (grants, etc.) before it gets too crazy around here.  The shot below (English cottage garden) looked like the lion was eating that kale (Brassica sp.)!  The next photo down shows some giant papyrus (Cyperus papyrus 'King Tut') that toughed it out through the previous three light frost events.  The third photo down shows the 'Ozawa' ornamental onion (Allium thunbergii) blooming strongly as it will throughout the month.  This is one of our latest blooming perennials for sure! 

The volunteers had a full day today.  The onset of cold temperatures and a healthy breeze today created plenty of raking opportunities for our volunteers (including Larry H. directly below).  Bob C., Eugene, Lloyd and Larry brought back plenty of leaves and debris this morning and the leaves continue to flutter down!  Ron W. picked up pumpkins this morning for our education program and he and Russ unloaded them at the main building for Kris and crew.  Ron and Russ then went out to pick up donated benches for our new greenhouses and helped the other guys with greenhouse assembly.  Jim, Bob A, Vern, Rollie, Ron Y. and Dick H. all worked on assembling the new (donated) greenhouse (see two photos down) and they got it up and ready.  We'll pick up the other two later this week and early next week and will get all the benches situated as well.  Gary cranked out more labels and is working on another labeling project as well.  We also saw Mary W., Maury, Alice, Mark S., Terry's wife & grandkids and many others too.  It was a productive day and while it remained cool in the afternoon, it wasn't totally unpleasant (as I type, looking out the window).  

This is the time of year where we appreciate our hardiest of perennials that not only shrug off frosts but continue to look great throughout the month.  Directly below is the perennial sea kale (Crambe maritima) which has these showy, powder blue leaves (edible) and white summer flowers.  This perennial emerges maroon from the ground and will go the distance in to November with superior frost resistance.  The next photo down shows the "earthy orange" fall color of the shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria).  Note the uncharacteristically "un-oak-leaf-like" leaves on this species.  At the bottom is the 'Grasshopper' sedge (Carex hybrida) that we have peppered throughout the fern/moss garden for color and texture.  This sedge, and many like it, are "evergreen" and will offer color until buried by snow.  The growth next spring (zone 5 hardiness) is all fresh and will replace the older foliage.  Remember, when buying sedges (Carex sp.), focus on CLUMPERS and not any that include descriptive words like "vigorous", "a quickly establishing groundcover", etc.  Avoid the running sedges unless you can contain them! 

1 comment:

Jack Cruz said...

I know you can do it guys, I do love doing some gardening stuffs and I enjoyed it a lot.

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