The weather today was quite nice and ended up being around 75 degrees F. by this afternoon. The sun was out most of the day but even with afternoon clouds, it was quite pleasant out in the gardens and it reminded me of a nice day in May. I saw plenty of visitors roaming the gardens and talked to some new visitors that I encouraged to come back for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) and to certainly make sure they see the gardens during peak spring and summer color too. There were a couple of school groups out in the gardens and in the prairie today and I saw Suzy K. leading the tours. This would be the perfect day for a field trip as it looks damp tomorrow and the temperatures will start dipping over the next week or so. The top photo is peak coloration on one of the native sumacs (Rhus sp.) along our North path. I've been observing this one from across the water and got a closer look when I ran extension cords (for HLS) along that path this morning. The second photo above is a shot of the arched bridge from the North path and directly above is the start of orange fall color on the perennial, 'Morning Light' Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis).
Everyone was busy as a bee today. Three photos up is a bee looking as busy as a bee... This little guy was working over the last of the wood betony (Stachys officinalis) flowers near the North point garden and I'm sure the weather was just as enjoyable for him! Dr. Gredler was in for most of the morning and did a nice job mowing and collecting leaves from various areas. The leaves are really dropping now and I estimate that about 60% are down already. Kay did a great job tidying up her portion of the shade garden as she continued to cut down perennials and collect leaves in this area that has a solid "ceiling" of cottonwoods (Populus deltoides). Ron K. was in the woodland walk garden all morning doing the same thing Kay was in her area. Ron cut back perennials and collected some major leaves. Kay swung by to help haul off some of his loads. Two photos up shows Gena (left) and Mary removing more annuals in the reception garden. The ladies hauled out some major loads and the reception garden is one of the few remaining areas left to clear. We'll focus on the rest of the entrance garden tomorrow (weather depending). Directly above are Ron and Bev who are our veteran arch decorators for the HLS. They did a great job getting lights secured on twelve of these arches and we'll look forward to their continued expertise regarding this task. Dick P. was in to install more memorial bricks in various locations around the gardens. Stan came in this afternoon to work in the Japanese garden and we also saw Dean, Mark S., Margaret Z. and many others.
The entire grounds staff, with the exception of Pat, worked exclusively on HLS duties. The weather was perfect and we took advantage of it immediately. Above is Marianne installing lights on our flying saucer planters which will ultimately look pretty cool with lights "spilling" out of these containers. She finished seven or eight of these today after finalizing her plan and has a couple more left to address. Marv and Terry put up icicle lights on the gazebo, zig-zag bridge and in other locations. The guys continued putting up lights around the gardens and will move on to securing displays next week. Big John spent most of his day in front of the Parker Education Center where he continued putting LED lights on the vast majority of shrubs and small trees in that space. He later trenched in some cords for me (buried under gravel paths) and decorated some weeping white pines (Pinus strobus 'Pendula') with lights. Pat worked on decorating a large obelisk with lights and he also put lights on obelisks that were already in place in the terrace garden. Pat spent time raking leaves, mowing and removing plants as well. I spent most of my day running cords and am glad to take a decent dent out of the cord pile on a nice day like this. We're having some work done on widening a brick path out in the gardens which will be a huge improvement and be more appropriate for visitor access, staff and also our garden carts! Directly below is the observation pier with a nice view across the water. Note the icicile lights dangling from the structure. The next photo down is a shot from beneath the leaves of the 'Emperor I' Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in the fern & moss garden. The summer leaf color is a nice, deep maroon but the fall color gets this briliant scarlet. The third photo down features one of our many quote benches and I've always loved this specific quote! How true it is, even this time of year!
The photo below shows the check presentation that occurred last night at our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. The dinner itself went very well and we had a full crowd of close to 140 attendees! The Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary, Stephanie Klett (brown vest in the middle), came to present a $20,000 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant for our HLS that will help market this event outside of Rock County. This is the second year in a row we've been awarded this significant grant and the improved marketing ultimately brings many more people to RBG, Janesville and Rock County. From left to right, we have Sue Melton (RBG Marketing and MANY other hats), Christine Rebout (Executive Director of the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau), Eric Levitt (Janesville City Manager), Mary Fanning-Penny (Executive Director of RBG), Representative Joe Knilans (R-Janesville), Stephanie Klett (WI Department of Tourism Secretary), Mary Wilmer (Board Chair - RBG), Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Santa Claus (North Pole).