Thursday, October 18, 2012

Persistent Dark, Damp & Drizzle

We had drizzle essentially all day.  While it was mostly a light mist throughout the morning, the rain intensity fluctuated all day.  I'm happy for any moisture as the garden will benefit from this precipitation before the ground freezes.  The rain did create some challenges as we finished preparations for the Halloween Walk which was unfortunately cancelled for tonight due to poor weather conditions.  The top photo shows some of our neat fall colors near the arboretum with Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') in the foreground, serviceberry (Amelanchier lamarckii) in the mid distance and an oak (Quercus sp.) of some sort in the far distance.  I'm very impressed with our fall color show this year and am seeing most of our decidous trees getting some of their best Autumn color in years.  The photo above features some of the superior fall color that we're observing on our oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) this year. The start of the day for Larry, Big John, Janice and some of the Grumpies involved hauling Jack-o-lanterns as seen below.  We hauled out over 170 carved pumpkins (see some of the examples below) for the Halloween Walk and placed them along the route of the event.  I've worked this event and attended it as well and the effect is pretty neat with all the pumpkins and this year, we again used half gallon milk jug luminaries with orange and red bulbs. 

Despite the chilly, wet weather today, we had a decent turnout of volunteers.  Below is Suzy, our lone Grumpette today.  She worked with Urban (next photo down) and Pat in clearing one of our annual beds along Palmer Drive.  Both Suzy and Urban (in these photos) are contending with digging out the annual feathertop grass (Pennisetum villosum) which rooted in quite nicely this year (to our volunteers dismay...).  Incidentally, this is the second plant that I was told never to plant again unless I was prepared for a mass mutiny...The other was the annual aluminium plant (Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls') which was quite vigorous and is hard to remove.  Three photos down is Bob C. who worked with Eugene all morning.  The guys helped haul pumpkins this morning and moved on to collecting leaves; a task that continues to offer job security for everyone!  Ron W. also hauled pumpkins and was joined by one of his granddaughters later for leaf collection.  Our mobile greenhouse dis-assembly team (Dave T., Jim, Bob A., Vern, Rollie, Dick H. and Dick P.) picked up the third of our three donated greenhouses today and will continue re-assembly next week.  Dr. Gredler continued his mowing and leaf collection (fourth photo down) and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Dick C., Mary W., Kris K., Mary F.P. (Exec. Dir.) and many others.  Bill O. came in later for some leaf clean-up and the Chestnut House volunteers were a big help this afternoon and prepared and placed candles in all of our Jack-o-lanterns during a steady drizzle.   

Big John and Larry headed over to the Rock County Farm early this morning and picked up our trailer loaded with carved pumpkins that Jumbo Jim and the RECAPPERS worked on yesterday afternoon (thanks Jim!).  There were some really neat ones in the batch and all of our pumpkins really looked good out in the gardens.  Larry worked with our irrigation contractor to flush out and winterize our water/irrigation lines around the gardens.  Big John helped with lots of Halloween Walk work (hauling tables, pumpkins, chairs, etc.) and also retrieved, drained and stored all of our hoses that were still left out in the gardens.  John eventually worked on Holiday Lights Show (HLS) duties in the afternoon.  Janice put lights on obelisks out in the gardens, got Suzy going this morning, hauled pumpkins, worked with the Chestnut House volunteers and also repaired HLS lights.  I worked on Halloween Walk duties throughout the day and had two meetings which took up some time.  The two photos directly below feature the Slender Silhouette columnar sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) at the edge of our shade garden.  This upright element really shines this time of year although we rarely see reds and purples on this variety from the UK.  Our other standard specimen has a wide range of fall colors and is one of our showiest deciduous trees for fall color.   However, the yellows and oranges are nice on this variety and while this tree should be marginally hardy for us, it's done well over the past five seasons in this location.  The third photo down shows the deep red fall color of a young Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and at the bottom, our best specimen of the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) along the west edge of the property.  Hopefully the rain will hold off tomorrow night for the Halloween Walk although at least Saturday looks favorable.  We also have a bulb planting work day this Saturday (Oct. 20th) which should be fun and productive (8 am - 12 noon!).

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