Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pre-Frost Frenzy

While today was mostly cloudy, it was still nice working weather with the afternoon temperatures just over 70 degrees F.  I was able to get out in the gardens a bit today although the desk work is piling up quickly with most of my "to do" list involving 2013 events and activities.  The photo at the top is the native Virginia creeper vine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which can be seen throughout woodlands this time of year due to the nice red fall coloration.  The color above is a dark wine-red although bright red and orange will frequently be represented with the best fall color in the sunniest locations.  As the deciduous trees (particularly in woodlands) lose leaves, you may see bright red foliage up the trunk and branches of these defoliated trees. More often than not, that is the Virginia creeper.  Directly above are the glossy black fruiting structures of the blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) which are quite showy and nice in arrangements.  This perennial had nice orange, speckled flowers in the summer and this fall fruiting display is an added bonus.  Directly below is the variegated Japanese Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fortunei 'Pink Frost') in the English cottage garden.  That foliage looked nice before the flowers but this combination late in the season is quite dynamic.  We've planted this variety in other locations as well for this showy contribution.  The next photo down is the showy (and native!) bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) in the fern & moss garden.  This perennial prefers damper, organic soils in part shade and will typically start blooming in mid-September.  However, this plant will also continue blooming until the hardest of frosts.  Also called the closed gentian, this plant is obligately dependent on late season bumblebee populations to force their way in to the flower and accomplish pollination.  We have a couple dozen specimens out in the gardens and they always elicit comments of approval from our visitors.  That shade of blue is vivid this time of year. The third photo shows some of our ornamental kales (Brassica oleracea) called 'Glamour Red' that are just starting to offer some nice color as the days and nights become crisper.  The extent and vividness of that pink will increase over the coming weeks.

The grounds staff and volunteers descended on the gardens and accomplished a sizeable amount of work today.  Marv (directly below) and Terry did a  nice job preparing three gravel pads for our incoming greenhouses (donated).  Our first of the three will start to be assembled in place tomorrow by our Grumpy carpenters and other helpers.  The guys did a nice job on this gravel project and also worked on removing annuals, watering and other duties.  Marianne cleared annuals out of many areas and should receive an award for getting the most "bur-like thingies" on her clothes.  I'm not sure what that weed is called but it's the one that attaches all those small black burs to your clothing.  Well, she found the motherlode of these in the sunken garden!  She also did her cutting display, raked leaves and watered.  Big John and Pat hauled more tropicals (mostly elephant ears) to our storage greenhouse and both guys spent the day removing and hauling annuals to the compost pile.  By the time the frost hits this morning, we will have removed about 50% of our annuals. I think these early removals were a good move to accomplish this in advance of less desireable weather.

Gena, Mary and Myrt worked out in the All-America Selections garden with the mission of removing the worst (most unsightly) of the annuals in those sections.  With so many tender plants out there, a good portion of the plants were ready to come out regardless.  Two photos down are Gena (left) and Mary digging plants out of that area.  Myrt was off camera running another load of debris back to the compost pile.  Kay (third photo down) returned this morning to work near the gazebo garden.  She did a great job removing a large area of annuals and tidied up that border nicely as well.  Ron K. spent time removing leaves out of the woodland walk garden.  He lost raking time yesterday with his bulb planting efforts but he's catching up quickly although with so many leaves left yet to fall...he has complete job security!  Dr. Gredler (fourth photo down) continued mowing around the gardens and now has our "hopper" attached which allows him to mow and collect shreddded leaves that we subsequently place on various annual beds.  In the photo below, he is clearing debris out of the chute as he ended up with some periodic clogging in areas where the turf is quite long.  We also saw Maury, Dr. Yahr and Dick H. came in to run some more loads to the dump.

I had a nice meeting with Mary, RBG Executive Director, today regarding some of our looming activities and 2013 plans.  The Halloween Walk is coming up later this month (see our website for details) and promises to be a fun event.  Held in conjunction with Spotlight On Kids (SOK), we've done this event for many years and hope to see increased attendance as always!  Our fall symposium in also coming up soon on November 3rd.  The Winter Garden will include some nice topics and details can also be seen our website.  The Friday before the event (November 2nd), RBG will be hosting another Market Mingle which features area craft vendors, food, etc.  I went last year and found some great Christmas gifts!  Of course, the Holiday Lights Show, is also looming and we'll continue to prepare for that popular event.  We hit full steam with decorating out in the gardens once the Halloween Walk is over although we wont be idle these next two weeks with so many lights to test, repair and prepare.

Directly below is the light yellow, almost white frond of the sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) which is one of our native ferns.  This fern gets its name because it is very sensitive to low temperatures which quickly turn the green foliage to a pastel yellow or gold. This process started a week ago with that light tinge of frost. This species loves wet locations and is common along waterways and in wetlands (it can spread!).  The next photo down features the fall color of one of our fullmoon maples (Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium').  We have three specimens of this maple and they all get "high impact" fall coloration.  In Japan, this maple goes by the name 'Maiku jaku' which translates to "Dancing Peacock".  This is one of our top 5 best trees out in the gardens for fall color.  The next photo down shows the clear, golden fall color of the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) which is such a tough tree.  Once all the leaves turn golden, they will usually drop within a day or so and come down quickly.  The bottom photo shows one of our rarer maples in the Japanese garden.  This is the variegated Shantung maple (Acer truncatum 'Akikaze Nishiki') which has been fun growing and observing.  What you see as pink highlights were cream colored all year, lending the tree a "bicolor" look. 

1 comment:

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