Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkins Galore!

The rich, morning lighting was perfect today for photos and I took full advantage during a comprehensive tour of the gardens.  Although we've had three light frosts, we haven't yet had the "hard one" which would have decimated most of the perennials as well.  I was surprised to see the annuals in the reception garden still intact and quite a bit of color holding on here and there.  The top photo is the fall color of the Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) in the arboretum.  This small scale maple has superior oranges and reds and has proven hardy in our climate.  This is one of our three specimens and all of them look great right now.  I've been enjoying looking up thru various trees to enjoy the fall color and the lighting that comes thru the leaves.  The photo directly above is the fall color of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum).  This deciduous conifer will lose these needles and regenerate them next year.  Normally the fall foliage is a decent orange/brown but I caught this vivid orange (courtesy of the morning lighting) at the Horticulture Center.  The photo directly below features the clear yellow fall color of one of our Japanese garden ginkgos (Ginkgo biloba).  These leaves usually all fall on the same day.  Oddly enough, I was in a doctor's office yesterday and there was a fall painting of a ginkgo with all sorts of leaf colors and even some that were dark orange or brown.  The painting was nice but not accurate (I didn't point it out) as I've never seen a ginkgo look like that in fall!  Amazing the things we notice....  The next photo down caught my eye and shows two plants I've blogged about in the past. The seedheads are from the 'Fatal Attraction' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which still have a hint of that deep magenta coloration.  The horizontal seed heads of the 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) offer nice texture and this combo has been striking for the past three months and keeps on going!  Speaking of cool grasses, note the Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) that has nice plumes and a tint of orange in the fall.  This grass will tolerate moderate snows and can be a nice component in the winter garden as well.  This is one of my top five favorite ornamental grasses for sure.

We had a great turnout of volunteers today, most of whom came to help carve pumpkins for the Halloween Walk which starts tomorrow night.  See for more information on this neat event.  Directly below is Bev who was one of many expert Jack-o-lantern carvers today. The next two photos down show some of the action.  Thanks to Bev, Margaret, Sue, Whitey, Leslie, Alice, Chris, Mary, Myrt and Nancy who collectively carved over 80 pumpkins this morning.  Jumbo Jim was carving over 100 pumpkins at the Rock County Farm this afternoon with RECAPPER assistance.  Out in the gardens, we had Kay (fourth photo down) cutting back perennials and collecting leaves out of her section of the shade garden.  She hauled back many loads of debris and is one of our best volunteers for tidying areas with lots of obstacles (plants, signs, etc.).  She has nice attention to detail.  Dr. Gredler was in for more mowing and leaf collection around the gardens.  We also saw Dr. Yahr, Kris K. and some others.  We'll be setting all of the Jack-o-lanterns out tomorrow morning for the event.  If it's rainy, we may have time to carve the remainder of the pumpkins which will be used as decoration regardless. 

The grounds crew had a busy day.  The rain held off the entire day until some sprinkles arrived around 3 pm or so.  With a mild morning, everyone headed out for some gardening duties.  This time of year, the grounds staff will split time between traditional gardening duties and Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations.  Big John and Pat unloaded the pumpkins and staged them for the carving this morning.  John then picked up tables for this activity and moved on to more clearing of annuals out in the entrance garden.  Pat also removed plants, planted in the alpine garden and ultimately worked on lights repair/testing (as did John).  Marianne worked on setting up luminaries for the Halloween Walk.  Janice worked on this yesterday as well.  Normally, the 1/2 gallon milk jug luminaries are used for the HLS but with inserted orange and red lights, these luminaries will look great for the event and will help with lighting/safety issues as well.  Marianne also worked on clearing out annuals and perennials in the shade garden and put a nice dent in our HLS lights repair pile.  Marv and Terry hauled back some of our empty garden containers for winter storage and spent a good portion of the day putting up lights in the formal gardens.  The guys know the routine and are veteran decorators.  I spent time working on Halloween Walk issues outside, hauled out plants, helped with the pumpkin project, etc.  It was a nice day outside although it looks like it will be damp for a couple of days now.  Hopefully we wont have rain during the Halloween Walk!  Directly below is the fall color of one of our swamp white oaks (Quercus bicolor).  The next photo down shows the start of witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms.  These blooms will go for another 3-4 weeks; well after the leaves fall off.  The third photo down is a great example of interesting fall color on a herbaceous perennial.  This is the variegated sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa 'Fruhlingsgold') which had nice yellow flowers throughout the spring but also nice yellow/green variegated foliage.  The maroon only shows up late in the season.  Another nice perennial for fall color can be seen at the bottom.  This is one of our barrenwort (Epimedium x rubrum) specimens and while not all the leaves are this vivid, the overall fal color (mostly in November) is quite showy.

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