Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunshine Welcomed!

This past weekend was overcast and drizzly (is that a word?) both days and the sun didn't peak out until this morning.  The drizzle amounted to 1.5" which is better than nothing considering the overall year.  The weather was perfect for getting out in the gardens and continuing our fall efforts with plenty of volunteer assistance.  The top photo is the awesome fall color of the three-flower maple (Acer triflorum).  This smaller scale maple (native to Manchuria & Korea) has interesting, trifoliate leaves (look closely) and also very nice ornamental bark.  We have this species in a couple areas as an understory tree that still gets some nice fall color.  This species is hardy for our climate and I've never seen a bad specimen anywhere.  Regardless, give it some consideration.  Our ornamental kale (Brassica oleracea) is still getting more colorful (directly above) and continues to offer color wherever we have placed it out in the gardens. 

We had a great group of volunteers today.  Below are Jim, Bob A., Vern, Dick H. and Rollie assembling the second of three donated greenhouses for the gardens.  The guys are doing a nice job and we'll finish the last one within the next two weeks or so.  Ron W., Ron Y., Bob C. and Lloyd put up three tents in the gazebo garden for our looming Halloween Walk (see  The guys moved on to some other projects which included garden clean-up.  Larry H. was out collecting leaves (no shortage)and both Russ and Urban helped Marianne and Big John remove plants from the entrance garden.  There was plenty of tidying to accomplish as well.  Dr. Gredler came in for mowing and leaf collection.  We also saw Dr. Yahr (helped collect leaves), Mary F.P. (Exec. Dir.), Janice, Magda, Mary W., Bill O. and many others as well.  

The load of pumpkins above is just a portion of the supply that will go under the knife and become Jack-o-lanterns this week.  We obtained 200 pumpkins that will be used to decorate and light the paths of the Halloween Walk (starts this Thursday evening!).  This is only half the pumpkins as Jumbo Jim has the other 100 or so out at the Rock County Farm and will carve those with the RECAPPERS this Wednesday afternoon.  Our volunteers will carve the batch above that same day.  It's always interesting to see the creativity involved with the carving. It really is a cool effect during this event to see the unique Jack-o-lanterns along the route.  You can see directly above that local wildlife are helping with the carving project already!  The stories/skits for this event are faciliated by Spotlight On Kids (SOK) which has a long history of partnering with us for this event.  This family-friendly event includes five "story stations", face painting, refreshments (for sale) and other activities.  In sticking with the orange theme of my photos...below is the Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') which has reached peak coloration in this location.  The next photo down is the 'Green Cascade' fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum) which still may transition to a reddish-orange in the coming week.  This is one of my favorite, dissected-leaf maples in the garden (green summer leaves).  While it's slow growing and not inexpensive, it sure is a nice textural piece and its fall color speaks for itself!

The grounds staff had a busy day of mixed projects which included traditional gardening work and Holiday Lights Show (HLS) duties as well.  These "combo" days will now continue until the HLS is up and ready to go.  Directly above is one of our perennial geraniums (Geranium sp.) getting some nice fall color.  Leave geranium foliage up thru November as you may see some neat coloration.  Marv and Terry were out putting icicle lights up on many of our structures and other garden elements.  The guys are testing/repairing them as they go and both guys also helped prepare HLS lights at the Horticulture Center. Larry helped with a wide range of tasks for the Halloween Walk and continued to run cords for this event.  These cords are then in place for the HLS.  Big John and Marianne dove right in to removals in front of the Parker Education Center.  There are a lot of plants out there to remove and the biomass is daunting.  We have a workday scheduled for this Saturday and one of our tasks will be to plant 2,000+ bulbs in this newly cleared space.  The bottom two photos show just some of the many crates o' bulbs awaiting our attention this Saturday. The bottom photo features tulips (Tulipa) with the other showing garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus).  While 80% of our annuals have been removed, we still have some large areas to remove before another hard frost.  Marianne shifted later to HLS work while John planted perennials in the English cottage garden and also worked on lights.  I caught up on various tasks, placed plants out in the gardens and am getting ready for our volunteer appreciation dinner and our Fall Symposium.  This symposium, The Winter Garden (November 3), promises to be great event.  Check it out at  The photo below is the perennial bloody dock (Rumex sanguineus ssp. sanguineus) still looking good with deep red veins and some fortuitous backlighting.

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