While yesterday had some significant drizzle, today was just overcast and chilly. It wasn't bad weather to be outside and we really jumped right in to our activities out in the gardens. I had my camera with me all day (typical) and have still not run out of neat things to photograph. There are so many subtle and not so subtle changes out in the gardens and I'm happy to capture those features. My blog title today refers to our progress with the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). As of today, we're in very good shape for testing in two weeks and the progress today was quite significant. We'll be hauling back trees tomorrow and Monday and these will be staked in the gardens and decorated. L.P. Tree Service will be here tomorrow and/or Friday to "dangle" our hanging icicles from the taller cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) and aside from wiring these last couple of elements up, we're in pretty good shape. The top photo shows the fall color of the bloody cranesbill geranium (Geranium sanguineum) which shows hints of red starting in September but becomes spectactular by this time of year. The photo directly above shows clumps of our 'Dixieland' variegated Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis) getting some fall tinting of orange and pink near the decorated observation pier. Directly below are the seed heads of the sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) which still has some stubborn blooms hanging on resolutely.
The grounds staff had a busy day with primarily HLS duties although John also got involved with some gardening tasks. Directly below are Marv (left) and Terry putting some lights on our "ever-flowing" urn. These guys have been putting out lights longer than any of us and did a nice job getting the remainder of the displays positioned and secured today (amongst other duties). We still have a couple displays that will be repaired this weekend and immediately placed out in the gardens early next week. A big "thanks!" to Randy M. for repairing these displays. The next photo down shows Marianne putting pea gravel in some new half-gallon jugs that were donated for "the cause." Our older luminaries need replacement and we've been taking in additional jugs to augment our supply. Some more jugs came in today too. The addition of gravel to the jugs it so keep them from blowing over during inclement weather. Marianne strung out more luminairies and was a huge help to me with her cord-running skills. She also tidied up our HLS staging area in the Horticulture Center which was in need of some organizing. Big John pounded stakes (below) that will be used to support incoming trees and hauled out some displays as well. He also did quite a bit of digging and bulb planting near the shade garden and helped get some volunteers involved with that project as well. John spent a good half day gardening and had no shortage of leaves and garden debris to haul back! Pat was in (off the clock) to repair lights and do some crabapple (Malus sp.) pruning as well. I stretched out my share of cords and had a couple meetings. One of the meetings was a wrap up with of the Halloween Walk (with Mary, Kris K. and Becky). We look forward to doing this event again in the future. I'm very pleased with the HLS set-up which has even exceeded our quick set-up from 2011. Well done team!
Volunteers were again an important part of the day. From left to right (below), Jim, Stan, Karen and I did a tour of the Japanese garden today to talk about fall/winter maintenance goals, future improvements, etc. They do a great job in that area. We have had so many past volunteers involved with that space including Little Jerry, Dr. Neeno, Tom McKaig and of course, the many RECAPPERS that have helped over the years. Dr. Gredler was in for a bit and Maury was around running errands. Dick H. came in this afternoon and we saw Vern working on the large obelisk. Bob C. was around all morning relocating shredded leaves to our entrance gardens slope as a mulch. We also had Gena and Nancy in this morning to plant over 800 tulips (Tulipa) along our raised wall bed near the larch area (see second photo down). I dispersed the packages, John dug the holes and the ladies planted and covered all the bulbs. This should look quite colorful in spring. The last three photos show some of our latest collections of falling leaves. In sequence, our samples include leaves from a cutleaf European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Laciniata'), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and the 'Green Mountain' silver linden (Tilia tomentosa). Note the silver backing on the upside down leaves of the linden. More HLS and gardening tomorrow to be sure!