Today was another nice, sunny day with high temperatures approaching a comfortable 50 degrees F. It was perfect weather for some late season gardening as well as more Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations. Larry turned the entire HLS show on right away this morning so we were able to go around and see some immediate problems, tweak some areas and ultimately see which areas will be problematic. At least 80% of the show stayed on all day which is amazing. I'll make some adjustments tomorrow and I think we'll be in good shape for the test nights next week. At the top is our 'Cinnamon Snow' hellebore (Helleborus) budding out early. I think this plant thinks it's March! Those buds though are winter hardy and should be fine over the coming months. I'll keep an eye on this one. The bark directly above is from the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the arboretum. I enjoy examining bark throughout the year but these winter months should also expose some neat bark characteristics in your own garden. Directly below is the golden Scotch moss (Sagina subulata 'Aurea') looking good in the fern & moss garden. Although not a "true" moss, this perennial groundcover has served us well in that space and offers some nice color (as well as little white flowers in early summer). The next photo down shows the foliage of the golden sweet flag (Acorus gramineus 'Golden Pheasant') in the Japanese garden. This grass-like perennial offers that golden texture throughout the growing season.
We had some great volunteer help today (not the guys below though...). Just kidding of course. You can see how safety is one of our primary concerns around the gardens. The driver is Gene and the Brewers fan in back is Larry H., both of whom are active Grumpies. The other gentleman is Mike, a new Grumpy that started today. These guys did a nice job transfering shredded leaf mulch from areas where they were stockpiled to many other locations in need of mulching. The guys did a great job on that project and moved on to collecting leaves and debris from some other target areas as well. Stan was out tidying in the Japanese garden all morning and Pat did a nice job pruning crabapples (Malus) near the east end of the gardens. Dick P., Maury and Rollie were in to work on some projects at the other building and our carpentry team of Dave, Vern, Bob A. and Jim continued work on the large obelisk sections (2) that needed to be tweaked before we place that structure out in the gardens tomorrow. Bill O. arrived in the afternoon to work on debris collection in select locations. Tom C. came in this afternoon to replace some outlets out in the gardens and his electrical expertise has been a huge help for the HLS but also the gardens in general. The next photo down shows the late season foliage color of the 'Yellowstone Falls' foamy bells (xHeucherella) in the woodland walk garden. This perennial has nice golden summer foliage with a red center. It's nice to still see hints of those colors this late in the season. The bright red leaf further down is from the Golden Raindrops crabapple (Malus transitoria 'Schmidtcutleaf') which gets this superior fall color very late in the season.
The grounds staff had a busy day that almost entirely revolved around HLS tasks and duties. Larry worked on a wide range of cord and power issues and set up the displays around the koi pond. He and Tom C. worked later on some of the power upgrades and improvements. Big John did a little bit of everything. He filled containers with small trees, cut up greens for general use, decorated trees, ran cords, etc., etc. He was quite versatile today and did a nice job. We also saw Janice today (off the clock) and she gave our new Grumpy (Mike) an orientation. Janice also did some office work and lights work too (decorated the two interior obelisks). I had a couple of meetings but was able to run more cords and make some adjustments out in the HLS already. Tomorrow should be icing on the cake. However, we will be putting up our "tower of power" in the morning. I can't describe this real well so check the blog tomorrow! Directly below is 1 of the 2,000 half gallon milk jugs that Marianne has been finalizing along the route of the HLS. Each jug has a C7 bulb in it which makes the jug glow warmly. These are great for guiding visitors thru the HLS. The next two photos down are coral bells (Heuchera) that are still looking good. The lightly frosted, maroon-leaf variety is 'Dolce Licorice' and the bottom variety is 'Dale's Strain' which has some nice veination.