This morning was our annual run for evergreens that we use out in the Holiday Light Show (HLS). In the past, we've secured these to posts and decorated them with lights or even just used them as screens or barricades. While we already picked up about 30 of these last Thursday, this morning was the "big roadtrip" with sixteen of us involved. Our target trees were all spruces (Picea) this morning. The morning temperature was a brisk 25 degrees F which including a refreshing, "biting" wind. Larry and Big John went out first to cut and prepare the trees for loading but we were happy to see that our donor already cut many and had them ready for us this morning. The top picture of the Motley Crew (sans me), from left to right include Rollie, Larry, Big John, Lloyd, Maury, Dick P., Bob C., Dick H., Pat, Larry H., Ron Y., Eugene, Jim D., Ron W. and Curt H. The loading only took an hour or so and we had the trees back in short order to be unloaded, placed and secured out in the gardens by Marv and Terry. This annual event went smoothly and we didn't lose any trees on the way back (which is always a good thing!). Dan, a Janesville Gazette photographer, was also out to get some shots of the guys in action. After our return to RBG, some of the guys stuck around after break to help tidy up the mess of boughs, etc. that we create when getting the trees out to their locations in the gardens.
Other volunteers today included Vern, Bob A. and Dave T. who stayed behind to continue work on their large, 20' tall obelisk. We still plan on using this element out in the HLS and should be able to secure it out in the gardens later this week. I purchased some lights for this "tower of power" today too! Gary and Pat C. continued work on our labeling projects and were out in the gardens collecting more data for perennial labels that we still need to make and place out in the gardens. We also saw Dr. Gredler later in the afternoon. As we wind down with HLS preparations over the next week or two, we still will try to finish up some late season gardening with leaf collection, fertilization, mulching and the last of our bulb planting. The plant below is the 'Ice Dance' variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii) that we have in many locations. This one is in the woodland walk garden and is still looking good with only minor browning thus far in the season. While many sedges are quite vigorous, this one is a widening clump that offers plenty of interest in part shade. This grass relative will also keep most of it's color over the winter months and regenerate new growth in May. The next photo down shows the fall color of the Harlequin variegated, vine honeysuckle (Lonicera x italica 'Sherlite') which I have at home and it's also here at RBG. The pink shade is the fall color as that portion of the leaves was a cream all spring and summer.
The grounds staff had a busy day. When Larry, John and I went for trees this morning, Marv, Terry and Marianne kept up with HLS preparations out in the gardens. Marv and Terry put up more displays, lights and immediately started securing the new trees once they helped unload them upon our return. Marianne continued running extension cords, helped put lights on trees and processed many new lights that we just purchased today. Once back, both Larry and John were out in the gardens helping with various HLS duties. It will be much of the same every day this week as we look forward to having the HLS complete so it can be tested next week prior to Thanksgiving. On the day of an evening test, we just turn everything on and start waiting for problems to troubleshoot. Ideally, every circuit needs to stay on for 5+ hours without "popping". Once we see the lights at night, we can make some subtle changes and repairs but ultimately, the HLS should be ready to go by next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Directly below are two seed capsules from a morning glory (Ipomoea sp.) in my back yard, The next photo down shows the seeds produced by those two little capsules and you can perhaps see why morning glories can become a reseeding nuisance in your garden. Each capsule (originially a flower) will have 5-6 seeds on average. Be wary and vigilant! I have them coming up everywhere in my yard simply because the seed set is so heavy and well-distributed. At the bottom is an image of the Little Devil ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Donna May') which is an exciting new dwarf introduction. We don't have it at the gardens (yet) but I took this photo locally on Saturday. This variety only gets in the 3'-4' tall range which is perfect.