Our lights test went very well last night with very few problems becoming evident. In fact, most of the issues with various displays or lights being out was easily remedied by actually plugging them in! We had a group of over 30 staff and volunteers wander the HLS for the pre-preview. We also had members of the press (The Janesville Gazette, Janesville Messenger and Local Vision TV) view the show and hopefully we'll see heavy promotion of this family-friendly event/fundraiser. The help that Tom C. gave yesterday regarding some disconcerting electrical problems really helped out and he was back today to finalize some "peace of mind" improvements! We'll have another test night tomorrow but the lights have stayed on all day today which is good news. The two shots above are from our "Tower of Power" (not to be confused with the 1960s/1970s funk band...) last night. With 600 transparent C9 bulbs, this 20'+ high display is hard to miss! Directly below are the showy seedheads of the Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). The next photo is of a small bird house dangling on the inside of a weeping larch (Larix decidua 'Pendula') out in the gardens. I never knew this was out there and don't know the history of who placed it in that location. Our founder, Dr. Yahr, is notorious for putting out bird houses and feeders which only adds to the gardens. It's like an Easter egg hunt sometimes to find them all! The next photo down is the late season fall color on the 'Scarlet Pavement' shrub rose (Rosa rugosa) near the pergola. This one also has some nice hips (fruits) but the reddish leaf color is quite striking.
We had a great bunch of volunteers at the gardens today. Kay was in to tidy up her section of the shade garden and she'll be on temporary, self-imposed leave for 2012 until we get our seed order in after the New Year. She is a big help with seed processing as well although her garden efforts this year have been quite impressive. Bill O. (directly below) was in to tidy up paths, collect leaves and help with other projects as needed. Del (second photo down) was around all morning creating more deer cutouts for the HLS. His deer have been selling like hotcakes at the gift shop so he's frantically (and thankfully) trying to keep up with demand. Vern was also in for some carpentry work and mounted a new bench plaque for me. Maury came in and ran some very timely errands for us. Marianne (third photo down) was out in the gardens all the way thru the lunch hour working on HLS tweaking. She went around to check on all the 1/2 gallon milk jug luminaries and also repaired some different displays as well. Tom C. came in to help with more electrical improvements with Larry. Dick H. ran debris to the dump and Pat came in for some more pruning of crabapples (Malus) in various locations. We also saw Dr. Gredler and many others today too.
The grounds staff had a full day of HLS work as well. Larry turned on the entire show this morning which incidentally, is almost a 30 minute process. Larry also worked with Tom C. on electrical improvements and continued securing displays, barricades and other traditional elements of the HLS. For our test tomorrow, the entire event will be hooked up and prepared as if it was the premiere (Nov. 30th at the Taste of Chocolate, tickets going fast!!!). Big John processed some new donations of lights, did some work with the CASE endloader (moving piles, loading the truck) and helped with all manner of HLS tweaking today. He and I will finish the last of our tweaking tomorrow. I had a multitude of meetings which included a trip to K&W Greenery (Janesville) to talk with Chris W. regarding some "plants of interest" for next year. I always enjoy speaking to Chris and his plant knowledge is always impressive. Directly below are the colorful (and backlit) fall leaves of the red barrenwort (Epimedum x rubrum) in the shade garden. The next photo down shows some of our black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') near the zig-zag bridge. This is not a true grass although it sure has that texture. I'm tickled that our clumps have overwintered for three years now as this is a very marginal perennial for us. The next photo down is the "mosaic-like" fall color of the variegated wayfaringtree viburnum (Viburnum lantana 'Variegatum') which colors up late and has a wide range of pastel pinks and oranges because of the creamy, summer variegation. At the bottom is one of my favorite bench quotes out in the garden.