Today was another warm one with cloudy skies becoming sunny later in the day. Tonight is the premier lighting of our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) at the end of the Taste of Chocolate event at the Parker Education Center. Rita (above) is all ready for the holiday festivities. This fashion statement wouldn't appear odd if Rita didn't wear these items every day of the year... I believe the Taste of Chocolate has 240 guests which is a sold out crowd for this fundraiser. I'll do some minor tweaking out in the show this evening as needed and we'll finalize any changes, modifications or additions next week. It was a quiet day around the gardens this Friday. Pat came in this morning and did some major pruning out in the gardens and continues to focus on "de-suckering" crabapples (Malus sp.). We also had Dr. Gredler painting Adirondack chairs (below) and Rose came in to apply some new paint color to our horizontal PVC planters (second photo down). Urban was in to help out with that and we also saw Maury this morning. Maury ran some errands which hopefully included our last purchase of lights for the HLS. We also saw Big John, Janice and some others today. The third photo down shows just some of our sand buckets ready for icy paths. Tonight is safe although we hope for snow and no rain for the entirety of the HLS. We minimize our use of salts out nin the gardens and the sand sure comes in handy.
Next week for me will involve plenty of catalog perusing as I try to finalize some of our collections and purchases for 2013. We've already ordered many of our larger, tropical annuals as well as our hanging basket arrangements. I hope to finish most of my ordering yet this month although I still need to figure out some of our color schemes for next year. After winning the All-America Selections landscape design contest, we're determined to be a repeat winner and already have a top-secret plan that should look pretty cool next year. Below are some hints of what is to come next year. The top photo is a 'Lime' dwarf flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sp.) that will be part of our lime green planting along the raised wall in the larch area. I think we can do lime very effectively and there are no shortage of plants for that palette. The bottom photo is an annual flossflower (Ageratum). Our display beds always feature an annual of choice. In 2012, we featured moss roses (Portulaca sp.) which faired well with our hot and dry summer. In 2013, we'll accumulate and display as many flossflower (Ageratum) varieties as we can. While mostly blue, these varieties also include some other colors, many shades of blue and a wide range of heights for the sunny garden.