Friday, November 16, 2012

The Tower of Power

Directly above is the "Tower of Power".  This is a 20' obelisk that our carpenters (Dave, Jim, Bob and Vern ) built over the past couple of weeks.  The overall intent was to build three of these over the winter for the gardens next year but after their prototype was finished, we thought, "Why don't we get this out in the gardens and sling some lights on it!?"  Above is the final product but there were seven of us working on this for a couple hours this morning.  We hauled the obelisk to the reception garden in two sections, secured them together and attached 24 strands of bright, C9 lights.  Getting this structure up and secured was challenging but ultimately, everything worked out well and we only broke two bulbs in the process.  This obelisk will be a real focal point in that garden and they'll be no missing this bright centerpiece.  Thanks to Marv, Terry and Big John who, along with carpenters mentioned above (sans Bob), did a great job on getting this element prepared and secured.  We're still not sure if we're required to install a blinking red light at the top for low flying aircraft...

We attracted an audience for the erecting of the Tower of Power which included Mary, Kris, Rollie, Bev and Ron W., and many others.  You can actually see the top of this structure from the main parking lot as it peaks over our 16' arborvitate (Thuja) hedge.  Our volunteers today included Dave, Vern and Jim who were a huge help with this obelisk this morning.  Vern stayed to work on some other projects and we later saw Dr. Gredler, Rollie, Karen M., Janice and many others.  It was a rare day in that we didn't have any traditional gardening volunteers but our primary focus was certainly finishing the HLS which we'll continue to test next week.  Directly below is the late season "look" of the 'Northwind' perennial switch grass (Panicum virgatum).  From Roy Diblik at Northwind Perennial Farm, this stalwart, upright grass can get 7'+ in the summer and has some nice winter durability and will stay upright thru even some of the harshest snow storms.  The next photo down shows the late season color of our 'Jazz' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) which is another nice selection from Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials.  This variety is quite upright with good fall/winter coloration.  Many selections are floppy but I'm quite impressed with 'Jazz' which also seems a bit more compact at 30" or so.  The third photo down shows some of our prairie this morning which is still quite beautiful (and attractive for birds). 

Aside from our big project this morning, the staff had plenty of other HLS work.  Marianne continued working on both her 1/2 gallon milk jug luminaries and on many of the dangling icicle lights.  She has a good system which continues to work well for securing and powering up these various HLS features.  Marv and Terry also wired up some of our last displays, secured small trees in some of our containers and worked on some odds and ends to finish up the day.  Big John secured the last of our donated spruces (Picea) out in the gardens and diced up the remainder for greens which we'll use next week.  John also put the last of our lights out on some trees in the arboretum.  We literally have about 97% of all HLS lights, displays, etc. out in the gardens for a record number of lights and certainly our best HLS yet.  I hope the weather cooperates.  Kudos to the grounds staff for another job well done and special thanks to Marv, Terry and Marianne who finished today as well as Janice and Pat who finished two weeks ago.  The entire year was a success out in the gardens. The ornamental bark directly below is from the Tanyosho pine (Pinus densiflora 'Umbraculifera') near the sunken garden.  I've seen 40' tall specimens of this tree at the Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL) and the bark just keep getting redder and better!  The next photo down shows the brilliant yellow needles of the golden lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph') in the alpine garden.  This specimen, although still quite small, is certainly an eyecatcher.  The third photo down shows the "pinky-orange" fall coloration of the golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia).  This vigorous, perennial groundcover will hold color most of the winter but new, brilliant growth will emerge in April.  The bottom photo is from yesterday afternoon and shows our "guardian angel" Tom, who has always been helpful with anything electrical and will hopefully be the hero of the HLS next week when he helps me balance the electrical loads throughout the gardens.  Yesterday he was replacing four stubborn outlets throughout the gardens.

No comments: