We had the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) turned on both Saturday and Sunday night for private parties that rented the Parker Education Center and paid an extra fee for the show. Both nights ran quite well although I had some small issues last night after a full day of sleet and drizzle. However, those going thru the HLS seemed to enjoy the experience. We'll open this event to the public this Thursday night, December 13th (check www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org for other dates, times and details). Barring heavy rains, the show should run well and we hope to see solid crowds. We have some bulb planting to do later in the week as we received two nice donations of surplus, spring-flowering bulbs over the past two weeks. Most of our gardening tasks are complete though. It's odd to think that this will be the first year that we've actively gardened every month of the year! At the top is a photo in the Japanese garden showing our mesh netting on yews (Taxus sp.) meant to keep the deer from nibbling. This protection worked well last year and we hope it is just as effective this winter. Directly above is a portion of our bear sculpture (bronze) that actually features five or six bear cubs climbing. Directly below is the late season color on the 'Last Dance' golden-ray (Ligularia hybrida) which is marginally hardy but is also known as the latest blooming of the ligularias. We'll see how it does in future years as we planted it this fall. The next photo down shows the ornamental bark on the trunk of our largest Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) in the Japanese garden. Older bark starts to reveal some reddish tints and is particularly colorful when it's wet. The third photo down shows the detailed foliage on the fringecups (Tellima grandiflora 'Forest Frost') which is closely related to coral bells (Heuchera).
Despite a cold start to the morning with the promise of more drizzle, we had a strong turnout of volunteers; primarily our Grumpies. The weather, though chilly, remained relatively clear for the entire day. Pat and Urban went out in the gardens to do some pruning and scout out their next "target trees". Del came in to continue work on his reindeer cutouts and Dr. Gredler continues to paint some of our foam containers a bright shade of orange for 2013. Bob A., Dave and Vern continued carpentry progress on some new obelisks and other projects. Maury was in for various projects and we saw him throughout the day. Dick H., along with help from Bill O., worked on replacing the muffler on our dump truck (below). Dick is quite handy with anything "vehicular" and is a huge help with our fleet of vehicles and other equipment. We also saw Bob C., Dick P., Gary, Mary W., Chuck S., and many others. Janice (second photo down) was also here most of the day researching vegetable varieties for our collections and the spring plant sale (May 11th and 12th, 2013).
I've been working on seed orders, organizing photos and other tasks to get ready for 2013. I had a productive day but the constant desk work sure puts a strain on the aging back! I walked the entire gardens and everything looked good. I took some photos, adjusted some HLS cords and otherwise, got "re-connected" to the gardens. Evidence of deer (hoof prints and poop) is everywhere although I didn't observe any nibbling yet. Color was not hard to find and certainly becomes more obvious in a sea of browns and tans. Directly below is the 'Evergold' Japanese sedge (Carex oshimensis). The next photo down shows the 'Dale's Strain' coral bell (Heuchera americana) which normally has green leaves with that silver patina. This late season maroon looks great with that same patina. The coral bells will continue to be colorful until they are buried by snow. At the bottom are some of the fruits of the cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) in the arboretum. This tree is a great source of food for wildlife and provides protected nesting sites as well. The fruits are eaten by a wide range of birds, rodents and other wildlife. Larry also worked on a wide range of indoor and outdoor tasks and turned on a portion of the HLS for an event his evening.