Today was a delightful day more reminiscent of a late October day with sunshine and temperatures around 40 degrees F. It looks like we'll have a warm next couple of days and certainly hope to continue some of our end-of-year gardening efforts. We may have some moisture this weekend too and while the lights show doesn't need it, the garden could use it. Tomorrow we hope to plant all the surplus bulb donations and should have enough volunteers to get everything in the ground. Tomorrow is also opening night for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) and we hope to have a strong crowd over these first four nights of the show. The top photo shows one of our flower displays ready to go and directly above is one of our 50 or so obelisks out in the gardens with lights on them. Note the imprisoned cherub statue underneath the obelisk! Once the show is over, we'll bring in all the obelisks for "un-decoration" and ultimately, new painting based on our 2013 color selections. I'm sure Dr. Gredler is excited about this annual opportunity which takes a time commitment. Directly below are the seed heads of the 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) still looking sturdy near the alpine garden. I've heard this grass also called "minnow grass" for the horizontal seed heads that seem to be floating. The next photo down shows the second to last color stage of the golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'). This dark gold will turn brown shortly but holds on to color well and this wall planting has filled in slowly but surely over the years.
We had a nice volunteer turnout this morning with the nice weather. Pat was here bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and jumped right in to pruning in the color rooms garden (see below). Pat and Urban have been methodically going through the gardens and are focusing on pruning smaller trees and rejuvenating shrubs. Urban (second photo down) did a nice job thinning and cutting back shrubs along the east border. Stan was in to prune and tidy in the Japanese garden and Bill O. came in for some tasks as well. He emptied the soil out of some of our last containers for winter and always has the eye for collecting debris. Dr. Gredler continued his painting spree and is now touching up our trash and recycling bins. Marv also popped in for a visit. Janice came in for more research and we spent some time discussing our spring plant sale offerings (exciting!) and spring collections. Maury was in briefly in the afternoon and we also had a visit from George H., our worm casting supplier. He brought an early Christmas present of over 1,000 lbs. of worm castings (see bottom photo). We filled up two of our carts with this great soil amendment that we'll actually use during our bulb planting project. We'll again offer castings at our spring plant sale in May.
I spent some time today touring the garden and looking at target shrubs with Urban. I had a great stroll and have still not noticed signifcant deer damage although there is plenty of evidence of their garden explorations. I also put together more information for my seminar tonight (6:30 pm at RBG) regarding a "Behind the Scenes Look at the HLS" which should be fun. We've done this event for so many years and we get plenty of questions from the public on how we approach the set-up of this event. I also continue to examine catalogs and organize my 2012 photos. I think I took my personal record of photos this year but am pleased with the overall quality of the images. Directly below is the backlit leaf of a purple weeping European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Purple Fountain'). The next photo down shows the golden cast on the needles of the 'Gold Coin' Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). This specimen will get increasingly more golden througout the winter. The next photo down shows the interesting bark and form of the Turkish filbert (Corylus colurna) in the arboretum. This urban-tolerant tree has a nice, narrow form and is quite durable in a wide range of settings. Unfortunately, it's not well known and definitely under-planted in our landscapes. Note the geese further below that continue to congregate in our pond. I think they're waiting for a free lights show!