My blog titles are becoming less creative which indicates an end to the year and pending mental collapse on my part! Today was another chilly one but certainly not unbearable. We saw many volunteers around the Horticulture Center and gardens this morning in particular. The top image shows the browning leaves of our rare, hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium). Note the very uncharacteristic maple leaves that really do resemble those of the hornbeam (Carpinus sp.) with those ridged leaves. This maple, native to Japan, is in our Japanese garden and also gets a nice yellow fall color. Directly above is the tuber oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) which really enjoys the cooler portions of the year. It gets a strong flush in early April, limps thru the summer (even dying back during a drought) and then pokes back up in October. This specimen, in the woodland walk hasn't received enough cold to call it quits for the year (yet). Directly below are the cones of the Japanese hemlock (Tsuga diversifolia) in the gazebo garden. The next photo down features the ornamental stems of two of our many red-stemmed dogwoods (Cornus sp.) out in the gardens. We have many grouping of both red-stemmed and yellow-stemmed dogwoods and they look great this time of year. In March, we'll thin out some of the larger stems (about 1/3 per plant) on all of these to encourage new growth that will be the most colorful later in the year. The variety pictured is 'Avalon Gold' which has bright yellow leaves in spring thru summer.
We saw Marianne this morning as she did some odd jobs at the Horticulture Center and processed more half gallon jugs (recently donated) for future use as luminaries for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). Urban came in and helped the guys with various projects and Bill O. helped Larry with various tasks throughout the day. Dr. Gredler continued his painting progress on some containers and will soon be touching up our garbage bins this week. We had our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee Meeting which included Dr. Gredler, Gary, Big John, Dick P., Maury, Christine R., Joanne A., Denise (RBG) and myself. We covered lots of 2013 ideas and talked about some big picture improvements that we're hoping to secure for the future. Maury and Dick then did some work out in the gardens. Directly below is the interesting, corky, ridged bark of the Amur corktree (Phellodendron amurense) in the arboretum. I like the foliage of this tree (nice yellow fall color) too but the bark is always intriguing. Many of our youth programs that utilize the arboretum for programs will have the kids examine the bark textures of many trees. This is one that gets lots of "hands on" attention as it is spongey to the touch. The next shot down is an update on the 'Josef Lemper' Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) that continues to bloom thru these cooler days in the woodland walk garden. I've found plenty of other hellebore buds forming on other plants but they'll be fine over the winter until warmer weather arrives in March. The third photo down is the 'Pear Crisp' coral bell (Heuchera) still looking good with some bright foliage.
I had a meeting today and both Mary and I went on WCLO with Tim Bremel and promoted the heck out of the HLS. Tim had been to the HLS as part of the Taste of Chocolate and was able to give his positive opinion about the experience. We appreciate the opportunity to encourage attendance at this neat event (and vital fundraiser). All the HLS dates, times, entertainment, etc. are on our website at www.rotarybotanicalgardens.org. I also continue to go thru seed catalogs which is a three phase process. I go thru the catalogs with a highlighter for Round 1. This round is where I circle all the new, cool and vital varieties for 2013. Round 2 is the reality check as I start limiting selections based on what we can actually afford and fit in to the gardens. Round 3 is filling out the order forms as I do one more glance thru the catalog. It's a laborious process but one of my favorite tasks. Directly below are two shots of a groundcover that, while I rarely recommend it, sure looks good late in the season. This is the trailing yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Variegatum') which is a member of the mint family and also called false lamium. This groundcover is quite vigorous and should be contained. It will outcompete neighboring plants so is effective in larger areas as you see it around this white pine (Pinus strobus) tree (directly below). It is shade and drought tolerant and wants to thrive. Note the maroon highlights to the leaves that appear this time of year. I don't recommend this specific groundcover often as it can become a thug. However, the third photo down shows the 'Herman's Pride' yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) which is the same species and a nice clumper with all the same toughness. It doesn't have late season color as you see below but is tough as well. The bottom photo shows our newly redeveloped (2012) moss island looking nice and green. Again, a job well done by Mr. Moss (Dale S.)!