I've impressed myself with steady progress through our catalogs this winter, particularly over the past week or so. Granted, I'm reading about three of them at home every night (much to the chagrin of my wife). However, the stack of those yet to peruse is only 9.2" tall (as seen above). I did some small orders today but shifted focus to the upcoming Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) Garden Expo this February 8th, 9th and 10th. See www.wigardenexpo.com for more information on this popular, well-organized and much anticipated event. RBG is currently selling tickets from the Cottage Garden Gallery for the Expo. The website also gives a full schedule for the seminars and demonstrations which are becoming very well attended and perhaps the primary draw for the entire event. The Exhibition Hall also has lots of booths with other gardens, plant organizations, non-profits, nurseries, etc. Denise (our new Funds Development Director) and I met this morning to talk about our booth layout and some other details related to the event. I'm giving four seminars (three topics) at the Garden Expo and spent some time preparing those presentations today as well. Just about every presentation I do shows nice pictures of the gardens and talks about future collections and the benefits of both visiting and becoming a RBG Member! I'm also done ordering for the Spring Plant Sale and below is one of our offerings this year. This is the 'Lizzano' compact tomato (Lycopersicon). This 2011 All-America Selections winner is perfect for the container or hanging basket and produces 1"-size cherry tomatoes over a long season. It's also late blight tolerant and quite tasty. I took this photo in Michigan this past July so the fruit hasn't ripened quite yet but this plant sure looks happy in a basket (probably three plants in there)! Aside from 'Lizzano', we're offering another ten varieties of compact and/or cascading type tomatoes at the sale (and over 30 other varieties including many popular heirlooms). Our entire vegetable listing will be on the website by the end of the month.
We had a small crew today but much was accomplished. Dr. Gredler had the paint brush in hand again today and is painting these smaller obelisks (below) a vivid lime. Lime is one of our focus colors this year and these obelisks will be nice vertical elements in our displays. Janice was in to work on various projects including significant research on our plant sale varieties for future signage and promotion. Vern came in with some supplies as did Maury. We also saw Dick H., Bill O., Pat, Elsa, Denise and others. The big focus on Monday will be further work on the garden art projects. These sun forms (seen in the bottom photo) are taking up some space but we should have them ready to go by the February 4th start to this event. Interested artists (or sponsors) will be able to pick these up starting that day and all the details regarding this event will be on the RBG website shortly.
I was working on a presentation today that will include the perennials that I've been most impressed with over the last couple of years. It's always tough to select "favorites" but I thought I'd share a perennial grass that really impressed me over the past two years. I blogged about it previously but it deserves another shake. This is the 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) which is a species native out West and in the prairie states. This drought tolerant grass has an extensive root system and is used as a turf substitute in dry locations. It's also the state grass of Colorado and New Mexico. This selection is from Dave Salman of the recently closed (bummer) nursery High Country Gardens. This tall selection features these horizonal flower/seed heads that offer interest from late June through winter. Wet snow will bury this grass but the third photo down shows its rigidity in December while dormant. Don't forget to check out the RBG website for all the information for Our Gardening Heritage, the annual spring symposium at the gardens (March 23rd, 8 am - 4:30 pm). Kris put together another nice program!