Today was not sunny at all. It was cloudy, cold (not frigid like the past two days though...) with light snow. Of course my blog title refers to the garden art project seen directly above. These suns are 48" in diameter and the guys are finishing putting the second coat of primer on 36 of these that will be available starting February 4th. All project fees, rules, expectations and deadlines will be on the website soon. Every year we're impressed with the quality and variability of what the artists accomplish on these shapes (both sides). We've now done daisies, butterflies, oak leaves and suns for this year. Vern was in today working on these and spent some time priming them as well.
The light snow didn't keep volunteers away today. Aside from Vern, we had Dr. Gredler and Pat again painting obelisks this morning. Doc has graduated on to red paint and Pat has a few more narrow obelisks to convert to lime. Dr. Gredler came back this afternoon to apply the second coat. Above are Kris K. (left), our Education Coordinator, and Cindy B. making plans for the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden this afternoon. We also saw Mark S., Ryan, Chuck and many others. Janice continued research on plant sale vegetables as we like to include more descriptive signs with everything that will be offered. Below are Myrt (left) and Gena painting obelisks this afternoon and they were later joined by Nancy who tackled that third obelisk that was ready and waiting.
I made a large plant order today, worked on special event planning, Garden Expo (www.wigardenexpo.com/) presentations and finalized details for my talk on shrubs next week up at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI). I'm including many of the panicled hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) as they are very durable and have a long season of flower interest with a progression of white blooms in mid-summer that age to a pink and then light amber by November. Essentially, the blooms have 4-6 months of interest and may contribute textural interest over the entire winter too. Some varieties are chosen for a more vivid and/or lengthy "pink stage" like Pinky Winky seen at the bottom. There are other varieties with neat names like Vanilla Strawberry, Pink Diamond, etc. There are many varieties out there and new ones are coming out every year. Some are also promoted for a more intense and extended lime coloration prior to turning white. The variety Quickfire ('Bulk') was selected because of its early start to blooming in late June. Panicled hydrangeas prefer full sun in moisture retentive, rich soils and I've never met a panicled hydrangea that I didn't like. However, there are some varieties that I like more than others and I included a couple directly below. This is just a drop in the bucket in terms of available varieties and I have to say that many look identical to me. Many varieties will ultimately get well over 8' tall and end up in the 12-15' tall range. There are some nice compact varieties though that don't get much taller than 5' or so and are more appropriate for the smaller home landscape situation. Directly below is 'Dharuma' which has more open flowers but lots of them on a nicely rounded, compact form (5' tall). Olbrich has many of these and they look great. The next photo down shows the later summer stage (pink) of 'Phantom' which has some huge, dense flowers. Next down are 'Silver Dollar' (my favorite for flower power), 'Little Lamb' (nice and compact at 5') and Pinky Winky ('DVPpinky'). We have probably 15 or so varieties of panicled hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) at RBG although there are some varieties that I'll look for based on my observations elsewhere (and not just the eye candy catalog photos!).