Last winter, my first photograph of a bloom in the garden was a snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) in the woodland walk garden. That photo was taken on February 1st which was the earliest that I've ever observed this harbinger of spring showing color (usually late March). Well, I beat that record today and probably found the same, earliest clump in the same location (next to a nice rock that gets plenty of sunshine). There is evidence of other bulbs poking up in many locations and the "April-like" weather over the next three days should encourage these early bloomers even more! Today was a nice day to get out in the gardens although the sleet last night made for slippery paths and roads this morning. Directly below, from left to right, are Dick W., Urban, Larry H., Jim D. and Pat. They, along with RBG Larry, were out in the formal gardens removing more lights from hedges and other locations. Those lights were needed for some rental events over the past couple of weekends but we have clearance to continue the take down of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). Larry also collected many cords today as well. We still have many "post-HLS" tasks to complete but after today, I'd say we are 75% done with the take down. On the other side of the hedge below, the deer took advantage of a break in the snow fencing and did some serious damage (should recover). At the Horticulture Center, Dr. Gredler painted more obelisks, Gary worked on volunteer signs and Dave, Jim, Vern and Bob finished up the garden art project suns (available for purchase/sponsorship next Monday, Feb. 4th). Del continued disassembling the deer cutouts and Dick H. started cutting and bending our strap aluminum for various label heights. Bill O. popped by this afternoon to help process some of the newly accumulated HLS lights from the gardens. Chuck came in to gather our recycling and Janice came in for more seed organizing (newly arrived). We also had a meeting of our Horticultural Therapy Committee this afternoon.
Winter interest still abounds out in the gardens although I sure would like some snow cover. There will be no snow on the ground by Thursday when the temperatures return to arctic conditions. Two photos above is the 'Winter Gold' white pine (Pinus strobus) flaunting golden needles that look the best in December through March. This tree is essentially green needled in the summer but does have some nice winter interest. Above is 'The Blues' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) still upright and featuring dormant coloration of pinks and oranges. I like this grass more and more each year and the summer color of this grass is a superior, powder blue. Directly below are the specimens of our 'Flame' willows (Salix hybrida) along the west bank between the Parker Education Center and Lion's Beach. These shrubs are functional in holding that slope and their winter stem color is quite vivid and at peak right now. Another willow for showy, winter stem color can be seen two photos down. This is the variety 'Britzensis' (Salix hybrida) which also turns quite bright and like 'Flame', appreciates a hard cut back in March to encourage new stems that will be the most colorful the following winter.
I bounced between various projects today which included a meeting with Sue M. regarding our marketing plans for upcoming spring events (compost sales, tree sale, spring plant sale, etc.). Early this morning, L.P. Tree Service (two photos below) came and chipped up all our spruces (Picea sp.) that were used as temporary decoration out in the HLS. It's nice to recycle these trees and the chip pile (as seen) will be utilized later this year to mulch various areas. I'm finalizing my presentations for the Garden Expo ("Trendy Annuals", "Annual Grasses" and "Vertical Gardening") and am ready for my shrub talk at Olbrich this Wednesday. Do check out details regarding the Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) Garden Expo at www.wigardenexpo.com/ for dates, times, presentation topics, demonstrations, etc. We are still selling tickets to this event from our Cottage Gallery Gifts. I'll also finish ordering seeds this week and am transitioning to ordering/reserving plants as well. The bottom photo was shared by Patrea W. and is a nice recent shot of the alpine garden this winter.