If anyone does a future GOOGLE internet search using the words obelisks, icicles and fireworks, my blog will probably be the only thing that comes up. After writing the previous sentence, I performed such a search and came up with 981,000 hits...weird (and scary). It was a productive day at the Horticulture Center with lots of painting occurring. This morning was brutally cold so we avoided garden work and stayed inside. Rose came in to continue the lime to red conversion of some 9' tall obelisks (top two photos). Rose is a great painter (don't let her colorful shirt fool you) and we appreciate having her help. These obelisks will go back in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden for our new Pollinator's Paradise display. We'll have some flowering vines going up these with the intent of getting lots of butterflies, bees and other beneficial pollinators. We're excited about this two year theme which will be both colorful and educational. Pat and Urban (directly below) also painted and here they are moving one of our entrance garden pyramids in to position for repainting. Dr. Gredler was painting today as well and can be seen two photos down threatening me with a paint brush (happens frequently). Note to the right (same photo) that Urban is trapped and ultimately not released until he finishes painting the inside of that structure (one of three!). We also saw Vern who came back with some supplies. Janice was here for more research and Bill O. popped in around the lunch hour. It was a quiet but productive day.
I spent the day bouncing between projects which included ordering, presentation preparations, catalog perusal and I also spent the time backing up everything on my computer to an external hard drive that is stored elsewhere. I've learned some hard lessons about proper data back-up procedures and keeping additional copies of all my presentations, files, photos, etc. It took four hours to back everything up but now I can sleep at night. The few times I was outside, it was painful. I took the photo below today and caught some nice icicles on the Parker Education Center. Note the lights are secured under the eaves as we used to just clip them on the lowest shingles only to have ice push them off (no gutters there). A return to warmer temperatures will be nice so we can continue taking down and storing the Holiday Lights Show (HLS). This was a banner January for HLS take down progress though and we'll keep plugging along (pun intended). Or should it be "unplugging" along...? :)
My "fireworks" reference is in reference to one of my favorite annual grasses (featured in all the photos below). This grass came out three years ago and is called a variegated purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum). 'Fireworks' has a strong, pink variegation and looks good even before the inflorescences (flower/seed heads) appear in late July. This medium height grass (36"-40") is perfect for the mid border (see directly below at the Chicago Botanic Garden) and in the container (bottom four containers). Position in full blazing sun for the best coloration. I would not be without this grass and that's why I have 100 or so coming to the gardens this year. So what if it's not hardy and is "just an annual". Look at that impact! There is now a nice white variegated variety of annual fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) called 'Sky Rocket' and if you want one that has a more subtle, but effective pink variegation, look for 'Cherry Sparkler'. I'll show these others off in a future blog. Look for 'Fireworks' at the garden center and enjoy the "impact" in your own garden.