Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sensational Solenostemon (Cool Coleus)

We had about 5" of fresh snow overnight which was fairly easy to clear off this morning.  With temperatures reaching the upper 30 degrees F today, the roads are melting off nicely.  My trip up to Madison tonight to speak at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (The Moonlit Garden) should be smooth.  The photo above is from this morning and shows our newly painted obelisks ready to go out in the gardens in a month or so.  All of our painted obelisks have been processed and have their 2013 colors!  Dick H. did a nice job plowing the Horticulture Center parking lot and Bill O. did some touch-up around the gardens including behind the Parker Education Center and the Horticulture Center yard.  Dr. Gredler continued putting wood sealer on some of our last items to be addressed (plant benches).  We'll soon shift our primary efforts to working on the remainder of our garden benches (sanding and stain).  We're all coughing and sneezing up fine sawdust but the benches look great.  Below (left to right) are Pat R., Cindy B. and Kay J. all working on peeling labels in the office this morning.  These are the individual labels for the Spring Plant Sale (May 11th and 12th) vegetables and there is a lot of peeling to accomplish.  I'm still blushing after all the interesting "girl talk" that I was exposed to in the office this morning.  My therapist should get me through it though (hopefully)...

I spent the morning finalizing some of the plant order listings that will be converted to new labels very shortly.  we like to match up our labels as the plants arrive.  Jenny E. has started entering the annuals for our sticker labels and Gary will start on the perennials tomorrow.  We can't make the new woody plant labels until we know where they are going to be planted.  These all receive an accession code # that is ultimately linked to the garden area and our database.  I have another retreat this afternoon which should be of value.  I continue to make some plant orders and will haul all of our sorted seeds to our growers next week.  We're fortunate to have such supportive growers that don't mind trying something new.  As I walk in with my boxes of seed each year (and the boxes keep getting bigger!), they must wonder what crazy selections I've brought with me this year!  We have some growers starting coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) for us (from plugs) so we pick them up as good-sized plants (4" pots) after Mother's Day.  I love coleus and we use lots of it in the gardens.  My travels last year exposed me to many interesting varieties and the fourteen below (identified under the image) are just a smattering of those that I photographed.  They are wonderful components in the mixed border and container.  Keep in mind that there are different forms for leaf size, pattern and many have a different color on the underside of the leaf.  We grow many in full sun but are sure to plant them in rich soils and keep the water and fertilizer coming.  We don't let them bloom and will pinch off any of those little blue flower spires when we see them.  We want the foliage and have rarely been disappointed.  I think we'll have about 30 varieties out in the gardens this year.  The names are becoming more creative each year too!

'Pink Pomegranate'
'Under the Sea - Lion Fish'
'Pink Ruffles'
'Ruby Jewels'
'ColorBlaze Marooned'
'Honey Crisp'
'Gnash Rambler'
'Pineapple Splash'
'Roaring Fire'

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