Today was a long one for me but certainly lots of fun. Big John, Denise and I drove up to Madison this morning (two vehicles) to set up our Garden Expo (sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television) booth at the Alliant Exhibition Hall. We're glad we delayed this trip from yesterday (bad driving weather) as we had smooth sailing all the way up and back. Above is Denise in our booth after we set it up and it was nice to have Denise's "touch" as I think this was our best booth ever. John and Denise can be seen below with some of the set-up. John and his "better half" Jackie then worked as volunteers for the first shift of the evening with Layton and Kathy replacing them for the second shift. Our Exec. Director, Mary, spelled me as well. We had no trouble setting up the booth and with the exception of a few items we'll bring up tomorrow, we had a very smooth set-up. Olbrich Botanical Gardens lent us quite a few plants for the booth which we greatly appreciate. The traffic flow was nice tonight and my talk on Trendy Annuals had about 150 attendees or so. Tomorrow I should have full crowds (300) for Vertical Gardening and Annual Grasses as Saturdays are packed and very busy.
I saw some pretty nice booths and some new vendors this year. I loved the display (above) for Allen Centennial Gardens (UW-Madison) that Ed Lyon and his volunteers put together. Look at the use of painted PVC pipe and ornamental grasses to create these huge paint brushes. Really cool. Below is part of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society booth which always has nice visuals. If you're in to perennials, this is a group you should join as they have great lectures, fun trips and plenty of social opportunities including plant sales and swaps. The second photo down is one of the perennial arrangements at The Flower Factory booth. They always do a nice job and are one of my favorite nurseries. They are also very supportive of the gardens. Further down are some troughs with alpine plants at the booth for the WI/IL Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. I hope they get more members and potential alpine garden enthusiasts as they are a fun group and actually had two work days at the gardens in 2012 and did a nice job improving our alpine garden at RBG. At the bottom is my first picture of the day. As I sweated through my coat and sweater this morning shoveling 4 metric tons of snow in front of the Parker Education Center, I couldn't pass up this shot of our contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') also called Harry Lauder's walking stick. What a nice specimen augmented by the snow. Thanks to all that helped today and we look forward to two more days of promoting the gardens!