Monday, March 18, 2013

A Snowy Start To Spring

It's hard to believe that spring is only two days away after seeing another 3" of white stuff coming down today.  Temperatures this week will be very "un-spring-like" and will be almost 45 degrees colder than this time last year which was of course, unseasonably warm.  While we may be done with snow for the spring, we'll need some thawing and melting out in the gardens to allow us to bring in the remaining elements of the Holiday Lights Show.  We also need to focus on our spring garden clean-up duties as soon as possible.  Despite the sour weather, we had a nice turnout of volunteers which included Dave, Dick H., Jim and Vern all working on sanding this teak bench directly above.  In the far left corner is Gene (yellow hat) who was also sanding along with Ron Y.  Del continued to clean and sharpen tools.  Pat and Urban braved the cold and snow and did some pruning in the arboretum before coming back inside to warm up.  Dr. Gredler continued with some painting projects.  Gary continued to work on labels and we'll be mounting our new woody plant labels (photo below) very shortly on concrete anchored stakes.  Mandy started this process this afternoon.  Oddly enough, that top label for the Deerproof Western arborvitae (Thuja plicata) should read "Deertasty" as it is far from being unpalatable by the nine deer we saw leaving the gardens this morning.  We also saw Stan, Jumbo Jim, Maury, Bill O. Cindy B., Kris K. and many others today.

We are really picking up steam with events looming immediately this spring.  This Saturday is our Spring Symposium (Our Gardening Heritage) which should be lots of fun.  This Friday evening though, prior to the Symposium, is the Market Mingle event at the Parker Education Center that features local foods, crafts, books, etc. and is our third event of this type.  I hope we get big crowds for this unique opportunity.  Below are just some of the posters and handouts we're distributing to promote the Spring Plant Sale (plant lists on our website), Spring Tree Sale and other events like our Compost Sale (starting April 6th).  All of these events are on our website.  Our Earth Day activities should be fun for the entire family and there are additional adult education opportunities over the coming months as well.  Check out our website soon and often!

I ordered more caladiums (Caladium bicolor) this morning as they have been so effective in our shady and partly shady garden locations over the past couple of years.  Native to Brazil and portions of Central and South America, this tropical has a long history in our gardens.  There are many great suppliers of caladiums, most in Florida, and size of the "bulb" (actually a tuber) does matter when purchasing these.  We typically will order 300-500 each winter of various varieties and start them in 4" pots in early April.  We plant them in late May and early June when the soil temperatures are warming.  The tubers can be dug, cleaned off, dried and stored like you would a canna or dahlia.  With adequate moisture (vital) and some fertilization, we get some very showy foliage contributions from these plants.  Some of my favorites are included below (identification under each photo) and there are over 1,000 varieties out there to consider!

'Fannie Munson'
'Candidum Jr.'
'White Queen'
'Florida Sweetheart'
'Angel Wings'

I hope to get out in the gardens again shortly with my camera.  In the next couple of weeks I'll be photographing our hellebores (Helleborus) out in the gardens.  However, the two hellebores below I photographed inside today as the plants are part of the silent auction donations for the Spring Symposium.  I sure have become smitten by hellebores and I believe we're adding another 12 varieties this year with many more to locate, secure, plant and enjoy.

'Onyx Odyssey'
unknown variety

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