Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring - Day 2 (Frigid!)

Today was another cold spring day with below average temperatures and a chilly start to the morning.  It was sunny though and the birds were chirping like it was late April out there.  The sun project above (featured in a previous blog) was completed by my younger daughter and is now the second of the 35 projects to come back to the gardens.  We should see many more arriving back at RBG next week and in early April.  Our goal is to have all of these clear coated (thanks Utzig Carstar!) and installed prior to Mother's Day out in the gardens.  At this time last year, I was taking many spring photos out in the gardens and our garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus) were just starting to bloom five weeks early.  Well, I decided to get my "color fix" and share some shots of different hyacinths that I photographed at Keukenhof  (Netherlands) last April.  All of these varieties are available as fall planted bulbs and while the color range is impressive, the offering of scent is of merit too!  I'm giving a talk next Wednesday night on Sweet Scents in the Garden at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI).  We've really explored scent out in the gardens with our Smelly Garden theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and will continue to utilize fragrant plants wherever and whenever we can.  I always promote hyacinths as one of the earliest, strong-scented plants blooming in our gardens.  In the spring of 2007? we had a collection of garden hyacinths and displayed over 60 varieties.  Ahhhh.  The fragrance was heavenly.

'Gypsy Queen'
'Pink Pearl'
'Delft Blue'
'Miss Saigon'
'China Pink'
'Purple Sensation'
'Jan Bos'

Above is our newly arrived membership certificate for the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) which was founded two years ago and continues to be a great resource for networking and promoting Japanese gardens on our continent.  Karen M. and I attended the NAJGA conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden in the fall of 2011 and it was well worth the registration and involvement.  I was amazed how many attendees at this conference had heard of our Japanese garden and RBG in general.

We had a solid volunteer turnout today.  Pat and Urban braved the cold to accomplish more pruning in the Japanese garden.  Jim (below) worked on this gate and other carpentry projects with Dave T.  Gene was in for sanding and Ron W. hauled more benches to storage (fourth photo down) with some help.  The second photo down shows the carved squirrel (done by Dave T.) that goes on top of the gate seen directly below.  We've always called this the "squirrel gate" and it is located along the east wall of the English cottage garden when in place.  Gary entered more label information and produced some new labels.  Maury was also in for some errands and to stir up general havoc.  Dr. Gredler can be seen painting in the third photo down and his brush was just a blur of activity.  He's touching up one of our potting benches with a nice conversion from  yucky grey to this neat blue.  Janice and Cindy B. went mobile and worked with the Chestnut House volunteers on bagging up more pumpkin seeds for the spring plant sale.  Our big vegetable collection at the Horticulture Center this year will include a wide range of neat, miniature pumpkins.  We also saw Hal R., Del, Mary W. and many others today.  At the bottom is a shot of our new garden cart that will be picked up shortly.  This electric, 6 passenger cart, was funded by a generous grant opportunity and will have multiple (and immediate) uses out in the gardens.  Sure looks like a sweet ride.

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