I was able to get outside a bit today and it was nice to see the snow melting down with these warmer daytime temperatures. Urban and I did two "tours" to identify the last of our winter pruning needs. Signs of a "true spring" are becoming more evident and it was nice to see more bulbs peaking out like the winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) above and the snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) below. I can't explain the science behind it but every year I'm amazed how the growth of the earliest emerging plants generates just enough heat to melt snow back so these early bloomers can emerge and bloom. The Eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) generates enough heat (thermogenesis) to keep snow and frost away from the very early blooms which I'm sure are just starting. What an interesting phenomenon. The second photo down is the pheasant's eye (Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai') finally opening up. Oddly enough, my first photo of this perennial starting to bloom was on February 1st last year!
We had some nice volunteer help today both inside and outside. Rose (below) continued work on re-staining our teak benches. She does a nice job and has been helping Vern over these past couple of weeks. Urban and Pat went out to do more pruning and haul back debris. Bill O. also helped tidy up out in the gardens and hauled back the last of our messy brush piles. Dr. Gredler was in for some repainting efforts. We also saw Terry, Maury and many others. Bev D. and Deb G. came in to talk about the Garden Art Project as we've already had seven sun projects returned and they look neat! Larry worked on vehicle and equipment maintenance in preparation for our quick spring start next week when we get back out in the gardens in earnest. He and Bill also brought back any Holiday Lights Show displays that have thawed out and could be loaded up and hauled back. I spent most of the day bouncing between event preparations like the Compost Sale, Spring Plant Sale, Home Garden Tour, etc. These are all on our website so mark them down on your calendars!
I've been reviewing some of our incoming spring orders and was happily reminded about a healthy supply of 'Diamond Head' elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) coming to the gardens in May. I first saw this variety out in New York in the fall of 2010. Note the two shots directly below taken at the New York Botanical Garden (a must see) and the Central Park Conservatory Gardens (very nice). I thought that the chocolate brown coloration was unique and we've been growing it ever since. This variety comes out of the Royal Hawaiian series developed by Dr. John Cho of the University of Hawaii. While there are many very nice, almost black varieties like 'Black Magic', 'Black Coral' and 'Black Runner', this variety has that "brownish tinge" and lends itself to many uses. Note our use of this selection in containers further below. I'll have 50 of these to play with and am now wishing I had another 50....
'Diamond Head' at New York Botanical Garden
'Diamond Head' in Central Park (NY)
'Diamond Head' at RBG (above and below)
The photo directly below shows our full room of attendees at the Spring Symposium this past Saturday. We've had nothing but positive comments about this event with many past, veteran attendees saying it was the best one yet. This is very telling as we've had this quality symposium, started by Mike M., for 10 years now! The bottom image was shared by Marcia M. that features the front of the Parker Education Center in a "pencil sketch" format from stitched photographs. Pretty cool!
Below from Marsha M.