Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dabbling In The 80s

It was a hot one today with a high close to 88 degrees F.  That's quite a jump and it was nice to see so many people outside today in general.  Above is a classy species tulip (Tulipa humilis) called 'Persian Pearl' in the English cottage garden.  Although small and short, this one will catch the eye with little difficulty.  It looks like the rest of the week will have some chance of rain and there will be a bit of a "cool down" towards the weekend.  I can't blog too much about the gardens as I was only there this morning and early evening for a meeting (Home Garden Tour with Bill, Linda, Janet, Jean, Tom, Sue and Barb).  I spent the day being mobile and went on some area visits to our growers.  I ultimately ended up in Madison and had a nice lunch with Shelley Ryan, recently retired host/producer of The Wisconsin Gardener on Wisconsin Public Television.  It was great to catch up and "talk shop".  I also was able to tour Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) briefly and said 'hi' to Samara, Samantha and Phillip, three of the grounds horticulturists.  They must have had 40+ volunteers cutting back grasses and doing some serious spring clean-up.  They all wondered how I could get away and I said that we had been done with our clean-up for weeks and I couldn't believe they were still working on theirs...  :)  I took lots of bulb and perennial pictures at Olbrich and will share some tomorrow.  Directly below is a close-up of a grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) along the side of my house.  The details up close are quite striking and ours at the gardens will be peaking later this week and next.  The second photo down shows the flowers of the sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) in the woodland walk which will be followed shortly by the emerging leaves.  The next photo down was also taken in the woodland walk gardem and is a drumstick primrose (Primula denticulata) looking nice and colorful along the shoreline.

Our grounds staff today consisted of Larry, Janice, Big John, Pat and Cindy.  Everyone had a full day of projects and we're continuing our clean-up efforts, mulching, composting and other duties.  I only saw Kay in to help out as a volunteer before I left but I'm sure we had many others.  Directly below is another species tulip (Tulipa tarda) which perennializes nicely and is a vivid yellow with white petal tips.  I like this smaller tulip in nice clumps along the front of a border (8" tall).  The second photo down shows the silver, emerging foliage of the 'Majeste' lungwort (Pulmonaria) that is a tough perennial in leaner soils and limited sunlight.  The next photo down is the colorful foliage of the emerging 'Stairway to Heaven' Jacob's ladder (Polemonium reptans) which has some nice pink, variegated spring growth that later fades to a cream.  The next photo down features some of the many thousands of daffodils (Narcissus) that are at full peak at the gardens.  At the bottom is a dedication ceremony yesterday for long-time supporter, Board Member and volunteer Ruth Ann Potts.  A contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') was dedicated to Ruth Ann and the people in the photograph include RBG staff, Board Members and members of the Noon Rotary Club as well.  Looks like another nice gardening day tomorrow!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Today was a pleasant day although we had some rain later on in the afternoon. Above are Kathy and Tom who donated the greenhouse seen behind them (and two others) to the gardens last fall.  They were kind enough to come both Friday and today to help us secure a new shade covering on this house and to provide venting instructions for the greenhouses based on their 22 years? of experience.  We appreciate their time (and donation)!  I was able to get around the gardens many times today and it's amazing what the warm weekend encouraged in terms of blooms.  Directly below is the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) thriving along the shoreline of the Japanese garden near the zig-zag bridge.  The next photo down shows a yellow garden hyacinth (Hyacinthus) that smelled wonderful as I passed by late this morning.  The next photo down shows a lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) in full bloom which is quite spectacular with the various gradations of pink and blue which is typical for most varieties.  The foliage will then take over shortly and you can see hints of the silver spotting that will become quite visually interesting for this variety.  There are many varieties out there that will vary in foliage and/or blooms.  The fourth photo down shows the classic bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in full, rich bloom.  This is one of my favorite flowers this time of year and our large patches of bloodroot throughout the woodland walk garden are glowing with that pure white contribution. 

The grounds staff was quite busy today and everyone was in today at some point or another.  Above are Cindy and Terry bonding. They worked together all morning on some mulching and composting and did a nice job.  Both branched off on their own after lunch to accomplish other projects.  Big John did quite a bit of composting today and also helped with our kiosk project mentioned further below.  John and Terry also picked up some newly engraved benches and both guys had plenty of other duties.  Jenny tidied up the front of the building, along Palmer Drive and in many other locations.  She also worked on labels during the afternoon spurt of rain.  Pat was in as a volunteer this morning and "became staff" before the lunch hour.  He did a nice job composting and mulching out in the gardens among other projects.  Larry (directly below) had a full day with a major water line leak in the woodland walk garden.  This involved plenty of digging through tree roots and he should be able to finish the repairs tomorrow morning.  Janice came in this afternoon to work on compost and plant sale details and to attend (with Cindy), our Horticultural Therapy Committee Meeting.  I had a busy day but didn't accomplish most of what I had planned on doing (which is typical).

It was crazy day with lots of volunteers around the gardens and at the Horticulture Center.  It was a nice day to be outside and Gene (yellow bucket) and Bob kept busy mulching the old-fashioned roses near the French formal garden (directly below).  Ron W. and Lloyd did quite a bit of composting and Dick H. helped Big John compost after he ran some loads to the dump.  The second photo down shows Pat finishing the paint job on the gates that lead down in to the fern & moss garden.  Ron Y., Vern and Jim D. (third photo down) spent the morning working on a project for the education department although they also helped Kris K. get situated with her May Pole (fourth photo down).  The May Pole will be part of a program that Kris K. is offering this Wednesday (sponsored by Mercy Health System).  Stan K. (fifth photo down) did some nice pruning work on a burning bush (Euonymus alatus) near the Japanese garden and Bev W. was back in action doing some nice tidying in the sunken garden.  Gary continued his work on labels while Maury helped get some water features in order and ran errands.  Dennis J. came in to work with John on relocating the information kiosk (sixth photo down) which we're donating to the Ice Age Trail Alliance.  Dick H. and Ron W. helped guide John back to the Horticulture Center as his vision was limited.  We also saw Chuck S., Rollie, Hal R., Bill O. and many others today including members of our Horticultural Therapy Committee (Mary W., Art H., Elaine W., Cindy, Janice and me).  L.P.  Tree Service came to do some light pruning near the shade garden and Nature's Touch continues to clean and prepare our water features.

With so many spring flowers in bloom now, I had to include more in this blog.  Directly below are the fully opened Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) which are peppered throughout the woodland walk garden.  The next photo down shows one of our 'Royal Star' magnolias (Magnolia stellata) in full bloom on the west side of the Parker Education Center.  The third photo down shows the neat (and quite showy) blooms of a red maple (Acer rubrum) and note the little bee on top that was really working this tree over with dozens of friends.  Of course, the heat has also encouraged the dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) which were blooming in March last year for comparison.  At the bottom is another neat photo shared by Marsha M. of a local painted turtle catching some recent sunshine (thanks for sharing Marsha!).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Plentiful Sunshine

It was another nice sunny day and there are more traditional signs of spring all around the gardens.  Above is the 'Metallic Blue Lady' hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) in the gazebo garden.  I love this rich shade of maroon with a deep "blue" overtone.  This is a photo taken upwards from ground level in to this nodding flower.  Below is the early blooming, Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda 'Blue Shades') which is a fall planted bulb (actually a corm) that really has a lot of flower power with these 2" wide blooms (only 6" tall or so).  We have lots of this windflower in a nice clear white as well.  I was able to get around the gardens briefly this morning and then tried to keep up with various tours and orientations for new/returning volunteers.  Fridays are usually quite busy and today was no exception.  The second photo below is the 'Pink Frost' hellebore (Helleborus) in the woodland walk garden.  The next photo down is another garden hyacinth (Hyacinthus) perfuming the air.  These are nice as a cut or forced flower and will perfume a room nicely.  Janice has been using these in our cutting display too as they'll be noticeable to everyone walking in the front doors of the Parker Education Center.

We had a small grounds staff today and they sure kept hopping.  Directly below is Pat continuing to fill our horizontal PVC planters with potting soil.  There are seven of these in the All-America Selections (AAS) Display Garden this year.  We'll have some fun plants trailing out of these and vines climbing up the supports.    Pat also did some push mowing out in the gardens.  Big John hauled out and stockpiled shredded bark all morning for Ron K. who kept busy mulching in the woodland walk garden.  John also hauled and spread compost, installed more tube planters and worked on some odds and ends.  Janice (second photo down) did a nice job planting up hundreds of unrooted cuttings (New Guinea impatiens and Gomphrena) from Sakata Seed which will be part of our plant trials this year.  Janice also helped with our volunteers and worked out in the gardens later today.  I had various meetings, a tour and was able to finish a couple tasks.  The day went quickly and it was nice to see more guests out in the gardens on this fine day.

We had a nice turnout of volunteers today. Directly below are Resa (left) and Cookie who are new to working as garden volunteers although Cookie has been involved at the gardens in the past.  The ladies will be assigned gardeners in the North Point garden but today helped pot up zinnia plugs with Janice and also tidied up in the fern & moss garden.  The three of us had a nice tour of the gardens too.  Dr. Gredler did a nice job mowing and Urban came in to transplant some small ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) trees in the Japanese garden.  Tom K. came in this morning to scope out some gardens to maintain as an assigned garden volunteer and Kay did a dynamite job with more select garden clean-up. Jim H. (second photo down) came in for some garden clean-up.  Mary H. and her daughter were in for clean-up in their garden and we also saw Maury, Dick H. (made a roadtrip for memorial bricks), Dave G. and many others.  Kathy and Tom H., our greenhouse donors, stopped by to give us some great advice on venting these greenhouses on these sunny days. The third photo down shows our morning tour participants which included most of the RBG staff, tour guide docents, garden ambassadors and general RBG volunteers.  I gave this tour with the goal of letting everyone know the 2013 collections but also various factoids regarding each of the garden areas.  

Directly below is a portion of our moss island.  Janice recently put this green netting over the entire area to thwart the persistent and consistent efforts of both squirrels and birds who are tearing up our moss island hourly.  She replaced this netting with a black tulle that was originally promoted by Dale S. ("Mr. Moss").  The moss is growing well but we need to check it daily for damage.  The next photo down shows a beautiful rain barrel that was decorated by one of our RECAPPER volunteers who is quite an artist.  Jumbo Jim brought it down and we'll use it soon.  The last three photos were taken at Pat H.'s house which is on one of our dog walk routes (six blocks from my house).  She has a wonderful garden that has been on our Home Garden Tour in the past and she has a beautiful "bulb lawn" with all sorts of goodies poking out of the turf.  Roughly, in sequence, is a miniature daffodil clump (Narcissus), glory-in-the-snow (Chionodoxa sp.) and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Impressive Collective Efforts

The Bower City Garden Club (BCGC) hosted their annual Spring Luncheon today and it was very well attended.  Above are the ladies looking at the silent auction items.  I gave a short presentation after lunch that included the gardens and an emphasis on the garden as a sensory experience.  I saw many RBG volunteers and people that I knew.  The BCGC has been very supportive of the gardens over the years both financially and with "hands on" projects.  This presentation involved me dressing up a bit (yes, a tie!) which unsurprisingly received a certain degree of "comments" from our grounds staff and volunteers.  It was a long day which started with our compost delivery semi-truck getting stuck in our quagmire of wet soil behind the Horticulture Center (see below).  We had to get this industrial tow truck (thanks Davis CITGO) to get him out.  The day was chilly with some sun and overall, a nice day to be outside gardening.  

It's nice to have more and more flowers to choose from each day for photographs.  I've been waiting for the corneliancherry dogwoods (Cornus mas 'Golden Glory') to start blooming as seen above in the Scottish garden. Though the flowers are small, they are numerous and will give this small tree a "haze" of yellow color before the leaves emerge in a couple weeks.  Directly below is one of the single pink hyacinths (Hyacinthus) just starting to open up with wonderful fragrance.  The next photo down shows our first primrose (Primula sp.) blooming along the edge of the Japanese garden.  I plan on planting many more primulas of various species and varieties this year as you simply can't overuse primroses. 

The grounds staff kept busy today.  Larry helped deal with our "compromised" compost delivery and repaired one of our garden carts which is now in good working order.  Cindy tidied the front of the building up before the luncheon and then spent most of her time collecting debris from the color rooms and Scottish garden.  Jenny tidied around the observation pier and in some other areas as well.  Both Cindy and Jenny did some light watering of our recently planted pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) containers and helped shift plants to our new greenhouses.  Big John dug in and leveled the new plastic tube planters (third photo down) along the front garden bed and started filling them with soil.  He also hauled mulch, plants to the greenhouse, etc.  He and Larry also set-up the uber-heavy umbrella stands out on the terrace garden patio.  Janice worked out in the gardens, refreshed the cutting display, worked on plant sale preparations and other projects.  We have more trial plants to pot up tomorrow.  

It was a great day with many volunteers.  Ron W. (left) and Ron Y. directly below hauled out and secured the remainder of our garden benches.  We are keeping spreadsheets on where these are located as we have so many (46?) of this general style (teak and cedar).  This doesn't include our 54 environmental quote benches (redwood). Gene, Del and Rollie finished assembling the plant sale tables and Del went out to do some mowing as well.  Dr. Gredler mowed all morning (third photo down) and the lawns, with so much recent moisture and a dose of fertilizer, are looking nice and green right now.  Bob C. spread shredded bark in the parking lot islands while Dave and Jim worked on carpentry projects.  New Grumpy Ron continued work on our new Horticulture Center door and worked on some other projects.  Dick H. took many loads to the dump and is keeping up with our fluctuating debris pile.  Dick P. and Maury worked on some repairs at the other building and Maury headed out for supplies too.  Pat did quite a bit of painting including the big gates that lead in to the fern & moss garden.  The second photo down shows Bev (far left), Deb (hidden) and her two grandkids working on the signs for the garden art project suns (35 of the 36 have been secured).  Pat R. came in to help Cindy with garden clean-up and we also saw Bill O., Urban and many others!

Below is one of our pedestal/urn combinations from last year.  Terry installed four of these in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden at waist height.  The garden theme in this space is "Pollinator's Paradise" and these containers will allow children of all ages to hopefully observe butterflies, etc. doing their thing. This will be a colorful summer garden although the spring color (mostly tulips) is all but nibbled away by rabbits. UGH!  The next photo down shows a portion of our blended mushroom compost pile that will be used to augment and improve the soils in many different garden areas.  This is a great product.  The third photo down shows the nice reseeding of the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) which will continue to thicken this carpet of yellow in the early spring.  This colony is only 10 years old...imagine in 100 years!  The last three photos were shared by "Mr. Moss" (Dale S. from Waukesha, WI) and show some of his most recent moss container dabbling.  He's including a wide range of mosses including the silvery reindeer moss (which is actually a lichen).  Dale has lots of moss and dozens of containers like this.  He is quite artistic and his help renovating our moss island last year continues to much appreciated.