Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A VIP At The Gardens

We had an enjoyable visit from Brent Heath (seen above) yesterday.  Note the bears (sculpture) hovering above Brent's head in the woodland walk garden!  Brent, co-founder of Brent & Becky's Bulbs (, came to the gardens to give a presentation and hands-on workshop for "The Tropical Paradise Garden".  He came to Janesville with Kris K. early enough to tour the gardens in the afternoon with most of the grounds staff (photo directly below).  He is vastly knowledgeable on a wide range of plants and of course, he is one of the premiere bulb experts in the world.  We shared Brent with the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society who will have him tonight for a presentation.  This was Brent's fourth visit to RBG and he was very complimentary about the gardens and gave us some great advice.  His program was very well received and included a presentation with lots of "eye candy" followed by a hands-on workshop which involved planting your own tropical bulb container.  See Cindy and Janice further below (note their matching gloves...).  It was great visiting with Brent who is an all around great person (as is his lovely wife Becky).  We hope Brent will visit us again in the future.

This morning was overcast but the incoming rains didn't flush everyone back inside until around 10 am.  We had plenty of indoor projects today.  Below is Jenny cleaning up more re-purposed planters.  She, Dr. Gredler and Terry started priming these as well and a dozen of these will end up being orange and will find homes out in the garden this year.  These containers (originally for shipping materials) were donated by Stoughton Trailer (Stoughton, WI).   Terry and John also did some gardening work earlier including filling containers, mulching, hauling out containers, etc.  The guys later did a nice job organizing and preparing the greenhouses for incoming plants (tomorrow).  Jenny and Cindy were also outside earlier for some gardening before coming back to a drier setting.  Cindy potted up more seeds and plants, many of which arrived today.  The second and third photos down show much of what will become our American Garden Award Display ( this year.  These plugs (153) were all "bumped up" to larger containers and went immediately in to our newly donated greenhouses (thanks Kathy and Tom!).  There is one more variety that will be part of this collection (four total varieties).  I worked on various projects and plenty of paperwork.  We also saw Janice, Mark S., Dick H., Maury and some others today.

While we wished we had more blooming bulbs to show Brent yesterday, we're seeing more come up each day.  With a couple of warm days and some sun, the gardens should explode to life very quickly.  There is color here and there though including the 'Valerie Finnis' grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) just starting to open directly below.  Further down is the 'Blue Giant' glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) which is peaking all over the gardens.  The next photo down shows the "donut stage" of a monkshood (Aconitum sp.) in our color rooms garden.  This is a great example of an older perennial in need of division.  With the youngest, most vigorous growth on the outer edges of this clumping perennial, the older center where the original plant was installed, is "vacated", creating this appearance.  The "donut stage" for any perennial, whether hosta, ornamental grass, yarrow, etc., is the signal to divide that perennial and replant as needed.  I've heard of instances where the open center is replanted with a division(s) to fill in that void although amending that soil with compost would help.  The problem with this perennial getting taller and extending to maturity is that the vacant center creates a void in the center of the taller perennial as well.  Look for donuts out in your garden!  At the bottom is the old-fashioned bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) just emerging.

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