It was another rainy day today although we had a brief respite in the late morning that allowed us to get outside a bit. I took most of these photos today with the exception of the turkeys further below. At the top is one of our first daffodils (Narcissus) starting to bloom although there are other clumps that are poised and ready to open over the coming week or so. Directly above is one of our many hellebores (Helleborus) starting to bloom strongly in the gazebo garden. When we get significant rain like this, we always check our gravel paths for "washouts" and look for more branches down in the gardens; both of which have happened with heavy rain and wind. The water level in our pond is getting quite high but would need to raise up another 12" or so to start causing some serious problems. I spent the day on myriad tasks and my tour today revealed some of our upcoming priorities when the weather breaks. We still have plenty of garden clean-up to accomplish and will continue to cut back ornamental grasses. I did a talk on Vertical Gardening for the Burlington (WI) Garden Club and it seemed well received. I think I've enticed some new visitors and potential members to RBG too which is always a primary intent with these presentations! Directly below are the old leaves (from last year) on a swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor). The fall color is a nice orange late in the season but I like this winter color too. These leaves will be shed once the new ones emerge.
The grounds staff had another productive day inside although we did pop out between showers to tackle some tasks. Big John and Terry prepared many of our garden art projects (suns) for mounting next week. Many of these are quite heavy and we'll secure them on two stakes out in the gardens to minimize wind issues which were a problem last year for the oak leaf garden projects. The guys also headed out in the gardens to continue pulling stakes from the Holiday Lights Show and they brought back additional items from the gardens. They also hauled out our terrace furniture and worked on many other projects throughout the day. Cindy spent a good portion of the morning organizing our hand tools and engraving a 'RBG' on everything. With volunteer bringing their own tools on occasion and so many RBG tools in circulation, we like to have all of ours identified so they are returned properly. Directly above is the ornamental bark of the three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) which I think is quite interesting, particularly when wet. Directly below are the early, purplish emerging leaves of the Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) which we have in many locations. The leaves will turn green but I enjoy the early flowers.
Aside from the general mud and messiness out in the gardens, there are some additional "unsightly elements" including the deer damage on many of our emerging tulips (Tulipa) as seen above. These still may bloom. If you look closely, you can see the flower buds still tucked inside. For deer however, the only thing tastier than tulip foliage is a tulip blossom!!! UGH. Directly below is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) looking healthy out in the gardens. We'll target these very shortly with herbicide on a warm and sunny day or maybe just dig it out if time allows. We continue the "good fight" and will keep targeting this weed throughout the gardens. Nice bench quote two photos down on one of our 54 environmental benches out in the gardens. The next two photos down show how well our moss is appreciating the moisture over these past couple of days.
Volunteers today included Dr. Gredler doing more painting and also doing a nice job tidying up all our painting supplies, surplus paint, etc. He opened up some space that will be needed very shortly. Pat M. was in for more painting and is working on some converted pedestal/urn containers that we'll have out in the Pollinator's Paradise (Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden) this year. Bill O. headed out to bring in more cottonwood (Populus deltoides) debris from recent pruning activities. We also saw Bev F., Rollie and some others today as well. Directly below are our two deliveries of shredded bark (160 cubic yards) that we'll be spreading in earnest very shortly. I'm glad the delivery truck didn't get stuck in the quagmire and we'll use half this pile by the end of the month (if the weather cooperates!). The next photo down shows some turkeys outside the Horticulture Center yesterday afternoon and at the bottom, this shot of the arched bridge also shows the pond level getting close to the bottom of the bridge (along the sides). We've seen the pond level much higher than this but don't want to re-live that experience. Our 2008 flooding had the pond almost 4' higher than you see it here and the damage was significant.