Today was overcast and clear until about 10 am when it really started to drizzle strongly throughout the rest of the afternoon. Above is a wonderful (and recent) shot taken by Marsha M. (thanks for sharing!). While the early bird gets the worm, the patient photographer gets the shot! The rain forced us back inside although we had plenty enough going on to keep everyone busy. Some of my "color shots" below are from previous days including the 'Pink Giant' glory-in-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) directly below. This genus is becoming one of my favorite early bulbs (fall planted) as it seems very long-lasting and colorful. It has also colonized well in every area we've planted it. The next photo down is a shot from ground level for one of our hellebores (Helleborus) in the woodland walk. Below that is the start of the colorful foliage of the variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida 'Aurea-Variegata') which should have colorful blue blossoms in about a month or so.
Our volunteers today included both Kay and Urban heading out in the gardens this morning for some clean-up duties. They made great progress until the rains started. Maury was in to run some errands for us and we also saw Bill O., Kris K. and Cheryl D. It was otherwise a pretty quiet day. We did have plenty of trial plants to pot up (see two photos below). The samples seen below are from Ball FloraPlant and we have additional incoming trial plants from many additional suppliers this week. We replant these plugs in larger containers and put them in the greenhouses to get a jump on summer. The third photo down shows Cindy (left) and Jenny potting up summer bulbs like cannas, fragrant tuberose (Polianthes), torch lilies (Kniphofia) and caladiums. The ladies moved on to the trial plugs in the afternoon. Janice was out in the gardens for some clean-up and sign inventories and came back during the rains to process some deliveries and continue preparations for the Spring Plant Sale (see our website!) in earnest. Terry was out filling more containers with his custom soil mix and later helped with some greenhouse work and clean-up duties. Big John spread more mulch, made a road trip for plants and another for supplies, gassed up the vehicles and helped tidy in the Horticulture Center. Pat created a mulch path around the giant obelisk, started filling elevated containers and spent the afternoon painting some of the entrance garden structures (no surprise, orange!). Larry worked on various projects and he and John ran out to pick up some trees as well.
I'm getting ready for our spring events as well but also have to make sure incoming orders are processed, labeled and ready to go out in the gardens when appropriate. Our yard will start filling with plants very soon and we like to keep everything organized. Directly below is a patch of 'Jetfire' daffodils (Narcissus) in the sunken garden which is a "perky" variety. This variety is known for the long, orange trumpet and the lemon yellow, reflexed petals (sweeping back from the trumpet). The next photo down shows just some of the thousands of tulips (Tulipa) that have fallen prey to hungry rabbits. I've not seem damage this extensive at RBG and wish we had been more proactive with repellents or barriers this spring. A little nibbling became a vast wasteland of chomped tulips in about three days. The next photo down shows some CowPots that we'll be using to start some Malabar spinach (Basella rubra) for the plant sale. Check out CowPots online as they are a nice re-purpose of cow poop and the plantable container is a nice touch. Janice did a study with biodegradable pots years ago and the plants in the CowPots did the best (extra nutrients!). Malabar spinach has nutritious, edible leaves and is productive throughout the hottest of summers. I think it's also quite ornamental. The long photo at the bottom shows the main parking lot at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. All the water you see is covering their huge parking lot which does ironically have rain gardens! Flooding in the Chicago area is unbelievable and the arboretum was closed due to the cresting and flooding of the adjacent DuPage River. My parents and younger brother are in the suburbs and their sump pumps are running fairly often!