It was another delightful day with plenty of sunshine. I saw a half dozen visitors out in the gardens and I'm sure we'll see more each day as additional color emerges daily like that seen here. The top photo shows the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) blooming in the color rooms garden. This species is one of our earliest perennials to bloom and precedes most of the other hellebores. Directly above is the early squill (Scilla mischtschenkoana) blooming near the gazebo. We have a nice patch that gets plenty of sun and has quickly progressed to this bloom stage over the past day or two. While I haven't seen any daffodils (Narcissus) blooming yet, I imagine I'll find some next week here and there. Directly below is the vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Sandra') starting to unfurl those "confetti-like" blossoms. The next photo down shows the moss island looking nice and green. Janice recently tidied this up too and will continue to replace moss patches that go missing (birds, squirrels, etc.).
It was relatively quiet at the gardens today. Big John and Terry hauled out and secured more obelisks like those above in the formal annual sections. I love that violet/blue color and have some fun ideas for flower colors around these vertical elements. John and Terry also straightened signs, brought in displays, hauled in culvert pipes for painting, installed tree signs, etc. They kept busy as did Janice who continued clean-up efforts in the fern & moss garden and was also working on replacing/repairing labels out in the gardens. She also got ready for our Bagged Compost Sale which starts tomorrow from 8 am until 12 noon at the Horticulture Center. The bags (1.5 cubic feet, 45 lbs) are $5.50 each plus tax although RBG members get 10% off. This sale will go every Saturday in April and May. I worked on various projects including the placement of another 100 or tree and shrub labels in various garden areas.
Volunteers today included Dr. Gredler (below) painting our new, re-purposed containers. Now he can add some pink to his painting clothes which have an accurate history of every color he's used this winter. Bill O. continued to haul out our trash and recycling bins to their garden locations and he also spent some time cleaning up the pruning debris generated over the last couple of days. Maury brought back cardboard flats for our Spring Plant Sale (thanks Mark P. at Logli's!) and ran some other errands. We also saw Al B., Larry G., Urban M., Bev F. and many others.
Additional excitement today included the arrival of our new garden cart (seen above) from Jim's Carts & Parts (Milton, WI). This electric "six-seater" will have immediate value in moving volunteers around the gardens and we're currently exploring opportunities to offer pre-arranged tours with this cart for mobility impaired guests. This vehicle was provided by a generous grant and is a welcome addition to our fleet. The City of Janesville Parks Department burned our small prairie this morning too (as seen below). It was a well-managed burn and the results were good. We'll head in there shortly and dig out the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), mulberry (Morus sp.), European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and other "non-desireables" that shouldn't be there and don't perish with a "quick burn" like this. The third photo down shows our 'Flame' willows (Salix hybrida) that were cut back by Ron W. this past Monday. We cut them back now to encourage new stem growth. These should shoot back up to 8' or so this year and those new stems will get the best reddish winter color at the end of the season (hence the variety name 'Flame'). At the bottom is a nice shot of the pagoda in the upper portion of the Japanese garden.