Today was beautiful and became quite warm with a high near 85 degrees F. I think we're finally in the clear from late frost and the upcoming days look pretty good for highs and evening low temperatures. Above is the 'Royal White' redbud (Cercis canadensis f. alba) peaking near the observation pier. All of our redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are at peak throughout the gardens and are quite showy. It was a bit crazy this morning around 9 am when we were unloading some of our plants and our perennial supplier for the sale arrived at the same time. With plenty of teamwork, it all worked out well for quick unloading, reloading and getting the yard organized after the completion of the sale. We had many people stopping by to see if we were still selling plants (which we're not). As we condense the sale and finalize those elements, we'll shift to a quick focus on our planting and maintenance needs out in the gardens. Below are three barrenworts (Epimedium) that I photographed today in close proximity along the border in the gazebo garden. The flowers, while small, are quite exquisite and are always worthy of closer inspection and appreciation. They are identified under each image.
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Yellow Princess'
Epimedium hybrida 'Starlet'
Epimedium x warlyense 'Ellen Wilmott'
We had plenty of volunteer assistance today. Above is Chuck on our new garden cart. Chuck, one of our best tour guides, and I were taking this cart through the gardens to determine some mobile tour routes. We quickly identified turns and other obstacles to avoid with this new cart but look forward to being able to incorporate its use in to what we ultimately offer for mobility impaired guests. Directly below are Cookie (left) and Resa who did a great job in the area that will soon become our All-America Selections (AAS) garden. They removed some older bulbs and weeds from all thirteen beds. We'll get these composted and prepared for planting in the next week or two. Kay did a huge amount of work in the shade garden which included significant weeding and composting. Dr. Gredler came in for mowing and Gary was in to work on some labeling odds and ends. Ron K. did some tidying in the woodland walk garden and I have plenty of plants for him to install over the coming weeks. Mary W. helped move plants, consolidate the plant sale and water too. We also had our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee Meeting today which included Big John, Maury, Dr. Gredler, Joanne, Gary, Dick P., Christine R., Iza and Rose M. We also saw many others over here today as well.
The grounds staff had a very busy day. Pat worked on push mowing, tidying up the rose collection (digging out dead ones too) and edging around the koi pond hedging. Big John and Cindy picked up some of our plants (annuals) this morning and helped unload. John also mowed, watered and worked on other projects and tasks. Cindy and Cheryl spent the entire morning in the yard shifting around, consolidating and organizing plants. Cindy got out in the gardens later for some container watering and weeding. Cheryl also had time for some weeding and clean-up in the azalea/rhododendron garden. Larry helped with much of the unloading and also unloaded another 10 pallets of blended compost that we'll sell over the next two Saturdays (8 am until 12 noon). We've already sold close to 1,800 bags of compost this spring which is close to a record. Larry also push mowed later in the day. I was able to run out for some plants after my meeting and went out for some herbicide work in various locations out in the gardens. I'm slowly working through my mound of paperwork from the plant sale as well.
There's no shortage of color out in the gardens. Directly above is the new and vivid coloration of the Lady in Red ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Tuilad') which is really a very showy burgundy. These leaves will ultimately transition to a dark maroon by late summer but this early stage is quite engaging. Below is the bold foliage of the 'Rotlaub' Rodger's Flower (Rodgersia podophylla) in the shade garden. That bronze-tinged leaf cluster is almost 24" wide. This perennial also gets huge creamy flower plumes in early summer. The next photo down is the classy 'Valerie Finnis' grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) which I never fail to enjoy (or photograph). With ferns emerging quickly with warming soils and air temperatures, there's none prettier than the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) seen three photos down. The early spring frond color is spectacular for all the varieties and our fern & moss garden is filling in nicely with over 200 types poking up here and there. At the bottom is the colorful foliage of the 'Hedgerow's Gold' variegated dogwood (Cornus sericea) which also has some dynamite red stems in winter. This is my favorite variegated form although the white variegated Ivory Halo ('Bailhalo') is nice too...