It was the perfect day out there today with blue skies, plenty of sunshine and a high of about 80 degrees F. With very little breeze, it was the perfect day for me to get out with more herbicide. I was able to disperse two backpack loads and targeted some areas that would be tough to weed manually (paths, along walls, etc.). My brief foray out in to the gardens was rewarded with seeing so many neat plants and views like that of the gazebo garden above. I saw many visitors around the gardens today and it's nice to see people enjoying all the spring color. I would say that peak spring color is happening now and will extend through the weekend in to next week. Of course it will be colorful beyond that and I always say there's not a bad time to visit the gardens. Although this is the narrow window when the daffodils (Narcissus) and tulips (Tulipa) are overlapping and many of the earliest perennials are blooming as well.
Janice, Cindy and I were attached to the plant sale for most of the day although both Janice and I were able to get in to the gardens briefly. Janice put together another nice cutting display at the Parker Education Center. Cindy continued marking/pricing shrubs and moved on to watering and other plant sale duties. Janice did a nice job orchestrating the organization of the sale as seen in the two photos above. We have more plants this year then ever with a respectable amount of vegetables, herbs, perennials and shrubs. The entire yard is full but nothing is too crowded. Larry (below) unloaded another 20 pallets (900 bags) of blended compost for the sale this morning as well. Larry also worked on mowing, fixing a leak in the sunken garden pool, working with the Janesville Water Utility guys on a project, etc. Big John and Pat also push mowed and moved on to other projects. John continued with some rototilling, stockpiling of mulch for a volunteer, birdhouse installation, watering and other duties. Pat did a dynamite job edging along our entire outer fence which creates a nice crisp line (and look!). We'll have plenty of volunteer tagging assistance tomorrow and Thursday and much of Janice's activity today was in preparation for the arrival of the "tagging troops."
It's nice to see the trees starting to bloom and leaf out around the gardens. Two photos up is the 'Fialaspire' white poplar (Populus alba) which has neat bark, showy foliage (silver backing) and the unfortunate tendency to send up root suckers in a 50' radius throughout the surrounding lawn. Ugh. Directly above is a serviceberry (Amelanchier lamarckii) in full bloom near the arboretum. As with all serviceberries, this one also has prolific fruits (great for birds)and an impressive fall color (orange/red) in October.
We had a sturdy batch of volunteers today. Dr. Gredler did some mowing and went out to spread grass seed as well. Kay spent most of the morning in a nightmare area that included a sloped bed west of the Parker Education Center. This slope had quack grass (Elymus repens), thistle and other nasties for years and Kay got an early crack at these offenders. She also collected plenty of debris. Roy and Mary came in for more composting of the shade garden and successfully spread many loads. Ron K. continued mulching the woodland walk garden from staged mulch piles compliments of Big John. He's doing a great job. Patrea W. was a huge help in the plant sale this morning and helped Janice organize and pre-tag a good portion of the sale. Bev and Deb were in and continued putting out signs for the garden art projects. We also saw Vern, Maury, Chuck S., Nancy N., Gary and many others today. Directly below is the 'Aurora' fernleaf bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) which is a petite plant with long-lasting flower power. We have this variety throughout the woodland walk garden and the next photo down shows the early "forget-me-not-like" blooms of the 'Jack Frost' false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) in that same garden area. The showy, silvery foliage will steal the show after the flowers fade.
Below are more plant images from today. Directly below is one of our many magnolias in bloom this week. We still have many of our yellow-blooming hybrids to come yet next week but this one (currently unidentified) is quite striking with both pink and yellow in the flower. The next photo down is the checkered fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) with these nodding bells. The third photo down shows the colorful spring foliage of the Golden Shadows pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'W. Stackman') which maintains a nice yellow variegation throughout the summer (best in part shade). The next photo down features the furry and unfurling fiddleheads of the robust male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas 'Undulata Robusta') in the fern & moss garden. It's nice to see so many ferns poking up with this recent and extended warmth. The last photo down shows the variegated foliage of the quickly emerging 'Avalanche' feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) which is one of my favorite varieties.