Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sensational Sunshine

Today was filled with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures.  The weather will get cool again but that's not unusual for early May at all.  I took the image of the observation pier above this morning after seeing how nice those weeping willows (Salix alba 'Tristis') look across the pond.  I spent a good portion of the day outside and finished fertilizing our lawns and went around with my first backpack sprayer of herbicide and targeted some select locations.  I was amazed again by all the trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs in bloom.  I focused on some white blooms as seen below in sequence with the twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant') which is a fall planted bulb and then the 'White Splendour' windflower (Anemone blanda) which is also a fall planted bulb that will bloom and be dormant by June.  The flower size is impressive at almost 3" in diameter on this 6" tall plant.  

The grounds staff had a busy day.  Below are Terry and Big John planting a new Triumph elm (Ulmus hybrida 'Morton Glossy') in the main parking lot.  This is one of the elm hybrids introduced by the Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL).  The guys hung out together today and worked on a wide range of projects including hauling compost, mounting gates, edging and other duties.  Jenny spent most of her day near the English cottage garden where she composted, collected debris, swept, etc.  Jenny also did some watering but her day was very compost-centric.  Cindy collected more debris, removed grass tufts from our primary paths and watered the greenhouses among other duties.  Janice was in as a volunteer to work with the Chestnut House volunteers this afternoon and they did a great job (see further below).  We also saw Pat who popped in for some compost.

The volunteer efforts at the gardens today were remarkable.  Directly below is Patrea who did a dynamite job helping Jenny with the composting project in the English cottage garden.  Patrea and her mother have volunteered in the past and we look forward to both helping out again at RBG.  The next photo down shows Roy spreading compost in the shade garden where he and his "better half", Mary, became reconnected to this space, their assigned garden.  Here they are spreading our bulk, blended compost which is primarily horse manure, peat moss and other materials.  We incorporate this material in to our annual beds and also use it as a topdressing or mulch around established and newly emerging plants.  Nancy (yellow) and Myrt (orange) in the next photo down were doing the same compost spreading in a different part of that same shade garden.  The next photo down shows Kay doing more work in the shade garden.  It's amazing how much debris she can collect in a day and we'll rely on her very shortly for planting help after our Spring Plant Sale and Spring Tree Sale are completed.  Check out the RBG website for more information on both of these looming events.  Other volunteers included Del who did some mowing and we also saw Urban, Rose, Mary W., Bev F., Marsha M., Hal R., Doris R. and many others.  The fifth and sixth photos down show our Chestnut House volunteers who did a great job weeding and preparing the vegetable beds at the Horticulture Center.

Directly above are the newly painted gates to the fern & moss garden.  John and Terry hung these today and we'll get them touched up and will also install a locking system to keep them from blowing around too much.  I like the color and will be able to help direct visitors and volunteers to this garden space by referencing the "green gates."  With my trip to Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) yesterday morning I thought I'd share a couple of my many shots from that beautiful garden.  Directly below is a bloom shot of the 'Leonard Messel' magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri) which is one of my favorites.  Ours at RBG is just opening up near the sunken garden.  This is the time of year when everyone appreciates the magnolias and forsythias when they add so much welcome spring color.  The next photo down shows some significant bulb drifts of daffodils (Narcissus) and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) offering nice color before they go dormant as the canopy fills out with leaves over the coming weeks.  The third photo down features emerging Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) which I've always enjoyed observing as they pop up and unfurl.  The next photo shows the 'Yellow Lady' hellebore (Helleborus) which caught my eye and I'm very impressed with the quantity and variety of hellebores at Olbrich.  The bottom photo is their meadow garden resplendent with early bulbs creating this carpet of color.

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