Friday, June 21, 2013

Rain Thankfully Arrives

Although we started the day with lightly overcast skies and a 40% chance of precipitation, we followed our normal policy of continuing to run irrigation, sprinklers and to hand water as well.  We soak the gardens to get through the weekend which has a skeleton crew for further watering.  We never risk counting on the rain as we can't afford to be wrong and fall behind as portions of our 20 acres begin to get thirsty very quickly.  We were about three hours in to the morning when this fast moving front (seen above) hit us with winds and pounding rain.  The rain came down fairly fierce for a bit but then become a consistent drizzle.  It was a nice and welcome rain and allowed us to bring in all the hoses and sprinklers.  We did have a productive morning though with plenty of staff and volunteer activities occurring.  Directly below is the 'White Lightning' African daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis) which is one of the many annuals that we're trialing this year.  The second photo down is the perennial pincushion flower (Scabiosa columbaria) in the Scottish garden where it continues to send up hundreds of blooms all the way until frost.  Butterflies sure like this one too!

The grounds staff had a busy day all though we started with six people and ended up with three as some of our staff had only partial days today.  Above is Cindy (far distance) weeding in the All-America Selections (AAS) display bed where she was later joined by Kay for some additional weeding help.  Cindy also did some indoor work once it rained, watered greenhouse plants and helped Terry plant this sign area seen below.  We plant this sign every year in Palmer Park as it directs visitors to an office that the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau manages in that park.  Many visitors are sent down to the gardens (down the road 1/2 mile) from this office.  Unfortunately, this set-up was a bit muddy for planting but Cindy and Terry showed what they're made of and toughed out the planting in the rain.  Terry also set-up sprinklers, push mowed and worked on other duties before the storm.  Big John watered, set up sprinklers, ran irrigation and worked on various projects before the rain.  Pat continued cutting bulb foliage, dug out woody root suckers, watered and helped peel labels later this morning.  Janice worked on more signage, did the cutting display and had various other projects in motion.  I placed more plants out for installation and helped bring in all our hoses, sprinklers, etc. with Terry after the monsoon passed over late this morning.

We had a strong volunteer turnout this morning before the rain.  Jan R. (above) weeded and planted in the Scottish garden which has been her assigned garden for over 12 years.  Below is Terri, who along with Judy (next photo down) and Eva, did a nice job planting another 500 annuals in the front entrance garden to fill some gaps and spaces.  As mentioned above, Kay helped Cindy with some weeding and the ladies made plenty of collective progress.  Dr. Gredler and Bill O. came in for mowing and we also saw Ron W., Maury, Urban and Rose.  Further down are some more plants I photographed today.

'High Tide Blue' flossflower (Ageratum houstonianum) in Flossflower Collection
flowering tobacco (Nicotiana hybrida 'Perfume Lime')
'River Mist' variegated Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), perennial
'Santa Cruz Sunset' begonia (Begonia boliviensis) in our big "orange theme"
'Merlin Blue Morn' petunia (Petunia) - my favorite variety!

Last night, 19 members of the Wisconsin Hosta Society ( came to the gardens for a presentation on Vertical Gardening by me and then we all did a tour (see above) through the entire gardens.  I'm rarely there in the evening but we caught beautiful lighting (see bottom photo in the fern/moss garden), lots of color and it was very peaceful.  It was nice to see our Garden Ambassadors (Joe and Margaret) out in the gardens keeping an eye on things too!  The hosta group (directly below) was a lot fun and we toured the entire gardens and spent some time examining our hosta collection which has allowed us to be a National Display Garden for the American Hosta Society.  We received a nice donation from the Wisconsin Hosta Society which was appreciated and certainly not the only time they've ever supported us either!  On the tour, we stumbled upon a large, mama painted turtle (see below) dropping eggs in to a hole.  I think she resented the attention but stoically continued preparing for the next generation.

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