Monday, June 3, 2013

Snow In June!?

Although it was quite chilly this morning, we didn't truly have snow.  However, it sure looked like it around the gardens as seen above.  These are seeds from the female Eastern cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) around the gardens that are starting to release what looks like a bumper crop.  The buried plants above are the 'Lanai Candy Cane' verbenas (Verbena) which are one of the four selections featured in our American Garden Award ( display near the arboretum.  It looked like snow flurries around the gardens with these seeds floating, drifting and accumulating everywhere.  Our pond is already hosting an "island" of these seeds that drift down to the shallow end near the gazebo garden and unfortunately, this mass begins to have a less than fresh odor.  Yuck.  Rain and/or wind will help dissipate these seeds throughout the gardens but we anticipate seeing a lot of seedlings throughout the gardens in the next week or two.  The size, shade and impact that our 50+ mature cottonwoods contribute to the gardens makes this annual "seed set" an unfortunate side effect that we'll deal with in the coming weeks.  The two photos below show a true "snow-in-summer" perennial (Cerastium tomentosum) featured in large drifts in the "highlands" section of the Scottish garden.  This silver effect is quite striking and amazing in the moonlit garden as well.  It is a great rock garden plant but does spread moderately to create a substantial mat in short order.

Above is the 'Blue Ice' hybrid bluestar (Amsonia hybrida) at peak with these beautiful, star-shaped flowers in broad clusters.  We have a couple dozen clumps of this perennial around the gardens and it has performed well for us with this showy spring display and usually a good yellow fall foliage color.  I was able to take some quick snapshots today between duties which included staging plants in four areas this morning.  Directly below is the valerian (Valeriana officinalis) in bloom.   Also called perennial garden heliotrope, this 30" plant prefers full sun and offers a very sweet fragrance.  Research this plant for many historical medical and functional uses.  The drawback to this plant is rampant reseeding and while it's easy to remove or replant rogue seedlings, you have to vigilant or this plant will really move around the garden.  The next photo down shows the small, orchid-like blooms of the golden-leaved, Dreamcatcher beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis 'Maradco') which is a large, arching shrub with the dual contribution of bright yellow foliage and spring blooms.  The third photo down highlights one of the hot new million bells (Calibrachoa) this year.  This is the variety 'Lemon Slice' and we have it in the sunken garden right now.  What a neat flower (closely related to petunias...).

It was a busy day with 25+ volunteers.  I didn't get many shots of volunteers in action with the exception of Noon Rotary Club members above that were planting after their afternoon meeting (Mary and I presented at the meeting as well).  This team included Gary S., Hal R., Ron, Millie, Heather and Marcy W.  The crew planted the remainder of the terrace garden border and moved on to the reception garden too.  They did a great job.  This morning though was a flurry of volunteers.  Bev W. planted substantially in the sunken garden while Ron W. cleaned up paths.  Larry H. and Bob C. went around the gardens cutting back many of our ornamental onion (Allium) stalks and foliage as they are finishing their bloom cycle.  Lloyd and Gene did a nice job mulching while Ron Y., Vern and Jim D. continued some carpentry projects.  We also had Sue C., Jim S. and Carol S. in to help weed and clear bulb foliage as well.  They hung out with Jenny this morning and they targeted many areas.  Gary S. was involved with this group early and earned a full day of pay by staying from 8 am until 3 pm!  Rollie, Maury, Dick P. and Dick H. worked on various projects including assessing a horrible leak we have with our "intake system" that supplies water to the gardens.  We had to shut down all the water to the gardens for imminent repairs later this week.  A little rain would now be very timely.  Pat C. spent most of the day matching up labels and keeping up with her surplus label inventory (very handy!).  Stan was in for some work and we also saw Bev I. with her grandkids, Dr. Yahr, Dr. Gredler (mowing), Bill O., Polly, Denise, Rose, Urban and many, many others.  I'm sure I'm forgetting someone but the memory is not what it used to be!

We had a small grounds staff today with Larry, Terry, Big John, Jenny and myself.  Larry checked all the water features (a daily duty), push mowed, watered and helped with a wide range of projects that popped up throughout the day.  Big John composted, rototilled, planted roses (see above) with Terry, watered and had a productive plant run to one of our suppliers this morning.  We only have a couple loads left to pick up in the next week or two.  Terry collected pansies (Viola wittrockiana) from some of our containers in anticipation of our summer compositions going in tomorrow.  He also composted, rototilled, planted roses (see above) with Big John and watered.  This rose planting project includes over 60 new roses representing 12 varieties.  We had serious rose losses over the winter with only about 25% making it through unscathed.  Jenny worked immediately with Sue, Jim and Carol with bulb foliage removal and weeding.  They went through at least four areas and did a great job.  Jenny then watered the entire yard and started matching her pre-made labels to the plants that John brought back this morning.  I spent time getting plants out to various locations and spent the afternoon with the Noon Rotary Club with my joint presentation (with Mary F.P.) and the planting work day.  It was a busy but productive day with perfect weather (sunny and 70 degrees F).  Directly below is a cluster of 'Globemaster' ornamental onions (Allium).  While some ornamental onions (Allium) have finished already, this variety is just starting to peak.  The next photo down shows the fragrant flower clusters (very light pink) of the arching, fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis) which is a shrub that gets about 5' tall (and wide) for us.  The sweet fragrance from this shrub is detectable from quite a distance and this selection also has awesome orange fall color in October.  The last two selections (photos), both at peak today, are identified under their image.  Back to planting and weeding tomorrow.

false indigo (Baptisia x variicolor 'Twilite Prairieblues')
perennial pinks (Dianthus 'Firewitch')

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