Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Male-Dominated Day

It was strange today not to have any female grounds crew members around.  No Cheryl, Cindy or Janice.  I'm not complaining.  It was just odd!  We did have some female volunteer help but for grounds today, it was Terry, Pat, Big John and myself.   Above is the 'Pinca' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which struck me for not only the color but the interesting petals and flower texture.  This is just one of the 800+ varieties of annuals we have out in the gardens this year.  Peak summer color is occurring right now so come see everything filling in and looking great!  See the photos at the bottom for some of the larger arrangements in different garden areas.  Directly below is the 'Charmed Wine' ornamental shamrock (Oxalis hybrida).  This tropical gets white flowers but the foliage is the best part!  Great in a container or as a bedding plant in part shade or full sun.  The next photo down is the 'Uptown Grape' zinnia (Zinnia marylandica) which is one of our many trial plants this summer.

It was nice to have Terry back and he eagerly jumped back in to myriad projects as seen above.  Here he's staking some of our large plants (i.e. amaranths) that have become floppy with rain and wind.  Terry also watered, set up sprinklers, edged and accomplished many other projects as well.  Pat was here for a half day and weeded, staked plants and planted caladiums (Caladium).  He accomplished a lot of work in five hours.  Big John also set up sprinklers, hand watered, dug out weedy seedlings and continued on his path repair project.  I did some fertilizing, placing plants (for planting tomorrow) and continue to work on special events preparations.  Below is our "Giant Garden" which is becoming more lush by the day.  There is a neat path through this space with the option to go under our 20' tall "mega-obelisk."  

Our two female volunteers are featured here although we also saw Julie G. and Rose N. later in the day.  Above is Janet working along the lime wall planting, her assigned garden.  She does a nice job and that garden is also at peak color.  Below is Pat heading out with labels for the rose garden.  She has been keeping up with label inventory, creation and placement.  We spent some time in the rose garden matching up labels to plants and determining other label needs.  Dr. Gredler was in for his mowing duties and Maury F. came by for some errands.  We also saw Bill O., Dr. Yahr, Gary S., Kris K. and some others.  Further below are some other photos of potential interest.

fruits of pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifiolia) - yummy for birds
'Surfina Summer Double Pink' petunia (Petunia) in the American Garden Award display competition ( near the arboretum
the reception garden druid
the sunken garden this morning
sunken garden with Parker archway in the center
the gazebo garden looking good
the prairie with summer color!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Orange Theme Succeeds

The photo above was taken this morning at around 6:30 am.  I think our orange theme has been very successful and is certainly not short on color or impact.  This is probably a peak shot as some of the annuals will fade a bit over the coming weeks and it looks like everything is doing very well at this point in time.  However, it will be colorful until a hard frost in October.  I'm glad we included "touches" of maroon as the composition has depth.  The orange pyramids also help add color and scale to this enormous flower bed along the main parking lot.  The five photos below also show our successful orange theme which is also doing quite well out in the terrace garden behind the Parker Education Center.

Directly above is the 'Zahara Double Fire' zinnia (Zinnia marylandica) which is one of the primary components in our orange theme this year.  This is such a vivid orange/red and really is quite noticeable even from a distance.  In fact, I've enjoyed growing any zinnia in the Zahara series (compact) as they have all performed very well in the full sun garden with little care.  Our grounds staff had a busy day of traditional gardening.  Janice can be seen below.  She worked on tidying, weeding, yard work, watering and other duties associated with upcoming events (i.e. the Fall Plant Sale).  With our volunteer coordinator (Lori) gone, Janice and I will be soliciting and organizing volunteer help for the fall sale so get in touch with me soon to fill some slots (yard help/loaders and cash register assistants).  Cindy did a nice job tidying the garden in front of the Parker Education Center which included some planting and other odds and ends. Big John push mowed, installed four new signs and bounced between various projects.  Pat also push mowed, watered, weeded and kept busy out in the gardens all day.  Larry ran irrigation, modified some irrigation, mowed, cleaned water features and also worked on myriad projects.  I'm catching up on major desk work but was able to get out to place plants for installation and help get our volunteers organized.  Don't forget to come and see the 2013 Garden Art Projects ("Here Come the Suns") out in the gardens like the one (done by my younger daughter) two photos down.  All 35 of these unique art projects will be auctioned off on September 15th this year.

Volunteers continue to be so invaluable at the gardens.  We had our share of great help today.  Patrea (above) planted caladiums (Caladium) and weeded in two areas.  Kay (directly below) and Eva (second photo down) did some "filler planting" along the entrance garden slope and then did a great job weeding throughout that space.  We always have some surplus annuals that we use throughout the summer to fill gaps that develop or areas that simply need some more color.  The three ladies did a great job.  Mary H. and her daughter Pat gardened in their area a did a nice job as usual.  Pat C. was in to help in the Horticulture Center office with new label making (for the rose collection) and processing some other timely office projects.  Hal and Doris were out doing a nice job tidying up their area and Stan spent some significant time in the Japanese garden with pruning duties.  Ron K. was in to clean up the woodland walk garden while Dr. Gredler and Bill O. were out mowing turf in the gardens.  We also saw Kris K., Dr. Yahr, Polly, Chuck S., Urban, Sue S. and many others.  Further below are some additional photos from today.

All-America Selections (AAS) Display Garden
'Prairie Sun' gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) - AAS 2003
'Fairy Tale' eggplant (Solanum melongena) - AAS 2005
'Born's Gracious' skeleton-leaf silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back Home

It was nice to be back to work today and the gardens look great after a week of rainfall and cooler temperatures.  It was extremely cool last Friday and Saturday (60 degrees F) but today will get in to the upper 70 degrees F.  Above are the beautiful blooms of the Blue Velvet St. Johns wort shrub (Hypericum hybrida 'CCF-LPC1') which were covered with bees.  This summer blooming shrub is quite tough in the full sun border.  I did a comprehensive tour of the gardens and was very impressed with how well everything looked and the recent rains I'm sure have been helpful.  We had some improvements made to our irrigation system last week which should allow for a better system of irrigating the gardens efficiently.  Today was mostly "catch up" for me although I was able to meet with volunteers, staff and place some plants for installation out in the gardens.  Below is one of flower beds in the terrace garden which also echoes the orange theme in the entrance garden.  The next photo down shows the spheres (umbels) of the 'Summer Beauty' ornamental onion (Allium tanguticum) which really adds a color punch with these spheres.  The third photo down is just one of hundreds of peacock orchids (Acidanthera murielae or Gladiolus callianthus) starting to add color and fragrance to the reception garden.

The grounds staff today consisted of Cindy, Larry, Big John and me.  Big John (left) and Larry can be seen above sizing up the repairs on yet another leak in our water lines.  We've been unlucky this year with many issues although our irrigation upgrades last week also included some repair work as well.  Larry worked on repairing the leak, weed whipping and watering.  Big John also helped with the leak, worked on path improvement, tree removal and watering.  Cindy did a nice job tidying up the All-America Selections Display Garden and moved on later to planting and watering (the yard).  This time of year, the grounds staff schedules their vacations and while we have less people day to day, we'll still focus on the most important tasks (including watering).  Nice shot of the "Pollinator's Paradise" below which is the theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden for the next two years.  The Family Fun Day that utilized this space on Sunday apparently went quite well 

As is typical on any Monday, we had a great crew of volunteers today. Above, Maury can be seen cleaning out the lady fountain in the English cottage garden and he does a nice job on other water features and is helpful with getting all manner of supplies in a timely fashion.  Directly below is the RBG Founder, Dr. Yahr (to the left) with Del tidying up paths.  The next photo down features, from left to right, Jumbo Jim, Karen and Stan.  The four of us did a nice tour of the Japanese garden to talk about future plans and needs for that popular garden space.  These three are the primary caretakers of that garden and do a great job.  Ron W., Bob C., Gene and Rollie worked on mulching and tree watering while Dick H. made some runs to the dump. Many of the guys were also involved with taking down tents today (from the Sunday event). Dr. Gredler was in for mowing and Dave, Vern, Ron Y. and Jim continued to work on various carpentry projects.  Pat M. did a nice job weeding in the gazebo garden.  Betty and Shirley were also in to tidy up their two areas.  The third photo down shows Joanne (past RBG volunteer) and Kay enjoying the gardens this morning.  That colorful shrub near Joanne is the Quickfire panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Bulk') which is transitioning from white to pink right now.  Eva was in for some weeding and we also saw Julie G., Dr. Yahr, Art and many others.  We also had our Horticulture Therapy committee meeting this afternoon.  Further below are some more highlights with the bottom picture (from last week) shared by Santos M. 

lime wall planting filling in nicely
All-America Selections Display Garden
'Arizona Apricot' blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) - AAS 2013
formal annual sections filling in nicely
balloon over the gardens (from Santos M.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vancouver (Day 6)

The start of our tour day included stops at three local nurseries in the Vancouver area.  There were four buses touring and arrivals were staggered at each site.  I've included just a couple shots from each nursery.  I took many pictures at the nurseries and found interesting plants that I hadn't seen yet.  With an earlier flight tomorrow, I'm heading to bed soon but am looking forward to getting home, sorting my photos and coming up with more ideas for RPG.  Overall, the PPA Synposium was lots of fun in a great setting.  Next year the PPA National Conference is in Cincinnati which should be interesting.

Part of the tour today included the visit to five home gardens that were all very unique and beautiful.  Included directly above and below are just a smattering of the images that I took today at these gardens.  With 75 attendees cramming in to each garden, photography was challenging but not impossible.  In most cases, the home owners were there to welcome the group and share their gardens.  All of the gardens were also at quite expensive residences but again, the color and detail in these spaces were amazing.

We had lunch at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden which was quite large and had thousands of different plants.  I visited this garden over 13 years ago and was happy to repeat my visit.  Ed and I hit the ground running and saw a good portion of the property right after lunch (see Ed further below in a patch of giant Petasites).  The gardens were beautiful and included a massive alpine garden and Asiatic woodland garden as well.  The gardens overlooked the bay and we saw many bald eagles circling overhead.  We ended the day at Van Dusen Botanical Garden which was also difficult to see in our allotted time.  However, Ed and I went through the gardens and below are just some of the images from that gardens (seen beneath the images with the flag today.  It was beautiful and a nice garden to end our trip with in style.