Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Educational Hooky (For 6 of 9)

Today, most of the grounds staff had an offsite "retreat" to visit some horticultural treasures in the Chicago area.  Larry and Cindy stayed behind to take care of the gardens which I'm sure included plenty of watering, mowing, volunteer coordination and other duties.  We appreciate all their work today as well as that of all the Tuesday garden volunteers.  Jenny couldn't make it but we had a good crew to go mobile on a day with beautiful (but cool) weather.  Pat, Janice, John, Terry, Cheryl and I headed out at 6:30 am this morning and headed to the Ball Seed Trial Garden in West Chicago, IL.  I'll summarize all of our travel today as "frustratingly construction-laden".  We ran in to construction everywhere but ultimately had a great day at our two locations.  Above is the gang at the Ball Seed Trial Garden which is always amazing.  This garden changes each year depending on what products are being promoted (lots of new plants too!) and it's always very colorful.  Susan (trials manager) and Jesse (trial garden supervisor) of Ball Seed were very cordial with our orientation and we enjoyed our all to brief visit immensely.  I took many photos and could have spent the entire day there.  This was my seventh visit to this garden and I hope to make it there annually with camera in hand.  After departing this garden, we headed up to Glencoe to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a tour and to meet with two VIPs at that garden.  Some of the many highlights of the Ball Seed Trial Garden can be seen below.

full sun annual trials
neat vertical wall planting
million bells (Calibrachoa) trials in containers
cool overhead planters along central walk
some of the 3,000!!! containers they display
vertical wall system

After having a nice lunch at the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) cafe upon arrival, the group toured some of the gardens and we ultimately connected with Benjamin (seen above, second from right) who is in charge of the beautiful Japanese garden there.  He gave us a wonderful tour full of history, maintenance ideas, humor, etc. and was an awesome tour guide.  The gardens were extremely busy and we appreciate his valuable time.  Below is just one of the 180 pine (Pinus) specimens that they train in this fashion.  Cabling is used with these pines to pull the branches downwards and selective pruning helps add to the visual effect of age with these specimens.  What a neat garden.  We then toured more of CBG and headed over to the trial garden to meet with Richard (bottom photo, far right) who is in charge of the plant evaluation program.  Richard has hosted us in the past and is such a knowledgeable (and witty) guide.  Richard is well known nationally for his plant trialing and we appreciated his valuable time with a tour of the entire trial garden and the rooftop gardens at the Plant Science Center.  It was a long day but we all enjoyed the destinations (not the travel!) and learned much during our day of "educational hooky."

amazing Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) at CBG Japanese garden (one of many!)
Evening Island
mug shot of the gang
English Walled Garden
neat pattern in small courtyard garden
Plant Trials Garden (CBG) with Plant Science Center in the background
the gang with Richard on a rooftop garden (Plant Science Center)

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