Monday, October 14, 2013

Frost Arrives Right On Time

When I left the house this morning at 6:15 am, I had light ice on the windshield so I knew we had at least a touch of frost over night.  It was 34 degrees F when I arrived at work although it warmed up nicely with some sunshine by mid morning.  The turf above at the gardens also confirmed our low temperatures over night and we'll probably see a repeat of this throughout the week.   It looks like a cooler week overall with a possible hard frost on Friday or Saturday evening.  Well, that's typical for this time of year and the frost encouraged us to accomplish some activities today like bringing in the last of our hanging baskets (see below) that really suffered.  It was a day with many volunteers and grounds staff working on a combination of gardening and Holiday Lights Show (HLS) related tasks.  The challenge in October is balancing HLS set-up needs with fall gardening tasks.  Further below are some plant shots from the gardens.

fruits of the American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) looking showy - woody shrub
'Dark Beauty' toadlily (Tricyrtis formosana) - perennial
Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia) fruits - woody tree

The grounds staff had a busy day out in the gardens. Cindy (above) spent most of the day in the front entrance garden purging annuals.  She had some help from many volunteers (mentioned further down) as well as Larry.  We need to remove these annuals to clear this garden for bulb planting this Saturday as part of our Volunteer Workday from 8 am until 12 noon (meet at the Parker Education Center).  We'll be planting over 3,000 tulips in this garden space and will continue removing annuals if we have enough volunteer assistance (donuts provided too!) after the bulb planting.  Larry finished testing our HLS displays and spent time tidying up water features before assisting Cindy.  John and Terry also helped remove annuals before moving on to the task of putting up lights (as seen below).  The guys decorated many hedges, obelisks and other features today and also helped with various gardening jobs and moving displays (second photo down) for Larry.  I fertilized most of our lawns and spent time organizing details for the HLS, labels and other upcoming presentations and obligations.  It was a productive day and the sunshine was welcome.

our best 'Autumn Purple' white ash (Fraxinus americana) - woody tree

We had another great day with volunteers.  Above are Gene (left) and Bob coming through the gardens with one of many loads of debris from the entrance garden. The guys did a super job of helping Cindy as did Eva (directly below).  It is a monumental task to remove some of these annuals, many of which are over 6' tall with 3" diameter stems (i.e. amaranths, Mexican sunflowers, etc.).  Gene and Bob can be seen two photos down with Rollie (Ron W. off camera up in the truck) unloading pumpkins for a youth education program that is always well attended and enjoyed.  The third photo down shows Bev W. tidying up her garden space which will include more plant removals later in the week.  Jenny was in for a good portion of the day cutting back perennials in the formal gardens and hostas in her other assigned garden area (hosta hollow).  The fourth photo down shows Vern (suspenders) and Jim with one of twenty-five candy canes they've made for the HLS.  We'll be painting these and adding lights shortly and they sure will look nice out in the gardens.  Most of the plastic is re-purposed and will see many years of use for this event.  Dick H. hauled loads to the dump, cut more aluminum label stakes and bounced between other helpful duties.  Maury ran errands for us this morning and Gary continued entering data for our newest perennials that will be planted later this week.  The fifth photo down shows Ron P. (foreground) and Rollie repairing lights.  Pat M. was also part of this team and the fellas have repaired about 75% of the lights in need of attention and continue their great (and helpful) progress.  Tom C. brought in some electrical supplies that will be vital for the HLS and Dr. Gredler mowed most of the garden today and collected plenty of leaves.  We also saw Mary W., Art H., Elaine W., Sallye, Karen B., Chuck S., Bev F., Dick P. and Kris K. today.  There were some committee meetings as well later in the afternoon.  See further below for some shots from today.

'Arizona Sun' blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata) - perennial (short-lived)
fruits of the 'Winter King' green hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) - woody tree
the wispy prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) - perennial
'Fire Alarm' coral bells (Heuchera) looking as vivid as it did in spring! - perennial
one of my favorite quote benches out in the gardens

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