While the weekend was quite nice in terms of temperature, it was a windy, rainy mess which created more severe problems further south in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. I think there were 70 tornadoes spotted throughout this expansive storm system. Today was cooler but at least sunny with a milder breeze. Our first order of business was to turn on the entire Holiday Lights Show (HLS) for a "pre-test" before our test tonight. The winds did blow down some lights and knock over some displays but we dealt with that fairly quickly and aside from some small, moisture-related problems, the HLS ran well throughout the day. Above is a lantern in the Japanese garden which will be seen our recent route expansion for the HLS along the perimeter of that garden. This new route will not only feature more lights and displays but offers some wonderful views and perspectives back to the gazebo and observation pier across the water. We're very excited about the new route and new additions like the giant candy canes seen directly below. We had five grounds staff here today although most will finish by the end of the week. We also had a nice volunteer showing as well. It has been a great season overall!
fall color of the American beech (Fagus grandifolia) - woody tree
plantain-leaf sedge (Carex plantaginea) - perennial
The grounds staff had a combination of duties today. Above are Terry (left) and Big John out re-securing HLS displays this morning. They only smiled when I reminded them that their 2013 tenure is almost over... The guys helped with many HLS tasks and also moved on to various gardening duties in multiple locations. Cindy focused her clean-up efforts in the reception garden, sunken garden and in many other areas where leaves continue to be a challenge we need to contend with before the snow falls. Larry helped with the HLS all day and spent time on repairs, modifications, supply runs and all the small details that come up for an event of this scope. I spent time tweaking displays and troubleshooting but plan to identify the worst of the problems during the testing periods early this week.
stem color of the 'Avalon Gold' redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea) - woody shrub (golden foliage variety)
Our carpentry Grumpies above (Ron Y., Jim, Dave and Vern from left to right) continued repairs on a large bench and have some other bench refurbishing duties in the coming weeks. We're starting to stockpile some winter projects for these guys once the HLS is finalized and ready. Gene (directly below) headed out for leaf and debris clean-up. The next two photos down show Dick P. (goofy red hat) and Jim D. who continued putting up protective fencing to discourage deer from nibbling on our tasty arborvitae (Thuja sp.). Rollie was also in to help the guys. Dick and Jim also did some leveling on a brick walkway. Del helped tidy up the Horticulture Center. Maury ran errands for us and we also saw Dr. Gredler, Gary (computer work) and many others today which is usual for a Monday. Bill O. helped collect leaves, smoothed over path washouts from the rain and worked on other projects as well. Tom C. came in later (fourth photo down) to test some of our power "loads" around the gardens so we can get a feel for potential issues. It looks like we're A-OK! Further below are some other shots from today.
ornamental bark of the 'Heritage' river birch (Betula nigra) - woody tree
fruits of the cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) - woody tree (uber-thorny)
fall color on the needles of the weeping European larch (Larix decidua) - deciduous conifer
'Silver Scepter' sedge (Carex morrowii) - perennial
increasingly colorful fruits of the 'Winter King' hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) - woody tree