Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Not Devoid Of Interest

I finally got out in the gardens today and was inspired by Marsha's photos yesterday (on the RBG FACEBOOK page) of our earliest bulbs coming up.  I noted some other colorful plants including the 'Thunderbird' foamy bells (xHeucherella) seen directly above.  This is actually the late season fall color that was freeze-dried and preserved on this evergreen foliage.  New leaves will replace these in the coming weeks.  The current timing of emerging bulbs is actually what I would consider normal.  Abnormal timing was two years ago when I could take these same photos at the end of January!  I had a great tour and while I started to absorb the significant scope of our spring clean-up efforts over the coming weeks, it's always nice to "reconnect" with the garden.  The amount of deer and rabbit damage is significant but not unexpected or record setting (knock on wood).  We'll hit the ground running with path clean-up, debris collection and bringing in the rest of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) as time and labor allows.  We're seeing more volunteers return and will have no shortage of work.  I was able to finalize all of our seeds for the growers and will deliver those tomorrow and Friday.  We're also getting geared up for our annual Spring Symposium this Saturday with two speakers from the Chicago Botanic Garden and one from the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  This event has a strong horticultural therapy focus and we've just announced a June 17th Symposium entitled Incorporating Gardening Into a Therapy Program.  This event is geared towards activity directors for facilities that may have residents or clients that would benefit from a specific horticultural therapy experience.  Check out our website for more information.  Below are some additional highlights from my soggy tour today.

the moss garden is greening up nicely
winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) poking up (fall planted bulb)
snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) - fall planted bulb
splitting cone of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) - has triangular seeds
ornamental bark of oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Despite the rain/snow/sleet combo today, we had a nice turnout at the Horticulture Center.  Above (from left to right) are Cheryl, Patrea, Mary W. and Kay.  The ladies did a great job peeling and organizing labels for the Spring Plant Sale vegetables.  I was outnumbered by the females and have a new perspective on what women talk about once they forget I'm in the room.  Enlightening (and a bit scary).  The lists for our vegetable and herb offerings are on our website at  Patrea also worked with Janice on our Thomas Jefferson Collection and Janice continued her research and efforts on that collection and the plant sale.  Pat processed lots of HLS cords, lights and luminaries and Bill O. was in later to continue progress on that task.  Dr. Gredler came in for some painting and we also saw Nancy N., Jumbo Jim, Stan K. and some others today.  I'm hoping to see more volunteers, particularly our Assigned Garden Volunteers, over the coming weeks so we can tidy up as needed before too much emerges.  Some of our inevitable winter burn on conifers can be seen below but it's always surprising to me how well (in most instances) these plants will flush new growth to replace this browning.  Further below is a leaf of the thuggish garlic mustard (Alliara petiolata) which I recommend is "selectively and concisely" sprayed with herbicide as soon as you have a sunny day over 50 degrees F.  Avoid neighboring plants, particularly natives, that might be emerging but a late March / early April herbicide application should kill garlic mustard before flower/seed formation.  Hand digging is ok but not realistic if you have thousands of targets.  At the bottom is a teaser as this elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) is one of many tropical components I've ordered this year for our huge Jungle Garden theme!

garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
'Royal Hawaiian Black Coral' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) - 2013