Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No Direct Sun Today

The day started with a drizzle but ended up being primarily overcast, allowing us to get out in the gardens for a good portion of the day.  I was able to tour the gardens and while we've lost some gardening time with all the recent rains, the spring clean-up has gone very well as we don't see much advanced plant growth as the soil is still quite cool.  Spring blooms are lasting longer and the progression of blooms, while slow, is still occurring daily.  Above is the 'Pink Frost' hellebore (Helleborus) peaking in the woodland walk garden and below is the 'White Queen' barrenwort (Epimedium grandiflorum) just starting up in that same garden.  This is the first barrenwort I've seen blooming but many more are poised and ready!  The Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) continue to expand and unfurl those leaves (second photo down).  We had a productive day and while it wasn't our normal heavy showing of volunteers due to sporadic rain, we accomplished quite a bit.

The three culvert pipe planters seen above received their third coat of paint from Pat M. today.  Previously painted by Nancy, Pat M., Big John and Terry, the third coat today should do the trick.  These are upside down (for painting) and will be positioned in holes 3' deep with garbage cans inserted and secured in the top for plantings.  We'll place these in the Jungle Garden this year as they will be very strong, colorful "verticals" with plants spilling out of the top.  Pat also worked on preparing our first giant obelisk for final installation tomorrow and had myriad other indoor tasks.  Cheryl did more garden clean-up and worked with Jenny on some serious weeding in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  Jenny also worked on some office projects earlier in the day.  Big John had lots of projects but also focused on creating nine rustic vining structures for the Thomas Jefferson Collection. Below is one of the thirteen signs that have gardening quotes from Thomas Jefferson.  These will be located out in the collection (third photo down - not too exciting...yet).  See John two photos down with his creations (nice re-use of European buckthorn which I don't think had made it over yet back in Jefferson's days...).  I had plenty to do and am finalizing details and preparations for the big Spring Plant Sale and Tree Sale at the end of next week (see our website for details!).

Our volunteers today included Larry H. who did a great job mulching, spreading woodchips for the paths throughout the Jungle Garden and ultimately both started and ended his time at the gardens with composting.  Patrea came in to produce more of the informative signs for the Thomas Jefferson Collection and was well trained by Gary as she did great with her first label creation initiation.  She also helped process literature for the Tree Sale. Gena, Mary and Myrt came in for some indoor projects in the afternoon.  Stan did some pruning in the Japanese garden as well. We also saw Deb G., Dick H., Mary W, Chris K. and some others.  Above is the equipment for pumping out and cleaning up the koi pond.  We had two guys (Shawn and Priest) working on tidying up the water features all day.  Below are some other fun shots from the gardens this morning.

the showy, early foliage of 'Looking Glass' false-forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla)
the golden foliage of 'Goldheart' bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
a nice patch of marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) near the Japanese garden
garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus) continue to look spectacular
the daffodil (Narcissus) season has been extended nicely with the cool weather
above is the backing on one of twenty five Adirondack chairs that will be secured in the garden as part of our 2014 Garden Art Project.  That's pretty cool!!! (and they'll be auctioned off in September!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The North Point Garden

Today's blog features the weekly "historical installment" showing the construction of the North Point garden back in 2010 and 2011.  This garden has fast become a favorite with lots of color and a beautiful, panoramic view of the pond.  This garden is situated north of the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and west of the alpine garden. The photo directly below shows the original site which consisted of scrubby European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), a few cottonwood (Populus deltoides) and lots of garbage along the weedy shoreline.  Where you see dark green (mid right) in the photo below, the grade sloped about 6' down to the shoreline which was again a mess.  This was a site reclamation project first and later progressed with terracing, the construction of an arbor structure, installation of a bluestone patio and the later inclusion of benches, Adirondack chairs, containers, boxwood (Buxus) hedges and colorful plantings.  The structure concept was developed by a local architect at the request of RBG Founder, Dr. Robert Yahr.  Our Grumpy Volunteers built this fabulous structure as well as the benches and chairs in this garden as well.  Other involved parties included Nature's Touch Landscaping and DWG Landscaping.  More on that garden further below.
It was another rainy day and while we thought there would be more "dry spells" than yesterday, that really didn't materialize.  The crew did a wide range of indoor and outdoor tasks.  Janice and I worked on more Spring Plant Sale and Tree Sale details including timing for deliveries next week, pricing, labeling and volunteerism efforts.  These sales have become quite involved events and we're hoping for good weather on Mother's Day weekend and a strong showing of customers.  Janice also worked on the cutting display and many other tasks.  Cindy was out in the gardens for tidying efforts and worked on various indoor tasks when the rain became more prominent!  Cheryl had her own tidying duties out in the gardens and is apparently the most waterproof of all of us with her consistent progress during all the precipitation.  Pat worked on preparing our first giant obelisk for installation and securing out in the gardens and later shifted to painting and other indoor projects.  Big John and Terry started securing the first twelve of our 2014 Garden Art Adirondack chairs out in the reception garden.  Denise was over to help with the signage as well.  The guys also worked on organizing the yard for the sale, running for supplies and myriad other projects.  Larry unloaded a delivery of trees and shrubs (with John and Terry) and spent much of his time preparing the sunken garden pool and fountain.  We also had the delivery of some donated woodchips (thanks L.P. Tree Service!).  Our first outdoor wedding of the season is this Saturday in the sunken garden!  Everyone was flexible with multiple projects going on and we'll continue to do the same throughout this rainy week.  Volunteers included Tom K. (assigned gardener), Maury (supply run), Nancy N. (painting), Urban and Glenn.  I had an afternoon meeting to also prepare for our June 17th Horticultural Therapy Event (see our website under Events).  Check out the captions below each photo for a chronological progression of the North Point Garden development.
 the original site (Lion's Pond in the distance)
 an early plan to develop this 1/5 acre site
early shoreline stabilization and the start of stacked limestone terracing
 two levels of terracing above the shoreline (the water level fluctuates wildly each season and annually) - the middle terrace is planted
 preparation and leveling of the upper site (note the view!)
 the start of a cool arbor structure
 our carpenter Grumpies doing their thing
 the two "wings" came first with the arches (see below) to follow...
 great work as usual
the first arch goes up
no fear of heights apparently
structure is complete and the bluestone patio is next
 the patio is created
one of six memorial benches built by our carpenter Grumpies
boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') are installed for low hedges as the beds are prepared for planting
early bed preparation
a beautiful view
six of the eight Adirondack chairs in that space offering a great view

this garden looks good year round (above and below)

Monday, April 28, 2014

April Showers..& Showers..& Showers

There is a chance of rain every day this week and today certainly had its share of precipitation ranging from a drizzle to a downpour.  We did get some garden work accomplished during the "dry spells" and we had a zesty crew over at the Horticulture Center all morning.  Above is an early species (Tulipa tarda) opening up for the start of our tulip season.  I'm hoping our 4,000 pink tulips (Tulipa) in the entrance garden will still be timed for Mother's Day weekend!?  They have a ways to go yet.  Our blooming bulbs out in the gardens are only a couple days behind the average bloom time and the cool weather has extended the bloom windows of those that have already started.    Below are some shots of "floating windows" in our annual beds just east of the Parker Education Center.  We have seven planting beds that will be our "Jungle Garden" this year with large and lush tropicals that will engulf these windows and colorful doors that we have yet to install.  The garden was developed along the themes in the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  We're excited about this lush garden and the windows will make more sense in about three months!

We had some great volunteer help today despite the rain.  Above is Gary B. working on our pink bike rack which will be located out in the pink-themed entrance garden.  I should mention that Gary is not a fan of pink and that opinion hasn't changed after all his painting projects utilizing that color!  The fourth photo down shows that at least one of our volunteers appreciates the value of pink!  Dave, Vern, Jim, Bob K. and Ron Y. continued efforts on our many carpentry projects including further work on our second 20' tall obelisk.  Pat M. worked on many projects including some painting and preparing of our first giant obelisk for installation out in the gardens.  We had a team (see below) working on removing old bricks from our entrance garden pathways.  Dick P., Maury, Kevin C., Larry and Rollie all helped remove bricks on paths that will be converted shortly to concrete.  The guys has a good system and made quick work of this project.  Dick H. (third photo down) started working on the brakes of one of our utility carts and Gary S. had a full morning of producing the signs for our 2014 Garden Art Project items (Adirondack chairs).  Bill O. worked on servicing one riding mower while Dr. Gredler was out in the gardens mowing with the other one.  Janice came in for some office work and a meeting. We also saw Mary W., Bev F., Darcie, Linda K., Art H., Elaine W., Karen B., Kris K. and many others today.  Both our Horticultural Therapy and Home Garden Tour Committees met later this afternoon with many more participating and involved volunteers.

These last four shots are of hellebores (Helleborus) I photographed at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) last Friday.  Your spring garden should have hellebores and hopefully these inspire you to consider planting these durable and long-lived plants in your partly shaded garden spaces.  Above is 'Red Lady' with those below identified beneath the photo.
The grounds staff kept busy with rainy day projects and tasks outside in between raindrops.  Big John and Terry went on a shopping run for more potting soil and various tools and moved on to preparing more containers, pressure washing and a multitude of other tasks.  Cindy potted up more recently arrived bulbs (cannas & fragrant tuberose) and bareroot perennials.  She also processed labels and did some tidying up around the Horticulture Center.  My efforts were focused on the spring plant sale and the most time-sensitive desk wont be clear until December at this point in time!

'Yellow Lady'
'Pink Lady'
'White Spotted Lady'

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Pit Stops

I left RBG this mornin (technically off today) to travel "Up Nort' Der' to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I'll be doing some presentations Saturday morning in Escanaba for the Delta County Master Gardeners.  I believe I presented at this conference last year and will talk about the Sensory Garden and Sensational Shrubbery tomorrow.  I met briefly with Terry, Janice, Cindy, Big John and Pat this morning before departing.  Jenny was due in later to help and I'm sure that Kay, Eva, Kathy and Dr. Gredler were all in as volunteers as were many others.  With our big Wild Earth Day celebration tomorrow it was important to get the garden tidied up and everyone had multiple tasks.

I made two targeted and pre-planned stops along my route to Michigan.  I stopped at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (OBG) in Madison, WI this morning and around the lunch hour at the Green Bay Botanical Garden (GBBG).  I ran in to staff that I know at both gardens and enjoyed the sunny and cool weather with camera in hand.  The crocuses (Crocus sp.) above were just some of the many thousands of bulbs blooming at OBG.  See some of the many highlights below (grouped by garden).  There were still remnants of snow along the lake and bays up north as well as melting piles from snow plowed up as early as last week up in Escanaba (39 degrees and rainy this afternoon).

spring containers at OBG
one of the gravel gardens showing color at OBG
the meadow garden was showing early color at OBG
I observed many healthy patches of Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) at OBG
OBG had many spectacular hellebores (Helleborus sp.) in full bloom
the Renaissance Reflection paper birches (Betula papyrifera 'Renci') are filling in nicely at OBG
plenty of Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) doing their thing
another meadow garden showing early tulips (Tulipa) and daffodils (Narcissus) at OBG
here are some of the ingredients Samantha P. from OBG was using for a spring container (see below too for the partial container)

an impressive Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) carpet at OBG
An iconic structure at the GBBG that looks good from far and near (directly below)

this new conifer garden will fill in nicely over the years
this reflective metal sculpture is showing just part of a long quote
two more beautiful structures (above and below) at GBBG

a portion of the ruins garden can be seen above at GBBG
'Pink Frost' hellebore (Helleborus) at GBBG
above are impressive reticulated iris (Iris reticulata) patches at GBBG
beautiful crocuses (Crocus sp.) at GBBG
another neat structure at GBBG
cool arbor shadow on mossy patio at GBBG
wicked cool "Hobbit House" bathroom/storage building at GBBG