Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cool Rooftop Garden

I was off today but was thankfully able to "get my fix" at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, WI.  All the images here are from their rooftop garden which was 25,000 square feet of dynamite.  I knew it was there and remember hearing when it was first constructed.  I saw it from above first (photo above) and then descended two stories, opened the access door to the garden and meandered.  It's old news that patients recovering in rooms with a view such as this recover significantly faster than those recovering (same ailment) in rooms with views of parking lots, walls and "un-nature-like" settings.  What a great view and I enjoyed being immersed in this flowing composition which was a whimsical combination of both natives and non-natives with a nice representation of perennial grasses.  I chatted with the primary grounds horticulturist, Mike, and we "talked shop" and compared "war stories."  I enjoyed the visit and will blog tomorrow regarding their other garden which was top notch and featured a walking labyrinth.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Jungle Garden

While we haven't had the heat to encourage the Jungle Garden (seen above and below) as much as I would have liked, the plants are still filling in steadily!  It's hard to believe that we were painting these doors and windows only five months ago and we are now enjoying seeing visitors explore these lush spaces.  If we have a warm August, we should see significant growth with these areas becoming "jungle thickets"!  We had another beautiful day around 80 degrees F and the morning was just the perfect temperature for gardening.  The grounds staff and volunteers had no shortage of tasks and it continues to be one productive day after another.  We're finally getting a handle on the weeds and while we'll never be "weedless", we're finishing some of the challenging areas and will continue to primp as time (and the number of helping hands) allows!  More photos from the Jungle Garden this morning can be seen below.

'Thailand Giant' elephant ear (Colocasia gigantea) with neighbors
Can you spot the volunteer!?  Nancy can be seen past the 'Zanzibariensis' castor bean (Ricinus communis) to the left and she's just to the right of the blue window!
our six doors get plenty of action as visitors enter and leave this "urban jungle"
repurposed culvert pipe (18" diameter) with some paint becomes instant containers!

We had another strong volunteer contingent today.  Above is Kay working near the front entrance garden. We're targeting weeds in the ever shrinking gaps between the plants.  Access in to these spaces will be very limited soon.  Kay is excellent at this "target weeding" as is Patrea (directly below) who joined her in these escapades this morning.  Eva (next photo down) and Kathy were also in near proximity and helped with weeds in and around the entrance garden as well.  The third photo down shows Myrt in the Jungle Garden who, along with Gena, Nancy and Mary D., did a fine job weeding throughout these tropical displays.  Jan R. spent time tidying up the Scottish garden (her assigned garden) and Stan was in to target tasks in the Japanese garden.  Marv and Marianne tag-teamed their weeding/tidying efforts in the fern and moss garden with a focus on the moss island.  They are also nicely maintaining a moss garden in the Japanese garden.  Maury ran some errands for us and Janice worked with our Chestnut House volunteers.  The group harvested vegetables from many areas including beds near the Horticulture Center.  We saw many others today as well.

The grounds staff all shifted between watering and gardening duties.  Above are Terry (foreground) and Big John shearing the yew (Taxus sp.) hedges in the formal gardens.  This is a huge project and the guys did a nice job.  It's nice to see minimal brown left on these from that tough winter but in other locations, the yews (Taxus sp.) are still recovering.  Terry and John each also had watering duties to include setting up and moving sprinklers, running irrigation and watering containers.  Terry also sheared in other areas and John planted a small tree and multiple shrubs.  Cindy (half day) planted grasses, watered and continued to primp the beautiful "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  I was out in the gardens briefly but continue to chip away at a pile on my desk that never diminishes in size!  I'm off the next two days but will try to put together some fun, plant-based blogs.  If you're reading this blog and haven't visited yet this year (or recently), get to Janesville and check us out as summer peak is here!!!  Below are some other images from this morning.

'Arrabona Red' plume celosia (Celosia plumosa) can be seen above. This is one of four selections (all annuals) in the American Garden Award (see below) program.  Visitors can vote on their favorite entry.  See for more details.  Votes can be done online or we have voting cards available at the collection that can be filled out and dropped in the mail.

'Majeste' lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) showing some color in the shade - perennial
seed capsules of 'Carmencita Red' castor bean (Ricinus communis) - annual (poisonous!)
elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) with 'Big Bounce Lavender' New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) and 'Toffee Twist' sedge (Carex flagellifera)
'Secret Passion' coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) - perennial

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some Rain Would Be Nice

It's starting to get dry again although we're keeping up with irrigation and watering duties around the gardens.  I think there are chances of rain throughout the week but nothing looks like a "slam dunk"!  Above is a view of the formal gardens this morning from the porch behind the Rath Environmental Center.  I always enjoy this view with the English cottage garden in the foreground, Italian formal garden in the mid-section (note lime obelisks) and the French rose garden in the far distance with pergola structure as the visual anchor.  We had another great day out in the gardens and temperatures are still cooler than normal with a high today around 77 degrees F.  That's still comfortable working weather and we accomplished a lot of work today with both grounds staff and volunteers.  Below are some other photos from this morning.

The front sign looks good and note the message to "Become a Friends Member!"
I enjoy the red-themed wall planting every time I walk by!
Our 'Thailand Giant' elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea) are filling in nicely throughout the Jungle Garden theme!

Our volunteers jumped right in to action today.  Above is Kay (in blue) working the front entrance garden border.  She's not shy about diving in and going after those weeds.  The gaps between the original plantings are getting smaller but our volunteers have excellent balance!  Not far from Kay were Kathy and Eva weeding for the second day along the entrance garden berm which had plenty of weeds disguising themselves throughout that massive planting.  Vicki (seen below) did some significant planting and watering before joining Kay and Eva with their weeding project.  Dr. Gredler (next photo down) and Bill O. did their mowing rounds today.  Cookie and Resa tended the North point garden which is their assigned garden.  That space is looking tidy and colorful. Shirley C. was also in this morning to take care of her garden space.  Ron K. (third photo down) worked his kung fu in the woodland walk garden which continues to look very nice.  We also saw Chuck S., Marsha M., Maury, Dr. Yahr, Bill O. (#2), Julie G. and many others today.

Above is Lisa who has inventoried, catalogued, mapped, tended and observed our Potter Daylily Collection for the past 4 or 5 years.  As a member of the Wisconsin Daylily Society (WDS) and a RBG volunteer, Lisa's knowledge is exceptional and her organizational skills are second to none.  She has done a superior job keeping our 300+ varieties in good order.  As a National Display Garden for the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS), proper display and labeling protocols are vital.  This photo is from yesterday as Lisa and I assessed some modifications and proposed changes to the collection which still looks awesome with varieties including those seen below. 

'Night Embers' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial
'Open Hearth' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial
'How's the Weather Up There?' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial at 5' tall!

The staff had a busy day.  Above are Big John (left) and Larry helping Janice re-secure the Cosmos Collection (70 varieties) that had started to flop a bit.  Both guys also had mowing, watering and other gardening duties. Janice also worked on labeling, the cutting display, weeding and other tasks aside from the cosmos duties.  Cheryl worked on weeding multiple areas and yard watering.  Cindy had planting, watering, fertilizing and more work in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.  I was able to apply more herbicide in some tough areas with vigorous carpeting weeds.  I also placed plants for installation throughout the week and continue preparations for the Fall Plant Sale (see our website soon for details...).  Below are more photos from today.

'Summer Beauty' ornamental onion (Allium sp.) - perennial
same as above with a visitor
same as above with a visitor
purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with swallowtail friend in the sunken garden
'Green Envy' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial

The Jungle Garden continues to fill in nicely

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Color In Cool Weather

It was another beautiful day at the gardens (see the sunken garden above) although the morning was quite cool and the daytime temperature was only in the mid 70 degrees F.  Oh's out of our hands and it sure helps to be able to catch up with watering and not have it dry up so quickly.  I would like more heat for our summer annuals and tropicals but they do continue to fill in nicely.  It was another busy day out in the gardens with lots of visitors enjoying a stroll.  Many of us (staff and volunteers) have recently shared the observation that this seems like our busiest year yet in terms of attendance.  I hope the numbers (and revenue!) indicate this trend!   It should darn well be our busiest year with the 25th Anniversary and the fact that more and more people are hearing about RBG both far and wide.  It's nice to see this attendance which will encourage the ever-important "word of mouth" advertising.  Lots of tasks were accomplished today by both staff and volunteers.  Below are some additional photos from this morning.
the North point garden above is looking sharp!
The "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden is one of the most colorful spots in the garden this summer!
'Vintage Wine' purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) - perennial

Our volunteers were extremely helpful as usual and we had a nice showing of Grumpies and Grumpettes.  Above is Gary B. watering the Thomas Jefferson Collection which is looking pretty good right now as well.  Directly below (left to right) are Kathy, Eva and Taylor.  The ladies tip-toed in to the entrance garden slope and are removing some weedy infiltrators!  They came back with quite a load of weeds!  Karen M. was tidying up in the Japanese garden this morning and Lisa I. arrived this afternoon to take a closer look at the Potter Daylily Collection which is still at peak.  The second photo down shows Ron R. (left) and Bob C. heading out to mulch and water some newly planted trees.  The third photo down shows Ron P. who, along with Dick H., did a nice job edging along the arboretum.  Dick H. also made some trips to the dump (fourth photo down).  Dr. Gredler was in for mowing and Maury ran multiple errands for us too.  Ron Y., Dave, Jim, Bob K. and Vern continued producing new obelisks and had some other carpentry duties as well.  We also saw Bill O., El, Ron W., Dr. Yahr and many others today.

The grounds staff had a full day which included quite a bit of watering despite the cool weather.  We missed our chances of significant rain last Friday and Sunday and are catching up in some areas.  Above is Cindy in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden where she continues to weed, plant and improve the "Pollinator's Paradise" theme which also features All-America Selections (AAS) winners.  This garden display is also entered in the AAS Landscape Design Competition for the third year and we hope to repeat our 1st place showing of the previous two years.  Cindy also had other watering and gardening duties.  Pat (half day) watered, weeded and tidied in the formal gardens.  Terry set up sprinklers, fertilized and bounced between multiple projects.  Big John had similar duties and removed a tree with Larry.  John also had significant watering as well and checked many containers for watering. Larry weed whipped, mowed, ran irrigation and helped with a multitude of projects.  I placed some plants for installation tomorrow and continue to chip away at the "IN BOX" on my desk.  Below are more photos from today...

'Torch' Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) - annual
'Razzleberry' stonecrop (Sedum hybrida) - perennial
'Young Lady' smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) - large shrub
Nice container in the reception garden featuring 'Sky Rocket' variegated fountain grass (Pennisetum x advena), 'Merlin Blue' petunia (Petunia) and 'Diamond Frost' spurge (Euphorbia sp.) - annuals
We'll all miss Gerald Wilson ("Muskrat") who passed away recently at the age of 75.  Little Jerry, as he was called, was a wonderful volunteer and worked as a grounds staff member for many years with a strong focus in the Japanese garden.  Jerry was great at tool sharpening, pruning, general gardening and never ran out of jokes.  He was well loved by everyone and will be missed.  RBG is a better place for having Little Jerry involved over so many years.