Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Special Birthday

Dr. Gredler celebrated his 90th birthday today and can be seen at the far end of the table above.  Doc's son Phil (back right next to Doc) bought lunch and we enjoyed celebrating this occasion.  Dr. Gredler's mowing contract with RBG was extended another 10 years so we expect him at work tomorrow.  It was a crazy day out in the gardens with plenty of visitors, grounds staff activities and a bumper crop of volunteers (for a Tuesday!).  The weather was 25 degrees F chillier than yesterday but it was a comfortable gardening temperature for late September.  It was a very productive day.  See photos below that were taken this morning.

 the mums still look cheerful throughout the gardens
 'Peach Crisp' coral bells (Heuchera) - perennial
 seed formation on the umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) - woody tree
Autumn combo of 'Red Bull' big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), 'Little Spire' Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) and Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra 'Eva')

We had some excellent help today out in the gardens.  Above is Larry H. who continued collecting leaves and helped haul back many containers of elephant ears (Colocasia) for processing prior to storage.  Rollie (directly below) came in for some mowing duties and was relieved by Dr. Gredler at mid-morning.  Bill O. was also in for some mowing duties.  Ron K. (second photo down) did a great job with tidying in the woodland walk garden which is accumulating leaves hourly!  Ron did a nice job and hauled out many loads of debris.  We had plenty of leaf clean-up today by Kathy, Eva, Fran and Becky (see images further below).  The seventh photo down shows Resa (driving) and Cookie headed out to the North point garden for tidying and digging up elephant ears (Colocasia sp.).  The ladies did a nice job and Larry H. was a big help hauling back their plants.  Pat C. came in to process labels and is doing a fern inventory for me in the fern & moss garden.  We also saw Dr. Yahr, Maury, Betty and many others today.

Fran (left) and Eva

We had a large grounds crew today with plenty of action.  Larry ran irrigation, watered and bounced between a wide range of projects.  Big John push mowed, watered, put up lights, planted and kept busy with myriad other tasks.  Janice was able to work on the cutting display, do significant primping in the Thomas Jefferson Collection and had other projects as well. Cheryl spent most of her time primping in the gazebo garden which needed some major help.  She potted up some tender tropicals and had some significant watering as well.  Cindy spent time in the sunken garden tidying up and later moved to the English cottage garden.  She also had some watering duties.  Pat also push mowed but then shifted focus to Holiday Lights Show preparations.  I had my morning tour and continue to attack my desk work. Below are some additional images from today.

 strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum) - annual
'Arrested Development' aster (Aster laevis) - perennial
 the elephant ears (Colocosia sp.) are starting to be brought in for winter storage as the evenings get colder
 nasturtiums (Tropaeolum sp.) don't mind the cool nights and continue to bloom strongly - annual
 Sanguna 'Radiant Blue' petunia (Petunia) - annual (part of the American Garden Award program with voting closing today...)
 the Japanese garden still looks beautiful in fall
We had a great tour come up from Illinois.  Nikki K. (U of I Extension) brought up a group from Illinois and we had an enjoyable 2 hour tour (seen  here in the Thomas Jefferson Collection with Janice pretending to work in the foreground)

Monday, September 29, 2014

HLS Preparations In Full Swing

Today was another beautiful continuation of a great weekend for warm weather and sunshine.  Despite the warmth today (near 80 degrees F again), our thoughts are shifting to the colder months with continued progress on our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) set-up and preparations.  Above is the arched bridge already decorated by John and Terry with icicle lights.  We had more progress on this popular event out in the gardens with plenty of preparations (lights testing, repair, processing) going on at the Horticulture Center as well.  The gardens continue to look more "Autumn-ish" daily but there is still plenty of color and our best fall color trees and shrubs are just starting up!  Below are some additional images from this morning.

 willow-leaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) getting yellow fall color - perennial
 mums in the English cottage garden
 brilliant fall color on the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) - woody vine
'Scarlet Runner' runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) - annual

The grounds staff kept busy today with a wide range of tasks.  Above are Big John (left) and Terry putting icicle lights on the zig-zag bridge. The guys do a nice job and are targeting structures for early decoration that wont conflict with weddings or other late season events.  The guys also set up sprinklers, watered containers, etc.  Larry ran irrigation today, mowed and finished testing all of our larger lights displays, some of which need some light repairs.  Cindy did quite a bit of watering as we had a warm weekend and have lacked rain over recent weeks.  Cindy also worked on primping the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and some other areas as well.  I continue to get ready for fall clean-up efforts, the HLS and looming presentations.

Above is Alan, a new addition to our Grumpy group.  After a brief tour and orientation, Alan jumped right in to leaf clean-up efforts with Ron R. and Larry (both seen directly below with Ron in the foreground).  Gary B. worked on some projects at the Horticulture Center and was out later to collect leaves.  Gary S. created some new labels and helped with leaf collection.  The second photo down shows Eva (left) and Kathy tidying in the entrance garden (when they weren't casually posing for this photo...).  The ladies later shifted to leaf collection in various areas.  Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing duties and Maury ran more errands for us.  Dick H. ran to the dump and repaired one of our carts in need of his attention.  Jim, Bob K. and Ron Y. worked on some carpentry projects while Pat M., Ken and Patrea made progress with lights testing, repair and processing.  The fourth photo down shows Nancy N. lettering one our newest quote benches for the garden.  Jumbo Jim and four RECAPPERS did some nice work in the Japanese garden and Vicki and Fran continued to collect leaves from various areas.  Urban did some afternoon pruning and we also saw Marsha, Shirley, Joe and many others today as well.  Further below are more images from this morning.

 'Lighthouse Red' scarlet sage (Salvia splendens) - annual
 zinnia and cosmos still blooming in the "Pollinator's Paradise"
 seed heads of the Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) - perennial
 'Haight Ashbury' annual hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) - tropical
'Banana Boat' broad-leaved sedge (Carex siderosticha) - perennial

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fair Weather Friday

I'm surprised that I haven't taken the photo above more often. This is a view looking east (slight angle) from the south entrance structure of the Japanese garden out on the zig-zag bridge and fountain in the distance.  This circular opening is created with a wooden cheese mold set in a fence and offers a beautiful view year round!  Today was another nice one and some heat finally arrived with a high near 80 degrees F today. Watering has become a priority as we continue to lack significant precipitation over the last two weeks.  The entire grounds staff had watering duties and we had another productive group of gardening volunteers out in the gardens to help out.  Below are additional images from this morning.

the view to the arched bridge through the gazebo continues to be striking
the red border continues to look nice after being tidied up yesterday
'Miyazaki' toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) continues to bloom strongly - perennial
rattlesnake master (Eryingium yuccifolium) continues to impress - perennial

Above are Kathy (left) and Mary who continue to work wonders in their area at the east end of the gardens.  Mary has been a volunteer at the gardens for over 20 years and daughter Kathy sure has her mom's work ethic!  Below is Eva who worked with Kathy P. on more primping, purging and tidying in many areas including one of the wedding sites for the weekend (five weddings!).  Jenny and Dave E. worked in their two assigned areas (great job as usual!) and Shirley (second photo down) did a top notch job collecting leaves in many different areas.  Chuck S. stopped by for some recycling efforts and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Bev W. and many others.

The grounds staff had their share of watering today and tidying for the weekend.  However, today also marked the earliest date in the year that we've ever started putting out lights for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  Both Big John and Terry had sprinkler duties, container watering and other tasks but were also involved in working together on putting out the first of our lights!  This is earlier than usual as we have a tighter deadline for set-up with the Taste of Chocolate event on November 22nd which also includes the premiere lighting of the HLS.  Janice also had a multitude of watering and tidying duties throughout the gardens.  I did a brief tour but continue to become one with my desk chair. Below are additional images from this morning.

'Firecracker' variegated fuchsia (Fuchsia triphylla) - annual
alpine gentian (Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana) - perennial
cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) - seasonal for us
fruits of the cutleaf mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia 'Asplenifolia')
'Glamour Red' kale (Brassica oleracea) - annual
mums continue to add great coloration!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Free Day Well Received!

The day started wonderfully with a hot air balloon launch right near the Horticulture Center at 7 am.  One of these days I'll get the courage to go up in one and get some photos of the gardens from a "bird's eye view"!  This FREE ADMISSION DAY was very well attended and it's always nice to see so many visitors out in the gardens.  The weather was perfect with sunshine and 78 degrees F by the afternoon.  There is still plenty of color out in the gardens.  With recent cold evenings, we've removed about 15% of our annuals (those that looked bad) but many are still hanging in there including elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) like the 'Black Coral' seen below in a container with yellow mums.  We'll be digging and storing many of our best (and most expensive) elephant ears soon before they get frosted.  It was a crazy day with many volunteers out in the gardens this morning!  Below are more photos from today.

 'Black Coral' elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) with mums - tropical
 'Purple Majesty' ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is still looking great in composition - annual
 'Jazz' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) getting a fall tinge of color - perennial
Fall Fiesta sugar maple (Acer saccharum 'BAILsta') - woody tree

As mentioned above, we had an onslaught of volunteers this morning and accomplished a wide range of tasks today. Above are Doris and Hal heading out to remove spent annuals from their garden area.  All of our carts were in action and we even had to use the hand carts (see Fran below collecting remnant melon debris)!  The volunteer photos are labeled further below as there were so many people doing such great work today.  Shirley and Betty worked in their garden and we had Ron R., Larry H., Gary B., Vicki O., Barb, Shirley, Mary W., Mary R., Susie H., Bonnie, Eva, Kathy, Linda S. and many others collecting debris in various locations.  Dave, Bob K. and Jim worked on some carpentry projects both inside and out and Ken continued his painting duties.  Ron P. and Pat M. worked on testing/repairing lights for the looming Holiday Lights Show. Dick H. made some runs to the dump and is repairing one of our defunct carts.  Both Dr. Gredler and Bill O. did some riding mowing today as well.  Joel R. came in to work on our aeration system in the pond too!  We also saw Elsa, Lois, Dick P. and many others on this busy day!

 Fran W.
 Betty H.
 Shirley C.
 Bob K. (waking from a cat nap)
 Mary R.
 Susie H.
Barb (left) and Shirley
 Gary B. (left) and Larry H.
 Mary Ann G.
Dick H.

We truly had a paid "skeleton crew" today with only Larry, Janice and myself.  Janice was instrumental in getting our huge crew of volunteers dispersed efficiently this morning.  Janice also had significant watering duties as well as other projects.  Larry ran irrigation and set up sprinklers in our driest areas.  We sure could use some rain!  Larry had myriad other projects and did his Thursday push mowing rounds as well.  I was able to get out in the gardens a bit today, had a meeting and continue to plan for upcoming events and challenges.  Above is the 'Sahara' annual gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) and below are additional images from today.

 asters (Aster sp.) are blooming well - perennial (note the bee!)
 'Fireworks' goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) is showing peak color - perennial
Voting is still going on for the American Garden Award (www.americangardenaward.com) display until September 30th.  Above is the 'Arrabona Red' plume celosia (Celosia plumosa) which is one of the four entries in 2014