Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jack Frost Nipping At Your...Garden?

Today was fairly quiet which allowed me to start on my 2015 preparations.  Chuck S. stopped by as did Dr. Yahr.  With the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) set up and ready to go, I can shift gears and get ready for next year.  The HLS opens on Friday, December 12th (4:30 pm - 8 pm) and runs throughout the month.  Do check out this event on our website for more information including information on the schedule, entertainment, etc.  December through March are all too fleeting for me and while some of us get cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder, winter doldrums, etc. (myself included), I'd love another month of two of winter to get ready for spring!  Many of our 2015 plants have been ordered already although I have yet to go through seed catalogs to select varieties that we'll have our growers start for us.  We'll also start very shortly on selecting vegetable and herb varieties for our Spring Plant Sale (Mother's Day weekend in 2015).
This blog is a tribute to one of my favorite perennials for part shade that has always performed well for us.  The 'Jack Frost' false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) is tough as nails, deer resistant and offers early spring flowers followed immediately by showy silver foliage (15" tall).  The foliage is rarely bothered by insects or disease.  This clumping perennial is a nice accent piece in the part shade garden and also looks good in a "collective mass" as a groundcover.  There are many varieties of false forget-me-nots including those with different silver patterns, amounts of silver, leaf size and even a golden-leaved form.  I keep returning to this variety though and these pictures will show you why.  The flowers are only 2-3 weeks of the show but the foliage for us looks good in late April well in to November!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day of Shoveling

Today was full of exercise as I helped remove snow with Larry and Bill.  We had about 4" of fluff come down over the evening on top of some slush that froze up as the rain converted to sleet and finally snow yesterday morning.  Above is a sunflower sculpture looking showy out in the gardens today.  It was actually a beautiful day out in the gardens as evidenced in these photos.  I took these shots as I was catching my breath after some serious shoveling!  This was another day that I was yet again happy that I had my camera in my pocket.  We have a nice snow removal routine with Larry and Bill on the snow blowers and me doing the shoveling touch up.  We had some other visitors later in the day and I'll be shifting to some perusal of 2015 seed catalogs as the winter months are all too fleeting (in terms of time for preparation).

 view from the fishing pier to the arched bridge in the far distance
a snow-covered redbud (Cercis canadensis) - woody tree
burning bush (Euonymus alatus) holding snow - woody shrub
part of the holiday scenery for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS)
snow is beautiful when it sticks to plants like these horsetails (Equisetum sp.)
South Japanese entrance
white pine (Pinus strobus) - conifer
fruiting structures on Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') - woody shrub
the arboretum looking nice (deer tracks though!!!)

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Snow Arrives

We had drizzle all weekend which extended through this morning before converting to snow by late morning.  We had a nice turnout of Grumpies this morning with some outdoor work occurring before it got too wet outside.  Dr. Gredler (above) was sorting bulbs for the trail packs that we send out with our "trail walking" volunteers for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS).  Below is Big John pounding stakes for our deer fencing which Bob K. and Maury (second photo down, Maury in red) started installing before it turned really sour.  Alan M. went out for leaf collection and Larry H. finished putting protective netting over the last of our yews (Taxus) which are a snack favorite of our local deer population.  Gary B. emptied out containers near the Horticulture Center and Bill O. helped Larry get the big snowblower placed on our Grasshopper mower.  The outside guys got wet today and three photos down is Bob K. drying his pants!  Dave, Vern and Jim worked on carpentry projects with later assistance from Bob K.  Del tidied up and painted while Gary made some new signs and organized our signs and labels.  We also saw Cheryl, Janice and many others today.


Our white landscape today inspired me to share some white flowers in the blog today.  This assortment is serving "double duty" though as all of these flowers are fragrant and will be part of our Smelly Garden theme which returns next spring.  The Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden had a Smelly Garden theme in 2011 and 2012 which was so well received, we'll be bringing it back after two straight seasons of having our "Pollinator's Paradise" theme in that garden.  The fragrant garden should be lots of fun as we explain why plants have scent and let visitors enjoy the smells of pine, orange, peppermint, vanilla, popcorn and even chocolate out in the gardens.  Some of these fragrant annuals only bloom at night.  The midnight phlox (Zaluzianskya capensis) seen above is a "night bloomer" and packs an impressive punch with sweet fragrance throughout the evening hours.  Below are some other white blooming, fragrant annuals that will be part of our theme next year. 
 white heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens 'Alba') - annual (smells like vanilla)
 'Perfume White' flowering tobacco (Nicotiana hybrida) - annual
fragrant evening stocks (Matthiola longipetala ssp. bicornis) - annual
'Evening Fragrance' angel's trumpet (Datura inoxia) - annual
double fragrant tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa 'The Pearl') - bulb
 sweet sultan (Centaurea moschata 'The Bride') - annual
sweet four o'clock (Mirabilis longiflora) - annual (above and below)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Awesome Grounds Staff

It was another cold day with not too much activity going on outside  We're ready for the premiere of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) as part of the Taste of Chocolate tomorrow night.  Pat was here today to repair lights and do some pruning. Big John did some final tweaking of the HLS.  Bill O. got our snowblower ready and Janice was in for a bit as well.  We also saw Maury (errands), Dr. Yahr, Dr. Gredler, Vern and a couple others.  I was outside for some HLS tweaks and now start the next four months of desk work to include budgeting, seed orders, etc. 
This blog is dedicated to another great year from our dedicated grounds staff.  Above are Terry (left) and Big John cooling off in the koi pond.  The grounds staff are truly the unsung heroes of the garden and are the backbone of so much that happens on our 20 acres.  I can assure you that they don't work at RBG for the pay and are all personally invested in the gardens.  In fact, every one of them started as a volunteer at the gardens.  Most recently of course, the HLS has been a priority (well done team!) but the gang is involved with such an increasingly diverse range of duties well beyond planting, weeding, watering and mowing.  The collective years of experience at RBG (not including me) for our grounds staff from 2014 was 62 years!  We look forward to having a great year next year but need to celebrate the significant and much appreciated contributions of Jenny, Janice, John, Terry, Pat, Cindy, Cheryl and Larry (all seen below in action).
Cheryl (driving)