We had a very busy weekend with the first three days of the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) collectively attracting over 6,000 attendees. This is a record for our first weekend and 3,000 guests on Saturday night is also a single night attendance record. The warmer weather was a factor I'm sure as was some great marketing of the 19th installment of this annual fundraising event. The paths were a bit soft and messy but everyone seemed to enjoy the lights and indoor components as well. There are only eight more days of this event left in December (see our website!). Buy your tickets in advance and wear boots!
We had a nice turnout of volunteers this morning with most of our work occurring indoors on this damp and dark day. Vern, Dave, Jim, Ron Y. and Bob K. continued work on some carpentry projects while Pat M. worked on repairing some lights that we'll potentially need as back-ups for the HLS. Bob K. also worked on the repair of a pole-mounted security light. Bill O. and Dick H. continued work on getting a donated snowblower ready for some potential action. Gary worked on the spreadsheets for HLS trail walking volunteers and Maury ran multiple errands. We also saw Marv B., Rollie, Russ, Dr. Yahr, Dr. Gredler and many others.
My blog focus today is on the wonderful fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis) which I was introduced to over six years ago when I chanced upon them in a catalog. I have never regretted planting three of them (seen above) near the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden. Native to Korea, this shrub does well in moist, acidic soils that are well-drained. Tolerating both full sun and partial shade, this shrub is hardy to zone 5 but will tolerate zone 4 with some protection from winter winds. This shrub will typically reach a mature height and width of 6' or so and has characteristic, loose, upright-arching stems. This semi-informal, "mounding look" does not respond well to pruning/shaping so the form you see above should not be tampered with as this plant also blooms on old wood (prune like a lilac after flowering as needed). The early May flowers emerge as pink bud clusters that open to a white (with shades of very light pink). The flowers are extremely fragrant and will perfume an entire area. The sweet smell of fragrant abelia will rival any other scented plant you've encountered (mark my words). While the blooms only last 2-3 weeks, this shrub contributes later in the season with very impressive fall colors with yellow and reddish orange represented well. This selection is certainly worth the space it fills in the garden!