Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Progresses

Above is a wonderful image from yesterday that Marsha M. shared with me this morning.  I was out sick yesterday and have been playing "catch up" all day.  Yesterday we had a full crew of volunteers working on a wide range of tasks including lowering one of our two "Towers of Power" under the supervision of Pat M. (above).  This 20' tall structure (one of two) had 2,000 LED lights on it this winter and was a real beacon out there during our very successful and well-attended Holiday Lights Show.  I know we had a wide range of help both inside and outside yesterday with many volunteers returning for garden clean-up and to get ready for the impending busy season and looming Bagged Compost Sale which starts this Saturday (April 4th, 8 am - 12 noon, $6 per bag).  The Spring Plant Sale is coming up soon too on Mother's Day weekend (May 9th and 10th, 9 am - 4 pm) although RBG Members can come to the Members Only Pre-Sale on Friday, May 8th (9 am - 4 pm) for "first dibs" and a 10% discount that extends throughout the sale.  Below are some images taken during my delightful morning stroll today.

this patch of emerging crocuses has avoided rabbit nibbling thus far....
 double snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno') looking good today (above and below)

 winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) patch looking nice

We had a nice turnout of volunteers today.  Eva (above) and Kathy (below) headed out this morning for some serious tidying and clean-up of beds, borders and paths.  They do a great job. Kay was in later in the morning to address her area which had plenty of twigs down and crooked signs.  It's amazing how much our plant signs get knocked around but it's an annual spring project to straighten, repair and replace these as needed.  Pat M. did more work on his giant obelisk today and Bill came in to help Larry with some tasks (second photo down).  Janice was in to work on myriad projects and Dr. Gredler came in for more painting.  We also saw Chuck, Bev D., Polly, Mark S. and many others today.  See further below for more photos from today.

 the mosses are greening up nicely
 ornamental bark of lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana)
 early spring foliage of Italian arum (Arum italicum)
 'Heritage' river birch (Betula nigra) bark
 Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) emerging
This cool wall detail in the reception garden is only seen in spring before plants block it.  I think these may  have been from the original Parker Pen Building as well but need to confirm...neat though

Friday, March 27, 2015

Windflowers (Anemone blanda)

While it was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine, the air was still crisp with temperatures only reaching the lower 30 degrees F mark. That didn't dissuade Ron R., Urban, Pat M. and Alan M. from coming in to help out.  Ron continued cutting down ornamental grasses out in the gardens while Urban returned to more pruning duties.  Pat had some inside tasks and Alan worked on some painting. Alan also helped me and a delivery guy unload and push around 15,000 lbs of potting soil on pallets.  That was a work out.  Kay was in to peel more Spring Plant Sale labels (I think she's working on our excellent selection of tomatoes...check out our website for plant lists!).  Janice and Patrea worked on some projects and we also saw Cindy, Dick H. and many others.

Windflowers, also called Balkan anemone and Grecian windflower, are one of my favorite fall planted bulbs (actually corms) that herald the arrival of spring.  Native to Southeastern Europe, they are certainly hardy for us and will spread and colonize in an agreeable fashion.  Ours will be blooming in the next 3-4 weeks with a color range of blue, white and pink.  Oddly enough, we don't have any pink ones but we have some large patches of both the blue and white forms that have naturalized over the years.  The bulbs (planted in October and November) are quite small and can be planted 2"-3" deep.  Some folks will soak the bulbs overnight before planting but we never have bothered and plant them directly.  Blooming plants in late April and early May (in our area) are under 6" tall with lacy foliage but have large flowers up to 3" in diameter.  Windflowers are excellent candidates to be installed under a deciduous canopy.  These bulbs are getting ample light when they bloom which is before that overhead canopy fills in to create shade.  The anemones go dormant as the shade increases and they enjoy a dry summer dormancy.  They are inexpensive and can be mass planted in drifts, combined with other bulbs with a similar bloom time and are attractive to early pollinators as well.  Enjoy the images as it's impossible to take a bad photo of these photogenic spring bloomers!

Anemone blanda 'Blue Shades' combined with early tulips (Tulipa) and broad-leaved grape hyacinths (Muscari latifolium) at Keukenhof (Netherlands)
Anemone blanda 'Blue Shades' with tulips (Tulipa) in three containers at the Floriade (Netherlands)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Olbrich Awakens Too

All the photos in this blog were taken at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) last evening before a presentation that I gave on the importance of foliage in the shade garden.  Their garden is coming to life and I'm glad I was able to catch some low sun angles on plants like the 'Arnold Promise' hybrid witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) seen above.  The presentation went well and enjoy these images of one of my favorite gardens that I highly recommend to everyone.

It was a very busy day at the Horticulture Center and out in the gardens.  Marv and Terry took down some significant remnants from the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) this morning among other tasks.  Larry H., Alan, Ron R., Bob C., Urban and Rich (new Grumpy) were all outside working on various tasks such as cutting back grasses, raking, pruning and also bringing in HLS stuff.  Dave, Bob K., Ron Y. and Jim worked on the production of more cedar obelisks that will be sold at our Cottage Garden Gallery and certainly at our Spring Plant Sale on Mother's Day weekend.  Pat worked on converting some signs for the Tree Sale which will be managed by the Golden Kiwanis Club but will be held at the Horticulture Center on April 24th and 25th.  Maury ran some errands for us and both Gary B. and Dr. Gredler did some significant painting today.  Dick H. ran to the dump multiple times and worked on one of our trucks.  Bill O. was in later to help out Larry and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Rollie, Dave S., Chuck S. and many others today.

 'Harmony' reticulated iris (Iris reticulata)
 snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) in the meadow garden
 crocus (Crocus sp.) emerging in the meadow garden
 vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Christmas Cheer') - fragrant!
bark of the China Snow Peking lilac (Syringa pekinensis 'Morton')
bark of the 'White Tigress' striped maple (Acer hybrida)
 bark of the three-flower maple (Acer triflorum)
golden Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana 'Wate's Golden')
the gravel garden still looks awesome!
 uber cool willow and dogwood vining tower in the herb garden
 colorful dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Beauty') stems
above and all the shots below show the colorful remnants of their winter containers - still looking great