Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Solid Progress Today

The rain held off for today although we had another 4/10th of an inch overnight.  There was very little need for watering today as we've really had quite a wet June overall.  I'd certainly prefer that to a dry June!  The day was cooler and in the mid 70 degrees F with overcast skies most of the day.  It was great working weather although the droves of mosquitoes are starting to make their blood-thirsty cravings known to most of us.  Above is the Incrediball hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo') looking good near the English cottage garden.  We had another solid turnout of volunteers and most of the grounds crew was on site for some work as well.  Below are some photos from this morning.

 'Copper Cascade' foamy bells (xHeucherella) - perennial
 'Dolce Blackcurrant' coral bells (Heuchera) - perennial

Our volunteer crew did a great job out in the gardens.  Barb (above) planted another 50 or so large tropicals in the Alphabet Jungle Garden and was joined later by Vicky for some serious weeding in that same space.  Directly below are Resa (left) and Cookie as they headed out to the North point garden which they tend so well.  The ladies tidied up and helped with some work in the Smelly Garden and surrounding areas as well.  The second photo shows Pat C. in action.  After some clerical work, Pat and I went out and inventoried labeling needs in the gazebo garden and a portion of the woodland walk garden.  We're looking at label replacements, repairs and plants that need labels too.  This is an ongoing process although we hope to get caught up this year!  Jenny was in to tidy up the hosta hollow garden (her assigned space) and later joined Kay (third photo down) with some weeding near the gazebo garden after Kay finished her two planting projects (one of which can be seen in the photo).  Bobby K. (fifth photo down) installed more sculptures and spent a good portion of the day helping organize the carpentry section of the Horticulture Center.  Pat M. came in for some projects and Bill O. did his mowing rounds.  Kathy and Eva (sixth photo down, Eva in red) continued their weed battle in the entrance garden and continue to make great headway.  We also saw Mary H. and Kathy P. tidying their area and Maury was around for multiple errands. I feel like I'm forgetting some volunteers but we sure had a great crew today!

The grounds crew had a very productive day which I type every day in this blog.  However, they really had a diverse amount of work (and plenty of it!) that they churned through today.  Cindy focused her time on some terrace garden weeding and then more tidying in the Smelly Garden theme in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden.   That garden is really looking sharp (and smelling great)!  Cheryl had weeding in multiple "trouble areas" and some yard watering.  Janice had work at the Horticulture Center, out in the Thomas Jefferson Collection and myriad other tasks.  Big John planted, rototilled, removed a tree, checked water features and bounced between many duties as well.  Trevor did quite a bit of mulching today as well as some digging of a sumac (Rhus) that we wished we had never planted as the "root runners" are everywhere!  Nolan moved plants, weeded and did some major mowing.  I worked with Pat C. on label issues but had a day equally divided between garden work and preparing for the looming Home Garden Tour on July 11th.  Tickets ($10!) on sale now at K&W Greenery and RBG.

'The Governor' lupine (Lupinus hybridus) - perennial
 'Moonlit Masquerade' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial
 golden gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides 'Heronswood Gold') - perennial (vigorous!)
 Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) from the Thomas Jefferson Collection
 yummy harvest from the Thomas Jefferson Collection (collected by Janice)
'Rocket Man' purple coneflower (Echinacea hybrida) - perennial

Monday, June 29, 2015

Finishing Touches

Today was in interesting mix of warm sunshine, clouds and some sprinkles.  We had a smaller but effective crew today with both staff and volunteers continuing to primp the gardens as we head in to summer and prepare for the influx of visitors that will arrive to see our color schemes, gardens and collections.  Above is the beautiful 'Rubenza' cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) which fades to a reddish pink but the newly opened flowers are quite close to red.  While about 90% of our annuals have been planted for the season, we continue to augment areas and finish some of our last small spaces.  We continued those efforts today and recent rains helped us avoid a day full of watering duties although we had some of those tasks as well.  It was nice to see quite a few visitors as well.  The photos below were also taken in the gardens today.

butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) - perennial
'Velvet Elvis' lavender spurflower (Plectranthus hybridus) - annual
'Majeste' lungworts (Pulmonaria) with New Guinea impatiens mix

The photos directly above and directly below feature the talented volunteer crew from BioLife Plasma Services here in Janesville, WI.  This crew put in a good four hours yesterday (Sunday) and we weeded a large area together and did some serious mulching as well.  It's nice to have groups like this come and support the gardens and we hope they'll be back in the future!

We had some new volunteers today.  Jennifer (above in green) came in and helped weed in the entrance garden with both Kathy (above in red) and Eva.  The ladies did a great job.  Cheryl P. was also a new volunteer today and she helped Karen M. tidy up in the Japanese garden.  Maury worked on cleaning some of our water features after getting his morning chatting done (see below) with Mark S. and Polly.  The second and third photos down show Alan M. and Ron R. respectively who did a great job mulching the East parking lot border which they helped clear of weeds and debris last week.  They received significant help from both Pat M. and Gary S. in that area and this foursome finished this large task in good order.  Vern, Dave, Jim, Ron Y. and Bob K. all had carpentry projects to work on (fifth photo down) and Bob K. stayed all day to help with some sculpture installation with Nolan and Dick H.  Dick H. also did some welding (fourth photo down) and ran to the dump.  Dr. Gredler and Rollie had mowing duties and Ken C. and Chuck S. did some cart tour training.  Vicky (sixth photo down) was in for planting in two areas and Marcia and Mirjam (seventh photo down taking a well-deserved break, Marcia to the left) continue to do an exceptional job maintaining the English cottage garden.  The eight photo down shows Urban (driving) and his son Jeff who did some excellent pruning work along the periphery of the shade garden.  We also saw Tina B., Dr. Yahr, Janice, Big John, Janet M. and many others today.

The grounds crew kept busy from start to finish today.  We saw John and Janice briefly but they were off the clock.  Cindy planted, weeded, unplanted, replanted and watered today.  We had lots of action in the Smelly Garden theme of the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and Cindy was a big part of it.  Terry worked on a large edging project, watered, weeded and helped with many other tasks as well.  Nolan had some major digging projects that were related to some sculpture installation (top secret) and he was involved with more work related to these projects in the afternoon with Bobby K. and Dick H.  I hauled plants out to many areas today and am trying to make sure we're pretty much planted by the end of the week.

'Pink Cotton Candy' wood betony (Stachys officinalis) - perennial
'Sentimental Blue' balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) closed above and open below - perennial

pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida) - perennial
dwarf meadow rue (Thalictrum kiusianum) - perennial
 'Night Raider' daylily (Hemerocallis) - perennial
 pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida) in a sea of German statice (Goniolimon tataricum) - perennials
 'Pretty Belinda' yarrow (Achillea millefolium) - perennial
black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'Nigra') in the Thomas Jefferson Collection (grown by TJ himself!)

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Rain on the Way

The photo above and the one directly below were from a tour that I gave for the Green County Master Gardeners last night at the gardens.  In the center above (in black) is our departing Director of Administration and Development, Cheryl.  Cheryl finished her last day yesterday and will be greatly missed by staff and volunteers.  We wish her the best as she spends more time with family and with her countless other endeavors!  The tour was wonderful and the lighting (like that in the fern & moss garden seen below) was perfect!  We enjoyed our stroll immensely.

The day was cooler and overcast but we were able to accomplish a lot of work out in the gardens.  The weeds continue to be a challenge and as we finish up our "Spring" planting, we'll shift to more weed control.  Friday efforts out in the gardens revolve a lot around making sure the wedding gardens are in tip top shape.  With four weddings this weekend, we had a busy day out there.  The recent rainfalls have been quite timely and have been nice in that they have allowed us to focus on other gardening tasks besides watering!  We had a nice showing of volunteers today as well!  Above is the 'Royal Purple' smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) which is an eye catcher, particularly when placed against a lighter backdrop.  Below are some other images from the garden.

 common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is in full bloom and attracting a wide range of pollinators
 'Young Lady' smokebush (Cotinus coggygria) - woody shrub
 'Sun King' Japanese spikenard (Aralia cordata) - perennial
 'Moonlight' Japanese hydrangea vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) - woody vine (above and below)

Our volunteers kept busy today and continue to be such an important part of everything that happens at the gardens.  Of course our garden volunteers are featured frequently in this blog but RBG volunteers also assist with tours, education, the gift shop, special events, etc.  We're fortunate to have so many people willing to donate their valuable time for the gardens.  Above is Marleen who did some nice planting in the beautiful flower bed that she and longtime friend Magda maintain.  Below is Vicky on purslane (Portulaca oleracea) patrol in the reception garden with Shirley H. (second photo down).  This is meticulous work but the ladies are methodical and patient! The third and fourth photos down feature Kathy and Eva (in red).  The ladies spent their morning weeding in the front entrance garden berm which is seen by all of our traffic along Palmer Drive. The weeds had infiltrated pretty well in that space but the ladies took a big dent out of their population.  Hal and Doris tidied up their garden space which is filling in nicely.  Pat M. (fifth photo down) finished weeding the tree circles in the arboretum which really needed attention!  Rollie and Bill O. did their mowing and Maury ran some errands for us. Dick H. ran to the dump and Karen M. was in the Japanese garden for some tidying duties.  We also saw Kay, Elsa, Dave (helped with equipment repairs), Art and many others today.  It was a busy day with much accomplished!

The grounds staff had a busy day although Big John had time to "take a dip" today in the koi pond as seen above.  He and Terry placed more water plants which should help with water clarity  The guys had a wide range of tasks in many different spaces.  Cindy did some watering and had a strong focus in the Smelly Garden theme of the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden with more planting, weeding and primping.  Janice worked in the Thomas Jefferson Collection (filling in nicely), did the cutting display, weeded and had some other tasks as well.  Trevor worked primarily on weeding and mowing while I had some appointments and odds and ends (both inside and outside).  Below are some additional photos from today.

 'Raspberry Tart' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual
 black hollyhock (Alcea rosea 'The Watchman') - biennial
 puckered dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Compressa') - woody shrub
 Incrediball hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Abetwo') - woody shrub
 a portion of the herb garden featuring sensory plants
 the formal annual sections (above) are filling in nicely
the English cottage garden