Thursday, March 31, 2016


Today had the full spectrum of driving rain to sunshine.  The weather didn't stop Larry H. and Peg from heading out for garden clean-up and mulching.  Lloyd was also out there to continue mulching the main parking lot islands.  Marv and Terry did some work out in the gardens which became quite damp quickly this morning.  Dr. Gredler, Alan and Gary all worked on painting while Ron Y. was priming some new Adirondack chairs.  Bob C. and Gene sanded benches for re-staining while Dave and Vern continued assembling new Adirondack chairs (for sale at our Cottage Garden Gallery!).  Dick H. had some projects.  Gary worked on some new signs and Larry O. popped in for some consultation on repairs to our endloader.  Kay worked on preparing plant sale labels and we also saw Barry B., Chuck S. and many others.

Above is the 'City Garden' black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) which is one of the many excellent, mid-height selections of this impactful perennial.  While there are many species of Rudbeckia in a wide range of heights, this focus is on the "knee and thigh high" selections.  All of these will thrive in full sun or part sun and are quite drought tolerant once established.  Excellent for pollinators, the perennial rudbeckias will expand to form colonies and aren't too picky about soils.  Be warned that control and division may be in order when they are the "most happy"!  Blooms will frequently start in July and last until late August.  See further down for some nice combinations utilizing the flower power of these excellent species and varieties.

 Deam's coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii)
Missouri coneflower (Rudbeckia missouriensis)
'Goldsturm' black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii) - above and two below

 'Little Goldstar' black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii)
 'Pot of Gold' black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
Viette's Little Suzy black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida 'Blovi')
the photo above and all below showcase the summer value of these long-blooming and tough black-eyed Susans
the garden of Cindy B. (above)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Almost April Showers

Today was a bit on the chilly side with some scattered rain in the afternoon.   I think we have more rain tomorrow but after the sunshine yesterday, today was still a hint of late winter.  We will need those "April showers" regardless.  Above are (left to right), Nancy, Myrt, Gena and Patty.  The ladies did a nice job painting on this rainy day and have been our reliable Wednesday painters.  Jenny was in to work on labels while Kathy and Eva tidied in the gardens until the rain came down.  Dick H. ran loads of debris to the dump and Maury ran some errands for us.  Larry H. mulched a huge area and continued with tidying efforts.  Janice was in as well.  We also saw Cindy B., Tom M. and many others from our Horticulture Therapy Committee.  I continue to prepare for spring which will explode on the scene very quickly here as evidenced by these photos from yesterday!

crocuses (Crocus sp.) - above and below

'Wate's Golden' Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)
glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa sp.) - above and below

striped squill (Puschkinia libanotica) - above
Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) - above
double yellow hellebore (Helleborus) - perennial
Kay (above) and Alan (below) - photographed working hard yesterday!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Caladium Collection - 2016

We're excited about our caladium (Caladium sp.) collection this year!  We hope to display over 50 varieties of this tropical aroid which is native to primarily South America.  There are various species of caladiums but most breeding efforts have funneled them in to two broad categories; fancy-leaved and strap/lance-leaved.  We've been growing more caladiums each year in our shadier gardens due to their extraordinary performance and color contributions.  They also thrive in shady containers as the drainage is typically ideal in those situations.  Decent soils, drainage and some degree of shade are all parts of the "recipe for success" with caladiums.  With impatiens downy mildew affecting our impatiens plantings, we are focusing on more caladiums to offer color in those locations.  With over 2,000 varieties being offered over the last 150 years, there is no shortage of selections available to the home gardener.  Grown from a tuber, caladiums are best started in a warm spot inside in 6" pots in late March.  They can be slow to emerge and unfurl their foliage at which time they should be given some degree of light.  This allows some growth prior to planting in late May / early June when the soil temperatures have warmed adequately.  We don't plant our caladiums until the first week of June.  We'll be starting over 3,000 of these in pots this year (very shortly!).  Enjoy just a "smattering" of the varieties that are out there; many of which will be in our collection this summer.

It was a gorgeous day outside with ample blue sky and sunshine after a chilly start.  Larry H. headed out immediately for a wide range of gardening tasks which included plenty of Spring garden clean-up.  Kathy, Eva and Kay were all out tidying the shade garden which still had leaves and twigs from last fall and winter.  This tidying is imperative as there are so many bulbs and perennials emerging right now.  Alan M. was also in to help tidy up and Dr. Gredler continued his painting projects.  Maury F. ran some errands for us and I had a meeting with Marsha N., Jean B. and Sue this morning.  We saw plenty of others today as well.

 Caladium 'Pink Splash'
 Caladium 'Angel Wings'
 Caladium 'Florida Sweetheart'
 Caladium 'Kathleen'
 Caladium 'White Queen'
 Caladium 'White Christmas'
 Caladium 'Red Flash'
Caladium 'Celebration'
 Caladium 'Creamsickle'
 Caladium 'Raspberry Moon'
 Caladiums in containers - Ball Seed Trial Garden (West Chicago, IL)
 Caladium 'Artful Fire & Ice'
 Caladium 'Artful Heartfire'
 Caladium 'Bombshell'
 Caladium 'Fireworks'
 Caladium 'Moonlight'
 Caladium 'Painted Dart Frog'
 Caladium 'Red Bellied Tree Frog'
 Caladium 'Tie Dyed Tree Frog'
 Caladium 'Party Punch'
 Caladium 'Sweet Caroline'
 Caladium 'White Cap'
Caladium 'White Majesty'