Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Rainy Start

Nice woodland phlox shot (Phlox divaricata 'Plum Perfect') above from yesterday. As I type, it's raining pretty well which may put a "damper" on our planting day. Hopefully this is an intermittent shower and our beds wont get too soggy for planting. Many dogwoods (Cornus) are in bloom and the pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is no exception. This small tree has prominent horizontal branching and also gets a nice fall color. See the shot below for 'Gold Bullion', the golden variety (Cornus alternifolia 'Bachone'). We've been using the golden variety in dappled woodland spaces where the gold (more "chartreusey" in shade) really illuminates the space.

Bill came in early to empty our garbage bins and Larry unloaded our last spring delivery of bagged compost this morning. Marianne came in to set up the compost sale and is out weeding the terrace garden. Janice and I will lead whomever comes in to volunteer on a planting expedition near our visitor's center. We hope we still get some turnout! Nice shot of a new perennial salvia (for us) that caught my eye yesterday (Salvia hybrida 'Eveline'). The blooms are quite interesting and while not a hot pink, the blooms do catch the eye from a distance.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Reluctant Spring

I have to give Janice credit for the blog title as she just coined that phrase as we talked about all the looming showers and cool temperatures. The spring color is exceptional but we'd like a little more heat to get things moving along. Now if we could only slow down the weeds... Nice shot of more peonies (intersectional hybrids) above that are located near our sunken garden. The weather was overcast today with some slight showers here and there. We had a very productive day out there and are looking forward to another Saturday planting day tomorrow. I also will be giving a tour for the Wisconsin Woody Plant Society in the afternoon and look forward to having their membership enjoy the gardens. To the left are the crisp yellow blooms of globe flower (Trollius europaeus 'Superbus') that always catches my attention this time of year. You need damp, well-drained soils for this one and the example here (in our Scottish garden) is going on 10 years old!

Kay did a great job continuing her weeding in the reception garden. There are some odd carpet weeds in there and I appreciate her dedication as most gardeners would have gone insane dealing with the nightmare she tackled. Dr. Gredler did his mowing and other tasks while Bill was a huge help with clean-up and tidying around the gardens. Little Jerry did some mowing and working on limbing up some trees in the arboretum. Janice worked on weeding, pushmowing and many other tasks. Marianne did her usual Friday duties that including tidying the entrance garden, freshening up the cutting display and helping prepare for the work day and compost sale. Marv and Terry helped haul plants, mowed and rototilled an enormous area in preparation for next Saturday's(June 6th) planting work day. To the right is a closeup of the blooms of red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) that is a real eyecatcher in our woodland walk garden. See for more information on this small tree. I love the emerging blooms of Sargent viburnum (Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga') as they open from the outer edges first, making the blooms look bicolor with the darker buds in the center. Viburnums are such a great group of garden worthy woody plants and deserve more attention and utilization.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Busy For A Slow Day!

The iris collection is really starting to bloom well. Sue S. has passed along oodles of great shots thus far and while they all wont bloom this year (planted last summer), we expect a great showing next spring when the American Iris Society convention attendees visit the gardens. Above is 'Morningstar Blues' (Iris germanica) and I'll try to post others in the future. It's no wonder why irises are so treasured when you see the exquisite blooms and spectrum of colors. The variety 'Man's Best Friend' (Iris germanica) can be seen below. Look at the details!
Today was a well-attended Grumpy day with Gary and Bill spreading cocoa bean mulch around the rose garden, John and Charlie replacing soil in the sunken garden, Del, Rollie and Dick H. working on dismantling plant sale tables and the carpenters (Jim, Vern and Bob A.) working on bench repair. Bob T. was out air edging and Dr. Gredler was out mowing most of the morning. Elder Sorenson and Elder Black helped today with allium removal around the gardens as well. Marianne came in as a volunteer to help organize labels prior to our big planting Saturday. Janice planted our tomato and pepper collection with the help of Deb and later worked with H.S. kids planting beans and weeding thru the vegetable beds. We had a "weeding quartet" in the reception garden of Kay, Marilyn, Char and Suzanne. They did a great job and I think Kay will tackle the rest tomorrow. Shirley weeded and planted the color rooms garden while Larry, Jerry and I did our odds and ends. Nice shot of Allium 'Purple Sensation' below with our orange obelisks. As these alliums loose their color (in 7-10 days from now), we cut them at ground level and remove all foliage and stem. Watch out for the sap as it can stain! Our intent with a space like this is to plant it with seasonals within a couple days of removing the alliums (the bulbs are all still there though, safe and sound, 6" down). Those alliums in the shot are over 5 years old and still looking good. The bottom picture (from today) is of the blooms of our yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) at the east end of our shade garden. I love the blooms on this plant and our specimen has done well here. See for more information regarding this woody plant.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gloomy But Necessary!

The moss above (note spore structures) is loving the weather today with mist, drizzle and cool temperatures. We're happy for the moisture though, even it means a lost day of planting. We are poised and ready for days like this with a multitude of duties that we often leave for rainy days. Terry and I ran to two nurseries for plants and once we got back, Marv and Terry headed back out for more. Larry worked on equipment maintenance while Little Jerry sharpened tools. Marv was working on hauling cocoa bean mulch and weeding in the fern & moss garden before being recruited for a plant run. Marianne and Jenny have been working on matching plant labels with our plants in the yard. It is so nice to plant something in the gardens and have the label right in hand. This is time well spent although Marianne also did a great job cleaning and tidying in the Horticulture Center. Dr. Gredler worked on mowing and signs while we had a couple volunteers swing in but not head out in to the damp gardens. Nice shot of the foliage of 'Tiramasu' coral bells (Heuchera) below that is one of the hot new varieties. I like it but will see how the leaf color changes through a hot WI summer. More below.
I was sent this commencement speech by Paul Hawken and was so inspired by it, I thought to share it with those that are interested. Highly recommended! Please read and pass along as you see fit. Nice shot at the bottom of Streptocarpella (a member of the African violet family) that looks so great in hanging baskets and containers.!

Paul Hawken is a friend of CharityFocus, renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, founder of Wiser Earth and author of many books -- most recently Blessed Unrest.
Last week, he was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University of Portland, when he delivered this superb commencement address.
Commencement Address to the Class of 2009University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009
When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was "direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful." No pressure there.

Let's begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don't poison the water, soil, or air, don't let the earth get overcrowded, and don't touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn't afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. "One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice," is Mary Oliver's description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown -- Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions ofpeople do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not "out there" somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can't print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a "little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven."

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Back To It Tuesday"

Beautiful, fragrant, and and listed by the USDA as a noxious weed. Introduced in colonial times from Europe, Dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis) can be seen everywhere this time of year and is no doubt, very eye-catching. Often confused with phlox, this plant produces many seeds and is tough to eradicate. See for more information regarding this plant. Nice weather today with looming showers (that haven't materialized yet!). We spent a good portion of the morning dismantling the plant sale with the help of Janice, Marianne and the Grumpies. We needed to make room for incoming deliveries and needed the space immediately this afternoon for another 300 flats of annuals. We have probably 50% of our annuals at the gardens now and are gearing up for a big planting day this upcoming Saturday (8am-noon). Nice shot of 'Midnight Rose' coral bells (Heuchera) taken at a nursery although mine at home looks identical. Love the pink mottling on the leaves!
Larry worked on pushmowing and did some running for plants. Marv and Terry planted roses, removed a dead tree, planted a tree, tied up clematis and went down their list quickly. Janice is getting ready for planting our pepper and tomato collection later this week while Jenny and I are grouping/organizing plants in the yard for subsequent planting in our larger areas as the bulbs go dormant in those spaces. Marianne continues to do a nice job on the cutting display and is does an awesome job tidying up various gardens, including our primary entrance garden. Little Jerry is finally back after his broken arm back in March. Good to have him back and he kept busy "candling" our pines that need to be kept in check and shaped. Dr. Gredler mowed and worked on lawn repair. Shirley weeded the color rooms and we had wonderful Grumpy help from Bob A., Vern, Rollie, Dick H., Urban, Del and Bob T. Below is a shot of poison ivy. Be wary out there. What's confounding is that box elder (Acer negundo) seedlings look a lot like poison ivy. I just avoid those "leaves of three" in general as I'm highly susceptible. Bottom picture is the short-lived bloom of our native Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) taken from ground level.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Great Workday!

We had a nice turnout of a dozen volunteers today for planting out in the gardens. The weather was overcast and looked like impending showers. However, the sun came out and we were able to plant three sizeable areas. We started in front of the visitor's center, then on to a large bed for impatiens (see above) and finished with wax begonias at the gazebo. It was a very productive crew and thanks to Janice and Kristine for keeping things running smoothly. From left to right abovee, we have Jessica, Cindy, Gary and Kay. As seen to the left, the ornamental onions (Allium) are in full bloom. These beds are a combination of 'Mt. Everest' (the white), 'Purple Sensation' and 'Mars'.

Today is also the last day of our extended plant sale. We have been trying to clear out the remainder of our plants and still have quite a few tomatoes and daylilies that we'll find outlets for next week. As usual, our plant sale volunteers did a wonderful job and we couldn't have done it without all the assistance with set-up, staffing and take down next week. We'll donate the surplus vegetables to area community gardens and will dismantle the plant sale so we can fit in our incoming plant orders. Lots of pick-ups and deliveries next week. Nice shot to the right of gas plant (Dictamnus albus 'Purpureus') out in the gardens today. Watch out for the foliage as some people get a rash (myself included) from touching the leaves!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Multi-Tasking To The Extreme

Nice shot above of the European cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum opulus 'Roseum') in our Scottish Garden. Viburnums are such a great shrub and are very durable in our landscapes. This variety is sterile and produces no fruit. I love the transition from the "limey" flower clusters to clear white. It looked like it was going to rain all day but I'm looking out on sunshine and blue skies. It was overcast and cool this morning but is warming up nicely now. Today truly was a day of multi-tasking which included our normal Friday fare but also had to include the extended plant sale. Plant sale traffic has been light but we hope tomorrow will bring more traffic. Marianne and Janice have again done a nice job making sure everything is running smoothly. I'm always smitten with the foliage of golden meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea') as seen below in our Scottish garden. The white flowers in summer are lost above the foliage but the foliage is a 7 month contribution!
Marv and Terry worked separately today as there were so many smaller, essential projects to accomplish. Marv ran irrigation and set up sprinklers where needed as we're keeping our newly planted areas moist. Terry worked on watering, mowing and myriad other tasks. Marianne and Janice helped in the plant sale and worked out in the gardens as time allowed. Kay finished tidying up the rose garden (no small task) and really did a great job out there (prior to two wedding in that garden tomorrow!). We had great volunteers out in the plant sale, many of whom volunteered at the sale last weekend too. Kristine and Luis came in to work on labels and coordinating labels for tomorrow as we plant during our work day. Rollie installed bricks and Del helped with watering and other duties related to the plant sale. A good day. Short blog. Lots to do. One of my favorite coral bells (Heuchera 'Caramel') is below. Great plant. Sorry for the sideways picture, just turn your head 90 degrees to the right. There you go.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Slowly But Surely...

Nice shot above of germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) in bloom in our alpine garden. Spring really highlights these gems in the alpine garden. Another hot, sunny and windy day today. We had Bob and Chris planting in the sunken garden, Cora planting containers in the English cottage garden, Don and Pearl planting a large bed near the arboretum and Tom and Nancy planting annuals in the gazebo garden. Needless to say, it was a challenge getting everything together for those areas and I found the time to make a "plant run" for impatiens and wax begonias that we'll plant this Saturday. Nice shot of one of my favorite ornamental grasses to the right. I took this shot in the Scottish garden yesterday. This is blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens 'Sapphire') and has a nice coloration as well as a semi-arching form. This needs plenty of summer water to keep its color and is what is termed a "cool season" grass with active growth early in the season.

Great Grumpy day with Ron and John helping Larry continue to clean the koi pond. Gary started digging some planting holes for yews in the Japanese garden and once Del and Dick H. were finished tidying up the sunken garden (for a wedding), they brought down the shrubs for planting. Vern and Bob worked on carpentry projects and we seemed to have lots of people coming and going. Our female "Grumpettes" (Glenna, Marilyn and Char) weeded the rose crescents while Shirley worked solo in the color rooms and planted after she weeded. Dave and Mary H. worked in their space and Jumbo Jim brought in the RECAPPERS to work in the Japanese Garden. Janice worked with Suzanne in the fern/moss garden and also had her high school volunteers work in the vegetable collection planting bean seeds. Plenty of action today although we do hope for a nice soaking rain in the coming days. We'll see what happens. Look to the left for a shot of the pink lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis 'Rosea') in our Scottish garden. I love lily-of-the-valley in bloom but not so much after that. It is a vigorous spreader but I can name a dozen other perennials that are more rampant spreaders that this plant. The leaves tend to get tattered later in the season so I enjoy the spring blooms and try to keep the colonies "in check". Tomorrow is the juggling act of tidying the garden, running irrigation, pulling plants for our Saturday planting day, tidying up wedding areas, mowing, watering and of course, our extended plant sale (9 am until 3 pm for those that can make it!). You can't go wrong with 'Purple Sensation' ornamental onions (Allium), see below!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beauty And The Beast

Nice and warm today although extremely windy. We scrambled to get our watering done this afternoon as we had to address containers, our yard full of plants and our plant sale veggies, herbs and daylilies. This warmth should get things moving along (including the weeds...). Nice shot of 'Purple Sensation' ornamental onion (Allium) to the left with our lime green obelisks. Lots of alliums out there showing nice color. Tulips are fading fast and should be done shortly. Another busy day outside. Kay and Kelley weeded the other half of the shade garden and planted a couple hundred plants out there as well. Marv and Terry worked on "lifting" tulips, putting up obelisks, digging dead roses, rototilling, composting, watering, etc. They bounced around as needed and saved the day with watering. Dr. Gredler mowed, watered and worked on turf repair. I ran around laying out plants and organizing plants for tomorrow. Larry pulled the "short straw" today and worked on draining and cleaning the koi pond with Bill (see Larry to the right, he sure looks happy). UGH! This involved catching the fish, presssure washing the pond and eventually, skimming up a couple thousand pounds of fish poop (tomorrow). This arduous task is essential and although we lost many of our fish over the winter, we're looking forward to a clean system and really focusing on plant and aquatic health this year. This might be the first blog to feature a picture of fish poop. This could be used as fertilizer but it has rocks, coins and other debris in it from those that like to throw things in our pond. Lots of work.
I can't even begin to keep up with what's looking good around the gardens as there seems to be neat plants everywhere. As our bulbs go dormant, we'll start to plant the larger areas as time allows. We have four sequential planting work days over the next four Saturdays and hope for 20 or so volunteers each workday so we can plant the larger areas and get them watered that same day. We are looking at solid planting all the way thru June. Nice shot of yellow fumitory (Corydalis lutea) below that carpets our shade gardens and is a non-stop bloomer. I don't mind it reseeding here and there. What's ironic is this specimen (my best photo of this plant yet, taken today) is a seedling in our Scottish alpine garden. Too pretty to pull!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Peony Season Has Begun

Our peony collection is starting to bloom and I think most would agree that peonies are worth planting even for that brief period of bloom. I'm not sure what variety is pictured to the left but the clear white is amazing and these blooms are almost 10" across! This picture was taken along our frontage road (Palmer Drive) and is one variety of over 40 that were donated over 15 years ago by peony breeder/aficionodo Roger Anderson from Fort Atkinson, WI. Roger Anderson is known internationally for his breeding work and we're fortunate to have many of his intersectional hybrids and herbaceous selections here at the gardens. Nice shot to the right of the Japanese roof iris (Iris tectorum). If you're wondering why this is called a "roof iris", I've copied a segment of information from the Carroll Gardens website that states, "It gets it name from the fact that it has naturalized on the thatched roofs of rural Japanese homes. In fact, the story goes that centuries ago in a period of famine the emperor ordered all land to be stripped of its ornamental plants, so that edibles could be grown. The resourceful Japanese planted many of their most treasured ornamentals amongst the thatch in their roofs in the hope that when the famine passed, they could return them to their gardens. Of course most of the plants perished. However, Iris tectorum took root and naturalized in their roofs. Thus the name: Japanese Roof Iris." Interesting and beautiful.
Need a durable shrub for shade? Try black jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens) seen above. You can see the new white flowers (not super showy) and the fruit from last year. This arching shrub is tough as nails and while not super showy, it is certainly a candidate for areas where other shrubs languish. This shot is taken at my in-laws where I recommended an informal hedge of these as a screen.

For a "light Tuesday", we had plenty of people around today! Larry and Janice worked on various projects including mowing. I had Jenny continue to work on labels and this has been our best year yet for replacing and creating labels. This is certainly time well spent. Mary, Bev and Bev's grandson (2 years old?) worked on "lifting tulips" in the entrance garden. We remove our tulips near the building "in leaf" each spring and give them to volunteers. We change over the color each year and need to clear the space for "impending annuals." Dr. Gredler ran debris to the dump and accomplished alot of mowing. Bill is here mowing as well and we were fortunate to have the trio of Heidi, Barb and Shirley in the color rooms removing weeds and planting as they cleared out areas. They do such a nice job (individually and collectively!). Nice shot below of fresh foliage of the dappled willow (Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki'). The fresh growth on this full sun shrub rivals many others and if cut back severely every winter, it will stay smaller (3-4') and have a nice rounded form (see bottom photo). If it's not cut back, it can get quite large and lanky.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hittin' The Ground Runnin'

It was a crazy day today; but in a good way! Nice shot of a double kerria (Kerria japonica) above although it is a new variety that also has those streaked leaves. Kerria is a durable shrub with green stems, spring flowers and a tolerance for sun or shade. We use groupings in various areas and it gets plenty of attention this time of year. It does form a colony with time but I feel it still has merit in our landscapes. Not far from this shrub, near the fishing pier, Mary and Roy planted a couple hundred tropicals throughout their portion of the shade garden. We have many "assigned gardeners" (volunteers) that take care of their own piece of "real estate" and Mary and Roy have always done a superior job and are tackling their planting in a couple phases. Janice and Larry planted some containers and Bev planted perennials in the sunken garden after she cleared her section. Nice shot to the right of our miniature conifer collection in the alpine garden.
We're heading in to our prime planting season and are stockpiling our plants for installation as time, weather and "available hands" allow. Larry picked up another load of plants and we'll continue to make our runs over the coming weeks. Marianne worked on weeding, tidying, watering and refreshed her cutting display as well. Marv and Terry continued to work in the entrance garden and have placed some rocks to hold a slope where they removed overgrown/failing cotoneasters. It is also looking good. We ran some irrigation today as we're a bit shy of moisture in May thus far and want to keep things moving along. Unfortunately the weeds are getting the same water! I recently showed an image of 'Blue Danube' wild hyacinth (Camassia leichtlinii 'Blue Danube') and have included a different species (Camassia cusickii) to the left. Note the starry, sky-blue blossoms on a 24" tall plant. This fall planted bulb also appreciates dampness and is wonderful in part shade as well.
The Grumpies did a great job today with Ron, Gary and Charlie tackling composting and moving a sign. Urban, Dick H., Rollie and Del "lifted" many of our tulips from the front of the building as we will replant new tulips (different variety and color) in those same areas. Terry, Ernie and a new Grumpy (John) replaced some horrible soil with better draining material while Dick P., Maury, Bob A. and Vern all worked on their own respective projects. We had Shirley, Mary and Bev in the sunken garden doing some major weeding and will soon strike that balance of weeding and planting. We sometimes plant an area immediately after weeding (which makes sense of course!). Nice shot below from today of the white-flowering redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Royal White') that seems to be peaking a bit later than the pink-flowering form. Regardless, we love the showy flowers before the heart-shaped leaves emerge. Weather is turning sour so we'll see what Tues. looks like. We are also planning for our extended plant sale!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Last Day of the Spring Plant Sale (Or Is It?)

Nice shot taken today of Carolina silverbells (Halesia tetraptera) in the shade garden. These flowers were quite conspicuous although not around for very long. This tree is planted as an understory tree in our shade garden and while native to a large portion of the Eastern United States, this specimen has done wonderfully for us over the past 5 years since it was planted. My parents came to the gardens today after picking up my younger daughter and we took a nice tour of the gardens. I, of course, brought my camera to catch the quickly changing garden out there. Perfect weather and the gardens were fairly busy. To the left is a close-up of 'Little Boy Blue' lilac (Syringa vulgaris) that should stay a bit shorter than other French lilacs; most of which are peaking right now.

The plant sale was lightly attended today. We had a steady crowd but it was never overwhelming. We had hoped to be overwhelmed but did make some nice sales nonetheless. When we came in today, the thermometer read 36 degrees F. We had covered our tomatoes and basils with row cover but still noted some very slight frost damage here and there. We sure hope we're out of the "potential frost" worries and can proceed with planting in earnest (starting tomorrow). We still have a nice supply of vegetables, herbs and daylilies and have decided to extend the sale to run next Fri. and Sat. (May 22 and 23) from 9 am until 3 pm. We feel there is value in extending the sale and clearing out more plants. Our purpose in this extension is twofold, we hope to bring in more revenue for this fundraiser and would like to clear out more space for our incoming plant deliveries. It's now crazy time as we have planting scheduled every day and the next four Saturdays are planting days out in the gardens (8am-noon). The tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) are starting to bloom out in the gardens and they are certainly beautiful albeit short-lived in terms of bloom duration. This is one of the few plants that I think is worth planting simply for that narrow 1 week window of bloom. We have hundreds of unidentified tree peonies out in the gardens that were part of a generous donation. We normally don't take "unknowns" but considering the retail value of these, it was worth it. Lots of excitement coming up soon! Nice shot below of the foliage on one of our specialty maples. This is the variegated sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus 'Variegata') with interesting leaves; no two alike! Remember the value of foliage!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 2 (of 3) For The Spring Plant Sale

Day 2 of our plant sale has gone very well. We were blessed with plenty of sunshine today although it has been cool and breezy. Above is a shot of customers in our daylily portion of the sale. We put up some additional signage in this area with full color pictures that I think has helped immensely as we've seen more daylilies sold today than yesterday. We had another awesome group of volunteer helpers throughout the day and both Janice and Marianne did another great job keeping things moving along smoothly. Larry worked on pruning a large magnolia and hleped with myriad other tasks while Bill O. tidied up throughout the gardens and continues to be a wonderful volunteer with superior attention to fine detail. Jim worked in the alpine garden as well. Nice shot of another Bill (one of our Grumpies) working at the plant sale this morning (organizing and restocking tomatoes).
With our iris collection starting to bloom, we have a crew of Master Gardeners that will photograph individual flowers for our digital picture libary. See 'Bluebeard's Ghost' (Iris germanica) below. There are some early bloomers right now but I can't wait to see this display a year from now when the American Iris Society national conference attendees come and view this exciting collection. At the bottom is shot of the foliage of Rodger's flower (Rodgersia pinnata) that looks very textural and tropical and will tolerate some shade. The creamy flower plume will emerge in June.