Monday, June 29, 2009

Dog Vomit Slime Mold and Mushroom

See picture above for the dog vomit slime mold. Marv found this out in the gardens and Janice (see picture below) identified it after having some fun with the setting. It looked like one of the lovely treasure we find around the gardens after a wedding reception (along with cigarette butts, beer bottles, etc.). What an interesting "thing". I've "cut and pasted" some information from Janice below describing this slime mold (source referenced). Be sure to see the bottom photo (taken here last week) of the Devil's Dipstick mushroom. Another common name is Dog Penis mushroom. More flowers in future posts but the garden also contains other curiosities as well (ours has Janice below....)

This is most likely Fuligo septica, the aforementioned dog vomit slime mold. To answer everyone's most urgent question first, it's utterly harmless to people, pets and plants. In fact, Fuligo septica is edible. Native people in some parts of Mexico gather it and scramble it like eggs. I hear they call this dish "caca de luna," which I will let you translate for yourself, and which is an even more entertaining name than dog vomit slime mold.
Slime molds are misnamed. They are not molds (a kind of fungi); they are not plants, animals or bacteria, either. A slime mold is a completely different kind of critter. We see it in just part of its life cycle, as a plasmodium, which essentially is one giant cell with millions of nucleii. It is formed when two spores come together in something a little bit like sex and begin dividing into a large creeping blob of protoplasm surrounded by a single membrane. The plasmodium moves by slowly flowing or streaming, gradually engulfing and consuming fungi and bacteria that are present on decaying plant matter. Many a horror movie has owed its inspiration to plasmodiums.
Slime molds often are found on
mulch, especially in places like gardens and parks that are regularly watered. But they evolved in forests. I never will forget a hike I took through the temperate rain forest of the Olympic National Park in Washington, where within a couple of hours we came across at least a dozen kinds of slime molds in different forms and practically glowing colors, some of which appeared to be visibly moving. Not that slime molds move very fast -- 1 milimeter an hour is a pretty good clip for a plasmodium.
There are many kinds of slime molds. Physarum polycephalum ("many-headed slime") is another one common in dark, cool, damp, woody places. Fuligo septica, the kind we most often find in Midwestern gardens, appears on wood mulch or trees or leaves after rains or watering as a bright yellow mass that makes people think their dogs are sick. It is said to sometimes reach the size of a pizza. Over the next couple of days it ages to pinkish tan and hardens as it forms new spores. Eventually it dries up and disappears, leaving the many tiny spores behind to wait until the conditions are right for another plasmodium.
Slime molds have been doing this with great success for millions of years. They are one of those ancient organisms that has not changed much over time because what they were doing was working just fine. Fascinated scientists are
sequencing their genome.
The appearance of these yellow blobs seems to alarm some people; in 1973 in Dallas, a slime mold was taken for an
alien invasion. In fact, Fuligo septica is native to our woods. There's no reason to worry about it. It is not a disease. It's a natural phenomenon that doesn't hurt anything. Slime molds help break down plant matter, which aids the microorganisms essential to the healthy growth of plants. Like so many other things that creep people out, they are actually good for the garden.
There is no way to prevent slime molds; the spores are all over the place, just waiting for the right conditions to become active. If the appearance of a slime mold in your garden offends you, break it up by raking out the mulch or blasting it with the hose.

This post is part of The Chicago Gardener, a blog of the Chicago Tribune. See more posts about mulch here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Scorchin' Friday

Nice shot of the lemon yellow blooms of sundrops (Oenothera tetragona) in full glory. I love these bright flowers but this plant does spread and take up more "real estate" each year. This plant is in the evening primrose family and I wouldn't be without its cheery blooms. Today was also a hot one. The staff and volunteers really held up well on a day that required a solid outdoor commitment. Marianne, Marv, Terry, Janice, Jerry and I worked out in the gardens. Marianne did her normal Friday routine, planted in the sunken garden and did a lot of watering. Marv and Terry planted and kept sprinklers going on specific garden areas. Terry push mowed, cleared weeds and watered while Marv also kept our irrigation system going all day. Janice weeded, planted, mowed and watered while Jerry pruned and mowed. Margo and Judy helped weed today and Bob and Chris came to work in the sunken garden. Dr. Gredler mowed and both Maury and Dr. Yahr were here as well. I gave a tour to a nice group of 4H kids that came to see our "operation" with a behind the scenes tour (see bottom photo). Maybe this inspired them to be future gardeners (or scared them away)!!! It was certainly a sweaty day but we made it thru and hopefully we'll get some much needed rain tomorrow! Nice shot below of a bachelor's button or knapweed (Centaurea hybrida 'Pulchra Major') overlooking the pond. Take time this year to really examine flower details; they are downright extraordinary!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day Three Of The "Inferno"

Nice shot of one of our containers above. This is a neat trailing petunia called 'Plush Lilac Pearl' that is also part of our American Garden Award program. The foliage plant is a "wandering Jew" (Setcreasea pallida 'Purple Heart') that continues to spread and trail in a container or hanging basket. The neatest part of this arrangement is it's location (see below).
We had another nice turnout today despite the muggy heat that was immediately noticeable. Marianne showed up to finish in front of the building while Larry started running more irrigation right away in the morning. Jenny worked on watering, fertilizing, tidying up and labels. Janice planted with volunteers and worked on weeding and watering tasks. Little Jerry worked near the Japanese garden while Larry string-trimmed and helped others with projects. The Grumpy turnout was nice with Ron and John helping Dr. Yahr with mulching and rock work. Gary and Bill worked on organizing plants and watering while Bob T. continued to air edge. Dave, Jim, Vern and Bob A. all worked on the arched bridge while Del cut alliums and helped with other projects. Maury, Dick P. Dick H., Terry T. and Chuck H. were here as well. Marilyn, Glenna and Susie came in to help weed and plant. Don and Pearl worked in their assigned area as did Kelley and Sue. Nice work guys. Nice shot to the left of a lily (Lilium) combined with culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum). This shot was taken at The Flower Factory, a wonderful retail nursery (Stoughton, WI) with over 4,000 varieties of perennials. These plants were in horse trough planters and looked great. Note some neat cacti shots below as well (taken at The Flower Factory). Not sure about any species or varieties but was smitten with their "growing" display of semi-hardy cacti. Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, WI (Milwaukee) is experimenting with some hardy cacti as well. It will be interesting to see what will be promoted as a result of these trials.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sweltering & Sweaty

The lilies (Lilium sp.) are starting to bloom although I don't know what variety this one is above in our woodland walk. There are so many wonderful perennial lilies for our gardens, it's tough to make a decision when selecting them. Last year we had a couple hundred lily bulbs donated (including the variety above) and we are really seeing the impact that they can have in the summer garden. Nice shot below (taken today) of a Louisiana iris (Iris louisiana) in our Japanese garden. The label is incorrect for this one so I'm not sure about the exact variety but all of our irises should be done by next week with this heat wave. The iris collection looked great and we're looking forward to the display next spring too!
It was brutally hot and muggy today. We had some ladies working over in our vegetable collection this morning and Mary J. came back to do some more weeding. Donna worked on purslane too. Everyone (Marv, Marianne, Terry, Janice, Larry, Jerry) had various tasks that included watering or fertilizing. Terry planted a couple items but our intent was to keep things wet and to tidy up here and there. We'll work on more planting tomorrow and Friday if the weather allows. Larry and Bill cut down, diced up and hauled off three small trees that needed removal. Dr. Gredler mowed and worked on some small projects. It was a productive day despite the oppressive heat. I was able to do two more backpack sprayer loads of Round-up around the gardens and even went thru the woodland walk garden very slowly to target an influx of nasty weeds between our "desireables." There is a chance of rain tonite which would be great although we never count on it and continue to water based on immediate needs, not possibilities...Nice shot of 'King Tut' papyrus (Cyperus papyrus 'King Tut') in a container on our koi pond patio (note the pergola in the distance). I sure like this centerpiece in larger containers. This is three of them crammed together in the center. They should get well over 7' tall this summer and of course are seasonals.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oh Purslane, How I Hate Thee...

Nice shot of 'Sophistica Lime Bicolor' petunia above in our annual berms. This is a new variety from Ball Seed. What you don't see is the carpet of purslane carpeting this bed and another 2 acres of planted beds around the gardens. I'll need to really time the application of pre-emergents next year to keep the purslane out of the beds. Though edible and nutritious, this weed (herb) is a notorious self-seeder and hard to eradicate. We'll be trying to cull it out of all the gaps in our annual beds before the flowers grow together. Ugh! Nice shot to the left of the maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum), one of the hardiest and most delicate looking of our native ferns. I took this shot at Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa. The caves were neat but I was impressed by the diversity of native flora in the woodlands and relative absence of invasives like European buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard. I imagine it's a matter of time but I really enjoyed their trails and despite copious amounts of rain, we had a great time.
Sorry I missed the blog yesterday. It was extremely busy playing "catch up" and we're still working on finishing our "spring" planting and are shifting to some major weeding. Marv, Terry, Marianne, Jerry, Larry and I all worked on various projects and we ran for the last of our plant orders until September. We are accumulating some nice donations from area nurseries that help fill in our gaps and are great "back ups" for those spaces that develop for various reasons. Nice shot of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) starting to bloom below. What a brilliant orange color on this native, perennial milkweed.
Today was hot and fairly miserable. Marianne came down early (as a volunteer) to finish weeding the front of the building (bless her heart) and we had Heidi, Luis, Magda, Sara, Mary W., Roy and Mary J. come in to help plant and weed in the heat. Everyone was soaked thru to say the least. Little Jerry mowed and worked on pruning and collecting debris. Larry weedwhipped, hauled debris and did a lot of watering. Jumbo Jim helped the 4H Cloverbud camp kids plant annuals and Dr. Yahr and Dr. Gredler were here as well. Bill came in to prune boxwood "meatballs" this afternoon and I was able to unload 9 gallons of Round-up in our worst weed-stricken areas. More of the same heat tomorrow but we'll manage. We get lots of questions this time of year about the big trees with large, heart-shaped leaves that have large white clusters of fragrant blooms. The picture below is of the Northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) which has beautiful, orchid-like white blooms with maroon speckles in the throat and some yellow highlights. The flowers are fluttering to the ground now but will be later replaced with long pods. Catalpa is a neat tree and we have many of the Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignoniodes) varieties including golden, variegated and speckled. I love the tropical look of a catalpa and the wood has many historical uses.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Friday For Me

Nice shot above of another ornamental, annual shamrock (Oxalis vulcanicola 'Zinfandel') that can tolerate full sun or part shade. I love the dark foliage with persistent yellow blooms thru the summer. We wouldn't be without our various oxalis' out in the gardens. Note the bright blue obelisks in our formal Italian garden behind this urn. Many tasks were completed today and judging by Larry's expression below, draining and cleaning the sunken pool was not on the "fun list".
We had great planting assistance from Gina, Shirley, Cathy and Janet today. They worked with Marianne planting the last of our entrance garden. I'm amazed at the wonderful turnouts of volunteers each day to plant. This has been a very quick 4 weeks of planting although we'll be poking in annuals in smaller spots, gaps, etc. but are on track to finish by the 4th of July with freebies being utilized as needed. Marv worked on rototilling the last of our larger areas left to plant and did some fertilization of our annual beds. Terry watered, fertilized, planted, potted up pond plants and bounced around as needed. Little Jerry continued to prune near our visitors center and Jumbo Jim brought down three RECAPPERS to help tidy up the Japanese garden. Sue and Kelley weeded and planted their portion of the shade garden and Dr. Gredler worked on turf issues. Note the bold, tropical foliage below of the golden groundsel (Ligularia dentata 'Othello') that will send up golden yellow daisies in a couple weeks. I love the large foliage. The white bloom is from a neighboring goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus). The United Way recognized their Helping Hand award-winning volunteers yesterday that included Dr. Gredler as volunteer of the year (see below) and Maury and Kay Frey for their combined efforts (see Maury with his daughter below from yesterday). All of our volunteers are wonderful and it's nice to see some of them recognized in this fashion. NO BLOG UNTIL MONDAY. I'm off for a couple of days of camping and mental recuperation (maybe).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Busy (Overcast) Tuesday

Nice shot of our English cottage containers above. Note the nice splash of white from wooly sage (Salvia argentea 'Hobbit's Foot') that has felty, "lamb's ear-like" leaves. In keeping with the pink theme around the gardens, we've used lots of nice tropicals in there including a very vivid calico plant (Alternanthera dentata 'Brazilian Red Hots'). See the picture to the left for a close-up. The magenta pink highlights almost glow. This is one I'll use again and I'm finding myself more dependent on various alternantheras as foliage components.

I thought we'd lose another day of planting with overcast skies and a 60% chance of precipitation. As of 1:30 pm, we've had a light misting and have had staff and volunteers planting all morning. Janice worked with Barb, Rose and Shirley to finish some areas on the east of the garden while Jenny bounced around to finish some spaces where plants were still arranged from last week. She ended up planting with Shirley and I was very impressed with our progress. Magda and Sara planted their area as well. While in their area, I noted the neat bellflower (Campanula hybrida 'Sarastro') to the right that somehow escaped consumption by our rabbits and woodchucks. Note the bindweed working its way up the stem. While there is a threat of rain tomorrow (and we could use it), I hope we get to take advantage of some "dry time" to continue our planting momentum. Larry worked on water features, mowing and watering while little Jerry continued to prune and shape various shrubs. Dr. Gredler mowed and helped water and Peg K. did a nice job tidying up the English cottage garden. Jerry and I toured the Japanese garden to come up with various priorities and a plan of attack. That garden requires lots of "hands on" attention. It's nice to have Jerry, Karen, Dr. Neeno, Jim, Bill and others working in that popular garden. Beautiful images below of the ornamental onion (fall planted) known as Star of Persia (Allium christophii). Only 18" tall, the metallic "spheres" (umbels) are almost 12" across on some specimens. We LOVE this bulb that will go dormant shortly and appear next year. The bottom image has two of these coming up thru meadowrue (Thalictrum sp.).

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cotton Doth Commeth

This time of year is interesting out in the gardens as the cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) disperse their seeds and you can see how they get their common name. It looks like snow falling down over the entire garden. Unfortunately, these seeds will germinate in all of our open soil in the coming weeks and I just read that a mature cottonwood can disperse 48 million seeds! We have around 40 good sized cottonwoods on our property and while it always gets messy during the "cotton stage" (mid June thru early July), the cotton disappears although we are left to deal with culling out the seedlings around the gardens. We've had a lot of planting progress over the past five days. See below for the Bower City Garden Club planting last Thursday, our Sunday planters (due to rain on Saturday) and some planters from today. We're still doing well with planting our annuals and should be done by the end of the month.
Another great Grumpy day today with a bunch of guys (Ron, Rollie, Bill, Del and Charlie) planting trees with Larry. Bob T. did his air edging while Dick P. and Dick H. placed some posts for a new access gate at the Horticulture Center. The carpenters (Dave, Jim, Bob A. and Vern) worked on repairing the arched bridge as Terry T. scraped that same bridge in preparation for painting. Maury did some "high risk" painting (see below) and we even had some planting help later from the fellas.
Urban, Rose and their grandson Matthew planted along with Art (seen above and Mary. Janet is planting this afternoon and is taking over where everyone else left off. Marianne tidied, watered and planted a good portion of our ornamental edible collection with Shirley. Marv and Terry prepped the beds around the gazebo and planted hundreds of impatiens before moving on to other tasks. Little Jerry worked on "downsizing" some shrubs for me near the visitors center while I bounced between projects. Looks like rain is looming most of the week. Hopefully we'll get "planting pockets" between the showers. Below are the blooms of the Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata). These bloom a couple weeks later than the French lilacs (Syringa vulgaris). The specimen below is actually a variegated variety ('Golden Eclipse') that has a very subtle creamy leaf variegation that fades to green by mid-summer. Still a nice tree though...The bottom image is a view thru goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) to our observation pier.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Long Day of Preparations...

Nice shot above of the 'Tricolor' annual geranium (Pelargonium) with such beautiful leaves. I spent the day laying out plants for our big work day tomorrow and really took note of how many plants I've selected for just their foliage. It was a busy day today with Mary and Roy helping plant this morning and Urban and Rose doing the afternoon planting shift. Janice, Dr. Yahr and Shirley planted two areas and Shirley moved to some weeding while Janice took care of containers. Magda worked in her area as did Mary H. All the grounds staff had a busy day. Janice will help with the work day tomorrow. Terry hauled plants for me, push mowed, smoothed tilled beds and bounced around. Marv did a nice job rototilling four large areas that we'll plant tomorrow. Marianne did her tidying in the entrance garden, arranged the cutting display, hauled many plants and watered. It was a fast paced day from start to finish. We hope to have a good turnout tomorrow as we already expect some volunteers from Noon Rotary as well as the Rock County Workender program. If we get another 20 volunteers or so, we should be in good shape. I love this spring container that I saw at Olbrich (Madison) on Monday. Great use of oranges with the pansies (Viola) and African daisies (Osteospermum). Not sure on the varieties but this container wouldn't look this nice in late July. They'll transition to more heat tolerant plants shortly. Nice vivid look though....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Continued Momentum

Nice shot above of a perennial geranium (unknown variety). We have perennial geraniums throughout the gardens and love their durability and contribution in full sun and part shade. The trick with these geraniums is to shear them to a couple inches when the first wave of blooms fades. You then get new growth, a nice rounded plant and sometimes additional blooms. Without this attention, many perennial geraniums get floppy and flat. Keep it in mind. Nice shot below of the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) growing on the archway (from the Parker Pen World Headquarters) that leads from the reception garden to the sunken garden.
We had a great turnout of Grumpies today with Del hauling plants then shifting to digging holes for trees with Charlie and Dr. Yahr. Ron dug out some signs and helped haul debris and cut back daffodil foliage with Charlie as well. John and Maury (see below to the left) continued to paint our observation deck and Jumbo Jim worked in the Japanese garden. Little Jerry and Dr. Gredler did some mowing and other work and Bill just showed up to do his rounds of tidying up and collecting debris. Bob T. did some more edging and Ernie was a huge help with handwatering our iris collection and some other plants. Jenny organized labels, hauled plants and watered some containers. Larry has bounced around and will finish watering after his weekly weedwhipping rounds. I continue to organize larger groupings of plants for installation over the next three days. I'm planting with The Bower City Garden Club this afternoon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trudging Progress

The shot above was taken last week and shows a portion of one of our educational programs/tours. There were more kids around the gardens today as well. It's nice to see these young minds experience the gardens and get some fresh air. To me, this is one of our most important target audience. We love gardeners and plantspeople to visit, but we also like to encourage and inspire the "young potentials." We thought we would get rain today but it was sunny and 70 degrees F all day. We had a very productive day and are trudging thru planting, weeding, pruning, watering, fertilizing, mowing, etc. It is truly a juggling act and I think June is our most challenging month. Nice shot to the left of perennial salvia (Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night') in our formal gardens. There is some debate as to the species of this salvia but I am a big fan of both perennial and annual salvias and we plant the blue flowering varieties en masse. My favorite annual salvias are the mealycup sages (Salvia farinacea) and the best varieties include 'Victoria Blue' or 'Evolution'. For a white/blue bicolor effect, go with 'Strata' or 'Fairy Queen' or a pure white is 'Victoria White'. When a perennial salvia starts to finish blooming, we cut it down to 6" to encourage another wave of blooms. Why just enjoy this plant in June when you can extend the color with another flush of mid-summer flower spikes? Be aggressive with this "major deadheading." Nice shot to the right of the beautiful blooms of the variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida 'Albo-Variegata') that also has white streaked foliage. Look for 'Aurea-Variegata' for golden variegation. The visual interest of this iris occurs before and after blooming whereas most irises only have an impact during the 2 week bloom period.

Marianne cleared and prepped some beds in our terrace garden today in preparation for our planting work day on Saturday. She then moved in front of the visitors center and planted more annuals with Shirley and Terry. Marv and Terry planted shrubs, rototilled, prepped beds and continued to work on their edging around the iris beds. Larry hauled our new trees in to place, rototilled, watered and planted some containers. Little Jerry worked in the Japanese garden all day and did a nice job pruning and tidying up. Luke helped him out a bit and both Jumbo Jim and Karen also volunteered in the Japanese garden. Sue planted her area and both Hal and Doris came in to finish theirs. We have a couple groups coming in tomorrow to plant and the progress continues to be impressive. I'm gathering plants in advance of planting so we can haul everything out as needed. I did sneak in some herbicide spraying in our worst areas and am preparing for our Home Garden Tour in July. Other volunteer sightings today included Dick H., Gary, Maury and Vern. Sweet shot below at Dave W.'s house of his 'Caramel' coral bells (Heuchera villosa).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Catch Up Blog

I'm three days behind on the blog as a result of the weekend and a sick day yesterday. Nice shot above of one of the larger areas we planted as part of our Saturday work day. We had close to 50 total volunteers (including 20 "Workenders") which was not only a planting record but so was the volume of plant material installed. This bed above is part of our chartreuse and pink theme and should fill out nicely. It is certainly a challenge staying ahead of the group! We will be planting throughout this week and have another work day this Saturday that will include the "Workenders" again. It was nice of Marianne to come in and help Janice keep everyone focused while I ran around with plants. I think this Saturday will very similar. Nice shot to the left of Raulston's allspice (Sinocalycalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine') blooming at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI. We have a small specimen of this plant (what a mouthful) and wondered about its hardiness. I was pretty excited to see it blooming and the June flowers are beautiful. See for more information on this plant. Another shot from Olbrich is to the right. This is 'Diabolo' ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Mondo') that looks so much better when it matures and arches over with spring blooms. Too many ninebarks are sheared and "molded". What a nice look and their use of foliage shrubs is second to none.

The gang (staff and volunteers) did a great job yesterday and kept busy with looming showers that finally hit with typhoon force in the afternoon. Today we had some great volunteers with Don and Pearl planting most of their area and Shirley helping Janice weed and Jenny plant. Barb was here to help plant as well and Dr. Yahr helped Janice finish our 5th area of the day. Larry worked on pushmowing and unloaded another batch of trees and shrubs. Little Jerry mowed and worked on pruning and tidying up various specimens and areas. Bill and Dr. Gredler were around to help as well and Tom and Nancy came in as well to plant more annuals in the gazebo garden. Barb also helped plant today. We should have two or three groups here to plant tomorrow and we hope the rain holds off for awhile as this combination of cool and damp will create some fungal issues very shortly. Nice plant combo below that I saw at the Delavan, WI Rotary Gardens. Few signs but it's definitely a catmint (Nepeta sp.) and ornamental chives (Allium) of some sort. Nice and showy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

Nice shot above of our best goatsbeard patch (Aruncus dioicus) in the sunken garden. Typically promoted for part shade, goatsbeard will tolerate full sun (like the patch above) with ample moisture. This patch sits around an irrigation head that really soaks this area. What beautiful "flower architecture"!!! Great day out in the gardens. Ron and Bev planted in the sunken garden as the remnants of Badger Days (tent, etc.) were taken down. They did a nice job. Peg planted in the English cottage garden while Marianne planted the gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) collection with intermittent help from Kay (after her weeding wrath), Terry and myself. That was about 3,000 plants and the collection should look dynamite in a month or so if it ever warms up (60 degrees and possible rainshowers tomorrow!). I had the pleasure of working with another group of young volunteers today. We had 16 kids and their teacher (Heidi) from an elementary school in Beloit, WI. They did a great job planting in the reception garden and put in another 1,500 annuals or so. It was a great day outside and the kids had fun (as seen by their 'funny faces' below!).
Terry and Janice worked on pushmowing among other activities like watering and hauling plants in preparation for our work day tomorrow morning. Dr. Gredler did his mowing and was photographed by the Janesville Gazette because of his recent accolade of becoming Volunteer of the Year thru the Helping Hand Program of United Way. This is for his service at Rotary Gardens and his volunteer commitment here. I hope it doesn't go to his head... Bill was here cleaning up and tidying and overall, we had a great day and were able to accomplish all that we set out to do. We've had a lot of interest in the iris collection (seen below) from visitors, staff and photographers alike. There are some really neat and funky colors out there. As we were warned when we planted these last summer, only half would bloom this year which is about right. Next year, it should be amazing and we look forward to sharing this collection with the public and the National Iris Society. Nice shot at the bottom of one of our "most asked about" annuals. This is the ornamental shamrock (Oxalis 'Charmed Wine') that looks great in part shade and has almost a sheen to the leaves. Don't let the upside down picture distract you from the "foliar merits" of this tropical. We plant this throughout the gardens each year.