Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Darn Successful Work Day

We had 21 wonderful volunteers today. Thanks everyone! Thanks to Larry, Janice, John and Bill for helping coordinate and facilitate. 10,000 more annuals in the ground. See the images below.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Progress & Preparations

Blogging late again as it was a long day and we ran over to the Southern WI AirFest tonight. It was really neat although ear plugs would have been a good idea! Nice shot above of globeflower (Trollius europaeus) in the Scottish garden. Normally a June bloomer, we've enjoyed it for three weeks now! Crazy day but RBG is thankfully blessed with a dynamite grounds crew and Marv, Terry, Little Jerry, Marianne and Janice did a great job with their various projects today. John, Jenny and Larry round out the crew but don't work on Fridays. We had Kay today clearing bulb foliage in the sunken garden and also had volunteer assistance from Vern, Dr. Yahr, Dr. Gredler, Rose and Urban. Marv and Terry watered, prepped the reception garden for planting (no small feat), fertilized and prepped the formal perennial garden too. Everyone burned some major calories today. Marianne cut bulb foliage, did her cutting display, watered, tidied and got he compost sale ready to go for tomorrow (our last official sale date for compost (9 am - noon). Marianne also hauled about 60 flats of flowers out for me in anticipation of our planting day tomorrow. Janice planted, watered, weeded and will be helping facilitate the work day tomorrow. Little Jerry pruned and mowed and I layed out flowers for tomorrow and will again attempt to stay ahead of our motivated. The image below is a foliage close-up of a nice variegated, redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Hedgerows Gold') which is currently my favorite variegated variety. The next picture down shows a "pseudo hedge" of three of these in a row at my in-laws house. I like the look and the winter stem color is a nice, deep, maroon red. The bottom is one of my favorite foliage perennials. The golden spiderwort (Tradescantia x andersoniana 'Sweet Kate') is eye-catching and despite looking a bit flattened by irrigation, this plant will get some blue flowers soon. Spiderworts in general can reseed and become a nuisance and I have seen this variety seed out many green reversions. Oh well, cull them out and enjoy the gold appeal!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Garden Fills As Our Yard Empties

Today was busy from start to finish. First of all, a special thanks to my daughter, Luciana (age 10) for making the title "header" for my blog. It is amazing what these kids can do and she actually has some blogs of her own. When I was her age, we had a TRS-80 and the Commodore 64 was a hot item too! We had a wonderful day of volunteer contributions out in the gardens. Above is a group from the Mercy Health System that came in this afternoon to volunteer. These 12 volunteers planted 3,000 annuals, cleared weeds and prepared beds for planting. They were a fun group and we appreciate their time. Nice shot to the left of the foxttail lily (Eremurus sp.) getting ready to bloom. The flower stalk caught my eye and I'll post the open flower stalk image in a week or so.

The Grumpies did an amazing amount of work today with Ron W., Del, Ron B. and Bob C. spreading cocoa bean hull mulch around our rose beds and the guys later moved on to other tasks including composting and mulching. Gary, Pat, Charlie and some of the other guys worked on some woodchipping then composted our large front slope bed that we'll plant in a week or two. It was a great system with Big John loading them up as they came back for more. Rollie worked on replacing damaged bricks while Vern, Bob A. and Jim continued to work on the new archway entrance in to the wishing well garden. The irises have peaked and still look amazing. There were many visitors out in the gardens including some tours. Marilyn, Mary and Glenna did an awesome job clearing out weeds and bulb foliage from an area that we will plant soon. Bill was here to do some clean-up this afternoon and we had Maggie planting and two volunteers planting with Janice. Mary and Roy were here to do more planting as well and put in a 1,000 annuals between the two of them. Hal and Doris started planting their space too. Cora and Janet planted some containers and Laura B. was a big help planting in various locations. I barely kept up with the various planters but it was a productive day to say the least. Nice shot to the right of the blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens 'Sapphire') in the Scottish garden. This is one of my favorites for a mid-size grasses. With all this heat, the peonies are going fast (nice shot below). I met Roger Anderson (from Fort Atkinson, WI) today touring the garden and he is an internationally known peony breeder and donated dozens of special peonies to the gardens over 18 years ago.Larry went on two plant runs today (taking Big John with on the first trip). He moved on to mowing and watering later in the day and helped me with the afternoon volunteers. Janice helped with volunteers this morning and spread more pre-emergent weed control around the gardens. She also planted with volunteers and planted veggies at the hort center. Jenny was a huge help in the yard today and matched more labels and organized plants. This is an enormous help as I collect plants and haul them out for planting. We also saw Maury, Dr. Gredler, Rose, Dr. Yahr and many others over here today. One of our most asked about recent plantings can be seen below. This is the bloody dock (Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus) that is actually a Z4 perennial and has edible leaves. I've had one in my front yard for a decade and love the prominent veination. Don't let it flower as it will create many babies. Use it for the cool foliage.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planting Progress Continues

The good news is that we're continuing to put in thousands of plants each day, the bad news is the image above only shows about 60% of what we have left to plant. We will be making many more runs out to our growers over the next week or so to pick up the remainder of our orders. We also have planting work days over the next three Saturdays and hope to have nice weather and a solid turnout of volunteers. Speaking of volunteers, we had a wonderful potluck last night with close to 100 attendees. The tractor with the double tiered cart (in the picture) has been my vehicle of choice the past couple of days as I've hauled plants out to select areas. It was very damp today after the quick deluge last night so we've been able to skip watering (despite the balmy afternoon temperatures). We've gotten off to a strong start with planting and will continue that momentum over the coming weeks. Nice shot to the left of goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) in the sunken garden that really does well with rich, damp soils in full sun. Goatsbeard isn't really a shade plant and moisture seems to be one of the most important factors for success. To the right is a meadowrue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Album') that needs identical requirements. Meadowrues will take full sun with ample water although the specimen here is in our partly shaded woodland walk garden and has truly exquisite bloom clusters (40" tall plant). We had Kay here today and she worked on removing bulb foliage then shifted to planting annuals in the reception garden. I wish I had her here every day! Kelley and Sue came and planted a couple hundred annuals in their portion of the shade garden which will be quite colorful very soon. Jumbo Jim and John came to help Little Jerry in the Japanese garden and the guys hauled and placed more rocks near the new path. They also set some stepping stones. Dr. Yahr helped plant containers and did some planting in the reception garden as well. Dr. Gredler was here to mow and accomplish some turf repair and Bill did a nice job tidying up the paths after the pounding rains and resulting debris. He later moved on to bulb foliage removal. Below is a shot of Terry after smoothing a bed that Marv just rototilled and prepared. The guys are keeping ahead of our planting with their timely bed preparations.
Marianne staked irises, cleared bulb foliage, weeded the front garden and planted containers in our sunken garden. She always has a full plate but does a nice (and extremely thorough) job with any project she starts. Jenny spent most of the day in the yard matching up labels and sorting plants for easier distribution. She later went to the gazebo garden to remove bulb foliage. Larry weedwhipped and worked on planting. Little Jerry kept to the Japanese garden and Big John planted culvert planters, removed roses, planted roses, planted containers and did other odds and ends. Aside from bed preparations, Marv and Terry also removed a tree and some shrubs, hauled cocoa bean hulls (mulch) to the rose garden and planted a nice tree. I was able to lay out lots of plants and am getting ready for planting projects both tomorrow morning and afternoon. Nice shot to the left of a hybrid bluestar (Amsonia hybrida 'Blue Ice') in the woodland walk garden that is showing some nice, light blue flower clusters and in that same garden (to the right) is one of the tough and beautiful perennial geraniums (Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Karmina') with a profusion of pink blooms. We like to mass plant geraniums like this to form a beautiful (and durable) groundcover. Below are some leaves of the variegated Shantung maple (Acer truncatum 'Akikaze Nishiki') in our Japanese garden. Some leaves are totally green, most are variegated and on occasion, you'll see neat white ones like this. Nice shot of the pagoda in the Japanese garden at the bottom too...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Muggy & Productive

Today was another brutally hot day but we accomplished a lot out in the gardens. By 2 pm we had a downpour which offers moisture but lots of work repairing path washouts tomorrow! Nice shot above of the irises down in the wishing well garden this morning. We've had so many compliments regarding these beautiful perennials and despite them blooming early, they are still being enjoyed by many visitors. John and Larry mowed today with Larry moving on to weedwhipping and other activities. John rototilled and did some watering while Janice worked on many different tasks (planting, watering, etc.). Jenny was in the holding yard all day matching up labels to our plants that will go out in the gardens soon. She is so organized and it is nice to take a plant out with a label so it is easily identifiable and we don't have to "catch up" with a label later. Little Jerry worked on pruning around the Japanese garden and we had time to do our "walk and talk" thru that garden today. One of my favorite underused shrubs can be seen below. This is the fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis) that while getting to be about 6' tall and 6' wide, is covered with VERY fragrant pink blooms (seen further below) and it also has a nice orange fall color.
We had another top notch volunteer contingent today. Kay, Margaret, Heidi and "Fireman" Bill worked on clearing allium and daffodil foliage from select areas in anticipation of upcoming planting this Thursday. It was brutal out there but they worked a solid 4 hours (see Kay to the left). Mary and Roy came in and planted their portion of the shade garden with annuals while Kelley and Sue cleared their portion of that same garden of weeds and will be planting tomorrow. Bill O. was in this morning and later this afternoon for help cleaning up and Maury went on some important errands for us as well. We really have some great volunteers and are fortunate. To the right is a close-up of viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare) in the English cottage garden that always catches attention with tall, colorful spikes. I can't say that I've ever seen our peonies look better although they are also blooming quite early as well. Below is a shot in the fern/moss garden with one of the yellow tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa) in the foreground and at the bottom is a beautiful peony called 'Do Tell' in our English cottage garden. I don't think the American Peony Society members will see many peonies when the come on June 4-6 but that's the way Mother Nature rolls sometimes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A "July-Type-Of-Sweaty" Today

If the picture of Dr. Gredler above is not a clear indication of the heat today, rest assured it was brutal. It wasn't even cool in the morning and was sticky very quickly. Mary and Mary did a nice job clearing bulb foliage and weeding this morning but did a two hour shift as it quickly became quite overwhelming. We had a great Grumpy turnout although I think some of the guys left early as it was tough to head back outside after our air-conditioned break. Gary and Pat worked on shredded bark mulching while the majority of the guys (Ron W., Ron B., Bob C., Charlie and Roger) helped take down plant sale tables and shuffled plants around the yard before moving to other tasks. Del was a huge help watering. Big John worked on composting while Dick H. and Dick P. lifted some allium bulbs for me from an area that we would like to plant earlier in spring (and not have to wait for the late alliums to finish...). Rollie watered and worked on his bricks while Urban and Maury pruned a willow and moved on to other tasks. Vern, Bob A. and Jim continued work on our new table (for the fancy laser engraver) and continued on an arch down in the wishing well garden. Rose was here to paint and we also had Dr. Yahr, Ken, Dave and many others over here today as well. Nice shot to the left of the very fragrant, variegated mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius 'E.A. Bowles') and to the right, the beautiful flax (Linum perenne) in the herb garden. Flax isn't very long-lived but will reseed. We keep planting it each year as it is quite eye-catching and is a nice shade of blue. I was able to apply herbicide in the woodland walk which has become a weed patch overnight and is now coated in a fine haze of cottonwood "fluff" (see columbines below and note the ground layer looks like snow!). The next picture shows our irises starting to peak but it is interesting how the heat has "washed out" the alliums since Saturday and they will have no color very shortly. Oh well, there are still a couple weeks more of beautiful irises to enjoy regardless. The "free week" here at the gardens May 15-22) seemed very well attended and really coincided nicely with plenty of interest out in the gardens as well as most of the plant sale. We hope some visitors will be inspired to purchase a membership and support the gardens in this manner. When going to admission-based entry, we wanted to make sure though, that there were days without charge that would allow everyone equal access to the gardens. We'll continue to develop the gardens with our mission of providing horticultural education and appreciation for everyone in mind. Our fun collections of globe amaranth (Gomphrena), ornamental edibles, All-America Selections, Fleuroselect, Ball Seed Trials, PanAmerican Seed Trials, Takii Seeds will all be planted over the coming weeks and we anticipate a very colorful summer. To the left are the bloom clusters of the ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Lady In Red') that look so nice because of both wonderful flowers and deep foliage. To the right is another false indigo (Baptisia hybrida 'Purple Smoke') that continues to be one of my favorites. Other interesting items in the garden can be seen below with a robin's egg and at the bottom, the blooms of winecups (Callirhoe involucrata) which have very vivid coloration on a rambling plant that has plenty of flower power (and is one of the most asked about perennials out in the garden).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's Going To Be A Hot One

It was brutally hot today and I didn't accomplish much in my home garden. Nice shot above of another ornamental onion (Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen') that will finish quickly with the heat. I drove by the gardens today and saw lots of visitors enjoying the irises which will flush out very quickly this week with temperatures in the 90s. We'll keep gardening and planting and should have a great week. Our volunteer potluck is Tuesday night and we'll have another planting day next Saturday. There are a group of volunteers from Mercy Hospital coming on Thursday and we hope to do some planting. There are some chances of thundershowers but we'll keep watering as needed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An Excellent Crazy Day

It was an amazing workday/plant sale today and the gardens were full of many visitors, including the retinues of two weddings (with a third to follow later in the afternoon). Cathy and Janice can be seen above and look like they could be in a parade representing Rotary Botanical Gardens. We had over 40 volunteers today (including a college group and 4H kids)that planted over 20,000 annuals. Janice, Big John and Larry helped coordinate this monumental effort and I ran around laying out plants just trying to keep a second ahead of the planters. We had many volunteers shift to bulb foliage cutting (ornamental onions) and other tasks. Marianne did a nice job with the clearance plant sale and had the help of Mary, Mary, Roy, Bev, Bob and Marv. We had too many volunteers to list but note the photos below. The first shot was taken Friday of our "fleet" all loaded and ready for action (which started immediately this morning). The next shots show Luis & Terri, the 4H planters, Mandy in the gazebo garden, Kay (walking thru the tight spacing of the impatiens with the dexterity and balance of an accomplished ninja) and Marti, the Cardinal Stritch volunteers, Janice in a field of flowers, Magda (attacking me with high velocity water) & Sara, Jody with his decorated Gator and a nice shot of the iris/allium combination west of the arboretum. We saw MANY visitors enjoying the irises today. THANKS! to all volunteers that helped today and we'll see you at 8am over the next three Saturdays for planting work days too! MD