Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Fantabulous Friday

Despite the chilly start to the morning (38 degrees F), we jumped right in to the beginning of a beautiful, sunny day.  I'm sure the grounds staff can appreciate the working conditions on this 65 degree F day that is 40 degrees cooler than those inferno-like summer days.  The photos above were taken last night when we completed our walking tour of the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection.  I'm not often in the gardens at 6 pm with my camera but it worked out last night.  The top shot looks similar to a sweet shot taken by John Hutchinson, the winner of our photograpy contest that granted his winning submission the cover shot on our 2013 RBG calendar ($10 in our gift shop by the way!).  I wanted to mention that my blog layouts will now follow this more simplified arrangement with "stacked photos" with interspersed text as I am having a horrible time figuring out the new BLOGGER protocols for including more inset photos. Photos and content wont change, it will just be a more primitive arrangement for now.  Thanks to all that read the blog and please share with others.  Over 200 people read the blog daily now!  The original intent of the blog hasn't changed since I started it three years ago.  It's meant to inform, educate and inspire our current and potential volunteers, members, visitors and other interested parties.  Directly below is the 'Rozanne' perennial geranium (Geranium hybrida) which has been blooming sporadically since June.  I like this geranium a lot (full sun or part shade) and it benefits from being cut back severely in mid-summer to encourage fresh growth and another solid flush of 2" diamter, violet/blue blooms.  The next photo down is the 'Dark Beauty' toadlily (Tricyrtis formosana).  This 3-4' tall perennial does well in part sun and is a strong bloomer well until the hardest frost.  This specimen is in the woodland walk.  Take a close look at those crazy blooms!  The third photo down shows the 'Red Cauli' stonecrop (Sedum telephium) which is an award-winning sedum (Royal Horticultural Society in the UK) with bluish foliage and smaller flower clusters (like cauliflower florets) that age from pink to a bright red.

We saw quite a few volunteers today and it again was the perfect day to be outside.  Kay, directly below, was here all morning.  She spent her time tidying up her assigned portion of the shade garden.  She also went thru many other areas with the focus of removing spent annuals and collecting leaf/twig debris.  She is one hard worker and has been a consistent and impressive help at the gardens for many years now.  The next photo down shows Ron K. in the woodland walk garden.  Ron accepted the responsibility to maintain this garden space as an assigned gardener this past April.  He has done a spectacular job and has the most square footage to maintain of all our assigned gardeners.  Today he was planting more perennials in open locations and next week, he'll start to plant some bulbs.  I've warned him about the 3,657,896 leaves that will soon flutter down in to that garden!  We also saw Amy, a new volunteer, this morning.  She spent time in the sunken garden tidying up before the wedding tomorrow.  Dr. Gredler did his mowing rounds this morning and we also saw Dr. Yahr and some others as well. 

The grounds staff bounced between various tasks which included watering and preparing for the weekend weddings.  Big John push mowed this morning and moved on to removing two good-sized purple-leaf plums (Prunus sp.) that really needed to go.  Terry started the day with some backpack blower rounds in the main parking lot which was becoming quite messy.  He also push mowed, watered and worked on some other projects.  Janice made some signs this morning and later went out to work on tidying up our moss collection, debris collection and container watering.  Marv spent a good portion of the day using our CASE endloader near the Horticulture Center.  He finished his graveling job behind the Horticulture Center but is also excavating an area where we will soon establish a gravel pad for a small greenhouse that will be donated to the gardens.  We'll have three small greenhouses that we'll use for various purposes between April and November.  We wont heat these houses but they will be invaluable for storing tender plants in spring and starting tropicals earlier each year.  Marv also ran irrigation, watered and worked on other projects in the afternoon.  I was in the gardens briefly this morning but actually spent a good portion of this fine day inside.  Marianne freshened up the cutting display and worked on producing new labels for our recently planted alpine perennials.  My desk work commitments increase each year and are easier to stomach on the rainy days!  Directly below are the wispy seed heads of the 'China Purple' bush clematis (Clematis heracleifolia).  They still have some color but those structures are also quite engaging in terms of texture.  The next photo down features the showy fruits of the 'Chichen Itza' hot pepper (Capsicum chinense) that are considered a habanero-type. The fruits ripen from green to this orange and the heat is intense at 180,000 Scoville units.  This variety is in our vegetable beds at the Horticulture Center.  Not far away are the 'Super Chili' hot peppers (Capsicum annuum) seen in the next photo.  This semi-compact plant features a profusion of upwards facing, cone-shaped fruits that mature to this red.  This All-America Selections winner (1988) is ranked at 50,000 Scoville units so still packs quite a punch.  At the bottom are some of the hardworking Chestnut House volunteers that were lifting potatoes yesterday afternoon near the Horticulture Center.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What's Bugging You?

This week we've seen the masses of boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata) warming themselves on our structures as seen in the top photo.  That location is the south-facing brick wall of the Rath Environmental Center.  We also have plenty of these little guys infiltrating the Horticulture Center as well.  It's no surprise and while it doesn't bother me too much, others are affected differently.  This pattern happens every season and October is the month that they'll be trying to keep warm overnight.  The photo directly above was taken yesterday morning and is one of my better shots of our front entrance garden slope.  While the white components aren't as prevalent as they were a month ago, the blue sure shows up nicely!  Directly below is the Lemon Lace vine (Fallopia aubertii) in full bloom along the west side of the Parker Education Center.  This vine has looked great all season with bright yellow foliage and the late, white flowers are "icing on the cake" for this hardy, woody vine.

We had oodles of volunteers out in the gardens today.  Our Grumpies and Women Weed Warriors (WWW) made a nice showing this morning.  Del and Eugene went out to rake and sweep paths clear of debris right away.  The cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are really starting to drop their leaves and smaller branchlets, necessitating an almost daily raking regime.  Ron and Rollie (seen below, Ron in yellow) installed our ten new tree signs in the main parking lot.  These signs (and the trees) were supplied by a Wisconsin DNR Urban Forestry grant with the intent of displaying urban tolerant trees that would also be good replacements for ash.  With Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) found this year in Janesville, the impact on all ashes (Fraxinus sp.) in our community will become evident in the coming years.  The 'Autumn Purple' white ashes (Fraxinus americana) are all currently turning a nice maroon right now and the green ashes (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) are very evident right now as they are all a beautiful clear gold fall color.  Ron and Rollie also hauled some of our tropical plants to a local greenhouse for winter storage.  Vern, Bob and Jim repaired a portion of a small bridge in the Japanese garden and have plenty of other projects to keep them busy over the coming months.  Dr. Gredler was in for mowing and Dr. Yahr did some tree watering and raking as well.  Our WWW ladies included Suzie, Sue, Glenna and Mary, a new volunteer.  Mary W. worked out in the herb garden and we also saw Bev, Mary Kay, Art, Chuck, Stan and many others. Bill O. did more boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') shearing and garden clean-up.  We also had many volunteers from the Chestnut House help out this afternoon with digging potatoes, watering, etc. around the Horticulture Center.

The grounds staff had a busy day which included quite a bit of watering.  While the days and nights have been pleasant in terms of temperatures, we do have some areas that are drying out a bit.  Larry kept irrigation going all day, helped water containers, replaced another irrigation head and ran out for some supplies.  Big John set up sprinklers, watered (containers too!), rototilled and helped with other projects as well.  Janice got our WWW ladies working this morning then moved on to tidying up the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display.  She also watered, worked with the Chestnut House volunteers and later this evening, she and I gave a walking tour at RBG featuring our ornamental edibles.  The three photos below were taken at Olbrich Botanical Garden (OBG) in Madison, WI last night.  Directly below is the annual "pumpkin-on-a-stick" (Solanum integrifolium) which is really an ornamental eggplant used primarily for decoration.  It was neat to see this element used in many late season container arrangements.  Also called "mock tomato", the fruits of this plant are edible but apparently are quite bitter.  The next photo down is a beautiful zinnia (Zinnia elegans) called 'Queen Red Lime' that I haven't grown yet but think I will next year.  What an exquisite gradation of color on this showy bloom.  At the bottom is the 'Waterlily' Autumn crocus (Colchicum hybrida) used to great effect throughout the gardens.  In this case, the blooms are emerging out of lily turf (Liriope spicata).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Staff Retreat

As I type it's getting quite late so this will be a bit shorter on verbage then normal.  We had a wonderful staff retreat today to Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, IL.  This garden is beautiful and is currently ranked the #1 Japanese garden in the Northern hemisphere.  I don't doubt that assessment for a minute as the garden is awesome in appearance and scale.  I had been to the gardens previously on a dozen occasions or so and enjoyed this one as much as any.  I toured the gardens exactly a year ago and caught even more color. The weather was perfect and the fall colors were just starting to show.  Thanks to Kathy (of Anderson Gardens) for arranging our tours with Jim (grounds) and a docent.  Jim can be seen in the bottom photo with some of our staff.  We had a nice tour and were then able to sit and chat about RBG.  We then had a great lunch at a local Italian place (note John below with his new friend and the irony implied in the shot).  The restaurant was quite fancy but we were all able to sit together in our own room and had an enjoyable lunch.  Overall, a great day.  Back at RBG, Kay and Janet worked out in the gardens this morning with Jumbo Jim and two RECAPPERS doing some work in the afternoon.  The RBG staff can be seen above (sans Larry and Pat) at Anderson Gardens.

I had a presentation tonight at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI) on spring blooming bulbs that seemed well received.  It was a long day but I was able to enjoy two other gardens.  I arrived early at Olbrich and took plenty of pictures out in the gardens.  It looked like they also received the light frost earlier in the week and had started removing annuals and poking in pansies, kale, mums and other goodies for fall color.  The lighting was perfect and it wasn't hard to take a couple hundred quick pictures.  Back to business tomorrow though. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunny & Pleasant

This morning was quite a bit milder than Monday morning and the day quickly warmed up to the mid 70 degrees F.  It was a very pleasant day with blue skies and a light breeze.  There seemed to be many visitors enjoying the gardens including four ladies that stopped by the Horticulture Center this morning with a very nice collection of iris (Iris sp.) species that we don't currently have out in the gardens.  With a meager grounds budget, we always welcome plant donations if they have a confirmed identity and can be utilized in our collections.  We just planted the last of our second large hosta (Hosta sp.) donations today as well.  I think we easily had another 100 varieties of hostas planted out in the gardens this year (almost all donations).  The top photo shows that classic archway leading from the reception garden in to the sunken garden.  That morning sun provides some great lighting for photos and I was able to tour the gardens this morning and check on the progress of our late summer displays.  Unfortunately, the "light" frost yesterday proved to be more damaging with plenty of coleus (Solenostemon sp.) anad other tender annuals showing that conspicuous tinge of resentment towards the end of the season.  I've blogged about that archway in the past and it's important to note that it originally framed the front entranceway to the Parker Pen World Headquarters here in Janesville for many years.  This piece is on permanent loan from the Rock County Historical Society.  Directly above is the Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger') which is one of my favorite larger shrubs for texture and color.  In about three weeks, this golden color will be a brilliant orange fall color.  Be wary as this plant does spread by suckers and will create quite a colony in time.  It is easy enough to keep it contained though.  Directly below are tomatoes (Lycopersicon) trained up one of the twenty-five vining towers at the Horticulture Center.  This is the'Sungold' cherry tomato and it doesn't mind being eight feet up in the air!

Kay was in action today and did a great job purging spent annuals out of various locations.  We've only removed one entire bed of annuals thus far and will take a different approach with the remaining beds.  Although it leaves gaps, we're only removing the most unsightly annuals and are leaving the rest to offer some color.  The next frost will expedite our removals but we'll limp along with the seasonal color as long as Mother Nature allow us to do so!  Kay also tidied up her portion of the shade garden and brought back multiple cart loads of debris.  Mary H. and her daughter did a nice job tidying up their assigned garden area and continue to be some of our most reliable volunteers.  Ron K. spent time in the woodland walk garden collecting debris and planting another 50 or so new perennials (inlcuding the donated hostas mentioned above).  Dr. Gredler was around this morning to do some mowing.  Dr. Yahr came in and helped Kay for a bit with plant removals.  We also saw Nancy F., Tom F., Kris, Dick H. and many others.  Directly below is the rare Australian flowering tobacco (Nicotiana suaveolens) with long, tubular white blooms that have a pink blush at the base.  I've had a hard time photographing this species which we tried for the first time this year.  While the flowers are small, there are lots of them and this is considered one of the most fragrant of the flowering tobacco species.  The plant gets 30" tall or so and is intoxicatingly fragrant in the evening until early the following morning.  The next photo down shows the 'Little Nubian' hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) growing in the sunken garden.  Also featuring dark stems and foliage, the peppers on this plant age from a glossy black to a red and are the size of a marshmallow.  This pre-1900s variety is from Jamaica and was called the "sore throat pepper".  It was mixed with rum and used as a gargle to alleviate a sore throat.  I haven't tried that concoction yet but thought the peppers beautiful.  This variety is also a popular edible with ample heat too! 

We had our smallest crew of the year today with just Larry, Big John and myself.  Thankfully, the rain last Friday has kept most of the gardens damp but Larry still augmented with irrigation throughout the day.  Larry also worked on significant pruning on two 'Camperdown' elms (Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii') which are quite unique in their weeping, umbrella form.  We have two specimens trained over a steel arch and Larry has spent plenty of time over the years keeping the elm trained to the shape of that archway.  He and Big John later worked on removing a large golden black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia') that is too close to the Rath Center.  They'll need a couple more hours to finish the removal but got a good start today.  The guys also watered all the containers, set up some sprinklers, etc.  John also hand watered, processed more elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea 'Thailand Giant') for storage, etc.  The guys kept busy while I caught up on a huge amount of desk work and had a productive meeting with Kris K. regarding education for 2013 and how it relates to our garden themes and initiatives.  Janice also popped in briefly.

Last night I presented the topic of "Vertical Gardening" to the Racine/Kenosha Master Gardeners (meeting in Sturtevant, WI).  I was impressed with the size and dedication of this group and saw many familiar faces (including Patti N. and Barb L. from UW-Extension).  The topic was well received and I hope I sufficiently encouraged the 50% of the crowd that hadn't yet been to the gardens to come and visit!  Neat shot below.  Note how the flowers of the 'Flamingo Feather Pink' wheat celosia (Celosia spicata) have bent upwards after the plant had flopped over in the sunken garden.  The next photo down is the interesting leaf of the 'Kumson' greenstem forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) which is quite unique.  This variety doesn't bloom strongly but the foliage is nice.  In early November, the leaves turn a deep maroon but leave the cream "webbing" over the veins.  The bottom photo is the "fireworks-like" flower plume of the 'King Tut' giant papyrus (Cyperus papyrus).  Now that is some impact as that plume is the size of a beach ball!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A "Tinge" Of Frost

The overnight lows this weekend were in the mid 30 degrees F although I didn't notice any frost until I let my dogs out this morning and saw the turf.  My wife's car also had some frost on the windows.  It was an uber-light frost although it was still noticeable around the gardens this morning when we arrived.  Oddly, the impatiens seem ok and they are usually the quickest to shrivel up after that first light frost.  I noted some damage to tropicals in the lower lying areas but I think we missed the bullet in terms of more significant damage that would necessitate lots of removals.  The weather this week looks quite pleasant with no chance of frost.  We'll continue to primp the gardens as we have lots of visitors over the coming weeks and apparently the weekend was quite busy.  We still have a couple weddings coming up as well.  The top photo shows the colorful rose "hips" of the 'Winnipeg Parks' shrub rose (Rosa) in our French formal garden.  There are quite a few species out there with colorful fruits that will offer interest throughout the winter.  Rose hips have a long history as an herb and food source (high in vitamin C, etc.).  Check it out.  Directly above is a bee working over the 'Mystic Spirit' dahlias (Dahlia sp.) in the formal gardens.  It was around 40 degrees F when this little fella was already working hard.  Directly below is the showy 'Miyazaki' toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) in the gazebo garden.  Those orchid-like blooms (1" wide) are exquisite and thankfully they weren't frosted last night.  Despite the late bloom time of this toadlily, the flowers are not frost tolerant and will blacken overnight with any temperatures under 30 degrees F.

The grounds crew had no shortage of work today.  Larry ran irrigation all day, ran out for supplies, pruned, watered and bounced between some other duties.  While the gardens are still slightly damp, we'll continue to water to help alleviate the overall deficiency for the year.  This will undoubtably help our woody plants and perennials.  Marv did a nice job spreading gravel near/around our new shed.  As he worked on this project, Terry started digging up and potting the popcorn plants (Cassia didymobotrya) from the Smelly Garden.  We will store these in a greenhouse over the winter and are digging them a bit earlier than last year to make sure they aren't subjected to too many more cold nights.  Terry also planted some of our large containers with 'Brazen Brass' mustard (Brassica juncea) which is a cold-tolerant annual and will look great over the next six weeks.  The guys also worked on other projects and watered containers as needed.  Big John also dug up some tropicals and continued his cutting/potting of the 'Thailand Giant' elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea) out in the gardens (see two photos down).  We're digging these early for the same reasons mentioned above and will get them to a greenhouse this week with the hopes that they'll store nicely as a dormant plant that will then be bigger next spring!  John also did some watering, planting and other tasks.  Marianne worked on her cutting display, tidied up here and there and did a nice job planting annual lobelia (Lobelia sp.) in the sunken garden and Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) in the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Collection.  Pat was in as a volunteer and spent the morning getting our 1/2 gallon milk jug luminaries prepared for the event!  See the third photo from the bottom to see Pat in action.  I placed perennials out in the gardens for installation, toured the gardens and have been trapped at my desk keeping up with some other projects including some related to our upcoming Halloween Walk and our Holiday Lights Show.  Janice also popped in this afternoon.

We had a nice turnout of volunteers this morning doing a wide range of tasks.  A couple of our Grumpies started the day by loading up a large pile of scrap metal that we had accumulated and Dick H. ran it to the recycling place nearby.  We made some decent money and it was nice to see that pile disappear.   Our overall horticulture operation is quite mammoth in scale compared to even 10 years ago and we find ourselves dealing with surplus plastic, pallets and all the associated components of a horticultural operation.  Del, Bob C. and Ron Y. went out in the gardens to rake and tidy paths which is truly a daily task now with leaves fluttering down constantly.  We don't have the ability to keep every leaf off the ground but do try to keep the primary paths and patios relatively debris free.  The guys do a nice job and that "job security" is established as this same task will be on their list for Thursday too!  Ron W., Rollie and Dick H. disassembled more of our plant sale tables and did some work around the yard as well.  Dave, Vern, Bob and Jim are currently working on a project that will ultimately provide our largest obelisks yet (20 footers!) that will go out in the gardens next year.  Shirley and Bev W. were around this morning collecting spent annuals and hauling back some good sized loads to the compost pile.  We also saw Russ, Rose and Urban.  Dr. Gredler did his Monday round of mowing and Bill O. was in later for some sweeping duties and boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') shearing in the North point garden.  Directly below is the 'Prairie Sunrise' shrub rose (Rosa).  This is one of the over 80 "Buck" roses introduced by Dr. Griffith Buck of Iowa State University.  The color is quite engaging as is the light fragrance.  We have only a couple of the Buck roses but will include more in the near future.  The next photo down is the 'Explosive Ember' ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) which has looked better with each passing week.  The foliage has become darker and the peppers a brighter red which makes for a stunning show.  The next photo down (3rd down) shows the ornamental fruits of the purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst') which is just starting to show some nice coloration.  Second from the bottom picture of our arched bridge this morning are Terry, Marv and Pat (left to right) last Friday as they tested lights during our rained out day.  These are the lights that will dangle down from our cottonwood (Populus deltoides) trees.  Preparations for the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) have begun.  They have begun.  I'll have to get my "cart o' cords" ready in the next week or two...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Where Was This Day All Summer?

Today was the type of day that we could have used all summer.  With a threat of rain for the afternoon, we were happy to see the start of a drizzle in the morning which just continued throughout the day with different levels of intensity.  I don't recall any of our few rain episodes being very lengthy this year and this "steady soaker" is welcome as it still contributes towards our overall deficiency this year.  We didn't see any sunshine but were able to get outside early for our push mowing (Pat and Terry) duties and some other tasks.  Many of the photos in the blog today were from some of the days earlier this week.  At the top is the fern & moss garden looking nice this time of year.  The moss is looking good although we need to rake almost daily in that space with all of the cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) dropping leaves.  The rains today and wind yesterday brought down plenty more leaves.  Directly above is our entrance garden slope earlier in the week which continues to hold solid color and texture.  I'm hearing rumors of some frost over the weekend which would put an unfortunate end to the vast majority of our annuals.  While it takes almost eight weeks to get all of our annuals planted, it still takes two to three weeks to remove the increased biomass from the gardens.  We try to let our annuals go the distance in to October but an early frost will be a factor for sure.  Our compost pile then grows by leaps and bounds.  Directly below is the showy, 'Diamond Frost' annual spurge (Euphorbia graminea) catching some light and offering a nice, "baby's breath-like" contribution in a dark composition.  The next photo down is the 'Bull's Blood' beet (Beta vulgaris) which has dark, showy foliage and is of course an edible variety (leaves too).     

This morning, we had Kay and Janet volunteering out in the gardens.  Kay spent some significant time in the shade garden collecting leaves and twigs that accumulate almost daily in that garden space.  The rain brought her in early but she put a nice dent in that task this morning.  Janet continued primping the long orange-themed wall border that she has nicely maintained since May.  That border (near the larch area) continues to get lots of attention and Janet has done well keeping it looking fresh.  Dr. Gredler accomplished most of his mowing prior to the rain but he did have to get on his rain gear to finish up.  With a wedding this afternoon in the sunken garden, we spent time tidying up that space this morning too.  Marianne came in to take care of the cutting display right before the rain.  Rose and Urban were painting over at the visitor's center but stopped by for break.  We also saw Lary G., Dr. Yahr and Maury (ran out for supplies).  Marv worked on an excavation project near the Horticulture Center while Terry mowed and worked on some other projects.  The guys also helped haul in lights in preparation for the Holiday Lights Show and did all sorts of rainy day projects.  Pat also mowed, tidied the sunken garden and went on a gas run too.  Pat and Terry tested lights as well.  We were flexible with moving inside and out as needed today.  Janice was out in the gardens this morning for various tasks and the rain prompted her to shift to working on checking/preparing lights at the Horticulture Center.  The three photos below were taken yesterday afternoon by Janice.  These shots feature the Chestnut House volunteers that come on Thursday afternoons.  You can see the amount of produce that they quickly accumulated.  They were a motivated crew and the veggies all found a good home.  We haul the bulk of our produce to area food banks.  In fact, Janice hauled a load this morning too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Pleasant, Breezy Day

We had some rain last night which was welcome but only amounted to about 2/10 of an inch.  Today was breezy and sunny but pleasant at around 70 degrees F.  With more leaves floating down each day, the gardens look to be transitioning nicely to Autumn although there is still plenty of color out in the gardens.  To the left is the showy and colorful 'Defiance' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides).  The format for creating my blogs on BLOGGER has changed again so the layouts will look goofy for a bit as I figure out the "improved" version.

We had a wonderful volunteer turnout again today and really appreciate everything that our volunteers do for the gardens.  While this horticulture blog mentions our gardening volunteers often, it's important to note how many other volunteers are involved at RBG in other capacities such as gift shop help, tour guides, education volunteers, etc.  It is certainly a team effort.  At the top is Shirley coming back from her many forays out in to the gardens for debris.  Directly above are Karla (left) and Suzy who worked with Mary R. in the reception garden today removing spent annuals and weeding.  Glenna and Amy showed up later and joined the crew with Mary W.  Hal and Doris cleaned up their area which involved the removal of some fading annuals.  The Grumpies were well represented today with Larry H. and Bob C. tidying up paths while Pat (a Grumpy today) finished clearing debris from his project yesterday and he also did a nice job composting the three demonstration garden beds.  Dick H. ran a couple of debris loads to the dump.  Dave T., Jim, Bob A. and Vern finished up some carpentry projects and did a nice job starting to move items to the new shed as they consolidate their materials and tools in the carpentry section of the Horticulture Center.  Janice and Mary W. worked with a large group of volunteers (12?) from the Chestnut House this afternoon.  The group picked vegetables at the Horticulture Center and did a nice job collecting a wide range of vegetables.  Dr. Gredler was in for so mowing too and he continues to repair the gazebo garden lawn after Tueday's tree removal.  We also saw Dr. Yahr, Maury and many others.  Directly below is the colorful foliage of the 'Sparkler' ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum).  The fruits on this variety ultimately age to a red which is showy against the foliage.

We had a smaller grounds staff today but they were very efficient.  The recent rains have been nice as we haven't had to run much irrigation or set-up sprinklers like we've done so often over the last couple of months.  To the left is the 'Wetumpka Red' Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in the Japanese garden.  While the leaves are normally maroon thru the summer, they are getting a brighter red right now.  Larry ran out for supplies and spent most of the day weed whipping around the gardens.  He also set-up some signs and did various odds and ends.  Big John dug up some elephant ears (Colocasia sp.) for storage, composted and spent some time picking produce out of the Ornamental Edible & Compact Vegetable Display.  John and Larry took care of watering all the containers as well.  Despite the recent rains and cooler temperatures, the windy days have made it a necessity to check all containers for moisture needs.  Jance worked on getting our WWW (Women Weed Warriors) going this morning and moved on to some other tasks.  After working with the Chestnut House volunteers, Janice moved on to some watering and other duties.  Janice also took an inventory of many new plants that were planted in the alpine garden this past weekend.  We'll have Marianne prepare the new labels which are slightly different than our standard label formats.   I had a meeting and gave a tour to a fun group from Rockford.  Directly below is a clearwing hummingbird moth at the gardens.  Santos, our volunteer photographer, caught this shot out in the gardens.  At the bottom is the 'Double Zahara Fire' zinnia (Zinnia marylandica) which is still a nice eyecatcher out in the gardens.