Thursday, October 31, 2013

Boon For The Gardens - Bummer For Trick-Or-Treaters

Happy Halloween!  My girls think they're too old (13 and 23) to trick-or-treat but I've always enjoyed this holiday.  Unfortunately, the beneficial rains that the gardens are receiving today may make it unpleasant for all but the toughest of trick-or-treaters.  It's nice to realize how far we've come this fall with Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations as well as garden work.  While today was effectively a washout for outside work, the amount of interior activity was impressive.  I was able to tour the gardens this morning in the drizzle and with perfect overcast lighting, the remaining fall color was extremely vivid.  Above is another of our 'Aconitifolium' fullmoon maples (Acer japonicum) which continues to be my favorite tree for fall color that has a long period of transition and gets better and better.  We now have three of these and I'll find room to squeeze in more in the future.  Below are three other nice photos in and around the Japanese garden featuring some nice, late season color.

The Horticulture Center was buzzing this morning with plenty of work.  The team directly above was processing more half gallon milk jug luminaries which are used to guide HLS visitors around the show.  We'll end up using over 2,000 of these this year and we're replacing our luminaries with donations and are recycling the older ones (over 12 years old!).  Dr. Gredler (blue) and Ron P. are in the foreground prepping the jugs while in the back are Pat and Gary (also below) filling these with some pea gravel to keep them upright and secure along the route.  They had a great system going and we'll continue with this effort throughout next week.  The second photo down shows Steve and Vicki working on wrapping our new PVC candy canes with lights.  They did a great job and were here almost the entire day working on these.  We think they'll be back to finish them tomorrow assuming they don't have nightmares about candy canes this evening.  The third photo down shows Ron Y. (drilling) and Jim working on a carpentry project.  Dave T. and Vern were also involved and Vern finished his bench lettering project as well.  Dick H. ran to the dump, went on multiple fuel runs and continued cutting aluminum for our plant stakes.  Maury ran some timely errands for us and Suzy (fourth photo down) was our lone volunteer gardener today although she left after a mid-morning saturation.  We also saw Rollie, Arnie D. and some others today.

We had a small, elite grounds force today although we spent quite a bit of time inside today.  Cheryl was here for a half day and worked on some indoor projects at the Horticulture Center including cleaning and label peeling.  She did head out for some garden clean-up near the Japanese garden as well between rain drops.  Janice helped organize our morning volunteers, worked on HLS preparations and is working on some final details for the Fall Symposium this Saturday which should have a great crowd (over 110 registrants and counting right now...).  Larry pumped out and drained some of our water features and spent time adjusting some lights in areas where moisture might be an issue.  He bounced between some other projects as well.  I caught up on much needed desk work but am poised to get back out with my cords.  Below are some additional images from the gardens this morning.

yellowing fall color of the moosewood or striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum) - woody tree
the fleshy cones and fall color of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) - deciduous conifer
our wall of 'All Gold' golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra) is still looking great - perennial
another sweet oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) leaf with great fall color - woody shrub
the "Tower of Power" in a nice central location (the star is a new addition from Pat M.!)
Cindy's festive candy corn socks from yesterday!  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No Delay Of Game Today

Today was extremely foggy to start the day as seen above. The tree is a black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) which I think has a striking winter form.  Regardless, it was a day that promised some rain but thankfully, there was no precipitation (as of 4 pm) and we all spent the day out in the gardens doing a wide range of tasks.  We were prepared for indoor tasks (which we may be doing tomorrow) but I was happy we made more progress with garden clean-up efforts and Holiday Lights Show (HLS) set-up.  Below is a nice shot of the arched bridge in the distance framed by some trees in the woodland walk garden.  We had another day with productive staff and a great crew of volunteers focusing particularly on gardening duties and needs.  

My day consisted of what you see above.  This is one of the five heavy-duty outlets that Tom C. rigged up for us and they are going to be very helpful.  Big John and Terry rolled out all five of these (a collective 2,000 feet or so) which was no small effort.  I helped as well but we ultimately ran these to areas that have been a bit "light" on electricity or hard to reach without many cords in sequence.  Suffice it to say that these may be the savior of the HLS (assuming no rain which is the bane of this event!).  I'm systematically going from garden to garden and wiring up what I can and still have a solid 2 weeks of this duty.  John and Terry put up many more displays including ten of the new PVC pipes for the HLS (one seen directly below).  You'll just have to come to the HLS to see how cool these are going to look!  The guys bounced between so many projects, it was tough to keep up.  Cindy did a nice job setting out more half gallon milk jug luminaries and focused her clean-up efforts on the west end of the garden.  I saw her bring back many loads and she apparently was startled by (or perhaps startled...) a raccoon during her gardening activities.  Cheryl bounced between debris collection, cutting back more perennials and some late season planting.  She was in multiple areas and always is very thorough.  Further below are some other images from the garden today.

'Redstone Falls' foamy bells (xHeucherella) going through a color transition that started in May - perennial
'Glamour Red' kale (Brassica oleracea) looking awesome - annual

Our volunteers were instrumental in completing many tasks today.  Above are Ron (left) and Pat who have been our primary lighting repair technicians over the past six weeks and they finally finished the last of the repairs.  We'll have some odds and ends but these guys have been stoically plodding through crate after crate of "lights in need" and did a great job!  Others helped but these guys were the ringleaders and saved us a lot of money with their skills (and patience).  Below is Kay tidying up her area nicely.  No leaf escapes her attention.  She later joined Eva in the shade garden and the ladies really did a nice "purge" with leaf collection and perennial cutting.  Many a cart load came back to our compost pile.  The second photo down shows Nancy (left) and Myrt who focused their efforts on leaf collection in the color rooms garden and Scottish garden.  They made efficient use of their cart and various containers for their debris!  Stan was in to put more deer protection on the yews (Taxus) in the Japanese garden and Maury ran some errands for us.  Dr. Gredler was in for his mowing rounds and now has a challenging obstacle course with so many lights and displays around the gardens.  The third photo down shows Patrea peeling and processing our annual labels which is a huge task.  She put a nice dent in this project and we'll keep at it over the coming weeks so we can store those labels for re-use next year.  Vern was also in to work on painting the lettering on another new quote bench that we'll install in spring.  Further below are some additional shots from the gardens today.

"reddening" stems of the 'Erythrocladum' striped bark maple (Acer pensylvanicum) - woody tree
tricolor European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Roseo-Marginata') still showing some pink variegation which is much more pronounced in spring
fall color (sometimes more orange...) of the three-flower maple (Acer triflorum) - woody tree
'Milan' coral bells (Heuchera) still looking nice - perennial
fall color of a perennial geranium (Geranium wlassovianum)
cool fall color variability for the Shantung maple (Acer truncatum) - woody tree

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Very Busy Day

Today was one of the busiest Tuesdays that I can recall....ever!  There was not only a lot of activity out in the gardens but we had the pleasant surprise of many unexpected (but fully utilized and appreciated) volunteers coming in to help, particularly with gardening efforts.  Above and below are some shots of the Japanese garden today which I think is really looking quite beautiful this late in the season.  The peak time for this garden (for color) is May and October.  Progress on debris clean-up was significant today and we had a huge boost to the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations with L.P. Tree Service coming this morning (second photo down) with two bucket trucks to help put up lights (thanks John, Nikki and Victor!).  Larry helped coordinate with them early but they are veterans of this process and hung well over 200 icicle lights throughout the day and throughout the gardens.   Now I get to run the extension cords to each and every one...  The third photo down shows a misty haze over the formal gardens which is a result of our irrigation lines being "flushed out" and winterized for the season.  This process is quite involved and Larry also helped Evergreen Irrigation with this task (although many of us were randomly hit with sprinklers popping up everywhere!).

Volunteers kept pouring in today!  Above are Mary and Roy planting some bulbs in their portion of the shade garden which they cleaned up yesterday.  They did a great job and were out of there before the icicles started draping down from L.P. Tree Service above!  Lloyd and Jim D. came in for "Grumpy extra credit" and did a great job cutting down the rest of the Potter Daylily (Hemerocallis) Collection.  This extra gardening help is appreciated as we still have a couple weeks of garden clean-up to accomplish as we also set up the HLS.  Dr. Gredler was in for his mowing routine and directly below is Bill O. collecting leaves for our ever-growing compost pile.  The second photo down show Magda who did a great job tidying up her assigned garden area.  The next photo shows Tina B. who was a big help to Janice with tidying up the English cottage garden.  Mary W. and Steve continued painting our new PVC candy canes and Steve also headed out for some leaf clean-up near the Japanese garden.  Kay tidied up her section of the shade garden nicely with cutting back perennials and collecting leaves.  Eva was just down the way doing the same thing in another section of the shade garden.  Vicki helped Janice and Kris with various projects and we also saw Maury (ran errands), Chuck S., Patrea, Jack T. and Vern (lettering an engraved bench).  

We had most of our grounds staff on duty today and no one ran out of work to do!  Larry bounced between L.P. Tree Service and the irrigation contractors to keep everything running smoothly.  He also did various odds and ends and repaired some equipment.  Pat split his day between lights repair, preparing more half gallon milk jug luminaries and was out in the gardens later putting up protective netting on some of the yews (Taxus) in the Japanese garden.  Cheryl was a pure gardener today and did a nice job finishing clean-up in the sunken garden and she then did the same in another area.  Cindy continued placing luminaries out along the HLS route and did quite a bit of gardening in the Japanese garden and near the North point garden (lots of perennials to cut).  Big John hauled back obelisks for decorating, hauled out decorated obelisks, put lights out in the HLS and helped with various other projects.  Janice decorated obelisks, tidied in the English cottage garden and started putting up new lights in the Japanese garden.  I essentially ran cords all day and was glad for the pleasant weather.  Below are more shots from today.

deer herd awaiting placement for the HLS
fall color of the Amur maple (Acer ginnala) - woody tree
fall color of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) - deciduous conifer
fruits of the American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) - woody shrub
'Thunderbird' foamy bells (xHeucherella) - perennial
a resident woodchuck (looking well fed...)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Impressive Progress

There is impressive progress regarding three phenomena out in the gardens.  First of all, the fall color is getting better in many areas and the 'Aconitifolium' fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum) seen above is one example that I continually notice as it seems to transition to something better each day.  We are also doing a nice job continuing with our Autumn gardening tasks including plenty of clean up today.  Our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) preparations are going well too and today was a great day to get outside for a wide range of tasks.  Directly below is Pat M. putting some finishing touches on the "Tower of Power" which he modified last winter to accommodate the star (built by Pat) and all these lights.  The second photo down shows some additional Grumpies helping get this 20' obelisk up in place.  I always know that my Monday blog will include lots of comments on our wonderful volunteers and that is certainly the case today.

The Grumpies had a busy day which included leaf/debris clean-up and lots of bench hauling.  Above are Dick (goofy red hat) and Jim carrying one of many benches back for winter storage.  We store these out of the elements and will touch them up (re-sanding and re-staining) as needed over the winter months.  Ron W., Ron Y. and Gary also helped with this process and have developed a nice system for keeping track of all these benches and returning them to their original locations in the spring.  Ron W. and Jim also made their last run for pumpkins for the youth education program this week.  Dick H. ran to the dump and helped with other projects while Dr. Gredler did his mowing and leaf collection all morning.  Pat spent all his time on HLS work including the "Tower of Power" seen above.  Bill O. helped haul debris and Lloyd, Gene and Dick K. all helped collect leaves and debris from around the gardens.  Vern, Dave T. and Jim finished our new PVC "Pipes of Light" that will go out in the gardens very shortly (maybe tomorrow...).  Directly below are Mary and Roy who did a great job clearing annuals and perennials from the shade garden. Eva also helped in this area.  Mary W. (third photo down) helped paint our new PVC "candy canes" with Nancy (second photo down).  Tom C. came in to work on more of his HLS "power improvement" projects too.  We also saw Linda K., Art H., Ryan C. and many others.  

The photos both above and below describe my contribution to RBG and the HLS today.  I have become my alter-ego known as "cord boy" and have run almost half the primary cords for the show but will have many more full days of getting everything connected for the HLS.   The power upgrades that Tom C. is working on will be uber helpful too and we're looking forward to the upgrades.  Larry finished his "lights pavilion" in the reception garden and helped bury cords and prepare other displays.  Tomorrow he'll be involved with the shut down of our entire irrigation system which can take up the entire day depending on how it goes.  Big John and Terry bounced between garden tasks like emptying/hauling containers, digging out annuals, etc. with HLS preparations like putting up more displays and lights.  Cindy did a solid morning of gardening (perennial cutbacks) near the North point garden, spent quite a bit of time placing our half gallon milk jug luminaries and packed away some of our remaining plants in one of the greenhouses.  Further below are some additional shots from today.

neat aster (Aster sp., unknown variety) still blooming
fall color of the fragrant snowball viburnum (Viburnum x carlcephalum) - woody shrub
interesting (and cool) look for a goldenrod (Solidago sp.) going to seed
'Gold Zebra' foamy bells (xHeucherella) - perennial
fall color of one of our serviceberries (Amelanchier sp.) - woody tree
telltale fruits (stinky) of a ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) that we now know is a girl!