Saturday, May 31, 2014

Three of Five Complete!

Our third of five spring Volunteer Work Saturdays was successful!  We had 29 volunteers show up today and they did a great job planting the entrance garden slope with our 2014 pink theme.  All the images in the blog today were from this morning.  We planted over 10,000 annuals this morning and had a great team of helpers like Britta, seen directly below with her dad Andrew.  We finished exactly what we needed to and had time to get it all watered as well.  We hope to have a great turnout for our next two work days (June 7th and 14th, 8 am until 12 noon) as well.  Big John, Janice, Larry and Bill O. were all helpful today and Sandy C. helped out with the last day of the Spring Compost Sale.  We'll have another busy week coming up shortly.

Friday, May 30, 2014

End Of the Week Already?

It was another great day out in the gardens with lots of visitors and gardening activities abounded.  Above is the beautiful bloom of the 'Hartlage Wine' sweetshrub (Calycanthus raulstonii) looking nice this afternoon just outside the English cottage garden.  A good portion of our Friday activities involved preparations for our third Volunteer Workday tomorrow (meet at the Parker Education Center at 8 am!).  We'll be planting the entrance garden slope with about 15,000 annuals (see the bottom photo!).  Cindy and I hauled all the plants out front for staging early tomorrow and if we get 30 or so volunteers, we should be good to go.  Other priorities today included watering and preparing the sunken garden for a wedding this evening.  We had a small grounds crew (Terry, Janice, Cindy and Cheryl) today but were efficiently productive.  It was nice to have another great showing of volunteers.  Below are some additional plant photos from the gardens today.

Scotch rose (Rosa spinosissima) peaking in the Scottish garden
the undersides of the tricolor European beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Roseomarginata')
The volunteers did another great job today.  Above are Bethany (left) and Kay (being dramatic) this morning.  Both ladies worked on tidying and clearing areas with Kay's focus on her assigned garden area in the shade garden.  Bethany actually came in later in the afternoon to continue working.  Eva and Kathy did a superb job tidying up multiple garden areas in many locations.  They are quite thorough in their approach!  Mary and Roy (see below) tidied their area of the shade garden as well and planted all the plants seen in the second photo down!  They continue to put lots of seasonal color in their space and did a nice job as usual.  Bev W. (third photo down) was also in for planting in the sunken garden for the second day in a row.  The fourth photo down shows Jan R. who sunk her teeth in to weeding duties in the Scottish garden.  She has maintained that space for 15+ years!  Dr. Gredler and Bill O. did their mowing rounds and Del was in to help sweep and tidy up another wedding site for tomorrow.  Karen M. was working in the Japanese garden and Maury ran some errands for us.  Pat M. stopped by and Mary Kay T. helped in the reference library.  We also had a Finnish exchange student come in and help Cheryl this afternoon.  We also saw Bev D., Art H., Dr. Yahr and many others.


Nice shot from underneath a columbine (Aquilegia sp.) seen directly above in the Scottish garden.  The grounds staff kept busy all day with diverse tasks.  Terry pruned, watered, push mowed, rototilled and worked on all sort of projects today.  Cindy helped haul plants for the planting work day tomorrow, tidied a major path and helped water the yard later.  Janice worked on watering, the cutting display, moss garden tasks and many other duties throughout the day.  Cheryl came in for the afternoon and focused on tidying around the Parker Education Center for the weekend.  I also hauled plants, had some meetings and continue to try to keep up!  More plant shots below.

blooms of the white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
'Excelsior' Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
'Blue Ivory' plantain lily (Hosta)
lots to plant for tomorrow

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Perfect Day At RBG?

I would say that of all the days I've worked at Rotary Botanical Gardens (almost 5,000!), today really epitomized what I feel the gardens were created to accommodate and promote.  It was a crazy and busy day with oodles of visitors, volunteers, youth education programs, tours (including some for mobility impaired guests) and lots of activity on a beautiful day.  It was one of the busiest Thursdays I've ever seen but we got through the day and the progress was impressive.  Thursdays are traditionally well-attended by our Grumpies and our WWW (Women Weed Warriors) and today was no exception.  However, we saw the return of some familiar faces and had two new volunteers start as well.  I was pleased to hear the laughter of children as they enjoyed our Youth Education Program and give Kris K. and our volunteers lots of credit for handling such high energy groups (see the two photos directly below).  The program was well received and you couldn't ask for a nicer day out in the gardens.

The photo above shows a volunteer group from Edison Middle School and these eight young men along with their teacher, Mr. Jackson (center with the sunglasses), did a wonderful job planting out in the terrace garden this afternoon.  This crew quickly planted 500 plants and had time to enjoy the gardens as well.  We rely on groups such as this to keep up our rapid planting pace!  The photo below shows Mary R., Karen, Winifred, Terri, Suzie and Marilyn.  These ladies did a great job cutting back bulb foliage in the entrance garden and shifted to significant planting in two other areas.  The second photo down shows Marilyn getting a little too cozy with Dick, one of our Grumpies.  The fact that they have been married forever made it slightly less awkward (and nauseating).  The third photo down shows Vicky and Steve who returned today for some clean-up duties in the terrace garden...  Welcome back!  Kathy and Eva did a great job weeding in the formal gardens and Bev W. was in to plant in the sunken garden.  The sixth photo down shows Shirley who helped orient our new volunteers, Donna and Jim (seventh photo down).  This trio did a great job planting and then moved to some weeding and bulb foliage removal.  The Grumpies had a busy day.  Dick P. and Dick H. worked on installing bricks while Vern, Jim, Dave and Ron Y. installed the last door in the Jungle Garden (fourth photo down) and worked on some other much needed carpentry projects out in the gardens.  Bob K. did some electrical work and helped here and there.  The fifth photo down shows Gary B. (left) and Ron P. spreading cocoa hull mulch on the rose garden.  We do this annually and it really dresses that space up nicely.  The guys did a nice job and enjoyed the smell of chocolate all morning.  Larry H. and Bob C. worked on a big composting project and Maury ran some errands.  Jumbo Jim was in with RECAPPERS this afternoon and they did a great job in the Japanese garden and helped water as well.  Marianne G. helped Janice plant in the Thomas Jefferson Collection this morning.  We also saw Gary S., Pat C. (labels), Mary Kay T. and many others.  I was on the move all day so inevitably have missed mentioning someone!  Sorry!

The grounds staff had an equally busy day and were all very helpful with not only gardening tasks but helping to accommodate and assist volunteers.  Cheryl worked on tidying in the entrance garden and helped haul plenty of debris generated by our volunteers in that same area.  Larry checked water features, push mowed, watered and did a lot of string trimming around the gardens today.  Big John repaired some path areas, removed two small, dead trees, went on a trip to pick up plants, watered and push mowed among other duties. Janice helped orchestrate the morning volunteers, planted in the Thomas Jefferson Collection, matched labels to "outgoing" plants and watered.  I tried to keep up with all of the activity mentioned above and probably added a couple more strands of grey hair today.  It's for a good cause though!My goal has always been to keep our volunteers active and eliminate any idle time.  Below are some plant photos from the gardens this morning.

'Carolina Moonlight' false indigo (Baptisia hybrida)
'Kokumon' tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)
'Shaker's Prayer' Siberian iris (Iris siberica)
Magnolia hybrid (sieboldii x macrophylla)
prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) living up to its namesake!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Minimal Watering Today - Yay!

There was a threat of rain today although we did see some occasional sun (and no rain at the time of typing this blog).  We did get some nice moisture yesterday afternoon and overnight.  It was nice not to set up sprinklers and water containers which shouldn't happen until June anyway!  I hope Mother Nature will be more cooperative with nice soaking rains one day per week.  Above is a nice shot of 'Purple Sensation' ornamental onion (Allium) blooming amongst a grove of Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger').  I love this combination and have it at home too.  While the gardens were damp, we were able to get a wide range of tasks accomplished including more planting and weeding.  We had a nice turnout of volunteers as well as our Wednesday grounds crew.  Below are some other images from today.

'Starlite' Prairieblues false indigo (Baptisia x bicolor)
blooms of our yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) which is a small tree
'Mt. Everest' ornamental onions (Allium) are looking good today in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden ("Pollinator's Paradise")

We had a strong volunteer turnout today.  Ron K. spent some serious time in the woodland walk garden and Kay (above) finished clearing off the larch wall planting bed which will be partially planted tomorrow.  Kathy and Barb spent the morning weeding in the sunken garden which provided them with ample work for sure!  Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing and Stan came in for pruning in the Japanese garden.  Darcie and Art (directly below) are working on fine tuning a nice cart tour that will be used for mobility-impaired guests.  The second photo down shows Janice working with the Chestnut House volunteers.  They helped with weeding and planting the vegetable beds at the Horticulture Center (we're featuring small melons this year!).  The third photo down shows Myrt, Gena, Mary and Nancy planting one of our Jungle Garden beds.  The ladies also cleared debris from adjacent berms once the finished planting.  Patrea was in the office most of the morning and continued printing out plant labels for the Thomas Jefferson Collection.  Mirjam came in later for planting in the English cottage garden and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Dave B. and many others.

Above is Cheryl doing some weeding in the formal gardens.  The grounds staff also had a busy day.  Cheryl weeded and tidied up multiple areas including the entrance garden berms and terrace gardens.  We are clearing both areas and preparing them for planting over the coming days.  Big John worked on hauling debris, tidying the rose sections (removing dead roses), preparing containers for planting and other duties.  Terry dug out shrubs, planted shrubs, sheared, went on a run for plants and helped with myriad other projects.  Cindy focused her efforts on clearing bulb foliage and weeds from the gazebo garden border which will be planting in the coming week or so.  Pat spent time repairing and stabilizing the north path and did some nice edging as well.  Janice was in as a volunteer but worked on lots of projects including tasks with the Chestnut House volunteers.  I hauled out more plants for planting over the coming days and filled my time with multiple "brush fire" tasks.  More fun plant and garden shots can be seen below!

Dolce 'Blackcurrant' coral bells (Heuchera)
'Brass Lantern' foamy bells (xHeucherella)
sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
'Popcorn' doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. plicatum)
'Sunflower' paw paw (Asimina triloba)
variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida 'Albo-Variegata) in bloom
'Purple Sensation ornamental onion (Allium) near 'Royal Purple' smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)
the new fountain looks great from every angle!