Sunday, May 31, 2015


My daughter photographed this owl today at a local "box store" and I got a kick out of this new approach to gnomes in the garden!  Just wanted to share the milestone of reaching 400,000 hits with this blog since it began on March 24, 2008.  This will be the 1,846 post since the start of the blog which was encouraged by my wife (much to her chagrin now...).  I continue to enjoy sharing the gardens in this format and hope it brings more visitors, volunteers and supporters to the gardens.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Tough Crew!

In a nutshell, we had a very productive Volunteer Work Day despite the persistent drizzle, occasional downpours and temperature fluctuations between 75 degrees F and 55 degrees F!  It was a whirlwind and I was so impressed that our crew continued to plant through the rain.  We planted the front of the Parker Education Center and most of the two front beds along Palmer Drive.  In our 4 hour planting window, there as only about an hour that didn't involve any precipitation (see included photos for the action!).

Special thanks to Gary (above), Hal and Doris (below), Gena, Mary D., Peg, Andrea, John, Zack, Tyler, Brandy, Topanga and Margaret.  This crew was all soaked by the end of the morning but the progress was impressive.  Big John, Larry and Bill all helped out and had other duties as well.  Shirley B. and Dennis ran the compost sale (with set-up help from Janice) and we also saw Dr. Yahr (helped plant), Vern and some others.  All in all, a very successful morning and the rain is still pounding down as I finish this blog.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dodging Raindrops Again

I took the photo above yesterday and it was neat to see these seven kids climb right up in to this giant Adirondack chair!  The kids were at the gardens as part of our Youth Education Program which has some wonderful volunteers helping with this program.  Well, today was on and off rain and I can't recall seeing such dramatic changes from sunshine to pounding rain.  I put on and took off my raincoat a half dozen times and the volunteers and staff out in the gardens all became sponges as we dodged rain drops.  We'll take the rain but it made for some challenges with weeding and other duties as the ground has stayed wet for most of the last week.  I don't mind not running irrigation but I'm hoping the rains will halt tomorrow morning for our third (of five) Volunteer Planting Work Days (8 am until 12 noon, meet at the Parker Education Center).  Come on down!

'New Moon' globeflower (Trollius x cultorum) - perennial
'E.A. Bowles' variegated mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius) - fragrant!
'Red Coral' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual

Our volunteers were again very helpful today and also adjusted to the changing weather conditions.  After Eva and Kathy (above, Kathy to the right) finished their morning chat, they headed out for more work in the gazebo garden where they are removing dormant bulb foliage and weeds.  They are a great duo (when they aren't chatting at great length).  Marv (below) continued his excellent primping in the moss garden areas.  He also did some graveling work for us to smooth out our bumpy gravel driveway.  Kay (second photo down) continued her battle with purslane (Portulaca oleracea) and will likely win next week.  She is diligent for sure as that darn purslane has been a challenge for the last decade.  Bob K. (third photo down) helped retrieve debris from the pond (hence his unorthodox outfit), cut down a huge shrub and helped John later in the day.  He was a huge help throughout the day.  Our Horticulture Center planting team can be seen in the fourth photo down.  From left to right are Bob D., Corky F., Bev D. and Joan F.  They are a great set of hard-working couples and are neighbors as well!  They dodged raindrops too and planted the Horticulture Center sign area and helped shift plants around the yard.  Bill O. was out mowing in the rain and we also saw Dr. Yahr, Urban, Vern, Bob T. and many others today.

The soggy grounds staff had a busy day.  Janice worked on our plant collections at the Horticulture Center, did the cutting display, matched labels and bounced between myriad projects.  Cindy was a weeding whirlwind in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children's Garden and helped with some yard tasks and lifting some pansies out of containers (for replanting with summer annuals).  Big John and Terry push mowed, placed obelisks and spent a good portion of the day installing our "Nature Nooks" which collectively comprise 2015 Garden Art Project (25 art pieces).  Terry went on a run for plants when the rain intensified and John continued out in the gardens with help from Bob K.  I ran out about 6,000 plants for planting tomorrow (I hope!).  It was nice to get away from the desk and start addressing our planting priorities in earnest.  Above is the 'Brass Lantern' foamy bells (xHeucherella) which has beautiful foliage from May until the snow flies.  Below are some additional shots from the gardens this morning.

'Sea Heart' false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) - perennial
 'Gold Anemone' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual
'Lime Shrimp' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - annual
below is our own "Devil's Tower" made of compost!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Productively Crazy Today

Today was a nice sunny day with temperatures reaching the mid 80 degrees F.  It was nice to have some sun and the recent rainfall has certainly been a great boon.  The gardens still look great (note Russo Fountain above with rhododendrons in the foreground) although the seeds of our female cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) are starting to drift down and in the photo above, you can see the start of that "white haze" out on the water.  The seedlings will germinate very quickly....

We had a huge volunteer turnout today which is expected on a Thursday. However, it was amazing how many volunteers we had helping out throughout the entire day.  Very impressive.  Our grounds staff had their own duties but were helpful in assisting wherever needed.  Janice helped get various groups together for volunteer efforts.  These groups included our morning "Grumpettes" and the Chestnut House volunteers.  She also had plenty of her own work in the Thomas Jefferson Collection and elsewhere which included label work, more planting, etc.  Big John ran for another pick up of plants, rototilled, watered and bounced between some projects.  Larry had mowing, water feature checks, watering and other duties.  I was able to place some plants for installation this morning but spent time in the yard figuring out what will be planted this Saturday at the third of our five sequential Volunteer Work Days (8 am until 12 noon, meet at the Visitor's Center!).  Below are some additional photos from this morning.

'Mt. Everest' ornamental onions (Allium)
blooms of pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
foliage of variegated pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia 'Argentea')
'Rikugi Sakura' Siberian iris (Iris siberica)

Our volunteers, like Betty (above), were collectively very productive today as they worked through a wide range of tasks.  Below are some images of just a few of our volunteers that helped today.  To describe the myriad tasks accomplished would take some time but suffice it to say our hard working volunteers made a big impact today around the gardens.  Volunteers included Betty, Hal, Doris, Gary, Ron R., Ron Y., Bob K., Dave, Vern, Jim, Del, Pat M., Dick H., Dr. Gredler, Dr. Yahr, Larry H., Alan M., Kelley, Sue M., Mary Kay, Mary Ann, Mary R., Lisa I., Karen, Bonnie, Suzie, Eva, Kathy, Shirley H., Mary D., Dejanique, Jumbo Jim, four RECAPPERS, Joel, Cheryl, Urban, Rose, the Chestnut House volunteers, Gary (labels), Rollie (mowing) and many others.  That's over 50 volunteers for grounds which is quite amazing and hopefully a pattern that repeats itself!  Further below are more images from today.

Hal and Doris
Alan (left) and Larry H.
Vern (driving), Dave T. and Jim D. (unsafely riding in the back)
Janice (standing) after pushing down Mary Ann
Kelley (foreground) and Sue M. (partially hidden)
the Grumpettes (Mary R., Bonnie, Karen, Suzie) in action both above and below

fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis)
Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale)
'Cherries Jubilee' hybrid false indigo (Baptisia hybrida) - Decadence Series
'Starlite' hybrid baptisia (Baptisia x bicolor) - Prairieblues Series
 'Caspian Blue' false indigo (Baptisia australis 'Caspian Blue')
'Blue Ice' hybrid bluestar (Amsonia hybrida)
neat new sculpture in the Children's garden

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Weed'n & Plant'n

The weather progressed through mist, sunshine, showers, sunshine, rain and then sunshine today.  I was happy for more precipitation for sure and we had enough gaps in the rain to accomplish a lot of tasks.  A nice rain like we've had over the past two days allows us to avoid running irrigation for many days.  This, in turn, allows us to spend more time on other important tasks like weeding and planting.  I had a presentation (The Gardens of Vancouver) for the Blackhawk Golden Kiwanis Club this morning which went well although it was pouring rain when I came back outside.  It's a fun group and four of our Grumpies (Dick P., Dick H., Dick K. and Maury) are all members of this group as well.  Above is the 'Globemaster' ornamental onion (Allium sp.) which is peaking right now.  We had another strong day of volunteerism and the grounds staff drifted between various projects.  As I loaded up some plants to haul out in the gardens, I photographed just some of our fun coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) varieties seen below...

Cheryl worked on weeding our front garden bed which is right along the frontage road.  I hope to get that planted soon!  Cindy shifted lots of plants from greenhouses to the yard, watered later and had some other tidying duties in various locations.  Big John and Terry did a wide range of tasks but their focus was on locating and installing the posts for our garden art projects ("Nature Nooks") this year.  Finding the right spot is key and the guys did a nice job and will locate more tomorrow and Friday.  I was able to place plants for installation and tried to keep up with some other projects as time allowed.

'Raspberry Tart' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
'Hottie' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
'Sunset Boulevard' coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes) - Main Street Series
'Neptune's Net' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) - Under the Sea Series

Above are Kathy and Eva (right) back in the sunken garden for weeding which has been quite a battle.  The ladies finished weeding which was a triumph in this challenging area! The ladies also planted a lot of coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) in that garden and we focused on planting areas that they just cleared of weeds.  The ladies got a bit wet with the showers but are tough as nails.  Kay was in for a good portion of the day too working on some prime real estate (weeding/tidying) near the main parking lot.  Pat C. was helpful with some clerical duties this morning and continued organizing our surplus perennial signs (which is no small task).  Gary spent some major time on signs and labels and cleaned the engraver which is now working like a charm.  Below (left to right) are Myrt, Mary, Patty (new volunteer) and Gena.  This "Quality Quartet" weeded and tidied our demonstration garden (future Elephant Ear Collection) and moved on to other areas as well.  Roy (second photo down) planted and weeded in the shade garden and we had both Dr. Gredler (fourth photo down) and Bill in for mowing and some lawn aeration between rain drops.  Larry H. finished lifting tulips in front of the building and Marv continued his improvements in the moss garden areas.  Vern worked on carpentry projects and Pat M. did some nice painting on our new Adirondack chairs.  My daughter, Dejanique (third photo down) did a nice job weeding and collecting debris in the gazebo garden.  We also saw Rollie, Audrey, Dick P., Dick H., Trevor, Mary D., Maury, Dr. Yahr and many others today.

white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) both above and below

'Isla Gold' tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) - perennial
'Stainless Steel' coral bells (Heuchera) - perennial
weeping Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens 'Walkeri')
'Rick's White Tip' spruce (Picea pungens)
this end of the shade garden is looking dynamite (Kay's area)
Spilled Wine weigela (Weigela florida 'Bokraspiwi')
proud mama and papa seen above