Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The perennial to the left is yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride'). Not only does it have nice yellow spring flowers, it has a nice silvery patina to the leaves. This perennial thrives in part shade and can tolerate dry conditions once established. This variety is a clumper, however, be wary of the same species listed as the variety 'Variegata'. It is a vigorous groundcover with similar flowers and a different silvering of the leaves. It is a beautiful groundcover but covers lots of space quickly and is hard to contain. Speaking of groundcovers, the image to the right is of deadnettle (Lamium). There are many varieties with varying leaf colors and silvering. We're in the process of removing all of it from the gardens. It is a spreading plant that also seems to seed around a bit. I think it has a role in specific situations but more often than not, it becomes a thug. Below is a nice close up of a fairly rare woody plant. This is yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) which is native to China. This large shrub (12-15'+) is quite upright and is covered with tubular white flowers (today) that have yellow or red centers. The foliage is fine textured and this plant tolerates full to part sun and a wide range of soils. Thought to be a bit "touchy" in our climate, our specimen has thrived.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I took my little girl on one of our weekly "adventures" this Saturday. We hiked around Governer Nelson State Park up in Madison on the north side of Lake Mendota. It was a great day and we saw lots of neat things like the native mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) in bloom and lots of wild geranium (below).
Sunday, May 25, 2008
We have thousands of ornamental onions (Allium) in bloom right now at the gardens. What you see is related to common garden onions, chives, shallots, etc. Years ago we "fall planted" (October) about 50,000 of these "puff balls on a stick" for spring color. These are species/varieties that go dormant shortly after blooming although there are many alliums that grow throughout the year and bloom in summer or as late as October (Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'). The picture above is of Allium 'Purple Sensation' which is the best value for the taller alliums. Look for it from your local garden center in September or from a reputable mail-order source (Van Engelen and Brent & Beckys Bulbs are good). We've planted over 20,000 of these and love their late May/early June contribution in the garden. Some gardeners leave them up as they dry for an architectural statement. I've even seen them spray painted for extended color thru the summer! We cut them to the ground as soon as the color of their flower "sphere" (umbel) fades. Watch out for the sap from cut stems as it will permanently stain your clothes! Although the foliage of these alliums is starting to yellow and look ragged as they bloom, perennial neighbors can obscure this foliage until its time to cut it down. The Allium above (picture taken this past Sat.) will be cut down in three weeks and overplanted with annuals. These are perennials although we're also starting to see some seedlings near the mother plants, whereas we never used to in the past. Global warming!?
Gold in the landscape is so beautiful this time of year. One of may favorite hostas (St. Elmo's Fire') is below. Note the white edge on the golden leaves. This one is a real beacon when first emerging from the soil. Below that image is the golden Norway maple (Acer platanoides 'Princeton Gold'). This tree looks this color thru the year although it might lose some of the real vividness by mid-summer. However, unlike other gold leaved woody plants, it never looks sickly and is a real eye catcher from a distance. Norway maples have some issues but 'Princeton Gold' is worth its weight...get it?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Today was another "combo Saturday" of plant sale and work day. Thanks to all the volunteers that helped with one (or both) of those activities. The plant sale was slower than last week but we cleared out more plants and will work on distributing the remainder to worthy causes next week. I was barely ahead of the planters today laying out plants. I had about 25 helpers and we put in 5,000 or so annuals (only 95,000 to go...) We accomplished a lot and had a beautiful morning to enjoy the gardens prior to 1,000 wedding guests decending upon the gardens for four outdoor weddings. I don't begrudge the fact that we host weddings but the gardens can be quite congested on Saturdays and parking can become quite a challenge.
To the right is a close-up of the spring foliage of a relatively new variety of Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) called 'Samurai Sword' (in our fern & moss garden). So many of the Japanese painted ferns look the same but have fancy names like 'Wildwood Twist', 'Silver Falls', 'Burgundy Lace', etc. There are some subtle differences but the overall effect (and commonality) of silvery fronds with burgundy highlights can't be beat. 'Samurai Sword' has a high proportion of burgundy and is quite noticeable. I wish we had more time to adequately evaluate our 200+ varieties of ferns... Sweet shot of barrenwort (Epimedium x rubrum) foliage below. This perennial is done blooming but continues to contribute.
Friday, May 23, 2008
'Nugget' ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) to the left. It has wonderful golden, vivid spring foliage. It looks a bit beat up by late summer but is a native North American shrub that is quite durable. There are many varieties of ninebark available. 'Diabolo' is a nice maroon one but can get quite large. Go for 'Summer Wine' for a smaller version of that maroon look. 'Nugget' and 'Dart's Gold' are the most popular golden varieties. I stay away from the green version as it's not too interesting. However, recent crosses between gold and maroon varieties have created 'Coppertina' and 'Center Glow'. I'll try to post some images of these. I love ninebarks but after they get established, we cut them to 12" every winter to encourage fresh new growth.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This structure was built in about two weeks as an Eagle Scout project. Nick did a great job and some very motivated helpers were instrumental in the success of this shade structure. We'll put shade cloth over the top and this structure would be utilize to stage/store plant material that needs out of direct sun. This shade cloth provides 60% shade. There are all different "percentages" of shade cloth out there. What a great project, experience for Nick and a cool shade structure for our immediate use.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Note the nice bulbs to the left. This is a substantial planting of 'Hocus Pocus' tulips and 'Purple Sensation' Allium (ornamental onion) along our terrace garden border. These are both bulbs planted in October. When we had our huge collection of tulips (500 varieties) in 2001, I'll never forget 'Hocus Pocus' as the tallest tulip at a good 36" in height. Here it's showing it's true form and looks great. Notice the cool double grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum 'Fantasy Creation') below that has a nice blue with added visual texture. This should be a neat addition to the border but will also send up late summer foliage. However, this will be obscured by surrounding seasonal plants. Busy week ahead with volunteer dinner, work day and pl
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The influence and productivity of over 100 volunteers helping with these three activities was amazing and inspiring. I was smart enough to take my camera around Saturday for the above shots but was happy to catch two new columbines peaking. These are both varieties of native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). We love columbine in the garden and usually end up with 100s being donated every fall from nurseries that can no longer sell them (they look pretty rough around the edges a that point in the year). We have them everywhere! The yellow columbine below is actually just a yellow version of the native which is typically orange. This variety is 'Corbett' and grows 12-18". The other variety is 'Little Lanterns' which is the one foot version of the native species which is 24-30" tall. Columbine love part shade and should be in everyone's garden!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
We did three plant runs today. Larry did two plant runs to Jenka Blossoms (Lima Center, WI) to pick up tropicals and hanging baskets and I went to Stonefield Plant Farm to get the rest of the hot pepper plants (for plant sale) and various odds and ends. More trips tomorrow. Lots of plant sale prep the next two days, peppered with trips to pick up plants for the grounds. Below is a nice closeup of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) by Santos. What a nice shot!