The photo above might confuse those not familiar with the Holiday Light Show (HLS) at Rotary Botanical Gardens but for those better versed, these are of course, our half gallon milk jug luminaries.  The luminaries were brought out of storage today for some fresh air and while they wont go out in the gardens proper for a bit, we’re getting poised and ready to jump in to continued set-up for the HLS.  Larry H. and Big John have already started slinging lights and Ron P. is processing new lights quickly.  While our opening night (public) for the HLS is December 9th, that is only 81 short days away!  We like to have the HLS up, tested, tweaked and ready to go by late November so we have less than 81 days to be ready.  Our primary goal right now is to keep the gardens looking great and much of our efforts today and recently have centered on that goal.  However, we’ll need to take advantage of nicer weather for HLS set up as we plan out the scope of this massive event.  We had a nice turnout of volunteers today and while we’ve had closure with the fall plant sale, our year is far from over!

The grounds staff had a busy day which included quite a bit of watering.  It looks like some rain throughout the week (including tonight) but we’ll adhere to our policy of assuming it wont rain!  We set up sprinklers, watered containers and worked on lots of other projects as well.  Cindy, Larry H., Larry O. (back on staff!) and Big John all had a wide range of projects aside from watering which included hauling mums (still only $7 each!) to the Parker Education Center, planting, tidying and HLS preparations.  I had a good tour of the gardens, marked spots for new trees and continue to keep up with an ever-growing pile on my desk.  It wasn’t hard to take beautiful photos out in the gardens this morning though…


‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth (Gomphrena haageana) with ‘Frosted Explosion’ annual switchgrass (Panicum elegans) – both annuals


‘Blazin’ Lime’ copperleaf (Iresine hybrida) – annual


flossflower (Ageratum houstonianum) in the Heirloom Garden – annual


‘Arrested Development’ smooth blue aster (Aster laevis) – perennial


‘Banana Boat’ sedge (Carex siderosticha) – perennial


‘Blushing Shortwood’ garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) – perennial


It’s always a sign of a good volunteer turnout when all the carts are in motion and being used.  We had some great help today.  In the carpentry workshop seen above, we have Jim, Dave and Vern (left to right) with Ron Y. just off camera. The guys are building new benches for placement out in the gardens next Spring.  Alan, Lloyd and Bob K. worked on taking down and storing our many plant sale tables and had some other tasks as well.  Dave E. brought out all the milk jug luminaries seen above and did some path repairs/adjustments out near the gazebo.  Bob C. and Del went out to tidy up paths and both Kristin and Stan did a nice job tidying in the Japanese garden.  Kathy and Eva weeded, planted and then did tidying in another garden area.  Shirley H. (directly below) also had multiple areas to check over and address as needed.  Bobby K. and Steve J. had some finishing touches over by the new power panel and Dick H. ran many loads to the dump among other duties.  Dr. Gredler and Rollie took care of their mowing while Bill O. was for garden tidying this afternoon.  We also saw Dick P., Terry N. and many others today.


Shirley H. (above)


Kathy (left) and Eva


Steve (left) and Bobby K.


monarchs sure enjoy the late season (and fragrant!) flowers of seven-son-flower (Heptacodium miconioides) – woody shrub


‘Apple Blossom’ caladium (Caladium sp.) – tropical – COME SEE THE CALADIUM COLLECTION!


‘Jasmine’ flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) with ‘Lacinato’ dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea) – annuals


‘Profusion White’ zinnia (Zinnia hybrida) – annual


interesting spiky seed capsules of the ‘Zanzibariensis’ castor bean (Ricinus communis) – annual (POISONOUS!)


‘Redhead’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) was vivid this morning – annual


monarchs (and visitors alike!) are enjoying the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’) – annual


the hummingbirds are loving the lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus) in the Nancy Yahr Memorial Children’s Garden – annual


white black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata ‘Alba’) – annual


I popped in to work today to help Larry O. and Bill O. get ready for the day.  With multiple weddings and lack of significant rainfall yesterday, Bill and Larry had a full morning of tidying up wedding sites, checking water features and watering containers.  Shawn W. was in to clean up our water features.  I watered all the yard plants and thought I’d share a couple more photos from yesterday.  The September garden is spectacular with our annuals still hanging in there for the most part as the transition to late season perennials, grasses and fall color begins in earnest.  Above is the ‘Tardiva’ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) with flowers fading from white to this classic pink.  This is an older, classic variety with huge flowers.  Enjoy the show below…


‘Saratoga’ ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)  – woody tree (also informally called “fishtail ginkgo”)


rich seasonal border featuring ‘Black Stockings’ elephant grass (Pennisetum hybrida) in the background


‘Cool as a Cucumber’ plantain lily (Hosta) – perennial


the pink flamingoes still “anchor” or pink-themed wall planting


‘Silver Shimmers’ lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) – perennial


start of fall color on ‘Aconitifolium’ fullmoon maple (Acer japonicum) – woody tree


‘Samurai Sword’ Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) – perennial


Easy Elegance® Champagne Wishes shrub rose (Rosa ‘BAIcham’) – woody shrub


variegated giant reed (Arundo donax ‘Versicolor’) – not hardy


seed heads are forming on Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) – perennial grass


fruiting structures of blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) – perennial


‘Sweet Tea’ foamy bells (xHeucherella) – perennial


close-up of yellow fumitory (Corydalis lutea) – perennial (blooms for five months!)


glossy foliage of ‘Black Scallop’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) – perennial


devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) – perennial


‘The Giant’ Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) – perennial


‘Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’ black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hybrida) – perennial


Quick Fire® panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bulk’) showing flower transition to pink – woody shrub



The day started out with some drizzle and it looked like a pretty good chance of rain.  The drizzle ended and we had lots of sun and wind which necessitated some intense watering efforts.  Some rain arrived late in the afternoon which was most welcome.  While we’re not really “dry”, we have lots of containers and collections that tend to get thirsty on a day like today.  Nice shot above in the English cottage garden today with lavender (Lavandula), zinnias and ‘Solar Cascade’ goldenrod (Solidago shortii) arching over in the back!  The gardens continue to look excellent and we saw quite a few visitors today.  A big project today had Bobby K., with help from Dick P. and Steve J., putting up a new power panel which necessitated having all the power shut off to the Rath Center and most of the gardens.  The timeline was tight as we needed everything back on by the end of the day…..however, mission accomplished!


While we didn’t have a huge staff or a large number of volunteers today, we were very efficient in our tasks in getting prepared for the weekend.  Larry H. did some tidying and spent most of his time putting up more LED lights in the Japanese garden (see photo further below) for the Holiday Light Show (HLS).  Cindy was a whirlwind of watering and tidying.  Janice helped process the last of the Fall Plant Sale, tidied, watered, did the cutting display and had myriad other tasks.  I went out to place plant signs and ended up getting a nice batch of weeds.  I also helped get our water features up and squared away after our power was restored out in the gardens.


‘Hot Biscuits’ amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus) with ‘Prince’ elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) – both annuals


‘Black & Blue’ Brazilian sage (Salvia guaranitica) – annual


‘Firecracker’ variegated fuchsia (Fuchsia triphylla) – annual


‘Brass Lantern’ foamy bells (xHeucherella) – perennial


Easy Elegance® Pinktopia rose (Rosa ‘BAImas’) – woody shrub


Above is Bobby K. (left) and Dick P. mulling over the new power panel.  This donor sponsored upgrade will be extremely valuable in upgrading our power access and availability throughout the gardens and while the old panel did its duty, it was over 20 years old.  These guys, along with Steve J., did a nice job coordinating this project and the little green tent to the left (photo above) became invaluable around 2:30 pm when the rain came pounding down!  We had great volunteer help today.  Kathy and Eva priced some back ordered bulbs that are now for sale at the Parker Education Center along with our $7 mums (get them while they last!).  The ladies then moved on to some garden tidying.  Cheryl D. did an excellent job tidying in the woodland walk and near the gazebo garden.  “Firefighter Kathy” watered the entire yard which was very much appreciated. Larry O. helped with hauling mums and watering and Bill O. did his mowing rounds.  Marv B. was in to tidy up his moss gardens which are quite green and lush with all the recent precipitation.  Dr. Gredler was in and Maury ran some timely errands for us.  Kristin and Karen were in the Japanese garden for some tidying and we also saw Big John and many others.  Steve S. from Purple Cow Organics stopped by and we had a great chat about soils!


Eva (left) and Kathy


Marv. B. marooned on a mossy island


Larry H. has the dexterity and energy of a caffeinated squirrel and is doing a great job getting up LED lights for the Holiday Light Show (HLS) – that’s a katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in case you were wondering


Dick P. (looking casual to the left) and Steve J. (above)


‘Blazin’ Lime’ bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida) poking through a Himalayan birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) – not a staged shot!


‘Pink Frost’ angel trumpet (Brugmansia sp.) has gotten huge in this container (English cottage garden) – tropical (fragrant!)


our Abyssinian bananas (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’) have gotten huge (12’+) with all of the rain!


Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) – perennial


Little Ruby™ copperleaf (Alternanthera dentata ‘LRU30’)


Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne Sky’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – perennial





Today was sunny and warm with temperatures in the upper 70 degrees F.  We still haven’t dried out from previous rains so only focused on watering in plantings and containers today.  I was able to explore the entire gardens today and was quite impressed with how well our staff and volunteers “nurture color” along this late in the season.  A frequent compliment from our September and early October visitors is “I can’t believe there is still so much color!”  While we are removing spent annuals here and there, the overall effect is dynamite including those neat, unplanned combinations like the ‘Purple Flash’ ornamental hot pepper (Capsicum annuum) with the blooms of ‘The Giant’ colchicum (Colchicum autumnale) popping through (seen directly above)!  Pretty neat.  Directly below is a nice warm combination perfect for this year!


Thursdays are usually quite busy with grounds staff and volunteers and today was no exception!  We had an excellent turnout of volunteers (like Hal and Doris in the top photo) that accomplished a wide range of important tasks today.  The grounds staff bounced between many projects as well.  Cindy converted some containers to beautiful fall arrangements and spent time tidying up multiple areas.  Larry H. hauled plants, push mowed and continued putting up many more LED lights in preparation for the Holiday Light Show (HLS).  Big John sheared boxwood (Buxus) and yews (Taxus) in the formal gardens, push mowed and had a wide range of other projects.  Terry planted kale (Brassica) in select spots, watered containers and tidied up multiple locations.  I spent significant time processing our “yet to be planted” items in the yard and went out and started flagging final destinations.  It was a super day.


‘Sedona’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) with ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth (Amaranthus hybrida) – annuals


‘Inferno’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) – annual


popcorn cassia (Cassia didymobotrya) is putting out another strong flush of fragrant blooms! – not hardy


Monarch Promise™ milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) – not hardy


‘Tabasco’ hot pepper (Capsicum frutescens) – annual


‘Hortensia’ double cutleaf black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia laciniata) – perennial


Above are the Fall Plant Sale tents being disassembled for storage until our Spring Plant Sale over Mother’s Day weekend in May of 2017.  Ron R., Lloyd, Steve J. and Dick P. worked on this project and all four guys split off later for some other duties later in the morning.  Bob K. (new Grumpy) moved plants, emptied plant sale buckets and helped Alan disassemble plant sale tables after Alan was done watering mums.  We continue to sell mums for $7 each from the Parker Education Center and bulbs are available as well.   Kathy and Eva tidied many areas and Betty H. was in to tend to her assigned garden space.  Vera, Winifred and Brian purged spent annuals from the front slope while Dave E. continued his brick leveling project near the gazebo.  Larry O. mowed, weedwhipped and did many other jobs.  Bobby K. spent the day preparing for his big electrical project tomorrow.  Ron P. worked on preparing lights for the Holiday Light Show (HLS) while Ron Y., Dave, Jim and Vern continued on carpentry projects including building some new benches.  Dr. Gredler did his mowing and Hal and Doris (top photo) planted some mums in their garden space as well.  We also saw Gary, Chuck S. and many others today!


Jim (left) and Ron Y. putting a sign on a memorial bench


Ron P. preparing icicle lights for the HLS


Hal and Doris (pausing their uncomfortably public friskiness to pose for this photo…)


Steve J. (left) and Dick P.


Winifred (driver), Vera and Brian


Bob K. (left) and Alan


Ron R. (left) an Lloyd o the right


Bobby K. getting ready for a nice electrical projects


‘Zebra Stripes’ plantain lily (Hosta) – perennial


monarch on seven-sons-flower (Heptacodium miconioides) – woody shrub (fragrant!)


Autumn Charm™ variegated stonecrop (Sedum sp. ‘Lajos’) – perennial


Molineux David Austin rose (Rosa ‘Ausmol’) – woody shrub


our tropical beds are still looking lush and colorful


‘Black Stockings’ elephant grass (Pennisetum hybrida) – annual for us (here 9′ tall!)


‘Coleosaurus’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) – annual


‘Dipt in Wine’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) – annual


Today was perfect in terms of weather with a cool start, plenty of sunshine and a high temperature around 75 degrees F.  I think all of us commented on how nice of a day it was.  Unfortunately the mosquito population is still quite sizable and I think we all commented on this as well!  I was able to really check over the gardens today and the color is still quite impressive.  Above is the ‘Velvet Elvis’ lavender spurflower (Plectranthus hybrida) which seems to look better and better as the season progresses.  We had a solid turnout of volunteers and the gardens were quite busy with a visiting tour enjoying the gardens as well.

The grounds staff had a busy day which included some more Holiday Light Show (HLS) set up as well as helping with some post plant sale duties.  Larry H. worked on a wide range of tasks including hauling plants, tearing out annuals, planting kale (Brassica), watering and putting up more LED lights in the Japanese garden.  Janice finished putting away plant sale elements, worked with volunteers and plenty of other work as well.  Big John removed shrubs, watered, collected a massive branch (with Larry O.) from the pond and had a wide range of other tasks.  Bobby K. continued preparations for some serious power improvements out in the gardens.  I put out some signs and labels and continue to plug away at the never-diminishing pile of desk work!


‘Miyazaki’ toadlily (Tricyrtis hirta) – perennial


Pegasus™ begonia (Begonia hybrida ‘Gryphon’) – annual


annuals/tropicals along our gazebo garden border (two of plants in this border are featured further up in this blog)


‘Robustissima’ grapeleaf anemone (Anemone tomentosa) – perennial


Del (above) was one of many excellent volunteers that helped today.  We also saw Eva, Kay, Steve, Vicky, Kristin, Gena, Myrt, Nancy, (maybe Mary and Patty?), Dr. Gredler, Larry O. and many more.  Marv B. did a nice job tidying up his moss gardens.  The Chestnut House Volunteers came to help out and we also saw Maury, Dave B. and many others.  I was offsite for a bit and missed catching everyone but all of our carts were out and busy and many projects were addressed.








beefsteak bloodleaf (Iresine herbstii) – annual (also called chicken gizzard plant)


Japanese shellflower (Chelonopsis yagiharana) – perennial


‘Gold Bar’ compact porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis) – perennial



fruits of white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) – perennial


chocolate snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) – perennials


‘Copperhead’ copperleaf (Acaylpha wilkesiana) – annual