The weekend was almost balmy with daytime temperatures close to 60 degrees F. Today is still warmer than usual but the snow arriving tonight and tomorrow will be our “reality check!” We did have a nice turnout of volunteers though. Big John, Terry and Larry H. headed out to bring in more elements of the Holiday Light Show (HLS) which is coming down very efficiently. Most lights and cords are in although John and Terry still have plenty of displays to collect. Keeping in mind that we expanded the route by 50% this past winter and really bulked up on lights, we’re right on track for packing this event away. Ron R. was out cutting back more grasses while Alan M. helped process cords inside. Gene and Dr. Gredler were each painting multiple projects. Dave, Jim, Vern and Ron Y. continued on their carpentry projects which included some repairs as well. Dick H. made a gas run and helped with some other projects. Bill O. was in later to help out as well. We also saw Kathy P. and many others today.
At multiple trial gardens this past summer, I enjoyed seeing a new, compact selection of South American verbena (Verbena bonariensis) called Meteor Shower (see above). We’ve grown the standard Verbena bonariensis for many years (photos further below…) and have always enjoyed the profusion of bloom as well as the number of bees and butterflies that will visit this plant. At 4′-5′ in height though, you have to account for that size. Meteor Shower (PPAF) at only 30″ tall, makes for a durable, mid-height selection that has more applicability in containers and in the mid-portion of the sunny border. Native to Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, the “straight species” is known for heat and drought tolerance and also deer resistance. This plant does drop a lot of seed though…However, Meteor Shower is almost seedless and certainly not the problem the taller form can be with thousands of seedlings. Meteor Shower has not only a more compact height but denser, “lollipops” of lilac blooms that are quite clustered. This selection is offered as a plant (vegetatively grown) and while I still see value in the taller form, Meteor Shower has a bright future and should be included in any garden for pollinators!