Blaze of Fall Color


Today was breezy and chilly but still unseasonably warm for the last day of October (Happy Halloween!).  We all took advantage of a nice day to get out in the gardens with a renewed focus on setting up the Holiday Light Show (HLS).  With only about three weeks to get everything finished up before our testing process, the timeline is tight considering the addition of over 50,000 new lights (mostly LEDs).  We still have some gardening to take care of and the gardens continue to be colorful as evidenced by the fall color shots included here.  Above is a red maple (Acer rubrum) at the Horticulture Center looking quite vivid right now!  We had a strong turnout of volunteers and our grounds staff had a very busy day which also included having our irrigation lines blown out and checked over by Evergreen Irrigation (Rockford, IL).

Larry O. worked with the Evergreen Irrigation guys most of the day but was able to work on some HLS tasks as well.  Cindy had some gardening tasks but spent the bulk of the day running lights for our 2,000 half gallon, milk jug luminaries.  She also hauled and placed more of these as our HLS route materializes more daily.  Larry H. helped run cords to many of our dangling icicle lights and put up lights in more locations.  Big John also decorated with lights, cleared containers and had a wide range of additional HLS tasks and duties.  Bobby K. helped bring in the two large fountains (see further below) and continues to prepare one of our giant obelisks (20′ tall) to be placed and secured on the U.S.S. Ginger (our raft).  Janice was in briefly to work on some tasks for our Fall Symposium which takes place this Saturday and Terry popped in to check on the gardens.  I ran cords most of the day and will need to do so solidly over the next three weeks so we’re ready to go.


fall color on Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) – woody tree


fall color on State Street® Miyabe maple (Acer miyabei ‘Morton’) – woody tree


witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) in bloom – woody tree


awesome close-up of monkshood (Aconitium carmichaelii) still in bloom – perennial


late bloom of spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) – perennial


Kathy and Eva (above) didn’t have any gardening duties today!  They went around and put colorful tape on our hundreds of icicle lights and made sure they were untangled and anchored down as needed.  The piece of tape keeps us from getting tangled up in the lights but we also think it helps our nightly deer see them as well!  Alan and Bob cleared our sunken garden containers, rolled up hoses and started cutting back some roses.  Gene and Lloyd collected leaves and debris while both Dave E. and Shirley cleared more plants and collected debris as well.  Dick P. and Dick H. (along with Bobby K.) retrieved our two fountains for winter storage.  Dick H. also made many trips to the dump as our debris pile continues to grow daily.  Dr. Gredler was out mowing and Nancy N. was in for more painting.  Dave, Vern, Jim and Ron Y. had a wide range of carpentry projects.  Becky re-lettered some of our benches with black ink (very nice job).  Kay was in to clear debris and leaves from her area and both Bill O. and Dave K. helped with some vehicle repairs.  Maury ran errands and Peg worked on labels.  It was a very full (and productive) crew!


Alan (left) and Bob K.


Dr. Gredler had a nice surprise when the irrigation popped up during his mowing!


Our elite fountain retrieval team – Dick H., Dick P. and Bobby K. (left to right)


Shirley H.


Bill O. (left) and Dave K.


fall crocus (Crocus sativus) – saffron crocus – perennial


‘Moudry’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) – perennial


the undersides of Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) – woody tree


‘Phantom’ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) – woody shrub


red oak (Quercus rubra) – woody tree


underside of a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) above and bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) below