A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Planting the Display Gardens - Day 1

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional planting time for the display gardens at Rutgers Gardens. All volunteers are encouraged to come out to help plant the AAS beds and committee beds. Individual plots that have been "adopted" by volunteers can be planted any time after they have been edged and roto-tilled. Of course, I brought my camera. I definitely take better pictures when I am not sleep deprived.

I've stopped bragging about my columbines after seeing these:

And why is it that green, green, green is so much more attractive here than in my yard?
This is my plot. I'm in big trouble. I have almost nothing to plant in it. Beatrice, the greenhouse cat was on the DL for most of the spring. No one knows exactly what happened to her. She disappeared for a few days and when she returned, she was badly injured. She was confined to an office while she was healing and was unable to perform her duties keeping down the rodent population in the greenhouses. Mice ate a lot of my seeds and seedlings. My plan for a Fairy Garden are out. I'm going to have to go to Plan B. I'm not sure what that is yet. I'm going to worry about that next week which is the deadline for planting the Adopt-a-Plot plots.
The pond has waterlilies and goldfish in it. They stay there year-round. I don't know how the fish survive the winter.
The volunteers who garden here are incredibly creative. This gardener has found a way around the 3 foot (1 meter) height limitation. They have constructed a 3' high framework to grow passionflower vines on! You will see a lot of bamboo construction. There is a bamboo forest on the grounds. Any bamboo that has been cut down is available for use in the gardens. The bed in the background is a committee bed that will be planted tomorrow. It always has the year spelled out in flowers.
At the back of the display gardens is a fenced area with vegetable beds. I was amazed at how attractive they are.

This is the herb bed that I have been assigned to as my "committee" bed. It has four sections: scent, culinary, medicinal and industrial. This is the scent area. The white flowers are valerian. I don't know what the large bush is.
I'm not sure which section this is. I'm still learning my way around. Those are mints in the clay pipes used as containers. The iris is oris root.
This is the other half of the herb bed (along the fence). I know that in the corner are culinary herbs. I'm not sure what the other ones are.
The woman who heads up the volunteer program has been doing this for so many years that she has it down to a science. First, the flowers that are being planted that day are brought out from the greenhouse and placed in a shady area.
These are just a very few of the flats that were planted. She also provides refreshments for the volunteers.
The basket in the lefthand corner is the seagrass basket that I bought at the garden show in February to carry my tools in. It holds a lot more than tools. I carry my tools, sunscreen, camera, extra batteries, jacket (for cool mornings), garden shoes, and plants in it. Sometimes all at the same time! Definitely the best $20 I have ever spent.

Next, the beds are marked with spray paint.

The flowers are placed in their parts of the design.
And the planting begins. Planting hundreds of flowers one at a time can seem daunting at first.
But when you have a bunch of people working together, it goes very quickly.
Before you know it, the bed is finished. The space in the foreground was left deliberately. A container will be placed there.
Then the beds are mulched . . .
. . . and watered.
Today, the AAS beds were all planted. Tomorrow, and Monday if necessary, the committee beds such as the year will be planted.

Before leaving, I took a quick walk down to the decorative grasses beds that I help plant last year. I can't believe how beautiful they have become.
A year ago, this was just a patch of dirt. Now the garden looks like it has been here forever.
I love revisiting all the places I have worked on. For me, it is one of the best parts of volunteering at the gardens.


At 6:33 AM, Blogger Alice said...

What an exciting and rewarding project. The thrill of having all those beds just waiting to be planted, and watching people really getting enjoyment from getting down and dirty in the fresh open air. I look forward to see more photos as they grow.


Post a Comment

<< Home