Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Local Public Gardens

Memorial Day weekend in our area marks some of the very first blooms; it may be to early for roses and most perennials, but some peonies, late spring bulbs, and some perennials are putting on a show.
On Friday, after we took the kids to the park, my husband had to run a few errands. I had him drop the kids and I off at The Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, WI. I took the camera along to share my musings. The boys ate a bazillion M & M's (or "emm-e-mems") while I showed them the flowers and ducks on the water. Entrance to the garden is by "donation," so I put the singles in my waller in the donation box. I hope to sometime soon actually donate my time to this facility.

Out front I found this smoke bush. Since I first heard of smoke bush I don't think I've actually seen one. It'll be awhile before it looks smoky, but even at just a few feet off the ground it's darn pretty.
One of my most coveted plants in the garden as been this Weeping Norway Spruce. I saw it in a rose garden magazine in 2001, and have wanted one ever since my mom pointed it out to me. We called it the pine tree that looked like a "monster." I found one this spring at Walmart for $33, and could not resist (past searchs found them only at $80 and above). Definately my biggest purchase of the season, but a worthy one for sure. The tag on the plant said it grows to 10 feet wide and 3 feet tall? I didn't think they had this right? All of the Weeping Norway Spruce I had seen were tall and droopy, not wide. How could it spread out to 10 feet? It sure would look silly? This one at the entrance to the Rotary Gardens confirmed that I'm not nuts, the Walmart tag had to have been lopsided, meaning 10 feet high and 3 feet wide, for sure. LOL. Aren't they cool?
Overlooking a neighboring beach the gardens have a seating are for outdoor dining. The seating lined with allium and these giant tulips. I mean, GIANT; you can see my tiny little thumb holding it still in the wind.

And I thought I liked alliums. LOL. This is looking towards the rose garden.

This area also has a lot of ponds, with fountains. This water lily was blooming.

I think the blue flowers on the left here are camassia? Another view towards the rose garden.

I have never seen the roses at this garden in full bloom. This year I've made it my plan to make sure I'm there to see them all. I am well-enough versed with roses to stand there now, looking at just labels and green shrubs to picture the whole thing at peak.

Here I found one of the few cane hardy climbers for our climate, Henry Kelsey, which should make some bright red flowers in a short time.

Another view of the rose area, with the lake behind it.
Not many annuals were in the gardens yet, but these hanging baskets looked fabulous.

Below the rose garden you'll find a rock garden on the shore of the small lake. I found phlox, and dianthus blooming here, and multiple sedums creeping about.
Don't know what these are, but they obviously make a fabulous spring color show.

The show stopper, for me, in the rock garden this time of year is this is Pasque Flower. I visited last year at this time, and fell in love with it. I now have one at home, but it's not yet blooming. The one at the Rotary Gardens was at full bloom, and oh-so-pretty.

The flowers leave these frilly stems behind.

Beside the rock garden you enter a vast shaded area, filled with trickling water and shade plants galore. At the entrance to this area I found a pink moss phlox & Tiger Eyes. I love Tiger Eyes, but can't seem to picture one anywhere in my garden. They are so tropical looking, yet hardy in our zone 4 gardens. I saw them for a great price this year finally, for $10, (not bad, as in pervious years I've never seen them below $25-$80).

A sample of the shade scene:

I included the boys in this shot so you can see just how big some of these hostas get. Keep in mind it's not even June yet when this picture was taken, so this hosta's been growing for a little over one month, with about 4 more to go before frost!

There are millions of hostas here. Possibly literally a million. LOL. But this one stood out it's St, Elmo's Fire. Amoung a series of blue and greens, even green and white mixes, this chartruese hosts glows in the shade. I don't need more hostas, but I've secretly stashed this one on my wish list.

Many of the peonies looked ripe to open...

...there were also plenty of them open. In the shade area I found this pink beauty

Also this white peony- my favorite there. I can't emphasize the size of these things enough. They were HUGE. Much bigger than my hand, for sure. Such a treat!

Overall the garden has everything beautifully and professionally labeled, but I struggled to find labels on the some of the peonies. In fact, many of them are at the rear of the beds, and not accessible to look for variety names. This red one was past it's prime, but still pretty.

I loved the combo of this golden creeping jenny and the red japanese maple! fantastic! If I ever have a water garden in the shade, I will have to give this a try. I've had the japanese maple on the wish list for a very, very long time, but I simply can't afford a $50 plant, and that's the very cheapest I've seen them.
I love a good placement of ajuga, also. This cluster surrounded a dwarf spruce, near a stream, embedded in rocks.

Next on our journey I pushed the boys through an area with a huge grassy area. One end of the rectangular garden has a fountain, and the other a statue viewed through a large arbor with hops (I'm pretty sure) growing on it. The alley is flanked with large heges, and deep perennial beds featuring everything from joe pye weed to peonies.
Masses of this plant here line the back of the border. I don't know what it is, but I remember visiting the garden in the fall and thinking it made a tremendous back drop. Anyone know what this is?

In the massive cement-like containers in this area I found this grass. I've seen it around a few times this year. Pretty interesting... makes a great centerpiece for the container.
Just around the corner a lattice covered in lime hops.

While most of the tulips were past bloom, this yellow one, with it's spikey petals was still at peak. I love how it swirls into a star shape.
Nearly beside the tulips I found this No clue what this is, but it's a shrub, looks like a tiny hydrangea or something?

Nice blue color in the part sun here, but the tag didn't come out in the picture. I'll have to check next time I'm there.

You know I love bleeding heart. This golden bleeding heart was special, really glowing in the shade, and at it's peak bloom as well.

You also know I love blue, and this giant blue vase is no exception. It's actually a water feature. the water drips all around it smoothly; it's surrounded by columbine and hostas.

Deadnettle, daylilies...

Here's a path that leads to the water. Coral Bells (heuchera) is embedded in the rocks, echoing the color of the bridge in the distance.
Thanks for walking through the garden with me, more adventures to come soon!
Happy gardening!

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