Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Garden aGlow

Winter Garden aGlow 2009 is in full swing. I know I probably say this every year, but I think this is the best one yet. Each year I am amazed at the creativity the Garden Staff and volunteers show with the artful arrangement of lights. It truly looks spectacular!

A big thank you goes out to the volunteers who show up each night and help with the many jobs necessary to keep Winter Garden aGlow running smoothly and give the visitors the best possible experience. Volunteers take admission, greet visitors, hand out cookies and hot cocoa, and keep the bonfires burning on cold winter nights. Thank you!

We would also like to thank our volunteer performers. We had a fantastic response to our call for performers ---from individuals to school choirs and orchestras. Live music is such a wonderful addition and helps create a festive holiday atmosphere for our visitors. Thank you!

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Winter Garden aGlow yet, we are open every night from 6 – 9 pm through January 11th.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

First Snow

Our Head of Horticulture, Rod Burke, captured the beauty of the Garden after our first snowfall. I thought I would share a few pictures here.

Snow covered yuccas in the Test Garden by the greenhouses.

A cap of snow covering the vibrant pink and orange seed heads of the European Spindle Tree.

Another beautiful photo of the European Spindle Tree.

The Boys on the Swing sculpture in the Children's Garden.

Looking at the Rose Garden through a snow capped arbor with the Garden Cottage in the background.

The Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden and Gathering Place.

The Princess Diana fountain in the English Garden decorated with Christmas lights and garland.

The beauty of the season is only starting. Beginning on Thanksgiving evening, the Garden will be aglow with color. Come out and see the beauty of the Garden for yourself and get into the holiday spirit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Spotlight - The Boys on the Swing Sculpture has Arrived!

The ‘Boys on a Swing’ has a new home! The sculpture was placed in the Children’s Garden on November 3rd.

The sculpture was removed in pieces from the Boise Towne Square Mall. The plight of the sculpture originally came to our attention when Truman and Jeanne Keith, Action Jackson, Roosevelt Elementary and other loyal supporters of the Idaho Botanical Garden made it their mission to convince Pacific Steel & Recycling and Tim Woodward at the Idaho Statesman that the sculpture should be given to the Idaho Botanical Garden.

The Idaho Botanical Garden would like to thank the many businesses, organizations and individuals that contributed to the sculpture’s restoration and installation at the Garden. The sculpture was restored and welded back together by Dirk Anderson, Anderson Foundry, with the help of Borah High School student, Rebecca Harvey. The sculpture was taken apart and then put back together piece by piece during the restoration process.

FarWest Landscape and Garden Center designed and constructed the pool surrounding the sculpture. Bart’s Backhoe Services completed the construction grading and excavation work. Quality Electric installed the electricity for the fountain. Horizon Supply and After Dark Landscape Lighting provided materials and installed the lighting. A portion of the sandstone surrounding the pool was donated by Gerhard Borbonus Landscaping.

In addition, we received funding for the project from individuals, the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, and Pacific Steel and Recycling.

Come by and see the newest addition to the Children’s Garden. The ‘Boys on the Swing’ fountain looks truly amazing in its new location and is just waiting to be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.
Update: Check out the Idaho Statesman's article on the Boys on the Swing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scarecrow Stroll 2009 Winners!

There are many reasons why fall is a beautiful time to venture out into the Garden. As Ann mentioned in the last entry, the leaves have turned brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow and against a clear blue sky, they boldly announce the changing season in the Treasure Valley. Preparation and excitement for winter and our Winter Garden aGlow event is also felt as lights are strung in elaborate designs throughout the Garden trees and d├ęcor. And for a second year, there was another reason to enjoy the Garden during the autumn months, the return of our Scarecrow Stroll!

Twenty-four scarecrows peeked around bushes and trees, welcoming guests throughout October. Created by local businesses, organizations and families, these scarecrows were each unique and artfully designed. I was very impressed by this year's turnout and the creative ways each scarecrow was decorated! Not only were they a festive addition to the Garden, but they also delighted hundreds of children and guests who strolled through on field trips and visits. Each guest had a chance to vote for their favorite crow and the contest began!

Now that this year’s stroll has ended, the votes have been tallied and we are ready to announce the 2009 Scarecrow Stroll winners!

1st Place goes to “Nyla the Nature Nymph” created by the Brandsma Family.

With so many fabulous scarecrows, it was hard to pick just one!

2nd Place: “Shine on Harvest Moon” by Hibbs Kids

3rd Place: “Boise Foothill Dog Walker” by Lois and Sonya Lenzi

Honorable Mention: “Miss Piggy” by the Community Work Center

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Scarecrow Stroll!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall? By Ann DeBolt

One can’t help but notice the stunning fall color we’ve got going on in the Treasure Valley and at the Garden right now. So exactly why does this remarkable display happen each and every year?

As summer winds down and fall approaches, our nights become cooler and longer and the days shorter. This is known as photoperiodism, and is the largest factor in why leaves change color in autumn. As the nights get longer, the process of senescence becomes apparent through color change and the falling of leaves, leading the tree into winter dormancy.

As the photoperiod decreases, a plants’ ability to synthesize chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color of leaves through spring and summer, becomes reduced, and yellow and orange carotinoids and xanthophylls, which are always present within the leaf, begin to show. In some plants, the leaf cells produce red pigments, the anthocyanins. In these leaves, once the chlorophyll has decomposed, the anthocyanins mask the caretenoids, thus turning the leaves red. Some species, particularly the oaks, contain high quantities of tannins in the leaves which are responsible for brown colors.

The color change and dropping of leaves are a plants’ way of avoiding freezing. During freezing, the water within leaf cells turn to ice, causing disruption of the tissues. Damaged tissues become inviting sites for fungi and bacteria to invade the plant. In order to prevent this fungal invasion, plants drop their leaves and form a protective seal over the areas where the leaves were once attached before the freeze damage can occur.

So even if your plants look dead and lifeless through the winter, rest assured they are monitoring their environment, keeping track on temperature and day length until spring!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bird Watching at the Garden - Spotlight

A quiet day in the garden gives one an opportunity to see different birds in the garden, as well as all the wonderful plants. The diversity of the garden, from its carefully maintained flower beds to the arid loving high desert plants in the Lewis and Clark garden make for a great bird habitat.

My favorite is the common California quail. Perhaps that is because, like myself, it is not native to Idaho but has found that Idaho is a great place to live. Also because they have that short black feather curving forward over their heads like some sort of fishing lure.

In early summer you can watch as a family group goes on an outing. With the parents standing guard as many as a dozen chicks the size of your fist scramble to keep up with the others. As the summer progresses the family inevitably grows smaller but the remaining chicks grow fast. Their dull brown color allows them to blend in with the dirt and gravel, protecting them from predators and garden visitors alike.

As winter comes on the quail gather together, forming an ever larger group. By January the group can be up to 25 –50 birds. They explore the same paths every day looking for food. In midmorning their path takes them around our administration building. The group fans out, searching for food. Birds crossing the road or trying to catch up seem to stand on their tiptoes and dash forward as fast as they can. Their black plume always ahead of them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall at the Garden by The Insider

It is lights, lights, lights until Thanksgiving. Rain or shine. With the drop in temperatures and the nearing loss of water we are completing our final round of turf maintenance. The students at the CWI’s horticulture program came by to get some experience in using our equipment and get some tips on maintenance. We are happy to have the help and partner with CWI to enrich their training program. We would have preferred to also do a fall application of fertilizer; however, lean times being what they are have chosen to defer the cost. It usually takes six to nine, fifty pound bags of fertilizer to cover our turf needs, and as you know those bags are not to be had at dollar store prices. The first round of community and business volunteers have shown up to aid in light hanging and it is a welcomed sight. Given that there are only 5 full time staff gardeners we can use all the help we can get. If you or your business/organization would like to help us in this endevour feel free to contact Karen at (208) 343-8649. And with that…it’s off to hang more lights.