By Bill Collins
The annual display is the major seasonal display during the summer. It replaces the spring display of tulips and other spring bulbs and plants such as pansies, lettuce, mustards and snapdragons.
The annual designs, which change each year, are designed the previous fall . A booklet with all of the designs is put together by the Head Gardener for the gardening and greenhouse staff. The Greenhouse Manager uses the lists and maps in the booklet to order and plan the growing of all of the annuals. The gardening staff uses it to lay out the designs when we begin to plant the annuals. This usually starts in late May and continues into early June. Approximately 50,000 plants are grown and planted in the beds.
The first step in the planting is to get the beds ready for planting. The tulip bulbs are removed and then the beds are cleaned of any weeds. The next step is to edge the beds and then rototill the areas. We then rake the beds to level them out and then put a layer of shredded leaves on top of the soil. At this point we are ready to plant the beds. The Head Gardener and Gardeners lay the annuals out according to the design that is in the annual book. They then begin to plant the design along with many of our dedicated garden volunteers. Once planted, the beds are watered in to settle the soil around the roots and give them moisture. We continue to monitor the beds for water because this is a critical time for the tender plants to get established. By the end of June the newly planted annuals begin to bloom and will continue on until they are removed around October 1 so we can begin to plant the Spring display.
Make sure you come to see this fantastic summer display. You will not only enjoy the beauty of the designs but you will also be able to pick out annuals that you would like to grow at home.