This past weekend I journeyed out to Madison Wisconsin to attend the 2017 NARGS spring study weekend hosted by the Wisconsin - Illinois chapter of the North American Rock Gardening Society. A bitter sweet event as this was the last event I am attending as president of the parent organization of NARGS, but I will remain active in many ways, as both a board member and driving some special projects coming up and yet to be announced.
|NARGS members load up on rare and unusual plants at Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, just one of the nurseries we stopped at in the Madison, WI area.|
At this event, which marks the return of the popular 'Study Weekends' all credit goes to the amazing team at the Wisconsin-Illinois chapter. A flawless event, as these things which are often more about moving people and feeding them as much as they are about finding great gardens to tour and finding inspirational speakers, much can go wrong if every detail isn't tended to, but like a well-planned wedding, this event was a terrific experience for all who attended, and everyone knew that it was the weather, which could not be controlled. Rock gardeners are hearty folk, so all (but me) came well prepared with rain and snow gear, mud boots and a cheery disposition. I loved watching members take notes and snap photos in the pouring rain.
|As these signs at The Flower Factory indicate, NARGS is perhaps the geekiest of the plant societies, as it attracts some of the most accomplished gardeners - those into all sorts of plants - NEWS FLASH - NARGS, may attract rock gardeners, but the organization attracts those into all sorts of plants including woodland plants, ephemerals, bulbs, rare perennials, shrubs, trees, ferns, cacti and succulents and much more.|
If you live in the North East, you know well the unseasonably cold and wet weather we are getting, and in Madison, it was perhaps even colder and wetter - but the rain and chilly wind did nothing to dampen spirits with this most-spirited of groups. As events kicked-off on Friday night with a bus trip out the The Flower Factory - the mid-wests largest perennial nursery located near Madison, along with a fabulous pig roast they hosted in one of their barns, the weather was last on everyones mind.
|The Madison NARGS chapter surprised us all with a cake to celebrate Joseph's birthday, which was a day earlier. Now that I think about it, Joseph may be the organization's youngest editor.|
|The Flower Factory had some fun and clever pieces of art - these life-sized horses covered in succulents were very popular.|
|Mariel Tribby from the Gateway chapter of NARGS (St. Louis, MO) enjoys out first stop of the day at Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, (a long time favorite nursery of mine, as you may know.), so it was difficult for me not to buy any plants. I flew here to Madison and just didn't have room to sneak back a single plant. Really.|
|Although, if I was to sneak something back, it might be this Polygonatum 'Fireworks'|
|...or this for certain, Polygonatum 'Double Stuff'. I am ordering this right now, before you all do. It was so striking in real life.|
|Hosta are tempting me.....I think in photos they look ordinary, but believe me, in person, they make deciding on which one to take home very difficult.|
|Then of course, Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery is all about peonies - which after 4 generations of breeding them, they are one of the worlds premier sources. Just check out the foliage on these.|
|Most of the plants at Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery were kept in hoop houses, of which we were very thankful of - as it was raining - no, pouring, and very, very cold.|
|I enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes at Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, this machine mixes compost and potting soils to create their own blends.|
|These bulb crates were used for sorting our peony roots.|
|The peony greenhouses were popular with the groups visiting. I even bumped into a blog fanboy from Seattle!|
|It's probably a good thing that I don't live closer to Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery, but, they do have a great mail order site!|
|I didn't get the name of this tree peony, but I suppose that it really doesn't matter - who could say no to this?|
|NARGS members and a few other plant societies who were visiting on this 'open day', as Klehm's is not open to the public formed long, long lines at the check-out table. Even Roy Klehm himself helped check people out.|
|While waiting for members to check out their plants, I snooped around the offices. Look at what I found - a photo of the real Carol Mackie, founder of the famous Daphne 'Carol Mackie' which was growing as a sport in her garden.|
|Woodland plant combined with perennials and massive boulders all looked very natural, as if they had been growing there for eons, but the garden was only 3 years old.|
|Another private garden also featured no lawn, but every inch was planted with perennials and interesting woodland plants. This tree peony was a show stopper. and it grew right next to the driveway!|
|Our last stop was at the University of Wisconin-Madison Arboretum where I ran out of memory on my phone, but I was able to get one good shot of an azalea collection.|