Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017 – Rain, Transplant Delphinium, Shade Net, Prairie grass fire

The rain finally stopped last night. We received 1.75 inches over the last 36 hours. The flowerbeds all over Old Nauvoo really needed the rain. The flower beds at our home needed the rain too but not so much. Our poor tulips and Hyacinths were under 2 inches of standing water at the height of the rain. Fortunately, the soil of central Illinois drains very well so all of the flowers are fine. 
Today Scott Higley and his crew put shade netting over the outside of greenhouse #4 (the Hoop House) in preparation for the sunnier, warmer days of spring and summer. They also put up the shade cloth over the outdoor benches. Richard stores a lot of plants on the outdoor benches under the shade cloth because there isn’t enough room in the greenhouses.  However we can’t put anything out on the benches for another month when there is no danger of frost.
The other three greenhouses don’t get shade netting on the outside. Their shade netting stays inside year round. When the sun and the heat are too much for the plants, Richard and his crew (Sis. Johnson & I) will simply pull it into place like a gigantic curtain.

In the heart of historic Old Nauvoo there is a full city block used as a demonstration site of Prairie Grass. In the 1840’s on the American Great Plains, including Central Illinois, prairie grass blanketed the countryside. It is said that the prairie grass sometimes got so tall that a man sitting on his horse could easily become lost and disoriented because he couldn’t see over it to get his bearings.  
The Nauvoo demonstration plot of prairie grass was tall last summer but today it has been beaten down by time, wind, hail and snow. To rejuvenate the grass and prepare it for a new growing season it must be burned down every year before the new shoots start to push through the old dead grass.

The “Burning of the Prairie Grass” is a much anticipated annual event in Nauvoo. Picnic tables are set up, FM gets out the portable double BBQ grill and the whole community comes out to eat hot dogs and watch the grass burn. The Nauvoo volunteer fire department brings both of their pumper trucks to make sure the fire stays under control. What a great community tradition.
The burning of the prairie grass was originally scheduled for last Monday. Unfortunately, last week we had a lot of rain and no one thought the grass would burn. So, the burning of the prairie grass was postponed until today to let the grass dry out.  Who knew that we would have almost 2” more inches of rain in the last 36 hours so the grass won’t burn today just like it wouldn’t burn last Monday. However, Richard pointed out that it must be burned today before the new tender shoots start to emerge. He doesn’t want next year’s demonstration plot weakened or damaged by burning off the old grass too late in the spring.
So, the “Burning of the Prairie Grass” went on today as scheduled. Before the Fire Marshall gave the signal to start the fire I asked him if it would really burn? He said that last year the grass was very dry and the whole city block only took five minutes to be completely burned off. Today, he said, it should take twenty minutes. I noted the time on my watch and he was exactly right. Start to finish the fire was done in 20 minutes. So much for the prediction that the grass would be too wet to burn. It takes more than of a couple of inches of rain to dampen a good prairie wild fire.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017 – Sis. Johnson is sick, Rick, Transplant Celosia, John Freeman, Easter Mail
Sis. Johnson has been on the mend since Monday but today she isn’t doing as well. She’s lost her voice again, has a sore throat, cough, headache and feels very bad. She was hoping to be well enough by Saturday to perform as “Agatha” in our Rendezvous show. If she has a good Friday and Saturday she’ll still be about to perform on Saturday night. We’re hoping and praying.

This morning at our FM’s prayer meeting Rick McGregor gave our spiritual message. Bro. McGregor is the grounds keeper for the “Community of Christ” historic sites here in Nauvoo.   He’s been attending our prayer meeting each morning for the past couple of weeks. FM’s Director, Jordan Bodily, asked him if he would like to be added to our rotation of spiritual message assignments. He was delighted to accept so this morning was his turn. 
Ricks spiritual message was very good. He thanked our leaders and staff for all of the help we’ve given the Community of Christ on their grounds. He is the only grounds keeper and our assistance is very appreciated. He complemented all of us for our attitude of cooperation and help to make Old Nauvoo beautiful. He pointed out that both of our churches have a common beginning and early history and we both seek to establish Zion.  He thanked us for the spiritual messages he hears each morning as they help prepare him his day of work. 
This afternoon I got a surprise phone call from John Freeman. He’s the father-in-law Ann Tweddle Freeman, an employee of mine I hired two decades ago to work in our flower shop. John Freeman and his wife Terry are in Nauvoo visiting the sites with Ann’s daughter, Isabelle. I had a very nice visit with the Freeman’s. They will be heading home in Colorado Springs on Saturday. Sis. Johnson and I love Ann Tweddle Freeman and are so glad to have met her in-laws and daughter. 
On my way home from work I stopped at the mail room and discovered a package from Jim & Betty Burk, Sis. Johnson’s parents. It was an Easter Basket (less the basket) complete with candy eggs, chocolates and a greeting card. We love being surprised by receiving mail and packages from home. Thanks Mom & Dad for the package.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Zone Meeting, “Flat Stanley’s” Raincoat, Plant Caladiums

This morning we had our bi-monthly Zone meeting. Our Zone leaders are Elder & Sis. Hopkin and they go home the middle of May. They‘ve done a great job for the past year and we will miss them. Since there are a lot of new missionaries who have just arrived, the purpose/subject of today’s training was on the Mission organization and what the duties of the Zone leaders are. And, since the new Zone leaders will probably come from the pool of newly arrived missionaries, Elder & Sis. Hopkin where training their replacements, whoever that might be. 
While we were in our Zone meeting we had a nice storm roll into Nauvoo. It lasted until mid-afternoon and we got about a half inch of rain out of it. Our flower beds at home as well as the flowerbeds all around Old Nauvoo will really like the soaking they received.
At work we set about the task of planting all of the Caladium bulbs that Richard received yesterday. Caladiums are a very pretty plant with colorful foliage. We’ve been waiting for the shipment to arrive for a month but the supplier in Florida wouldn’t ship the bulbs unless there was no chance for frost along the route. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Deer Scram, Visitor’s Center, President’s Home, Transplanting, Caladium Shipment

Our first job this morning was to spread “Deer Scram” over all of the tulip beds at the visitor’s center and on all of the other tulip beds in Old Nauvoo. We’ve been very lucky so far and there has been very little damage to the tulip beds by the deer. We want to keep it that way by continuing to spread the deer repellant named, “Deer Scram.” 
While Sis. Johnson and I were sprinkling “Deer Scram”; Richard came right behind us and used his back-pack sprayer to put a second deer repellent on the tulip beds for good measure.
The most tulip beds are at the Visitor’s Center but there are also tulips at the Mission President’s home, The home of the FM director, The Browning Home & Gun Shop and at the entrance to the FM compound. They all got the double protection of two deer repellents.
The balance of the day we spent working in the greenhouses and the propagation room. We transplanted seedlings of Eucalyptus, Egg Plant, Millet and Pennisetum Alopecuroides (an ornamental grass). We also continued yesterday’s project of giving the Coleus plants a haircut. It was a full day and we got a lot done.
Every day we go to work Richard has new and important projects for us to do. All winter there hasn’t been any down time. It seems that we are always behind the eight ball; however, that is not the case. Richard keeps reassures us that we are actually ahead of schedule in preparation for the flowerbed plantings in May.
Today Richard was clearing bench space and throwing away several trays of seedlings he no longer wanted. He gave them all to me to put in our home garden. The back of my car was full of trays. I spent the afternoon after work transplanting several more trays of seedlings. I don’t know where I will put them because we are out of space but I like each new variety Richard gives us. I can’t wait to get them all into our home garden.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017 – Cleaning up Limbs & Sticks, Liriope, Tree Frog

It rained very lightly on us all morning as we patrolled the grounds picking up downed limbs and sticks. We ended up with a whole trailer load. 
While picking up branches at the Visitor’s Center we saw Jack Hallman, one of the new FM seasonal employees, mowing the Liriope muscari, (also called Lilygrass & Lilyturf). The Liriope beds surround the base of all of the trees on the grounds of the visitor’s center.  All summer and fall the border of Lilygrass add a classy flare to the base of the trees. They stay green all year but by the end of winter the wear and tear starts to show so now is the time to mow them all down.  Shortly they will all come up fresh and beautiful for the new season.  
Back in the propagation room and greenhouses we finished our day of work transplanting and giving the Coleus plants another haircut. This will be their last time to be cut back before we plant them into the gardens in May.
While we were in the greenhouse Richard discovered a tree frog out on one of the benches. They’ve woken up and come out of hibernation. Last week I heard one croaking in the greenhouse for the first time but he was too well hidden in the potted plants to find. The one Richard spotted today was right out in the open.