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Spring begins tomorrow.  This is what greeted me when I awoke this morning:

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I cheered myself up by reviewing some photos from last summer.  In late July, we visited Pittsburgh, home of Phipps Conservatory.  My family voted down a visit to the conservatory in favor of the Carnegie Science Center and a morning of kayaking on the Allegheny River.

My son, testing his structure on an earthquake board.

My daughter and I in a kayak.

I did win a consolation prize, however!  On our return trip diagonally across the state, we stopped in State College, so I could see the H.O. Smith Botanic Garden at the Arboretum at Penn State.  By the time we arrived there, the sun was falling, but we had a nice hour to enjoy the flowers.

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Lantana “New Gold” paired well with Gomphrena “Las Vegas Purple” near the entrance. I’ve never considered lantana as a bedding plant, reserving it for containers on my porch, but this display hatched a plan in my head for this summer!

There was more gomphrena (globe amaranth) in the Demonstration Gardens.  I was quite taken with both “Strawberry Fields,” and “Las Vegas White.”  205

210A few years ago, I had some very good results with gomphrena in my own garden; it withstood heat and mild drought well, and the woodchucks weren’t interested in it.  I think I need to plant it again!

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One piece of literature I saw referred to the borders of the demonstration gardens as “The Best of the Test.”  It did not lie!

Here are Zinnia Elegans; “Queen Lime,” and “Magellan Orange:”208

At the far end of the demonstration gardens we found a lush archway, thick with gourds and morning glories, and an apple cordon:215218

220Eventually the archway will lead to more gardens.  The plans call for a “Home Landscape” section, as well as vegetable, flower, and turf plots.

Next, we moved to the Pollinators’ Garden.  The bees were abundant among the Joe Pye Weed, Monarda, Coneflowers, Verbena, and Blue Salvia. 243
224227Not just bees enjoyed these plants!236

Daylight was fading fast by the time we strolled along the bamboo allee and stopped by the lotus pond and conservatory terrace.252247245

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The terrace is fitted with a tent pad to host University events.  Up to 250 guests can enjoy the Chinese astilbe, Crocosmia “Lucifer,” and “Hello Yellow” blackberry lilies. 253255 The botanic gardens occupy about thirty-five acres of a 370 acre plot of land the University is restoring and developing into an arboretum.  They are quite young, with construction having begun in 2009.  Everything I have shown you here is part of Phase I, which is largely complete.  This spring, work is scheduled to begin on a children’s garden, which will highlight the plants, wildlife, and geography of central Pennsylvania. I am eager to return to spend more time there and see what’s new.  Right now, though, I plan to peruse the on-line catalogs and order some gomphrena seeds!206

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