Sowing the Seeds
Today I was out scouting the Fairgrounds for pinecones to use for a holiday event the Foundation is hosting. As I was searching out evergreens, I ran across Bob and Cindy who are the Fair's full-time groundskeepers. They were out in an area between Pioneer Hall and Grandfather's Barn clearing out a patch of dogwood brush, mullberries and other assorted volunteer plants. They each had a pickup loaded with branches and it wasn't the first load or two from the area. While the weather is nice, Bob and Cindy are working hard to get the grounds put to bed for the winter - trimming trees, planting bulbs, thinning out grasses and transplanting plants. There are over 400 acres of beds, bushes and trees to keep up with. During the summer months they do have several additional workers to help with planting, watering and weeding and an entirely different crew mows, but during the rest of the year it's just the two of them.
As the Fair's official gardener, Bob is the person we consult for our Trees for the Fair programs and the man responsible for figuring out how all the annual beds will be planted each year. If you look closely, you'll notice that he tries to coordinate many of the beds with the colors that are featured in the Fair's logo. In 2011 he had the butter cow done in marigolds and this year there was an ice cream cone of vinca featured in the bed at Little Hands on the Farm. Wonder what he might come up with for the 2013 "Happiness Is...." theme? I know the challenges I face in keeping my gardens at home in shape and remembering what I planted where so I can't imagine keeping track of the entire Fairgrounds. And I don't have to contend with a million people coming in and walking all over it during the month of August. My hat goes off to them for keeping our big park in such great shape!