The other day after visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden (where I saw the orchid show, the rock garden, the Climatron, and the temperate house) I stopped at a nearby garden shop called The Bug Store. They sell garden ornaments and home furnishings only, so not the type of place I normally stop.

But I do like to check out the planters, benches and various garden sculptures they carry -- I sometimes get good ideas while browsing. This trip, I got something more.


Late winter blooms

I've had two unexpected blooming events in the last week or so, one indoors, and one outdoors. Well, pretty much outdoors.

This Petasites japonica has been living in a pot outdoors, but I did bring it into the garage during the coldest days this past winter -- so mainly outdoors. It's cold-hardy enough to survive our winters (especially this mild one) but I wasn't going to take any chances with it, and it was simple enough to slide into the garage when needed.



After leaving the Climatron on my most recent visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden, I walked through what I think is a little "museum" building (it was under renovation so I'm not sure what it's supposed to be) and entered the "temperate house".

I remember last visiting this over a decade ago -- or was it an entirely different building? This seems much larger than the one I recall... In any case, on that last visit I saw lots of cactus and other warm-weather plants, but mainly desert-growers. There are still a few of those here today, but the planting is much more diverse.


The Climatron

After leaving the cold rock garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden, I entered the tropical steaminess of the Climatron, a beautiful geodesic greenhouse, opened to the public in 1960. Upon reflection I should have gone into the temperate house first, to give me and my camera lenses time to warm up before entering the humid jungle of the dome.

So I had to wait for some time while my lenses defogged, but that just gave me more of a chance to enjoy the lushness surrounding me.


Spiny, prickly, cold-hardy -- these grow here!

After I left the Orchid Show the other day, I set out to what was my original destination at the Missouri Botanical Garden: The Climatron. As I got close to that geodesic structure I was reminded that I hadn't seen the gardens around it: the Temperate House and the rock garden.

Since I hit the rock garden first, that's what you'll see today. I didn't know what to expect here since I don't think I've ever seen it before -- you may remember that when I visited last autumn I intentionally avoided these areas, saving them for another visit. What I found here was... cactus!


St. Louis 2012 Orchid Show, part 2

Yesterday I posted the first set of photos I took at the 2012 Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Today I'll show you the rest of them.

Although I took a fair number of photos, there were literally hundreds more orchids that I did not photograph. If the room were less crowded I might have taken more, but it was difficult to move around without getting in the way of somebody else who was trying to take a photo.


Missouri Botanical Garden 2012 Orchid Show

Monday was a day off work for me (President's Day) so as I did on the last minor holiday from work, I chose to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. My plan was to hang out in the Climatron primarily, but I had forgotten that the Orchid Show was going on right now. So I headed into that room first, not knowing exactly what to expect.

You see, I don't grow orchids and never have. I don't know much about them either, although I've heard that many of them are delightfully fragrant with a single bloom filling a room with scent. I can confirm this now: the first thing I noticed when walking into the display room was the sweetness in the air -- 800 orchids will perfume even a large room!


Then this, beautiful, puzzling

I didn't intend to do three posts in a row about pots, but today I leave you with this:

I found this at a local Lowe's (where I got the bargain pots), and I spent several minutes looking it over in the cold and deserted garden department.


This pot, sadly gone

Oh, I feel so stupid today. Sad too. You probably know that I have many pots in my yard, made from many different materials: glazed ceramic, plastic, resin, and simple terra cotta (clay). I really like the look of clay pots but they are the most fragile, especially during the winter as many are only slightly freeze resistant.

Like this beauty. It was one of my favorite big pots, and now... well, at least I have photos.


Pots: bargain time!

Middle to late fall is usually the best time to pick up some bargain pots, as the nurseries and garden centers are clearing out much of their stock. Late winter is apparently a good time too, as some places are making room for the soon-to-be-arriving spring plants and other stock. I didn't realize this until yesterday morning when I went to pick up some bird seed at a local big-box store. I figured that since the garden center was just on the other side of the wall from the birdseed, I may as well take a look and see if there's anything interesting out there yet.

Besides seeing that they now carry black nursery pots (the ones I get for free from the recycling dumpster, from local nurseries, or from gardening friends), I also saw some clearance signs on some other pots, so took a look. I'm glad I did because although I didn't find anything that I really loved, I did find some great bargains -- and I can never have enough pots it seems.


Tiny cactus, again

Remember last winter, when to help fend off the I-can't-do-much-gardening doldrums I planted some cactus seed, and raised several tiny cactus? It certainly was fun and interesting, but as you may also remember I ended up giving those spiny seedlings away -- they were not cold-hardy varieties and I don't have room for overwintering more indoor plants. Especially the potentially painful ones.

What I didn't tell you is that last spring I ordered some cold-hardy cactus seeds, and a few months ago I sowed them. Here's an update on a project that you didn't even know was taking place.


Seeds of new plants

As evidenced by the pile of seed catalogs that I've collected over the past month or so, it's seed-buying time for us who live in colder climates (in the Northern Hemisphere). I get as excited about seeds as the next gardener, but I'm showing some restraint this year. I usually end up with lots of leftover seed, and after several years of doing this I have a couple of shoe boxes full of seed envelopes. So I'm not planning on buying a dozen or more seed packs this year -- but I'm not avoiding them altogether.

In fact I've already bought a few packets of various edible greens from local stores, and this week I did what makes seed-buying time so much fun for me: I ordered some seeds for plants that I've never grown before!


Thank you Netflix! Microcosmos

The other day I walked into the living room and saw some amazing close-up shots of insects on the television -- my wife was watching something pretty cool-looking. "What is this?" I excitedly asked.

Image from the film "Microcosmos"

"It's called 'Microcosmos' -- Netflix recommended it to us." Aside from the fact that we are still trying to figure out how this recommendation was made ("Oh, you recently watched Portlandia, The Tudors, and Star Trek -- you may like this Nature documentary about insects"), we're very glad that it was.

(All images in this post are from the movie, screengrabs taken from YouTube. They are not my images.)


At least they're not giraffes

Take a quick look at the following photo of my garden:

What do you see? Is it an evergreen vine of some sort, winding through some deciduous shrubs? Not exactly.


This is why

This is why I love growing bamboo -- or at least one of the many reasons...

In a climate that is typically deciduous, brown, and grey at this time of year, I've got plenty of green to enjoy.


The loneliest mulch pile

This weekend I drove past the community mulch pile on the way back from some home improvement shopping and I noticed a nice big pile of free mulch calling out to me. Yelling actually, shouting "I'm mulch, I'm lonely, and I'm free!"

A short while later I was back at the mulch pile, ready to shovel up some some no-cost organic materials.


Cold day reminds me

We experienced a cold snap this weekend to interrupt our mild winter, and although it was only here for two days it reminded me of something important.

This photo doesn't really have anything to do with what I'm about to say, but I thought it was an interesting sunrise. Actually, thinking about it more, a sunrise does have a lot to do with what I'm going to say...


So that's where I was keeping it!

The extra dirt I apparently like to carry around that is. I don't do it intentionally, but it happens. You see, these gloves are so comfy, flexible, and sturdy that I don't really notice when they start getting a bit... stiff.

They don't even look that bad right now -- not too dirty. They shouldn't be keeping the form of my hand though, which is a sign that I really need to wash them. It's been months since I have.


Garden map part 2

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I started working on the map of my yard? My intent was -- and still is -- to create a scale map of my entire property, labeling all of the plants, structures, etc.

I've done a little more work on the map since then, and run into some trouble. Want to take a look?


One year later: semps

Almost exactly a year ago I purchased and received several different sempervivum plants. I think there were 30 different types? This post talks about them at the time I got them, but I figured it was about time for an update.

I've learned a few things about these "hen and chicks", and some of that knowledge thwarted my original plans for these cool and multiplying succulents.


A little snow

The temperatures have dropped almost to normal for a few days at least, and a little drizzle turned into a little snow. The garden was white with the heavy, clinging stuff yesterday morning.

This gave me a chance to take some truly wintry photos -- rare this year for sure.



The other day when I was at the "strange" Home Depot (renting the concrete saw), I took some time to scope out their garden center. For the most part this was entirely depressing, as they didn't even have a dedicated room for the indoor plants like my local HD does -- they just had them off in one corner of the main store. The cactus and other succulents were pretty much growing in darkness. What a shame! 

I did find something interesting though: This succulent in a hanging basket.


Time to loosen the belt a notch

Not on me of course -- my pants are fitting fine thanks to all of this gardening -- on one of my bamboos. Well, I'm not really giving it more room. I'm actually just correcting a problem that I created myself.

The bamboo in question is this Phyllostachys bissetii that I planted next to the driveway a few years back. I've been pretty good with rhizome pruning the ends of the bed and the back (that faces the property line), but I know that rhizomes have been growing under the driveway, and I've been getting more and more nervous about them poking out the other side, or along the end of the drive (which is actually a bit closer). So I've been contemplating a bit of a drastic solution, which I implemented this weekend.


Hidden gemstones

Okay, so they're probably not gemstones, but I discovered some really beautiful rocks in my yard yesterday.

Quite a bit of effort was involved in finding these, but I'm glad I noticed -- it would have been easy to miss them.


Ghosts in the water

Earlier this week we had some warm, sunny days, and I couldn't help but notice the pond. Besides having a lot of the tree leaves floating on the water's surface now (they were on the bottom before), I noticed that the algae was creating some interesting patterns:

Ghosts! There are  ghosts in my pond!


You're grounded!

That's what I said to many of my bamboos this weekend, as I gave them their first fertilization of the year.

Why did I say this? (Why am I talking to the bamboos? They never listen!) Well, I used something new this year -- can you guess what it is?


mild morning skies

One thing I always look forward to during the coldest parts of the year are the sunrises. Winter sunrises are always so beautiful to me, when the cold sky is mostly clear except for a taste of clouds near the eastern horizon.

Those are always so wonderful to watch. Our mild winter has deprived me of these sunrises though.


Imagining these grown by me

This weekend when I cleaned up some veggie beds to plant some lettuce and other cold-tolerant greens I had to make a trip to a local garden center as I was all out of organic fertilizer. Although I walked in, grabbed my Garden-Tone and could have been out of there in about two minutes, I decided to look around the greenhouses. I knew they'd have mostly houseplants displayed, but plants are plants and it couldn't hurt to spend a few minutes looking, right?

What I saw was table after table of plants that lots of my garden blogging friends in warmer climates can easily grow outdoors, and I have to admit I can understand why. These plants look pretty nice when seen in photos of faraway gardens, but in person... wow.



Although there is plenty of green in my garden this winter -- mainly due to bamboo but also thanks to the mild weather -- I noticed the other day that there is another color that is quite prevalent as well.

No, it's not brown (although there is plenty of that around). It's gray, or silver!


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