Leaves Linger

As the calendar year comes to an end, winter has been quite mild so far here in St. Louis, with the notable exception in November of the few days of arctic air. That blast did something that's been causing some extra work: it froze leaves to some trees.

Instead of turning colors and falling as usual, some of them got "freeze dried", and therefore clung to the branches longer than they should have. The result is that leaf cleanup has been a more lengthy process than normal.


MBG World Exploration Open House Part 4

My final post on last weekend's research department open house at Missouri Botanical Garden takes us to the fourth floor and the library.

There's a bit more going on up here than "just books", if you're not into books -- although I don't think I know a gardener that doesn't love books filled with plant information and descriptions.


MBG World Exploration Open House Part 3

My day at the Monsanto Center at Missouri Botanical Garden continues with the rest of what I saw on the second floor. Yesterday I talked about the mounted herbarium specimens, and today I start with the answer to my question: what about the big stuff? Coconuts, banana leaves, and anything else that isn't going to cooperate by being pressed flat or put into a paper envelope.

Like this large seed capsule in the Brazil nut family (maybe Lecythis zabucajo or Lecythis pisonis) that's about the size of a huskless coconut.


MBG World Exploration Open House Part 2

Continuing with what I started yesterday (recapping the few hours I spent at the Missouri Botanical Garden Research Center open house) we now move to the second floor and the herbarium.

It may be self-evident but a herbarium is a collection of preserved plant samples that are usually dried and pressed, but may also be stored "pickled" in jars. (Not to be confused with a "herpetarium". If you find yourself in front of a historic-looking building at the St. Louis Zoo and aren't reading carefully when you walk in to see the preserved plants, you'll be in for a surprise!)


MBG World Exploration Open House Part 1

Yesterday I gave you a start-to-finish preview of Saturday's open house at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Monsanto Research Center. Today I start diving in and share details of what you would have seen had you been one of the hundreds of St. Louisans who attended.

I was informed upon entering that tour stops were available on three floors, so I think that's how I'll break up my posts -- but let's start with the building itself.


World Exploration: Preview

On Saturday I spent a few hours at one of the usually-closed buildings at the Missouri Botanical Garden, at an event they called World Exploration: Behind the Science with Garden Botanists. This post is just a preview of what I saw and learned, as I'll be going into more detail throughout the week.

I learned of the event a week or so ago through Twitter, and it promised I would be able to "learn more about the Garden's botanists and tour the Monsanto Research Center, including the library and herbarium." ("Monsanto" is a dirty word with many gardeners, but the huge amount of money that they've contributed to MBG over the years can't be disputed, and is A Good Thing.)



Goldfinches that is. I haven't seen them around for a while, but yesterday they showed up to entertain me in the front garden.

I'm not sure how many of them there were because they are active little birds and couldn't keep still, but around a dozen I'd say.


Plant trade: the long type

If you've been reading for a while, you know that I love trading plants with people through the mail. Sometimes the trade is for specific plants, but often times "surprise" plants are included.  Earlier this year I traded Amorphophalus "babes" with another bamboo grower and plant lover (Steve). I sent him Amorphophallus konjac, and he sent me an Amorphophallus titanum seedling among other things. A. konjac is dead simple to grow, and I actually had it showing up unexpectedly in other pots this year, but A. titanum is apparently more fussy.

They're especially fussy when they get ripped out of the pot by a squirrel or raccoon -- my seedling was probably 8" tall and doing quite well until it was unintentionally harvested. But the other day Steve surprised me by sending me an unexpected package.


Keeping them out

I've mentioned how my summer's crop of edibles was ruined by the deer finally deciding that my garden fence was worth jumping over. Too busy of a summer meant that I didn't have a good defence planned (I used the Canadian spelling because it's so appropriate), so I abandoned my crop.

With almost no gardening chores left, I now had the ability to think it through and react. There's still time to ensure that next year's food is eaten by humans and not ungulates.


Look closely, surprises reward

I'm not quite at the point in the winter where I scrutinize every plant that's under the lights, eager for any sort of botanical excitement. That time comes after the holidays usually, although it varies from year to year. Close examination is highly recommended though, even now, as there could be something fun going on.

Take for instance my sago palm (Cycas revoluta), which is spending the winter in the warm basement. It's getting quite large but its pointy foliage is mostly out of the way here, so nobody is going to get poked in the legs this year. It's such a carefree plant that I haven't looked at it too closely after bringing it inside a month ago.


Not looking good, or is it?

Not too long ago I transplanted some bamboo into the bed next to the driveway in my front garden. This Pleioblastus viridistriatus will look fantastic in the spring, its fresh foliage bright and vibrant.

Right now though, it's not a pretty plant. A low temperature of 13ºF (-10ºC) a few weeks ago fried the unprotected foliage. Ugly, right?


The Future Foretold

Roughly 15-20 years ago, before I had a real garden and my yard was mostly turf grass and locust trees, I was given a sign. A portent, omen. A glimpse of the future. Or perhaps it was meant to be an inspiration.

What it was exactly was a table knife (or "dinner knife") with a bamboo-themed design.
It was found buried in my yard!


Winter Pretty

There's no denying it now: winter is here. That doesn't mean that the garden doesn't hide some beauty though. You don't need blooms to make a garden sing to you during the cold months.

You don't need pristine blankets of snow to make it all wonderful either. You just need to look a little bit harder for the pretty.


Four Birds

There are only four (or five) types of birds that visit my feeders after I switched to safflower seeds. Fortunately they're some of my favorites, so I don't mind the lack of variety.

Today I'll take a quick look at all of them, starting with the Black-capped Chickadees.


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