Elderberry (Sambucus nigra canadensis) By MaryAnn Fink LIFE Exhibit Curator Pollinator Junction Wild and wonderful, the Elderberry stands out in any setting. She is sometimes a roadside resident, occasionally at home on a hillside, and always lovely in landscaping. In selected situations, the Elderberry is a most striking addition as an unexpected anchor in a container situation! She can be a good size girl at a height of 8-10' or groomed into a more compact manageable size with a gentle hand. Either way her bundle of branches creates a living bouquet of flowers and berries. Her flowers are sweetly scented and tempting to touch. Be gentle as anything more than light brush with flower or foliage releases a distinct antiseptic scent that may be more appropriate in a medical clinic setting! She decorates herself with fragrant flowers for several weeks beginning in June in Missouri. An independent girl, she is able to produce some fruit on her own (i.e., self-fertile).
Coreopsis Cutting Edge Treatment
By MaryAnn Fink LIFE Exhibit Curator Pollinator Junction St. Louis summer has set into something of a routine at Pollinator Junction at the Museum of Transportation. The sweet yellow daisies of lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) have just begun to get tired. They are beginning to lean outward from the center of the plant's crown/base. Time for action! The first flowers have started to fade and a few seed heads are forming. This is the perfect time to apply the "cutting edge" treatment called "undercutting" or "stacking" foliage to get her back into shape! Even just the weight over time can cause leaning. When the "lean" begins and before heavy rains, it's time to take sharp scissors in hand and literally cut the edges away hence "cutting edge" treatment. To do this, I set the bottom blade of the scissors on the ground and let the top blade slide into the foliage without pressing down (or trying to catch every flower stem ). I begin cutting a circle about 4
Button Up-It’s Fun Outside!
By MaryAnn Fink, Life Exhibit curator of Pollinator Junction, pollinary park at the Museum of Transportation She's a beauty! Her full name is Cephalanthus occidentalis, and yes I know, it's a mouthful. My friend Joe just calls her "Button" when we see her in the woods along the creek. But, If that's too casual, you can call her Buttonbush (but write down her full two-word botanical name because someday, you might need it). She's a local gal, a true Missouri native through and through. She likes it hot or, cold and humid and every combination of them but she's not real fond of extended dry period. (It's hard on her appearance and its tough on her roots as well and believe me, we all need our roots.) If you let her show her pretty leggy bark you get more than year round interest from the people lookers, you may also get oversize creamy white flowers just in time for wedding pictures, graduation parties and all that is fun in June! Those sweet soft round globes are enjoyed
Cultivating – The Need to Breathe
By MaryAnn Fink LIFE Exhibit Curator Pollinator Junction As you visit the pollinary park at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri, you may notice one constant beyond flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. There is always the appearance of the newly disrupted soil. No it's not an army of moles or deer tromping through (though there is some of that for sure). We are "cultivating!" Cultivating is actually a combination of many things. Besides removing weeds from the garden, cultivating includes loosening the soil to improve the retention and penetration of air, water and nutrients. The primary reason to surface cultivate your garden's soil is to break up the soil macro particles into an assortment of sizes and loosen the soil. Loosening the soil slows down water runoff from rain and exposes more surfaces on the particles. Those particles have facets, sort of like a prism or diamond except these are a little like magnets and are micro homes for organisms that
“Bee”-ing: Functional Horticulture
by MaryAnn Fink Pollinator Junction LIFE Exhibit/Curator Nature is the best design collaborator! Unlike me, She is able to work tirelessly! According to a most inspiring and renown sustainable architect Sim Van der Ryn, "since the "Back to Nature" movement of the 60's there has been a challenge to design "smart" rather than accept the romantic notion of living off the land." I believe we have do both live smart and give back to the land so that we can support LIFE. Isn't that really romantic? What does that mean for "sustainable" landscape design when we are clearly entering into a crisis of supporting an ever expanding human population with a dwindling pollinator population? This push to help pollinators may "bee" the moment in history when sustainable gardening truly take off and mainstreamers begin to understand what we as environmental horticulturists embrace, the future is "functional horticulture"! I always want to be a promoter of an environment that