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Witch hazel

Bee Witched by First Flowers of the Season

by MaryAnn Fink, Curator of Living Transport Exhibit Lead Horticulturist Pollinator Junction Bee happy-it's almost spring! What better way to celebrate the sporadic temperature shifts and "what's next weather" of St. Louis, than enjoying the tiny but lovely first flowers of the season at the National Museum of Transportation's Pollinator Junction. These beauties are on our Ozark Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). The petite strappy flower petals can be a range of colors from shades of yellow to dark purple-red. The coiled ribbons of color remain rolled tight on cold cloudy days and gently unfurl on sunny days as temperatures peak. Each extended petal "bee"comes a tiny royal carpet welcoming our earliest pollinators. There is some question as to who all that might be but it obvious that these flowers are naturally intended for some tiny hungry creature as they are sweetly fragrant! No doubt some warm sunny day flower flies are hungry-and maybe honey bees (Apis

photo for April STL City Nature Challenge

STL City Nature Challenge

STL City Nature Challenge The National Museum of Transportation is representing St. Louis County in the STL City Nature Challenge on Friday, April 27th, from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Saturday, April 28th, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. This global event organized by the citizen science team at iNaturalist is happening in more than 60 different metropolitan regions around the world to promote eco-literacy, collect biodiversity info and encourage connection with local nature in meaningful ways. Bring fully-charged Smartphone Dress for the weather Snap pictures for i-naturalists to see how many plants and critters and other signs of

Honeysuckle hack

Honeysuckle Hack Volunteering

Kick off spring by removing invasive honeysuckle from natural areas at The National Museum of Transportation with our volunteers along with native landscape enthusiasts from Wild Ones Thursday, March 15, and Saturday, March 17, 8 -11 a.m. both days. Look for our brightly colored vests at the end of parking lot 1 just down from the Orhwein Center. Need help finding the group? Call April at (847) 289-9760. Please dress for the weather, and bring work gloves and bow saws or loppers if you have them. No experience or tools are

Pink Knotweed

What (K)not to Love?

By MaryAnn Fink, Pollinator Junction/Life Exhibit Curator "Bee"ing a steward of the land is relationship based. Too often as I've meandered thru the inspired space at the pollinary park I am task oriented. I confess sometimes slide past the awesome multifunctional beauty of the flowers of relatively small contributors, dismissed as common, and often considered weedy,  Pinkweed. She is also called pink knotweed and pink smartweed. Botanically she's Polygonatum pennsylvanica, previously Persicaria pennsylvanica. There are estimates of over 200 species of these smartweeds and knotweeds worldwide and many are found in Missouri. These knotweeds, smartweeds, include familiar names like buckwheat, rhubarb, sorrel and heart's ease and are are all part of her large and diverse family. Whether a member is shrub, perennial,  herb, vegetable or annual, they all are tough, sometimes vigorous, and occasionally unwanted and challenging to eliminate. This "smart" Missouri native is

Leaves - fall folliage

To Leave or Not to Leave

"To Leave or Not to Leave" (the Fallen Leaves), That is the Question! By MaryAnn Fink Curator Pollinator Junction/ Life Exhibit 'Tis it nobler in the mind... to blow away the foliage debris in the fall or suffer the consequence of a messy appearance? This is the question that may haunt some homeowners who have a choice in the way they approach their landscape upkeep at the end of the season. Many end up straddling the "eco-friendly" fence by keeping the front more traditionally manicured and the back yard managed in a more relaxed manner by allowing leaves in the garden but off the lawn. Some landscape arrangements leave few other options. Landscape fabric and decorative rocks create an unforgiving barrier that disallows any organic matter to re-enter the soil. Landscape fabric and rock topdressing cause damage. Leaves  become homeless, huddled in crunchy and eventually mucky masses in random places in invisible wind traps in front of shrubs. The brown clumps