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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



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 lanceleaf

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 National 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


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

Loosing soil

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