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
By MaryAnn Fink LIFE Exhibit/Curator Pollinator Junction Another featured plant collection in the annual areas at the Museum of Transportation's Pollinator Junction, is Salvia. Annual salvias are some of the showiest, most deer resistant plants and are most importantly strongly favored by pollinators including hummingbirds, some butterflies and several busy bees! Salvias have many Missouri native representatives. These other family members are featured in other parts of the park but for the ever-blooming deer resistant annuals, I have choosen Blue Anise Sage, Salvia gauranitica Black and Blue, Mealycup Savia 'Victoria' which is a selection of our American native, Salvia farenacea and Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea. These sages are so beautiful that if I had to choose only two plant families to "bee" the foundation for the Pollinator Junction LIFE Exhibit's inventory-I think I would of course choose milkweed family (Asclepia) and salvia's family, Lamiaceae!
By MaryAnn Fink, Pollinator Junction, LIFE Exhibit Curator Virginia Bluebells ( Mertensis virginica) This spring woodland flower's crystal blue flowers are easy on the eyes! This "Lady of the bells" chooses to live in a woodland setting where she rises up with a big yawn, a cluster of perfect apple green leaves at her feet and arms loaded with pink and blue blossoms. It does take a few chilling Spring rains tapping her on her sleepy underground head before she's fully awake and flower-filled but when she is, she's AMAZING! Her leafy fists are filled with down turned clusters of petite nectar goblets. She's like a fairy's maid who's cleaning up fancy party glasses after an all night fairy festival! In reality, this beauty's sweetness is a delight most enjoyed from sunrise to sunset by many daytime pollinators. The early and lonely queen bumble bees seeks Virginia's cups of nectar as if her very survival depends on it-and it does! The delightful nectar moths