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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

“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

Sage Advice

By MaryAnn Fink LIFE Exhibit/Curator Pollinator Junction Another featured plant collection in the annual areas at the National 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,

BEE HAPPY and Butterfly Kisses

By MaryAnn Fink / LIFE Exhibit Curator The mind's eye trickery I deal with is confusing to me even still in my silver years. What I see at the pollinary park at the National Museum of Transportation is so beyond this immature reality. I thought after talking to my friend April perhaps trying to share a peek into my vision might "bee" a way to share my view of the annuals. I hope to fill the pollinator pantry's gaps with nectar and pollen and even some butterfly baby food. This is what I see as  its possible future: "Bee"-cause the tall majestic Cannas offer a wind buffer and hummingbird nectar, I have congregated groupings of the new Tropicana Gold and the dark beauty, the original Tropicanna. Their beautifully striated leaves are not typically deer candy. They also have the slight potenial to return next year if its a mild enough winter ( so very cost effective potential) . Cannas can "bee"come a lovely and subtle color echo for the other neighboring annuals featured in