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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

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