Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Ordway Garden To Be Featured in Skills Workshop and Garden Tour

Five Japanese gardens in the Minnesota area will take center stage as the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) goes to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” on August 7 to 8 for its first regional event of the year.

“It’s All in the Details” is a two-day skills development workshop and garden education tour featuring the following gardens: Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul MN; Jo-Ryo-En (Garden of Quiet Listening) at Carleton College, Northfield, MN; Normandale Japanese Garden at Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN; Seisui Tei (Garden of Pure Water) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN, and a private residential garden in St. Paul, MN attached to a Modernist house designed by American architect Ralph Rapson in the 1960s.

“Attention to detail is perhaps the most important thing in elevating gardens in America to the lofty level of those in Japan,” says NAJGA President Dr. Kendall Brown. “We are pleased to provide an experience that meaningfully connects Minnesota’s most compelling Japanese gardens to each other and to the large audience of Japanese garden lovers across North America.”

Skills Development Workshop
On August 7, the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden will host a workshop focused on teaching basic skills required of a Japanese gardener in constructing and maintaining a garden. It will also teach participants how to establish specific goals that enhance the presentation of a Japanese garden.

Sessions include shearing of karikomi (massed or wave planting), deciduous tree pruning, pine maintenance, layout and installation of tobi-ishi (stepping stones) and nobedan (stone paving), and working with bamboo to create the basic nanako fence that keeps guests on the path, and the yotsume gaki fence used in tea ceremony gardens.

Participants will also be introduced to design theory, construction and maintenance of the Japanese tea garden and teahouse. After the workshop, participants will also have a rare opportunity to visit the private garden attached to the Ralph Rapson-designed house in St. Paul, MN. The house and garden provide a good example of the sukiya living concept where Japanese garden principles are applied in a residential setting and rooms are integrated with the garden.

The workshop will be led by Japanese garden expert John Powell, the first Westerner selected to train with the garden staff of the prestigious Adachi Museum of Art, widely acknowledged as having one of the world’s best Japanese gardens. Other garden experts from the region and across North America will assist.

Garden Education Tour: Japanese Gardens in the North Star State

On August 8, a bus tour will visit the Jo-Ryo-en (Garden of Quiet Listening) at Carleton College, Normandale Japanese Garden, and the Seisui Tei (Garden of Pure Water) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Four distinct styles of Japanese gardens—hill and pond, dry landscape, stroll garden, and pleasure boating garden—will be examined in three Minnesota gardens adapted to the local climate through plant choice and design. Care of Japanese gardens will be covered. Guests will also be introduced to issues of garden care, and how gardens “care” for people when utilized for therapy and meditation.
This two-day event is also open to the general public.  For more details and to register, visit the event website HERE.  Or contact NAJGA at info@najga.org, tel: (503) 222 1194.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

After 3,500 Hours And 22 Years, Como Zoo Greeter Ready To Retire

Fox-9 stopped by Como yesterday to profile one of Como's most distinguished volunteers! Gretchen Estes has put in more than 3,500 hours over 22 years of volunteering at Como!

A big "Thank You" to Gretchen for her years of service!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Summer Flower Show!

The Summer Flower Show kicked off last weekend! Kare 11 took some time to explore all of the hard work that goes into making this show so special!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day

The Palm Dome was lit up blue on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day!

Pics below are from Scherer Photography

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pollinating Vanilla!

Over the past few weeks I have been hand pollinating Vanilla planifolia flowers in the North Garden. This is one of the vanilla orchids from which  vanilla pods are produced . There are over a 100 species of vanilla in this genus. Only a handful of the species are used for flavorings.

When a vanilla flower is pollinated, the seed pod that is produced is the vanilla “bean” that is used in the flavoring of food and as an addition to many other products. It is not a true “bean” (like a green bean) but actually an orchid seed pod. We have 3 different kinds of vanilla in the North Garden, all climbing on the wall between the North Garden and the Palm Dome. Two of the species of vanilla are blooming today. I have been hand pollinating this flush of flowers on the Vanilla planifolia since March 5th. Vanilla grows in many parts of the world, like Madagascar, where its pollinators do not live. The vanilla we have is native to parts of Mexico. So it needs to be hand pollinated to produce fruits.

Flowers grow in clusters and a few open each day over about a 6 week period. The flowers are receptive to being pollinated for only 4-6 hours, generally in the early morning. I have been pollinating the flowers about 10am any day that I can get the lift and have access to open flowers. I have attempted pollination of 45 flowers since March 5 and it looks like there are at least a dozen pods that have formed!!! Yay!! Not fantastic odds but my goal was to get one pod---so I am doing OK!! This is the first time that I have had success pollinating vanilla! 

Go vanilla!!

- Gardener Margaret

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The Conservatory has been around for 100 years! We know that everyone has a unique story and experience in this wonderful building, so now is your chance to share them! Use the hashtag #MMC100 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share your pics and experiences with us!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fox 9 Stops By To Visit Tropical Encounters!

Dale K and Fox 9 stopped by yesterday and learned about some of the amazing plants we have in Tropical Encounters!

Not only did he get a personal tour from Bryn, one of our Gardeners, but he also got a surprise visit from Zookeeper Bree and Chloe!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Como's Display at the Winter Carnival Orchid Show

Couldn't make it to the Winter Carnival Orchid Show this past weekend? Don't worry, here are some pictures from our amazing display! Thanks to our wonderful Gardeners for all of their hard work and Congratulations on all of your awards!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Voodoo Lily is Blooming! Yes, it kind of stinks!

When we came in to water the plants in this small greenhouse this morning, there was the familiar smell of dead mice lingering in the air! It is not that we have dead mice in the greenhouses --gross-but we do occasionally have a blooming Amorphophallus Konjac at this time of year and that is it's tell tale smell! This plant has a great inflorescence (a grouping of flowers) that smells stinky to us but possibly lovely to it's pollinators.

Some of you may remember another stinky plant that we had bloom here at the Conservatory in 2011? Yep! It was the Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum, the cousin of the Voodoo Lily.

Come and see this fun plant in the Conservatory's North Garden.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Orange Is The New Red in the Sunken Garden!

The Holiday Flower Show tradition began in 1925 and continues to be the most anticipated and visited flower attraction at the Conservatory today. It is a visual sensation to behold featuring hundreds of poinsettias. Orange is the new red in the 2014 Holiday Show and will feature a new Poinsettia called Autumn Leaves, a beautiful mix of yellow and pink bracts.  The show will be complimented with the following Poinsettia cultivars:  Orange Spice, Maren, Marco Polo, Premium Apricot, and Sparkling Punch  to give the show more orange, pinks, cinnamon and apricot colors. The two toned yellow Coleus Wild Lime will accent the poinsettias.