Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Doreen: My father was a gardener in his spare time. Every spring he would have all of us kids go to the store with him to pick out seeds to plant. My favorite seeds were Celosia and Snapdragons. My father had a fabulous yard, which he built all of the gardens himself. He designed and built all of them by hand, hard work & sweat.
I got away from gardening for a few years and worked in various jobs, none of them in gardening. Always in the back of my mind, I wanted to get into the horticulture field, but did not pursue it, because of my needing the security in my current jobs. All of the houses I lived in, I had very nice gardens. My current home, we bought in 2001, and I designed most of the gardens around it. My best design was my boulder job, but I had hired a company to come in to build it. It was a traffic stopper! I had complete strangers coming by to talk to me about it, and “who designed it?" So, one day I decided I am going to go back to college to get my degree in the field.
Doreen: I decided that since it had been so long since I was in college, I would attend Century College in White Bear Lake. It would be a smaller setting, more adults and close to my house. Being as I was 48 years old, I decided I would go for my Associates Degree, which is a 2 year Full-time program. I was working part-time for a healthcare clinic, so it would be easier for me to do classes part-time. Also since I was not getting Financial Aid or student loans, it would be cheaper for me each semester. The program for the degree is 64 credits. Most of the classes except the generals would be in the greenhouses at the school. Century is a very “hands on college” and they have their own plant sale in the spring. All of the labor was done by the teachers and the students and the proceeds went directly back into the program along with a $1000.00 scholarship given out yearly.
How did you find out about us?
Doreen: I decided that I wanted to work eventually in a government position in horticulture because of the excellent benefits and stability. I looked online for City, County and State Jobs in horticulture. That is where I found the Intern Position that was available. I talked to my instructor at Century and was told I could use my Internship 1, 2 and 3 there. I got my paperwork together, updated my resume and got a couple of reference letters together, and sent them all in. I actually met one of the gardeners at an Orchid Society meeting, and I also knew a woman who volunteered at MMC also. So I interviewed and got the position. It started out as an unpaid position for approximately 90 hours. When the outside crew came back in the spring for the season, I was hired on as a paid intern and got an additional 180 hours towards my Internship 2 & 3. I stayed on as a paid intern almost until the end of the season; my last day was November 4th.
What was your favorite part at MMC?
Doreen: When I started, I was working on the inside with the gardeners in the Sunken Garden, the North Garden, the Fern Room, the Palm Dome and various other duties as assigned. I loved all of it. How wonderful to be “working” inside in the winter in a warm and sunny place with all of the wonderful plants and gardens. It was fabulous!
Then in late March, when the outside crew came back, I started working outside with them. I guess working outside was really my favorite part. It was always something different and new. I really loved the designing aspect of the projects, and my crew leader gave me plenty of opportunity to help plan. I also really enjoyed building the Butterfly Exhibit and planting the Gates Ajar.
Doreen: If you have an interest, go for it, right away. Check out the various schools and see which schools have the more hands on training (It’s easier to learn). If you are interested in Internships, check out websites online, check the Como Zoo website, check with your advisors at school and get involved. Some schools have Gardening clubs.
Doreen: I will miss the public walking by and thanking me for my work, complimenting me, or asking questions about my job. I will miss all of my co-workers thanking me for helping them. I will miss the meetings I was included in where I was part of the team and was asked for my ideas and suggestions. Most of all, I will miss the Gardens.
White Bear Lake, MN
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Before any digging could be done, it's very important to locate underground utilities. Call Gopher State One Call before doing this sort of project. Their services are free, and they can be reached at (651) 454-0002. Since our project was right by a building, we had a lot of underground utilities to worry about, but once we determined it was safe to dig, things went smoothly. The gentlemen at Shermik did a very nice and efficient job for us.
It's also important to know when is the best time to transplant the type of shrubs or trees you are dealing with. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to transplant before the buds break in the spring, or in the fall until the ground is frozen. Once the leaves start to change color, or even when the leaves drop is a good time in the fall. The timing worked out perfect for us. One thing that is a bit of a challenge this late in the season is getting water to these newly transplanted shrubs. Our seasonal water lines have been turned off for the season, so we have to bucket water out to them. It is important that shrubs aren't transplanted into dry soil in the fall. They need enough moisture for them to make it through the winter. Overall this was a very successful project, and we saved some plant material from more construction.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
We have reached a point where the heat and mist systems we rely on so heavily are in need of maintenance before the cold days of fall and winter. Between the 8th and 18th of September, we will be repairing our heat system and replacing mist nozzles to ensure peak performance for the upcoming winter. While this will temporarily impact access to the room for us and visitors, it will help us be sure we can maintain the best possible conditions for our beautiful collection. We are working daily to keep the plants out of harm's way as the scaffolds go in, allowing workers to complete the installation with minimal impact to the overall display.
The current Fern Room has been open since 2005, replacing a much smaller and less accessable space. Since the opening of this room, we have been able to expand our collection to include larger species, like the towering tree ferns, and some more unique plants, like the staghorn ferns growing up the rock wall.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory had a special booth at the fair this year. The theme this year for the exhibit was "Orchids on a Stick." Many brightly colored orchids were featured. There were over 350 plants to be judged overall contributed by variety of sources. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory won first place in the category of less then 30 plants and also the special prize of Best Exhibit overall. They also won another special ribbon for "Best Specimen" plant which was awarded to Coilostylis ciliaris . Overall Como Park Zoo and Conservatory won 13 First place, 7 second place and 5 third place ribbons as well as the two special ribbons.
Also during the week the lights will be left on in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Stop by during the evening to get some great pictures of the lighted dome.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
The horticulture department at Como go through lots of plastic pots, cell packs and trays. In the greenhouse behind the conservatory, horticulture staff grow plants for display in the conservatory, the zoo grounds, the carousel, como town, the butterfly garden, and even the water gardens in front of the visitor center. You may not know that we also grow annuals for other portions of the city of St. Paul including, but not limited to, Como golf course, Midway Stadium and downtown St. Paul. In the process of growing all these plants from seed, cuttings or plugs, the plants are often times transplanted from one pot to another, from a pot to a flower bed or moved from a pot to the compost.
Aren't you curious what we do with the pots when we are done with them? I'll tell you. The short answer is that they are reused but since the soil that remains in the pots potentially harbors pathogens and other pests that could damage future crops, our used pots are routinely washed and sterilized by volunteers before they are reused. Reusing pots reduces our costs and saves space in the landfills since plastic gardening pots cannot be recycled through the regular plastic recycling programs. All pots at the conservatory do not get washed however. After a while some pots and are inevitably broken and must be discarded. A year ago the conservatory was still throwing all the extra pots into the garbage. Como's green team was still looking at ways to reduce waste and one team member found that there was in fact a recycling program for plastic gardening pots through the Minnesota Nursery and Lanscape Association. The information for this program was posted on the MNLA website and in the Star Tribune in 2007. The recycling program continues this year and today gardening staff loaded up the van with plastic pots for the second trip this year to have our plastic pots recycled instead of putting them in the trash. Homeowners can do this too. A handfull of garden centers accept the pots so its best to find out before you go.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
And the Blooming Butterflies exhibit is open! The many butterflies can be seen resting on the tropical plants under the yellow, black and white building covering.
The Dakota Skipper Garden, located in the Bird Yard on the Zoo grounds, is 90 % planted. This means annual plants have been installed. Como Town annual bed plantings are completed. Look for these splashes of color as you walk around the Zoo grounds! Watch the hillside near the Blooming Butterflies as the staff install additional annuals.
Enjoy the beautiful weather!
Friday, June 6, 2008
Victoria waterlilies have been planted in the VC pools for the summer season. They looked so big and crowded in their 8’ diameter tanks in the greenhouse. Now that they are out in a several thousand gallon pool they look much more at home! Each plant only covers an area of about 5 square feet, by the end of July they should reach as much as 25 square feet! We are being challenged with our cool spring right now, as these giant waterlilies prefer water temperatures of 80F day and night. The heating system in our pools has been working overtime to accommodate them. Hope for some sunshine and warm weather, and then they’ll really grow!
Aquatic marginal plants have also been added to the VC pools! With the wonderful help of volunteers, we were able to plant the entire display in one morning! There will be additional plant material added to the containers as it becomes ready in the greenhouse. As these plants root into their new homes for the summer, watch them burst into bloom. Look for all colors of a sunset, from Reds and yellows to purples and soft pinks accented by tropical looking foliage.
The pool displays are not done yet... we will continue our plant palette by adding a wide variety of tropical and hardy waterlilies to both pools. The pools will feature both night and day blooming varieties.
The horticultural preparation for Como's Blooming Butterflies has been intense for the past three weeks. Working around the unusually cold weather while dodging the electrical, plumbing carpentry and masonry work, the tropical floral gardens were deftly installed by horticulture staff and interns. Just in time for the June 3rd preview of Como Friends and invited guests, all the landscape design elements of the 2,500 square foot space coalesced into an elegant butterfly friendly habitat. Plant species selected for their flowering nectar or roosting potential for the Lepidoptera were obtained through nursery sources from Florida and California as well as home grown in the MMC production greenhouses. A floral nectar tree is the centerpiece of the exhibit; a unique feature to butterfly exhibits which varies the display height of favored nectar plants thereby offering views at all eye-levels. Two fourteen foot Weeping Podocarpus, or African Fern Pines (Podocarpus gracilior) are striking trees. Upon closer inspection, roosting butterflies appear through the soft green vegetative canopy. The native and exotic butterflies released into the exhibit garden have been nourished and protected by this garden designed specially for all their needs save one - host plant species for breeding.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
There is still plenty of work to complete at the Gates before they are completed for this year. Take a few moments and wander over to the Como Lake area and admire this historical planting!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This winter, staff noticed a constantly wet area in one of the planting beds in the North Garden. It seems as if the large kapok tree that was previously growing poolside may have cracked the pool edging. This was confirmed as the water level in pool was lowered this week. Another large broken area next to the Travelers Tree was also discovered. Trades staff fixed both cracks today and we hope to fill the pool tomorrow! Someday, it is hoped that the entire pool could be painted black. Maybe next year!
The trades staff also took care of another historical problem today! For many years, as toys, glasses, cameras, cell phones, rings, earrings, car keys and every other item imaginable have fallen into the pool, it has been very difficult to retrieve these items at the time they were lost. There is a deep sump pit near the viewing area where all the treasures tended to congregate. No more! A wonderful stainless steel mesh cover was placed over the large pit today. So if your precious items fall in the pool, there is a better chance you might get them back before the May cleaning!
The pool surrounding the porch area of the Visitor Center is finally full and looking ready for the marginal plantings. Watch for these stunning plantings as the weather warms up! The pool in front of Tropical Encounters is being prepared for the Victoria Water Platters. Staff were busy today adding soil to pots buried in the rocks. Fertilizer was added directly to the soil as it was placed in the pots. This will save hours of staff time as additional fertilizer, which is normally added weekly in the form of plant tablets, will not have to be added for about two months. This pool is actually heated to give the Victorias the warm temperature that is needed for their growth.
Come visit! There is always something going on here!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
There are tubs of aquatic plants scattered throughout the growing areas, full of plants growing larger for the front pools. Some of the Victoria Water Platters are already measuring 6" across their pads! Remember, these were started from a seed the size of a pea in February this year. The Victorias have the potential to have pads up to 5 feet wide in our heated pool in front of Tropical Encounters by the end of the summer! Keep an eye on the front pools as the weather continues to get warmer. The pools were filled over the weekend to check for leaks. And of course, there were leaks spotted, so the water is being drained out and the mason has been called to repair them.......
The large decorative pots are being planted for the Zoo grounds this week. The pots are set out on our service road where they can be filled, planted, watered and then eventually placed around the Zoo grounds. There might even be some huge banana plants, started from seed about 18 months ago, filling a few of the largest pots! They are a wonderful chartreuse green!
The Japanese Garden looks very serene and very calming. The pools are filled and there are fern fiddleheads starting to emerge under some of the trees. Come and see this wonderful garden!
The Alternanthera cuttings have been taken for the Gates Ajar. The Gates, located by Como Lake and the Pavillion, have been planted for over 80 years in their present location. In past years, volunteers and staff have spent hours making the cuttings, sticking the cuttings in trays of soil and then placing the cuttings in the propagation house to root. This year, a wonderful group of about 20 volunteers took the 4000+ cuttings on Monday in record time!! What a deal! Prep work on the Gates could start as early as the end of next week.
The Butterfly Garden in front of the Conservatory has some lovely tulips in bloom as well as Scilla and the pots in front of the Conservatory and the Visitor Center are filled with an assortment of pansies. There is color inside and outside now!! Come visit!