Thursday, June 26, 2008

Recycle at the Zoo

On Wednesday, June 25, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory hosted a press conference announcing the new recycling program. Eureka created new blue recycling bins where plastic, glass, aluminum cans, milk cartons and juice boxes can be recycled. The events of the day consisted of a student message board explaining why it is important to recycle at Como Zoo and the press conference included a short show from Sparky showing how to recycle. Eureka will be visiting Como Park Zoo and Conservatory once a week to take inventory on how well the program is running.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunset Affair

This year, Travelers Sunset Affair presented by McGough, will be held Thursday, July 24, 2008 at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The theme is Summer Matsuri. Celebrate the evening with Taiko drumming, colorful kites and many other activities in honor of the Japanese culture. For more information please visit

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunken Garden flowering plant care

Every morning before the conservatory opens, the gardening staff are hard at work making sure the plants on display in the public areas are sufficiently watered, fertilized or otherwise cared for. Staff work independently or with other horticultural staff in our various display gardens. Today, some of the oriental lilies in the Sunken Garden were replaced with more oriental lilies because the flowers on the older plants had faded. Horticulture staff are often accompanied by volunteers that help keep the gardens looking good by dead-heading spent flowers. In horticulture, faded flowers are called spent flowers and the removal of spent flowers is called dead-heading.

In order to care for the flowering plants in the sunken garden, old and faded flowers are removed along with broken plants that are damaged by daily traffic from visitors or events such as weddings. Old flowers are removed not only in order to maintain an aesthetically pleasing garden but also to promote the production of additional flowers on a plant. Plants put a lot of energy into producing flowers and seed. When old flower structures remain on a plant, they may develop seeds and as a result may stop producing many new flower buds. Try this on geraniums and petunias.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer is here!!

Finally! Even with the cool weather, it seems like we can finally say that summer is here! The spring projects are finished and the weather is really starting to warm up. The Gates Ajar, located near Como Lake, is finished. Staff are watering the plant material on the Gates twice a day. This will slow down to once a day once the material roots into the soil base.

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.