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.