Thursday, August 21, 2008

In time for the fair

The chrysanthemums in the greenhouses are growing well for the fall show. In the past week the mums have been on short days. This means that an automated black cloth in the greenhouse is pulled to give the mums no less than thirteen hours of darkness every night so they will bloom at the right time.

Preparation for the state fair orchid show has also begun this week. This is an annual ritual for the hort staff. Right now gardeners are selecting orchids for the display that will be in the horticulture building on Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th of August. Gardeners are planning the setup for the display which will be judged and compared with other entries during the short time they will be exhibited. Next week will be busy for these staff as they will be putting the structure together for the display, taking it down for transport and reassembling it again once they reach their destination at the fair. Let's hope for more ribbons!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Working with Education

Today the horticulture staff was able to work with an education camp called "Behind the Scenes." The 16, 6th through 8th grade students or campers have the opportunity to work with the horticulture staff on 4 different projects.

The first project was releasing beneficial insects in the Fern Room. In this case, they released lady bugs. The campers get a dixie cup full of ladybugs and are directed around the room and informed where they can release the ladybugs. We are pretty sure this is their favorite of the 4 projects.

The second project was potting up papaya, that were started from seed and also, potting up an experimental cordyline, which is considered a grass-like tropical, from the original six packs into 4 1/2" pots.

The third project is washing pots. This consists of a big tub of water and disinfectant soap. Since we recycle our bigger pots at Como we need to wash, dry and store them to be used again. The campers felt like they were washing dishes but since everyone was a little wet we think they had a good time playing in the water!

Last but not least, they got to come out on zoo grounds and help horticulture staff beautify a island of trees right across from the Gorilla Exhibit. This consisted of cutting back some daylilies, raking around them, picking up bigger sticks from the evergreens, and then mulching the bare areas. They realized that it was hard work but some thought they could go home and help their families in the garden now! We appreciate their hard work, although some tasks or projects are not that fun, we believe they still had a good experience when they were finished.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Exhibit work and Victoria news

This morning the two gardening staff members that work on the zoo grounds did their magic while performing a scheduled maintenance of the plants in the lion yard. Gardening staff on zoo grounds must communicate regularly with zookeepers in order to perform their regular duties and schedule exhibit work with zookeepers.

Today gardening staff could access the exhibit while the lions were off exhibit. Zoo gardeners have a lot of work to do before 10am so that visitors can enjoy the animals on exhibit. The specific task for today was requested by a zookeeper, that the gardening staff remove burdock plants since they produce seeds that stick to the manes of the lions. Gardening staff that work on zoo grounds have to be especially diligent to search for and remove any weeds that appear that may be potentially toxic to the animals. Other tasks performed in the lion yard were handpulling weeds, mowing, and deadheading flowers. The lions are now enjoying the hard work.

On the conservatory side, the Victoria waterplatters are now in bloom consistently each night. If you haven't seen them yet, come check them out!