Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Water Garden Tear Down

As the seasons change here in Minnesota, there are many plants that need to come in from the harsh elements of winter to be stored for next spring. One main area where this happens is in the water gardens. The water gardens have been on display in the pools in front of the Visitor's Center since early June this year, but many of those plants are tropicals and need to be taken in for the winter. Throughout early September, there have been a couple of gardeners collecting many of the plants from the pools. Some of the plants have storage organs such as tubers or rhizomes that can be collected and stored in a cooler until planting next spring. Others need to be taken in and dried down to go though a dormant period. Some we keep wet and green all winter long, and are almost treated as house plants. Some plants we will just grow or buy next spring. There are many different requirements for the vast variety of plants grown.

To help with this process, on September 19th we had a great group of students as well as their supervisor come from AFSA High School to help us tear out the plants and soil from the water gardens. We focused only on the Marginal Side, or unheated pool, which had about ten 60 gallon horse troughs as planting containers. The first step was to chop down any remaining foliage that was not going to be saved. Then we composted the top layer of soil that had all of the roots in it. Last, we had to empty all of the soil from all of the tubs so we could remove them for the season. This was a long day of some pretty physical labor, but with all of the help we were able to get it done.

The Victoria side of the pools is still filled with plants, because the water in that side is heated to 85 degrees, allowing the plants to withstand a little bit more cold. However, if you haven't seen these beautiful plants yet, come and see them soon because depending on the weather, they will be coming out within the next week or so.