Friday, September 25, 2009


On September 23, 2009, we had our first succesful harvest of Victoria Cruziana seeds. Victoria Cruziana is one of the three Victoria Platter lilies that we grow or have grown for display in our visitor center pools.

Victoria Cruziana are native to the southern part of South America. It's leaf is lime green and has a 4 inch plus lip. The Victoria Amazonica leaf is reddish in color and has no lip. The Victoria Longwood hybrid is a cross between the Amazonica and the Curziana. It was developed by the world famous Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. It's leaf is red on the bottom and green on the top and it has a smaller lip than the V. Cruziana (about 2").

All three of the Victoria Water Platter Lilies are night bloomers. The first night they open the flower is white. On the second night, the flower turns pink. The flower has a very fragrant pineapple smell to it.
The importance of this harvest of seeds for the Horticulture staff is that producing our own seed is a good sustainable practice versus purchasing seed from outside sources.
Horticulture Staff

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The fragrance is intoxicating!

When you enter the Sunken Garden during the Summer Show, your nose is blasted with a very heavy, spicy scent eminating from the flowers. If you investigate further with your nose, you will eventually find the culprit; our Oriental and Oriental-Trumpet lilies. These wonderful flowers last about 2 weeks in the garden, and our horticulture staff produces 11 crops to cover the 5 month long show.

These tropical looking, and smelling, beauties are reliably hardy in our climate. This seems just too good to be true for our zone 4 gardening . If you visit our gift shop, look for the spent lilies for sale. It is a great time to plant these bulbs and you will be rewarded with flowers in July and August for years to come.

Horticulture staff

Friday, September 11, 2009

Production Greenhouse Glazing Replacement

There are various materials that are required to grow top quality plants like we produce here at the Conservatory. Using quality fertilizer,plants,plugs,seeds and soil(soilless mix) are important parts of the equation. Another important part of the equation is the glazing material covering the production greenhouses and the light transmission level it provides to the plants.

Replacing the yellowed glazing on our production greenhouses, which is happening now, is important during the low light levels of the winter months. During the summer months we use shade cloth to reduce the light transmission level.

The glazing was last replaced over twenty years ago, it had a estimated light transmission level of 50% and was quite yellow. The old glazing material was made of polycarbonate and had a light transmission rating of 81%.The new glazing material is made of impact modified acrylic with a light transmission rating of 86%.

This project only involved replacing the side panels of the production greenhouses. Seven years earlier the roof panels were replaced because of hail damage.

Horticulture Staff

Thursday, September 3, 2009

State Fair Orchid Show 2009

Every year the horticulture department participates with the Orchid Society of Minnesota in an orchid show at the State Fair. This year people can see some of our beautiful specimans on Friday and Saturday September 4th and 5th in the Horticulture building at the fair.

Each year the planning starts well in advance of the actual event. We start to pull together orchids that are beginning to bloom about two months ahead of the actual show. We move orchids to different parts of our greenhouses to either speed up or slow down the blooming.

Every year there is a theme to the show and this year it is "In Your Garden" It will be fun to see what the other exhibits come up with for this. We are planning to create a scene that is in our garden; the conservatory. With the help of our creative orchid team we think we have come up with a nice plan. You will need to visit us at the fair to see the actual final set up!

We need to track and list the plants we enter so that we can make labels and get all the results into our database afterwards. This is a ribbon show which means that our plants are judged against all the other plants entered in this event. This is a bit different than the orchid show that you would see during the Winter Carnival here at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in January. That is typically an American Orchid Society judged show that brings in trained AOS judges who evaluate our orchids in comparison to all previously judged plants of that type. An AOS award is very hard to come by.

We have about 50 orchids in the show this year. After we have all our props and plants loaded into our vehicles we drive everything over to the fair and typically start setting up at 10:00pm After this is completed the judging starts and ribbons are in place by around 2:00am. It is an exciting and fun evening for everyone!