Friday, October 28, 2011

What Is It?

This is a photo taken of the underside of a Victoria Water Lily crown. All of the Victoria Water Lilies have been removed from the pools at the Visitor Center Entrance. The center of the picture shows the hard, fleshy main stem of the plant. Secondary to that, is the white roots that supported the lily in the pot. The thick crowns were cut out while the water was still in the pools. We used a very sharp, high-tech pruning shears from the Japanese Garden. Several cuts were made to get through the heavy stem.

The top view of the cut crown shows 2 flower buds along with 2 folded, emerging pads. All of the bigger lily pads were cut off before the crowns were sliced off. Note all of the thorns. The stems, undersides of the pads, and the flower parts all have these spiny thorns. These lilies have great plant defense in the wild.

This last photo is a side view showing all of the old stems from the pads that were cut off. The most pads we had on one lily at a time this year was 15. Wind gusts of 10-15 mph can overturn the pads very easily, and this accounts for the majority of our damage.

You can look for the return of the Victoria Water Lilies to the Visitor Center pools, sometime in early June of 2012.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvesting in the Edible Garden

The Edible Garden has been closed to the public since Labor Day weekend, but the staff here at Como have been maintaining the remaining plants throughout the fall season. This is because all of the produce grown in the exhibit goes to the zookeepers here at Como, and is given as treats and enrichment to many of the animals here at the zoo. We have been harvesting plenty of tasty produce throughout the season. Some of the things we are still harvesting in the garden this time of year include: tomatoes, peppers, beans, kale, swiss chard, eggplant, squash, beets, parsnips, pumpkins, watermelon, and a variety of herbs. Here are some pictures of a few of our animals enjoying some of the harvest.

This is Nils, a De Brazza's Monkey enjoying some onions.

This is Markisa, one of our Orangutans eating an eggplant.

Here are some photos of the garden last week

Considering we've only had one or two light frosts in the Twin Cities, the garden is still looking great for this time of year! There are certain vegetables that can tolerate cooler temperatures than others. Broccoli, kale, mustard, onions, parsley, peas, and radishes which are all found in the garden, can withstand a pretty hard frost. Other more tender plants such as swiss chard, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and squash can be damaged by a lighter frost. Inevitably our cold weather will be the demise of most of the plants in your vegetable garden but hopefully you (or the animals) have had a chance to enjoy the harvests while you can!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Possible seeds?? Big tuber!!

We discovered these seed looking structures this week on our corpse flower, BOB,too. After the initial excitement, it was determined that these were not viable seed and the reddish orange fruits were empty....

This is the large empty looking pot in the support greenhouse that holds the tuber for BOB,too. The structure sticking out in the middle is actually the base of the inflorescence. The strange looking material on the left is the dried up inflorescence.

It was thought that we might have some seeds that had developed!!

After opening all the red berry looking structures, it was found that they were all empty. So sad......

But there is a bright side to this story! Here is our Corpse Flower grower with the tuber of BOB,too!! It looks healthy and has only a few spots of rot that were treated. The tuber weighs 43lbs and 3/4 ounces! That is a change from the pre-flowering weight of the tuber. In December 2010 the tuber weighed 55 lbs 1 ounce. Now we need to get this tuber back in the pot and allow it to develop the big leaf that will channel more nutrients back into the ever growing tuber!

43 lbs and 3/4 ounce!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blooming Corpse Flower Follow up!

As we were looking over the Gardener Blog from the great blooming Corpse Flower event in June 2011, we happened to notice that there were not any photos of the fully opened inflorescence (flower). So, to finish that chapter in the story of this great plant, here are a few photos of BOB,too the day after it started to open! This plant finally reached a height of 6'3"!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Edible Garden Featured on FOX-9

You'll find it at the Como Park Zoo And Conservatory in Saint Paul. It's an 8,000 square foot garden that looks more like the produce section of the grocery store than a garden. Garden Guy Dale K. stopped by for a bite.

Edible Garden at Como Zoo:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Corpse Flower has been moved off display

This morning, after a great 2 weeks out in our Parlor here at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, BOB,too the Corpse Flower was moved back to the support greenhouse. The inflorescence is still partially upright but is expected to eventually collapse completely. The underground tuber will recharge a bit then we expect to see a new bud emerging from the soil in the next month or so. The hope is that we will get another huge leaf growing for the next few years. Then, who knows what could potentially happen! Maybe we will get another flower bud on this plant in 3-4 years! Time will tell!

Roots, Shoots & Fruits Featured on KSTP-TV!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

While we wait....

OK. This is the time that many horticulturists anticipate when growing the Corpse Flower .......there is little visible change and the bud is looking so ready to open at anytime. The only question that is asked now is "When will it bloom???" Well, we do not have a good answer for that inquiry at this moment!! Our guess is that it will bloom this week and possibly earlier than later in the week. It has reached the 6'1" height mark and 2 of the 3 leaf looking structures at the base have dried up and fallen down. So we know we are progressing, but at slower rate than many of us can easily handle!!! We are all waiting as anxiously as everyone else to see what this plant will look like when the bud opens. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It is a cool and cloudy Saturday

Yesterday's warmer and brighter weather made a difference in the growth curve for this plant!! There was an idea that maybe, just maybe, the upward growth had slowed down and we were going to see the outward growth pick up. Well, this mornings height measurement was 68"! That is 4 inches more than yesterday!

For those of you that have not had the chance to stop in at the Conservatory yet, here is a comparison of the grower of this plant at 5'8" with the actual size of the inflorescence and pot! Kinda cool!

More red coloring than yesterday!

BOB,too in the Parlor at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory this morning!

If we had to guess on a bloom date..........maybe????? Monday? Tuesday? Watch that webcam!

Friday, June 24, 2011

There is a change coming...

64" tall today and 36 3/4" around the widest part of the bud! The upward growth is now slowing and the girth measurements are starting to increase. We are still on track for a bloom soon! How soon is still the question!

There is more red/maroon coloring starting to show in the spathe.

And the first fly to find it's way to the Parlor has been noticed!! It is always amazing how the flies can find this plant! Do you think that this little guy knows something we don't??

Still hoping to see a bloom some time early next week....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Corpse Flower - June 22 update

The Corpse Flower is in the Parlor and it continues to grow well! Three inches of height and 2" of girth were added in the last 24 hours! There is also a hint of maroon at the very tip of the spathe (the skirt) that indicates that the blooming process is still moving forward. There was concern that a move of the plant at this point might cause some problems. Time will tell for sure but at this time, there are signs that we made the move from the growing greenhouse to the display area without too much trouble! We are now waiting for the leaf looking structures at the base of the bud to peal back---then the hope is that we will be about +/_ 5 days away from an opening.

Watch that webcam and plan your visit!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Corpse Flower is in the Parlor!

We moved our Corpse Flower from our behind the scenes growing house to the Parlor in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory today!! It is not blooming yet and we do not have an exact date for the big stinky event. But we hope that each days growth will help us determine a date soon! We wrapped the bud in a fiber wrap so that it would be as stable as possible during the move. One of the Horticulture staff actually stood on the pallet as it was being moved to also help stabilize the bud! Thanks to a former intern for documenting the process so thoroughly!

This is the second bloom for the MMC---BOB, our original plant, bloomed April 9, 2008. This plant, BOB,too, is actually our second plant and is 18 years old. This plant has never bloomed and we are looking forward to seeing what this inflorescence looks like in the next days! Today, the bud was 56" tall and had a measurement at it's widest point of 31"! There will be a live webcam on this plant starting today. Check the website for the Como Zoo and Conservatory and see what all the excitment is about!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hold your noses, the Corpse Flower is about to BLOOM!

It has been three years since this blog was started. And the event that was used to launch the blog was the blooming of a Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum, that we called BOB. Well, guess what???? WE HAVE ANOTHER BLOOM TO ANNOUNCE!!!!! YAY!!!


Here is a poster representing the life cycle of the Corpse Flower from our good friends at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We are just at the stage where we can see the spadix starting to show at the tip of the bud.

Measurements have been taken daily since about May 11 when the bud started to peak out of the soil.

And here is BOB,too! You can just see the spadix starting to show!

We do not have an exact bloom date at this moment but hope it might occur sometime between June 27th and July 4th. Time will tell!!!

HERE IS A LIVE LOOK - Come on in and check it out for yourself!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Roots, Shoots & Fruits - The Incredible Edible Garden Opens June 17!

Coming this summer is a new exhibit, the Incedible Edible Garden! The structure that used to house the butterflies last summer will now be filled with edible fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. There will be educational gardener talks everyday at 1:00 about the edible garden. The Edible Garden will also be staffed garden enthusiasts. There will be a wide variety of edible goodies; pumpkins, beans, watermelons, eggplants, corn, tomatoes, peppers, apple trees, lemons, blueberries, kumquats, pomegranates and the list goes on! There will be salsa hanging baskets that will have peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and chives and strawberry salad hanging baskets with strawberries, nasturtium and lettuce. On zoo grounds there will be large pots with edibles as well as the a planting in the wall of the birdyard. The Edible Garden will run from June 17th thru Labor Day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Annual MN Bonsai show and Sunken Garden Summer show

The annual MN Bonsai Society show was Mothers' Day weekend. Members brought in their trees for the two day display. The Bonsai Gallery is now open for the Ssummer with some of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory collection on display.

The Summer Flower Show was installed in the Sunken Garden during the week of May 2nd- 6th.This show features Geraniums, Roses, Petunias, Gerbera Daisies, Alternanthera, Hydrangea and Hybrid Lilies.Every week we do some changes to the display as plants finish blooming or an area needs rejuvenating. The show runs from May 7th to October 2nd.