Monday, March 28, 2011

Mushrooms: More than just delicous to eat!!

Last February, Forestry worked at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory removing and pruning trees in the North Garden, Palm Dome and Tropical Encounters. The Horticulture department also recently hired a new Horticulture employee that has an interest in growing mushrooms! Our new mushroom expert suggested that we try growing mushrooms on the stump that was leftover from Forestry cutting down a large Mackaw Palm in Tropical Encounters. We decided to give it a try. Traditional methods of stump removal could not be implemented because of the birds in the exhibit. The picture to the left shows Forestry removing the Mackaw Palm.

The first step was to get the mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus - the Oyster mushroom) growing on grain. The grain was colonized and transfered onto sawdust. Once the sawdust had been colonized it was used to cover the stump and shoved into cuts that had been previously made. The sawdust and stump were covered with a plastic pot and landscape fabric for a week to allow the mycelium to jump from the sawdust into the stump. After one week the cover was removed, the material was well watered, and then covered with soil. We hope that the soil will hold in the moisture needed for the mycelium to grow, rot the stump away, and hopefully produce mushrooms in the process. The picture to the left is the covered inoculated sawdust and the picture below is the uncovered sawdust with white mycelium growing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Preparing for Spring

The Horticulture staff is busy installing the Spring flower show in the Sunken Garden. On Monday March 21st staff and volunteers removed the Winter show to prepare the room for Spring planting. Some of the plants from the Winter show are reused from year to year. Azaleas, Amaryllis, and Velthemia are moved to the production greenhouses, cleaned, pruned, and repotted as necessary and grown for next year. Plants with spent flowers like cyclamen, cineraria and pansies are removed from the show and the tops composted. The soil balls are ground up and pasteurized for reuse. The new Spring show will feature Tulips, Hyacinth, Snapdragons, Hydrangea and other spring bulbs and flowers. Planting continues thru March 25th. The show opens Saturday March 26th.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Forestry pruning in the Japanese Garden

Every February & March St. Paul's Forestry Department prunes in the Japanese Garden. They prune the Austrian pines on a rotating basis (ex. one year they will prune half of the pines and the next year they will prune the other half). The purpose of prunning these pines is partially done for aesthetic reasons, but also for the health of the pine. The lower branches can be shaded out by the branches above and can die as a result. Prunning the upper branches lets more light into the lower branches preventing this from happening. Aesthetically, the pines are pruned according to Japanese Gardening standards. Any new growth is thinned by removing growth upward or downward of the branch. In general the branches fork into two branches and then continue to fork by twos, any growth extra of this is removed. You can see a good picture above of a tree that has been pruned and one that hasn't. The tree to the left of the Forestry employee has been prunned, the tree that the Forestry employee is in has not.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FOX-9 Visits The Winter Flower Show

Thanks FOX-9 & Dale K. for stopping out! The Winter Flower Show is on now through March 20th. The Sunken Garden will be closed March 21 - March 25 to prepare for the Spring Flower Show

Marjorie McNeely Conservatory Tour: