Friday, September 6, 2013

A Breadfruit Tree for the North Garden

We have a new little breadfruit tree growing in one of the behind the scenes greenhouses. But it is not just any breadfruit tree—it has a great story!

In December 2012, a Collections Gardener read an article from the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii. The article, titled “Samoa benefits from Hawaii Garden”, explained that the Samoan government received a check for $5,203 from the first year of breadfruit tree sales. But we need to back up a bit to see where our little breadfruit tree fits in to this story.

In the 1980’s, Dr. Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, spent several years collecting breadfruit varieties in the Pacific’s tropical areas. A collection of breadfruit trees was established in Maui forming the Breadfruit Institute. Dr. Susan Murch, from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, used tissue cultures to micro propagate several of the breadfruit varieties. Currently two varieties originating in Samoa are being mass produced for the commercial market.

The National Tropical Botanic Garden has an understanding with the Samoan government that allows half of the fee collected when the trees are sold to be returned to the Samoan government, hence the check that was presented at the end of 2012.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory currently has a rather large breadfruit tree in the North Garden (our economic plant room). This tree was planted in the room almost 20 years ago and is getting to be too tall for the 29’ room. The Collection Gardeners wanted to display breadfruit since it has an important role in the global food security story, so the hunt to find a smaller variety that could be used as a replacement for the large tree began.

That gardener found one of the micro propagated Samoan varieties and had it shipped to the Conservatory. A volunteer gardener aide who assists in the North Garden found out about the plant search and volunteered to purchase the new, smaller breadfruit for the Conservatory (Thanks Bob!).

Our new tree arrived a few days ago. It is a variety called Ma’afala and is about three feet tall. It was shipped from a nursery in Miami and will spend some time in the greenhouse before eventually making its way out to the North Garden.

We are thrilled to be a part of this wonderful story of conservation of the breadfruit tree!

Monday, August 19, 2013

John Powell Visits the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

Last week marked another visit from our Japanese Garden consultant, John Powell. John hails from Weatherford, TX where he runs a successful Japanese Gardening business. While he has many local clients, he also frequently travels the country to tend to other gardens, including the one here at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and the garden at Carleton College. The focus of this visit was the continued work on the renovations that began in early 2012. The larger projects in the main garden have been completed, and John was pleased with the progress on the finer details. Together with several of the Horticulture staff John carefully walked through the garden, outlining exactly what looked good and what needed to be pruned, removed or transplanted. One focus is on texture. Certain plant material exudes a coarse texture where a finer texture is preferred. This is especially important near the entrance to the garden as your eyes transition from the “western” landscape design of the Pine Grove Walk into the flowing natural landscape of the Japanese Garden.
John’s vision, and his initial recommendations for the garden renovations, very closely mirror that of the original designer, Masami Matsuda. With John’s experience in the garden at the Adachi Museum of Art in Japan he has the classical, expert training to interpret Mr. Matsuda’s long term vision for the garden. The garden is closer to the original design now than it has been since the renovations under Mr. Matsuda’s supervision in 1991. As the day progressed, John consulted on a variety of areas of the garden, including the Tea House and the Tea Garden. The next phase of renovations will be in these areas and work will focus on updating, improving and fixing certain things that have aged over the years. That afternoon John agreed to fill our Gardener Talk slot with a little more information about what he has done here at Como and where he sees things going. Staff, volunteers and visitors alike were treated to a rare talk from the perspective of the brain behind the changes in the garden.
That same afternoon we were lucky enough to give a few more distinguished guests a tour of the garden. Both guests have played instrumental roles in the success of the Carleton College Garden – currently ranked eighth in North America. Dr. David Slawson is the author of several Japanese Gardening books and a DVD, as well as designer of the garden. Bardwell Smith is the John W. Nason Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Emeritus at Carleton College and former Dean at the time of their garden installation. These two gentlemen are deeply involved in the Japanese Gardening world and had very positive things to say about the progress and current state of our garden. To have such well respected figures praise our garden is truly a wonderful thing, and a testament to all of our hard work.
From left: Reva Kos, Bardwell Smith, John Powell, David Slawson, Adam Strehlow, and Charlotte Smith 

By: Adam Strehlow Horticulturalist, Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

KARE-11's Grow With KARE Spotlights The Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yearning for spring? It's always summer at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory - A MPR Audio Story

Minnesota Sounds and Voices
Yearning for spring? It's always summer at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
by Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
March 20, 2013

Minnesota Sounds and Voices
This ongoing series produced by MPR News' Dan Olson serves to capture memorable sounds, voices and images that reflect the culture of Minnesota.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Como Hosts Winter Carnival Show

Como Hosts Winter Carnival Orchid Show

The Winter Carnival Orchid Show was held January 26 & 27, and Como’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory had another award winning display!

Of the 96 orchids exhibited, 56 were judged and 28 were awarded ribbons: 11 first place, 11 second place, and 6 third place. The conservatory also received 3 best of class awards, one of which was for the Orchid Exhibit.
Thanks to everyone who participated and attended the show this year!