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Pull out the stepladder, line up the clips and unroll the coils of light—it is time to put that annual magic into the night air! A yearly ritual for many families, hanging the holiday lights marks a seasonal celebration of exuberance.
Our gardening romance with the most exotic and tropical-looking South African plants has very deep roots. Some 250 years ago, Scottish botanist Francis Masson was the first of the global plant explorers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to study these plants. Masson brought to horticulture more than 400 species of South African plants such as the king protea, geranium, cineraria, calla lily, bird of paradise, red-hot-poker, Agapanthus and Amaryllis belladonna. He deserves many thanks for his contributions to our garden world!
The blushing rose king protea (P. cynaroides) often serves as a contemporary centerpiece in tropical floral arrangements. It is the national flower of South Africa. Photo by Pat Raven.
Longtime restaurateur Kim Tucci, founder of The Pasta House Co., is among those being honored by Paraquad at its upcoming AccessibleSTL Shine the Light Awards for his work to promote a fully accessible community for people with disabilities.
A year to recover
Japanese cherry tree
St. Louis was almost all prairie at the time of French settlement. Ladue, for example, had mixed vegetation, with open grasslands and patches of woods. Start this fall to prepare your grounds for easy spring pocket prairie planting.
Lurking on the undersides of leaves, a shade gardener’s nightmare slyly spreads. Your impatiens have been attacked by Plasmopara obducens—the impatiens downy mildew—and they will die.
As a lifelong garden-lover and fan of imaginative landscape design, I have a particular fondness of water gardens. I’ve been studying the roots of regional garden design concepts, and I’ve been fortunate to have seen many of the world’s finest examples, including the gardens of Ryoan-ji, the serene dry sea of neatly raked gravel in Japan; the damp Zen moss gardens in Kyoto; the formal and ornate fountains of the French gardens of the Palais du Versailles; the relaxed lakeside English landscapes designed by Capability Brown; Villa d’Este, the fabulous fountain garden near Rome; and Generalife in Granada, Spain. My professional interest in the ancient four-part garden style has only increased after seeing the beautifully restored courtyard gardens in Granada last spring. You will find pictures of these famous and elegant gardens, with their linear canals and flowing fountains, in every book on the history of landscape design.
A reverence and respect for water is a universal theme, found in cultures from ancient Greece to the remote Pacific Island of Vanuatu. The ritual significance of water spans across the globe to include the Native American rain dance, Christian baptismal font, the gleeful splashing of the Songkran water festival of the Dai New Year and the solemn funeral pyre on the Ganges. Learning to manage water, whether it is a lot or a little, is an important part of our shared community. Well-handled water can be cleansing, refreshing, energizing. Out-of-control water has the power to drown and destroy, to wash away with time even the greatest of mountains.
Weather conditions and human activities affect the population of monarchs. And according to Dr. Chip Taylor, a continued decline could mean the migration of these butterflies could be lost.
New Planting Opportunities
When people talk about voyaging to the ends of the earth, Madagascar is one of those mythical, exotic, far-flung places that qualifies as an ‘end.’ It almost seems to fall off the globe, hanging as it does near the edge of southeastern Africa.
So, I don’t know if you heard, but the Super Bowl was last weekend. The score is final at the end of the game, but that may very well be the only topic that is not open to debate. Check any social media outlet or coffee shop or bar, and people are arguing about anything and everything football. Did the refs screw up? Was the power outage a conspiracy to shift momentum? Well, I only heard one guy claiming that, but he also was licking parking meters.
Tiffany Zemann, Donna Frazier, Angela Raven, Pam Guth, Gail Zavadil, Rachel Little, Ginny Moseley
In the world of professional gardening, winter brings on different tasks. Hopefully, most of these jobs will be indoors when the weather is at its worst, as snow-shoveling and ice-chipping rank near the very bottom of our favorite jobs list. About the only things lower on that list are cleaning up the bird messes under the seed feeders, mucking out the pond on a cold spring day or spreading ripe manure in the heat of the summer. Gardeners usually use the winter season to plan future plantings, research new materials, order specialty items and peruse plant catalogs.
We love giving gifts of plant products to friends near and far. One of my favorite treasures to send is maple syrup from our relative’s farm in New Hampshire. It takes 100 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, but don’t look for the romantic image of draft horses hauling a sleigh of sap. Today, sap is extracted from trees with a web of plastic tubing and a giant vacuum cleaner. You can find the result in gift-sized cans or bottles at many local retailers.
One of the greatest joys of having a garden, indoors or out, is to prepare your own delights from the good earth’s bounty. Whether you grow it yourself or get the freshest produce at the local market, nothing makes the holiday season more special than ‘homemade.’
This summer’s brutal heat and drought have been hard on the landscape, with dead trees and damaged lawns everywhere. We returned from traveling in late June to find our garden slowly turning to toast. The hostas were brown, crispy potato chips, and the swamp-loving box elder was the first tree to die. Japanese maples and yew hedges became blondes under the searing summer sun. Some trees would look fine on Monday and be completely brown before the weekend. In most cases, the oak, pine, maple and ash trees already had some hidden damage that weakened them and reduced their resilience. Dogwoods, red buds and sassafras all started dropping their leaves. One day in July, the thick carpet of fallen leaves under my sycamore made me think it was October.
Walter Knoll Florist’s Chuck Knoll and Press Club board members gathered to create centerpieces for the Press Club’s Media Person of the Year gala? The Oct. 4 event, to be held at the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark, will honor KSDK-TV’s Leisa Zigman. It also will recognize photojournalists Jim Forbes and Robert Cohen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for extraordinary coverage of the 2011 Joplin tornado. St. Louis’ own Fleishman-Hillard will receive an award for its worldwide contributions to journalistic excellence. Proceeds benefit journalism/communications scholarships, as well as enterprise investigative journalism fellowships, and the St. Louis Library Media Archives. Pictured: Chuck Knoll with Press Club board members Alice Handelman and Ellen Soule.
Every estate garden has a need for great space fillers—lawns, big beds of ground covers, masses of shrubs—but every garden needs little gems, too. Fall is the best time to slip in some of those magical little plants that add dimension to even the smallest of garden spaces. The seasonal catalogs are out now and it is time to sharpen your pencil, oops…keyboard, for the autumn plant order.
The Tibetans celebrate the elements of the earth in colors: white for clouds, blue for sky or space, yellow for soil, red for fire, and green for water. Balancing these elements leads to harmony both in the external environment and the internal sense of well-being. I was puzzled by the choice of green for water before I visited Tibet. In our Western thinking, we use green for plants and blue for water. It wasn’t until I saw the glacial melt streams flowing briskly into rapid rivers in the high elevations of the Himalayas that it became clear. Glacial milk and rock flour are two names for the finely powdered stone churned out by a moving glacier. It gives the melt water a unique opacity and lovely celadon green hue.
In China, the peach is a special symbol for longevity. Native to China, peaches have been in cultivation there for thousands of years. Records indicate orcharding practices from 1600 B.C. and ornamental garden usage since about 500 A.D. Easy to grow from seed, they traveled the Silk Road to Persia and on into Europe by about 300 A.D. The peach tree was first introduced by settlers in Florida or on the Gulf Coast in the middle of the 16th century. They were so fast-growing and popular with Native Americans that they were spread throughout the South and naturalized to the point that early botanists thought they were native to America.