A recent tweet to the IMA asked the following : @imamuseum are the flower gardens still alive?
Now my first reaction I admit was –Well, what the hell do you think? Was there a nuclear holocaust I missed? But then the reasonable part of my brain kicked in and I figured they were probably really wondering about the annuals and tropicals. Most of these are indeed gone, either damaged by last week’s frost or removed so winter materials could go in.
You will still find a few that were not badly damaged or we simply have not got round to. Don’t let a little frost stop you from coming out to see some “flower gardens”. Read the rest of this entry »
Though the weather has been scrumptious, it is the time of year for change in the garden. I don’t always like admitting it. I’m having to accept that my wonderful tropical season is nearly over.
That soon the land will be covered in a deathly blanket of brown and gray. All my intense oranges, bright pinks, and glowing chartreuses will be gone. GONE! Just like that.
And then, then I’m faced with life filled with neutrals. It’s almost too much to bear. Not that I don’t appreciate the change in the seasons, but come early February……. sheesh!
I usually wait until frost before removing annuals and tropicals, getting every last drop of summer beauty from the plants. Plus some of the plants I overwinter go dormant a bit better if they are hit by frost before digging – elephant ear (Colocasia, Alocasia), Canna, dahlia, and banana (Musa, Ensete) are good examples. All of these can spend the winter in a state of suspended animation in the basement. Tropicals that cannot tolerate cold and are kept growing over the winter do, of course, need to be dug before frost.
But if my tender plants are in a garden area that gets a winter treatment, well, you do what you must. Some years you cannot wait ’til frost and you have to respect the available time for doing the change-out. Thus was the case this week with Nonie’s Garden right in front of the main museum building entrance. Over a three day period, the garden went from summer glory to winter joy.
The garden had filled in rather nicely.
The salvias were in full bloom, the tall S. splendens “Van Houttei” and its dwarfer color echo, S. splendens “Vista Burgundy.”
The Justicia fulvicoma (Mexican plume) was at its peak.
Now, not everything was at its peak, I admit. The Leonotis leonurus (lion’s ear) was just beginning to show color. The Hedychium “Tara” (ginger) I planted to fill space (and hoped might bloom despite a late planting) did fill space. It was not that great a summer for growing, even the tropicals.
On the other hand, the Colocasia esculenta “Elena” was beautiful.
As a recent first-time home buyer, I’ve learned a lot of things that I did not know six months ago. From the actual home buying process to moving and settling in, it has been a crash course. Most recently, I covered a chapter in household plants.
My husband and I moved from a 750 sq. ft. apartment to a tri-level three bedroom house, so needless to say, we’ve started the search for furniture. Oddly enough however, the first items on our “to purchase” list were plants – who needs a couch, anyway? Now I must say, I have only owned one or two plants in my lifetime. I’ve always appreciated plants, especially the kind I can eat, but I’ve never really explored owning them until I purchased a home.
With the IMA’s Greenhouse Shop full of plants from which to choose, I knew where I wanted to shop, but had no idea what to buy. No idea. One of the great things about working at the IMA is that each department is a resource, full of knowledge across a wide-range of topics, especially when it comes to horticulture. Thankfully, my green-thumbed colleague Lynne Habig agreed to some hand holding and plant teaching. When she started talking about all of the different types of greenery, she said something that really sparked my interest: clean-air plants.
And with that, my plant lesson was quickly interrupted by an impromptu guest-lecture on household pollutants. Pardon my ignorance, but this was the first I had heard of sick building syndrome. As Lynne broke it down for me, our indoor environments are full of pollutants (trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, etc.) that are espoused from common household items like electronics, adhesives, paints, cleaning products, and fabrics (yikes!). These chemicals are linked to everything from eye irritation and dizziness to liver carcinogens and even throat cancer. Sick building syndrome occurs when small spaces are tightly concealed in an effort to save energy, but in turn creates a harmful space where these pollutants can gather.
So what does all of this have to do with plants? For many years, NASA conducted a study on ways to purify the air both on earth and in space habitats which are perhaps the most contained work environments. The study found that common household plants are actually the best crime fighters for such pollutants.
I was sold. I wanted to fill my house with plants, but now I needed to fill it with clean-air plants. According to the study, the top plants found most effective in decreasing the amount of air-pollutants include:
Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea Seifritzii
Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema Modestum
English Ivy- Hedera helix
Gerbera Daisy- Gerbera Jamesonii
Janet Craig – Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’
Marginata – Dracaena Marginata
Mass cane/Corn Plant - Dracaena Massangeana
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Sansevieria Laurentii
Pot Mum – Chrysantheium morifolium
Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum
With Lynne’s continued guidance, I picked out a selection from the Greenhouse Shop that fit the clean-air profile and my personal tastes: English Ivy, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Golden Pothos, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, and Dracaena, all pictured below.
And while they might not bestow “clean-air” – I couldn’t pass up a few other nice looking gems.
For those of you now wanting to purify your own air, don’t worry, it won’t break your bank. The plants purchased range from only $3.95 – $7.95. If you’re still not sold, check out the video below of our 2011 Indianapolis Island resident Katherine Ball talking about her use of clean-air plants.
Gardeners tend to be collectors with nurturing and thrifty natures. These temperaments usually lead to garages and sheds chock full of flower pots that are “too good to throw away.” The staff of the IMA Greenhouse and volunteers from the Horticultural Society would like to help you clear out the excess inventory with our annual pot recycling day. We are particularly seeking those types of pots and flats we use regularly, including clay pots in any size, 4.5” plastic pots and smaller nursery pots.
In recent years, these donated pots have saved the Greenhouse thousands of dollars in new container purchases, allowing us to put our limited funds to better use. As petrochemical costs continue to rise, plastic pot prices have skyrocketed. Add in the cost of freight and terra cotta pots have gone up considerably, as well. We are helping prevent limited resources and energy from going to the production of new pots. Reusing the containers also keeps pounds of plastic out of the waste stream. It is estimated that a 1 gallon plastic pot might take 200 years to breakdown.
We also get warm fuzzy feelings from sharing! There are times when more materials than we are able to use and store have been donated. After past recycling events, we have shared with other not-for- profit groups including the IUPUI Greenhouse, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Marion County Master Gardeners and Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society. Also many items have been returned to the growers to help them keep their costs down so we can provide better prices to our shoppers!
Carole up to her elbows in reclaimed pots.
On Saturday, October 1 from 10:00 – 1:00pm your pots can be dropped in the Greenhouse parking lot. You will be greeted by friendly volunteers from the IMA Horticultural Society. The volunteers will sort, stack and sanitize the incoming pots to ready for reuse. These folks literally get up to their elbows in this work. Stop by with your donations and visit awhile. The weather forecast is for a bright sunny day and I can guarantee that the volunteers will have a sunny disposition, too. For more information, please call 317-920-2652.
Right smack dab in the middle of town, I’ve found a Paradise…Up on the Roof!” – Signed, A. Bird (apologies to Carole King)
Want to create a paradise for your feathered friends? The IMA Greenhouse has an exciting new product for you…a Green Roof Birdhouse. You can actually plant a living garden in the rooftop tray of this cedar home for birds.
In order to create this home for your feathered friends, simply follow these step-by-step instructions:
First soak the wood with water, as well as the potting soil you’re going to use.
Add soil to the roof tray until it comes to within ½” of the top.
Take cuttings from a plant, hydrate the roots, and “stick” the cutting in the soil.
Add cuttings as desired.
Choose a contrasting plant, prepare a hole for the roots and plant. Continue adding plant material that pleases you. Remember to choose plants that have similar cultural requirements.
And know when to stop!
Spritz well with water to clean the soil from the leaves and water the plant roots thoroughly.
When your masterpiece is finished spritz well daily, or when the soil is dry to the touch, gently soak the plants. When planted, a Green Roof Birdhouse is so beautiful, you may want to display it indoors as a living object d’art! But if your birdhouse is really “for the birds,” it comes with two heavy-duty brass screws for fastening to a wall, fence or tree trunk. There is a side panel that swings open for easy cleaning.
When Rachel Carson wrote her iconic book Silent Spring (1962) some say she launched the entire American environmental movement. Others say it began with Henry David Thoreau’s Maine Woods published in the late 1800’s. But whenever the movement started, we can all agree…GREEN is here to stay!