Garden News and Notes: January 2020

Current Events

Tiki in the Tropics takes place in the Climatron on January 18. Photo by Cassidy Moody.

Just Announced: OrigamiintheGarden

Opening April 25, OrigamiintheGarden is a monumental outdoor exhibition that brings the elegance and playfulness of origami to life in stunning large-scale sculptures spread all across Garden grounds. Learn more about OrigamiintheGarden here.

The Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center

2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year at the Missouri Botanical Garden as we launch Phase 1 of the construction of the new visitor center. You can learn more about that project here.

The Garden in Madagascar

The Garden’s work in Madagascar was widely celebrated in media this month in a number of noteworthy publications. National Geographic published a piece about the work of Garden researcher Adam Smith. Smith studies the effect of climate change on plant biodiversity and recently published a study about how climate change and deforestation are changing the future of lemur habitats in Madagascar. You can read more about that study here.

At left, an Eulemur fulvus lemur that lives in the Ankafobe Forest; at right, a tree nursery just outside Ankafobe where seedlings are grown to restore burned or deforested areas. Photos by the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chris Birkenshaw.

The Madagascar project was also recognized in Mother Jones and Atlas Obscura in a feature story about Garden scientists working alongside citizens of Madagascar as they try to protect the last sohisika trees in the wild. When fire threatened to consume the protected Ankafobe Forest–and, along with the forest, the last of the sohisikas–the community came together and fought off the fire for days. Read more about the firefight here.

Grow Solar St. Louis Soars Past All Its Goals

In 2019, the EarthWays Center partnered with Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Washington University  to launch Grow Solar St. Louis , a program that aimed to increase the number of St. Louis homes powered by solar energy. Grow Solar St. Louis offered free solar education sessions and the opportunity to purchase through a group, significantly decreasing the cost of solar installations through volume purchasing. The organizing team estimated that somewhere between 150 and 250 kilowatts of solar would be contracted in this first year of the program. 

That early goal was nearly doubled–424 kilowatts of clean, renewable energy are now under contract for 71 homes in St. Louis City, University City, Richmond Heights, and Maplewood. The EarthWays center reports that these installations are calculated to reduce CO2 emissions by 821,810 pounds in their first year alone. 

Thanks to the program’s huge success and ongoing public interest, plans are now underway to run a second year of Grow Solar St. Louis this coming spring. Stay tuned for more information this April.

Winter Interests

Though the leaves have gone away, winter is a beautiful time to see plants in a different light. Browns, blues, and deep golds spread across the landscape. Evergreens, seedpods, and berries pop against the softer backdrop.

Viburnum Dilatatum in the Japanese Garden. Photo by Sundos Schneider.

With bark and branch patterns on prominent display, winter also a great season to take the time to practice your tree identification skills without relying on leaf characteristics to guide you. Check out our Tips and Tricks for Better Tree ID and take your new knowledge out for a winter walk!

The Climatron Turns 60

The Climatron turns 60 this year, and we’re using the occasion to share stories and other content featuring our iconic conservatory. Check out the new page on our blog, where you can see archival video, construction photos, and more.

The Climatron and Central Axis in summertime. Photo by Tom Incrocci.

This page will continue to grow throughout the year, and everyone is encouraged to participate in the effort. All you have to do is use #Climatron60 on social media when sharing photos of the Climatron.

The Climatron was the first greenhouse to utilize the geodesic dome design pioneered by American architect R. Buckminster Fuller. You can see archival footage of the Climatron here.

Construction of the Climatron in 1959. Photo via An Illustrated History of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Bat Guano climate study

Christy Edwards, a conservation geneticist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, is helping to lead a study of bat guano that will reveal more about how Missouri’s climate and environment has changed over the centuries. 

Guano accumulates at a very slow and steady rate, and it also contains the digested pieces of regional plants that would have been part of bats’ diets. This means that by taking samples of the guano, scientists are better able to discern what the landscape might have looked like long ago. You can learn more about Edwards’ work here.

Kristina DeYong––Digital Media Specialist

Feature photo by Kathy Melton.

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