Latest on Rain Gardens

From Scott Woodbury

Photo from

MSD is encouraging the use of rain gardens. Still no utility break for them, but there is a break for permeable paving. Unfortunately permeable paving is expensive. MSD seems to be on the fence about using drainage pipes (called underdrains). One camp believes that water can not stand for more than a few hours max (underdrains facilitate this but add a fair bit of expense) and the other camp believes that capturing as much water as possible, no mater how long it stands, is the best way to go because the goal is to get water into the ground not into the storm sewer.

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Winter Chores – part 2

By Larry Hummel

Build brush piles.  Before we had this property I had no idea how many critters used brush piles.  Birds use them for cover and food and reptiles have the same uses for them. Turkeys nest in them and mammals use them for a variety of purposes.  Branches and limbs are always piled up in groups with the larger limbs at the bottom to form cavities for the critters.

Spread Mulch.  We obtain forest fines and natural mulch from St. Louis Composting.  This mulch is used in areas where we are growing plants and we want to retain moisture and retard the growth of weeds.  The native Hosta garden, the mail box areas and the tree nursery use a fair amount of mulch.  We also used it to protect the deer browse plants we have put in over the last few years.  We have it delivered by 18-yard truckloads and have been able to get a commercial rate for it.

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For the Birds

By Susan Orr

Male northern cardinal eating serviceberries

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Until 8 years ago I had never gardened.  Today we have over 100 species of native plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard.  It has been an exciting adventure and begun for two reasons: first, to attract a greater variety of birds to our yard, second, to get rid of the forest of mature bush honeysuckle in our backyard.

To remove the bush honeysuckle, I initially cut, shredded, and spread it on pathways.  More recently I’ve just created tall brush piles.  Continue reading

Woodland Wildflowers

From Wildflowers in the Home Landscape, University of Missouri Extension Sheet g6660

Flowers of Missouri primrose

The Missouri primrose is a native wildflower well adapted to home landscapes. Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Extension.

Woodland wildflowers have these basic needs: light shade, adequate moisture,  soil high in organic matter, well-drained soil, and a leaf mulch or other organic mulch that persists throughout the year.

Shade – Most woodland wildflowers do not grow in dense shade. They are at their most attractive in light shade, which in nature tends to be near the edge of the forest or under tall trees with high branching. The more limited the moisture supply, the more important is the shade during the heat of the day for good growth and survival. Some woodland wildflowers that flower in early spring become dormant by midsummer and will not be seen again until next season. These often grow before a dense canopy of leaves develops and can be used in more heavily shaded locations.

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