October 2010

President's Message

Welcome to U City in Bloom's second E-Newsletter.  We hope you are enjoying this and picking up some great gardening ideas that are useful for you.
As we are working our way through the 25th anniversary year of UCB, we are so grateful to you, our donors, for the great support we continue to have.  2009 was the worst fund raising year experienced by all not-for-profit organizations since 2002, when the Association of Fund Raising Professionals began to track this data. But not for UCB; we saw a slight increase in contributions. Thank you for your help. In future newsletters we will begin our Donor Recognition Program to highlight the wonderful support U City in Bloom receives.

                                         The UCB Garden Tour committee is excited to announce our 2nd
garden tour 09
Garden Tour 2009
annual "Lions in The Garden" tour, Sunday, September 18, 2011.  Again this will be a Sunday afternoon concluding with refreshments on the lawn at City Hall.  At that time there will be the unveiling and dedication of the new City Hall painted lion, created by Genevieve Essen.
                                Judy Prange

multihued tulipsUCB BULB SALES

This fall the UCB Bulb Sale joined forces with the 4th U City Community Flea Market and Yard Sale held at the Heman Pool Parking Lot on Saturday, September 25. We also kept our traditional October Bulb Sale date in the Loop.
Historically, the UCB Bulb Sale has had a two-fold purpose: First, as a fund raiser selling quality bulbs from carefully chosen vendors to raise money for UCB. Second, this event, though not of the size of the Spring Perennial Sale, has served an important function. Hundreds of bulbs are needed each year to plant in our flower beds for spring. The cost of those hundreds of additional bulbs has been covered by the sale of the other bulbs sold in September and October. We also want to make good quality bulbs recommended for sustainabilty availabe to home gardeners at a reasonable price.
yellow tulips 
Your purchase of bulbs at the Bulb Sale makes possible the multitude of flowering bulbs that announce to all from the UCB flower beds that spring has arrived!  
 Both sale dates grossed $2,716. in proceeds. Thanks to our volunteers and Bub Sale chairs, Betsy Sweeny and Susan White, for all their work!


Every issue of the U City in Bloom newsletter allows you to tap into the savvy of our Horticulture team as well as outside experts. We welcome your suggestions and questions for Horticulture News.



We dedicate this column to our community gardeners. University City is full of gardeners with varying degrees of interest and passion for their gardens, no matter what the size. We recognize it's not necessary to be a professional landscaper or horticultural expert to have a lovely or edible garden. Our goal is to be a resource of information and experience. Just ask lots of questions and get your hands dirty! 

 red watering canFall Assessment: Winners and losers in your garden
Now is the time to take a good, hard look at your garden. Your memory of the last growing season is fresh. Gaps needing to be filled are easier to spot now than when all plants are dormant.
Don't wait until spring, when there is so much to do in the garden and the stores are full of plants. There's a danger of picking up tempting ones, saying "I'll fit these in somewhere," and having to re-arrange your garden later.
On a nice, sunny day in October, go into your garden (the place to be when thinking about your garden, not your living room and definitely not the plant store!) with a notepad for lists and maps, and a calendar for plans. Mentally or on paper, divide the garden into sections and survey each one. Are there  spots that your eye has been going to with irritation all summer? Think about changing them next spring. Be tough:  If a plant isn't doing well after three years, it probably never will thrive. Consider what you'll replace it with now, rather than make snap decisions while leafing through plant catalogues. On the other hand, if a plant is doing too well, taking over its area or monopolizing sunlight, make a note to take it out in fall or divide it in spring. Left alone, it'll only spread. Take note of wet spots, under downspouts for instance, where plants have tended to die.

 Do you have tall grasses? They die out from the center, so plunge in to check. 

 This is the time to think about the big picture for next year. Do you want to have something blooming all the time? Or do you want your garden to "peak" at some point? (Make sure it's not when you're away on vacation!) With growing sensitivity to their garden's place in the environment, many gardeners plan to switch to natives or other plants that don't require as much water, or to make their gardens friendlier to pollinators by favoring plants that attract bees and butterflies.

Look critically at any old declining trees. Are there any other spots that need a new tree? Do you need more shade for the air conditioning unit or the house? Start thinking about what kind of tree will work best a year in advance and look around at mature tree examples. Planting the wrong tree is harder to fix than planting the wrong flowers in the wrong location.
In addition to being beautiful, your garden should be pleasant for you to work in. Do you have a sun-baked area, where you can only get plants to grow with constant watering? Pick a less-thirsty plant to put there. If you have little containers that are constantly drying out, consider moving the plants to bigger containers that won't need water so often.  

Think not just about plants but equipment. Is it easy to get to the faucet? If not, clear a path or buy an extension. Is your hose always tangling? Consider a reel. Facing any barriers to rolling a wheelbarrow down paths? Trim branches or fill holes. Include your garden shed or tool bench in your tour of inspection. Tool replacement or repair is a good winter chore that will make spring gardening more efficient and enjoyable. Does the thought of lugging a big trash barrel around discourage you from weeding? Consider buying a trug, a small, light receptacle.  

Fall is also a good time to think about whether you want an irrigation system. A top-flight system will save time, conserve water (especially if you get a rain sensor) and help plants 
flourish. But it's a large initial expense and requires maintenance. If your decision is yes, use the off-season to ask around, interview irrigation contractors and get a few bids. You and the contractor will discuss dividing your lawn into zones, because the water needs of plants vary. A midway approach for the do-it-yourselfer is to install a system in a small area with parts ordered from a catalogue.
Finally, make your immediate plans: schedule a clean-up day, bulb planting, or mulch delivery to protect plants over winter. Consider what tree work needs to be done in the dormant season. Make a note of coverage issues you'll want to discuss with your irrigation system specialist next March.  
                                                                  Claire Linzee
Fall cleanup
- Good 'hygiene' in the garden is always important.  For the UCB team, clean up is necessary because we fertilize and mulch our beds in the winter months. 

Generally we cut back many of the perennials, remove all of the annuals and put a shovel edge on as many beds as possible before winter sets in. Because the UCB team loves the color and hates to see it go, we only cut or pull what has been nipped by frost. For the home gardener, with time frequently limited to weekends, this practice might not work. Generally when the plants are done blooming or have started to look bad they can be pulled or cut back.  One U City gardener even cuts back her annuals. Her belief is that some of them will come back if hardy and some will re-seed. The ones that do die will leave roots that break down into compost in the soil.

The only perennials UCB does not cut are the ornamental grasses; they look like dried flower arrangements during the winter. The same applies to buddleia or butterfly bush; they can be good sized and sometimes die back very little and add height to the 'dried flower arrangement'. In the spring we wait for the new growth to emerge and then trim the deadwood down to that point. 

There are also Clematis vines that re-bloom on old wood so be careful which varieties you have so that you don't cut off any flowers for next spring. If you aren't sure, don't cut them until they green up in the spring. Then cut off of the deadwood. There are also crossover annuals that we plant in late fall to give color when there is no other left in the garden. Some of the late fall crossover annuals will still give you some color in the early spring.
The other thing that the UCB team recommends is to not cut the roses down until spring; we stop pruning or deadheading them in the middle of October. This allows rose hips to form and signals the plant to stop blooming and growing. A final round of hand weeding as well as the addition of a good layer of mulch will also hold down on weeds next year.
Finally we add a humus/alfalfa product such as Nature's Blend, Milorganite and sometimes Progro to the soil just before we spread a 2-3" layer of leaf mold on our flower beds and shrub borders.                                                    
                                                                       Harry Asher


 Vosmall version of Andrew crouchinglunteer Highlight


We're grateful to all our volunteers, without whom UCB couldn't operate. As a way of saluting their generosity and capabilities, from time to time we'll spotlight unusual-even surprising--individuals.

This summer the Tuesday work crew was joined by Andrew Creighton, a sophomore at John Burroughs School. A prerequisite for graduation at John Burroughs is 50 community service hours, at the organization of the student's choice.
UCB seemed like the natural choice to Andrew. His family lives in U City, and his parents love their own garden. They, naturally, also admire the UCB public flower beds. The early start time might have fazed other teenagers but not Andrew, who is used to early morning practice for the Burroughs swim team. 
What he liked best about his experience was getting to know the other volunteers and learning more about gardening. What he hated most was this summer's brutal heat-a feeling that spreads through the gardening community and beyond! Now that his volunteer duties are done and his head is filled with expertise, he's a little worried that his mom will find plenty of things for him to do in the garden at home.
andrew creighton stands and turnsThank you, Andrew, for your help! We hope we will have more students like you next summer.
blue bird image Director's Report

Bird Sanctuary Garden - We are very excited about the significant progress that has been made on the Bird Sanctuary garden since the last report in July! The garden is located in the court yard space behind the Centennial Commons work out area. Last spring large areas of soil were prepared with the assistance of 12 UCHS students and their sponsors (their help was made possible by a joint employment project of the City of U City and the School District). A variety of Native grasses (Prairie drop seed), shrubs (Rusty blackthaw and Golden Currant) and trees (Black Gum and Service berry) were planted. They have thrived in spite of the heat and lack of rain!

This fall more areas of the courtyard soil were worked and  
                     (continued in next column)
lion with rose
Keep an eye on the UCB website ucityinbloom.org for its new look, its Calendar of Events and a U City Weather link! For gardeners and farmers weather is a most important topic! Thanks to our webmaster, Arno Perlow, for all of the time he's spent revising our site.
It is now possible to sign up to receive UCB's e-news by going to our websiteucityinbloom.org. Just click on "The Lion and the Rose." The link will take you to Constant Contact. You only have to add your name and email address.
U City in Bloom never sells or shares its email list with anyone and will not send you junk mail.




Preparing new flower beds -

Fall is the ideal time to start preparing new flower beds.
When the UCB team gets ready to prepare a new flower bed, it really doesn't matter what size the bed is going to be. The preparation is the same. The bed is turned over by hand first and then lots of U City's finest leaf mold/mulch is tilled in.

If the bed has never been worked, you may want to consider two applications of leaf mold. If you find the bed is really hard clay, Turface (calcine clay) can also be added to amend the soil. (Hummert in Earth City carries this product). We find that adding leaf mulch in the fall is better than in the spring or early summer because the freeze-thaw action during winter months aids the mulch in breaking down the compact clay soil.

The flower beds at City Hall required at least 4-5 different tillings adding leaf mold and Turface. This process can require patience but the resulting well drained soil is worth the effort. The UCB team found that sand does not work well and can actually create a more compact, concrete like soil. They also recommend that you stay away from working bark chips or shredded wood of any kind as it takes too long to break down and the nitrogen is compromised during the breakdown.

The UCB team, as well as the flowers they plant, like their beds "fluffy and well drained." By spring, everything will have worked in nicely and be ready to plant.

Susan White and Harry Asher 
Planting Bulbs - Bulbs should be planted in drifts or groups of three or more to avoid a rigid look. They may be planted in full sun or partial shade. Bulbs do well when planted under deciduous trees, because they generally bloom before the trees leaf out. Before planting, top-dress with all-purpose fertilizer such as 20-20-20 and work into the soil organic matter or calcined clay products such as Turface to provide good drainage. Turface is widely available.
Plant tulips and daffodils 7-8 inches deep, hyacinths 6 inches deep, and crocus and most small minor bulbs 3-4 inches deep. The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs 3 times as deep as the height of the bulb. Space between bulbs is 3 times the width of the bulb. Daffodils ( an advantage of daffodils and alliums is that squirrels don't eat them) and small bulbs are best planted by the end of October. Tulips can be planted up until the ground freezes. They need about ninety days from planting to the time they flower.

After the first heavy frost, mulch the area with 2 inches of fine shredded bark, leaf mold or other organic material and water to facilitate rapid root growth. Remove the mulch when the bulbs start to sprout.
Bulbs Left from last fall??- Horticulture experts agree it's probably best to throw them away even if it pains you to trash them.

Courtesy of MOBOT, University Extension and added consultation from Claire Linzee and Susan White 
Director's Report
prepared for the additional trees, shrubs and perennials planned to attract, feed and shelter local and migrating birds.

The list of plants we hope to establish in our Bird garden by next spring is ambitious!

We are also working on plans for a rock garden or glade with Missouri native glade plants and a water feature for the birds.
We are so grateful to everyone who has helped make this Bird garden possible. We rely on their help and ongoing assistance with this project. Special thanks to:

Penney Bush-Boyce and Norma Schechter for their expertise with Native trees and plants
Department of Parks, Recreation
Director - Nancy MacCartney
Superintendent - Ewald Winker
Forester - James Crowe
Recreation Superintendent - Tom McCarthy
Heavy equipment operators - Andre Buehler, Marck Townsend and Rick Green.
We are, of course, in need of more volunteer gardeners and you 'Birders' out there to help with this community's 'one of a kind' project!
Please contact Mary Ann Shaw at
mashaw5@sbcglobal.net or Betsy Sweeny at
you can help with the Bird garden.

Mary Ann Shaw

Volunteer Your Time  

Job opportunities! 

Contact Information


                                              In the Gardens:

Mary Ann Shaw - mashaw5@sbcglobal.net

Betsy Sweeny - sweenerd@sbcglobal.net


Fall cleanup, flower bed preparation and bulb planting need lots of hands to get the work done. We need your help working in the 150 flower beds we have created.






You want to give a friend or family member a gift, but their attics and garages are already too full of stuff. Instead, make a contribution in their name to UCB, to mark a birthday, anniversary or holiday or any other occasion. If a friend or relative has passed away a memorial contribution that honors and preserves their name, and is a gift that will benefit the entire community.


To make donating more convenient, we've made it possible for you to use MasterCard, Visa, and Discover. Go to our website, www.ucityinbloom.org, for donor information


The Lion & The Rose

Editor: Helen Fuller
Contributing Writers: David Linzee,
Mary Ann Shaw, Claire Linzee, Susan White, Harry Asher & Ted Slegesky
Consultants:  Norma Schechter

U City in Bloom is a volunteer not-for-profit organization that plants and maintains over 150 flower gardens throughout University City. Started in 1985 by three citizens, U City in Bloom now has over 200 volunteers and a staff of several part-time professional gardeners. Our gardens are located all over University City... in the Civic Plaza, The Loop, at all of our schools, in parks, along major streets, and in quiet neighborhoods all over our city.