Spring Flower Show on Grow With KARE!

March 18th, 2019


Sunken Garden Gazette 8/22

August 22nd, 2018

Catch the Summer Show while you can!

Green Thumbs…

I can’t believe our Fall Show is just a little over a month away. Where did the summer go? Sadly our summer horticulture interns Katie and Zach have headed back to college. We will miss them! New Guinea impatiens have had enough of summer and won’t quite make it to the end of the show. They will be swapped out this week for a fresh combination of butterfly bush and lantana that will carry the design to the show change.

There were the usual chores this week, watering, fertilizing, and deadheading. The white salvia continues to reward our constant deadheading with explosions of white blossoms making it all worth it.

Our thoughts are also turning toward design as the Fall Show nears, and a fresh map will be drawn by Garden Designer Renee. How will we use elements of design such as line, form, texture, scale, pattern, repetition, and of course, color, which is affected by all of the former?


Behind the Scenes

In the greenhouse it’s all about preparing for the Fall and Holiday Shows.

The Fall Show will be here in a blink and the chrysanthemum crop will be ready. The shade cloth is pulling at night to ensure the mums receive short days to fool them into thinking it’s time to make flowers but soon the nights will be, sadly for us humans, long enough for flowers to form naturally. Horticulturist Renee has worked hard to give the mums what they need, watering, fertilizing, pinching, spacing, moving, and staking. The plants are incredibly robust and will soon be ready to burst into the Fall Show’s colors of red and yellow.

The chrysanthemums will receive show support from fruitful ornamental peppers, yellow swiss chard, a vivid red leafed heuchera. Horticulturist Diane sows our Sunken Garden annuals and started the pepper and swiss chard seedlings. Once the seedlings were transplanted, Horticulturist Victoria took over their care. They will soon make both horticulturists proud with their colorful garden display.

Poinsettias can hardly wait their turn for the Holiday Show. We had a big poinsettia push this past week because the plants were ready to move to larger pots. Horticulturist Ariel transplanted half of the group one poinsettias all in one day (that’s 300 poinsettias)! The next day her fellow horticulturists Bryn, Deb and Victoria pitched in to help her transplant the second half. Mission completed and the poinsettias now have room to grow.


Have you ever noticed Sunken Garden’s marble floor? Look at all the variety of color next time you visit. I love to use the marble floor as a canvas for my floral shots.

Plant of the Week

I am so impressed by some of the Sunken Garden plants.  The pentas is stilllllllll blooming and is as beautiful as ever. It went in with the show’s first planting at the end of April. What a trooper! I love tough plants like pentas but the the double vinca has just as much grit. It was not excited to be in the garden at first, but we strove to keep it as dry as possible and slowly the vinca began to adjust. Now this comeback kid is floriferous and a perfect pink foil to its neighbor salvia.

Just for Kids (of all ages)

When you visit the Sunken Garden and cannot tell what the weather is outside you can check with portulaca and it will tell you if the sun is shining brightly or if it’s cloudy and rainy. When the sun is out, it opens its petals wide and when the sky is dark it closes its petals tightly. I know you can really tell for yourself if it’s sunny or rainy, but it’s fun to see portulaca respond to sunshine. If you want to see for yourself look for it along the sides where it grows on top of the stone walls. If you come on a rainy morning, you may even catch it still sleeping! (That’s just me pretending, it’s actually saving its pollen for when pollinators are apt to be flying about.)

 – Karri, your happy horticulturist


Sunken Garden Gazette 8/15

August 15th, 2018

Hurray for Sunken Garden Helpers II

It’s such a blast to work with everyone that helps out in the Sunken Garden. We couldn’t do it without their contribution. Everyone has their own perspective and of course, their own favorite plants.

Nancy’s wonderful sense of humor always makes me laugh. I get to chat with her when she volunteers on Fridays in the Sunken Garden. She does all sorts of garden tasks and holds my hose for me when I water those hard to reach plants so I don’t accidentally decapitate flower heads. She told me that one of the reasons she likes to work in the Sunken is that, “I’m introduced to new plants all the time.”  She likes the lewisia and ornamental oregano, but is especially fond of the grasses. She said that horticulturists Elyse and Renee were the first to bring grasses to the design, and that the grasses, “just add so much, like height and texture.” Nancy has been volunteering at Como for over eight years because, “I get way more out of volunteering than you guys get out of me.  It just soothes my soul, especially in the dead of winter.  It just makes me smile to walk in here in the morning. I think it’s one of the most precious assets in the Twin Cities community. And that’s after only half cup of coffee.” She also said she has made really great friends through the experience. I say we’re lucky to have her.

My fellow horticulturist Victoria was a lifesaver this past week. While I was frantically fertilizing, she deadheaded and swapped fresh plants in for worn out flowers. I love her addition of ornamental oregano to the lower side beds. She picked three favorite plants. I can’t argue with her top three: tillansia, dichondra, and lewisia.

Karen, horticulturist and supervisor, balances schedules and always makes sure that we have the help we need in the Sunken Garden. An expert on orchids and all things tropical, Karen chose hibiscus for her favorite because of its “big, showy, tropical looking flowers. I can’t help it.” She loves the calming activity of deadheading in the Sunken when she can squeak it in.

Lauren is an awesome attendant who, among many other things, guides visitors in the garden. When I asked her about working in the Sunken Garden, she said, “That’s what I have people do, smell the flowers. They don’t think to do it.” She said that people, kids especially, think it’s funny when a flower smells bad. Kids smell it, laugh. Smell it, laugh. Smell it, laugh. People are surprised when a flower smells super sweet rather than floral.  She likes to encourage visitors to smell veronica.  What does it smell like?  You will have to stop by and see, or rather, smell for yourself.


Listening to the Sunken Garden helpers’ views inspires me as I think about next summer’s design. Its enlightening to see the garden through different eyes, especially those of children, so I want to include something just for them.

Just for kids (of all ages)

Do you like to look at clouds and watch them form into funny shapes like flying hippopotamuses or giant puppies wearing sunglasses? Plants are little bit like clouds. They let us use our imaginations and look at things differently. What do you see in the garden pictures below?  Maybe you see something different than I do.


Don’t forget to smell the flowers, even if their smell surprises you.

– Karri, your happy horticulturist


Sunken Garden Gazette 8/8

August 8th, 2018

It takes a village to raise …  a garden.

So many people pitch in to make a Sunken Garden show that I want to find out what motivates them to help. As we begin to design next summer’s show, I am also curious about what their favorite flower or plant in the current show is.  Over the next few blogs I’ll capture with my camera as many of the helpers, and their floral favorites, as will let me. I hope that you will come by the Sunken Garden and decide which plant is your favorite.

Jacob has been volunteering in the Sunken Garden since 2014. Hibiscus never take a break from blooming so it was great to have his help this past weekend deadheading them and generally making the garden look beautiful. When I asked Jacob about the Sunken Garden he said, “I love the variety and changing that happens. I think the designer Renee is doing such a great job!” Jacob appreciates Renee’s hanging tillandsia design feature as, “It is something that you don’t see a lot,” but his show favorite is lewisia. Thanks for all your help Jacob!

Jen works in maintenance and returns the marble floor to it’s natural beauty after I cover it, despite my best efforts, with leaves, soil, water, and muddy footprints. One morning she even gently redirected a wayward squirrel back to it’s natural outdoor habitat. Jen’s motivation is short and sweet, “I like flowers.” Hibiscus is her show favorite and how can you argue with that? Thanks for all you do Jen!

Natalie not only volunteers but works as an attendant and delivers art talks. Stop by to hear all about the Play Days sculpture in the Sunken Garden. What’s her view of the Sunken Garden? “I think that it’s majestic, and I think it shows the passion and dedication the gardeners have for Como.” Natalie likes the Mexican heather, or cuphea, best which truly is a winner in the Sunken Garden. We haven’t had to do anything for it but give it feed and water. I’d love to use this plant in all it’s variety of colors again, and again, and again. Thanks so much Natalie!

Note to Kids solving last week’s puzzleKipn dan theiw unscrambled spells Pink and White!

– Karri, your happy horticulturist


Sunken Garden Gazette 8/2

August 2nd, 2018

Green Thumbs…

As promised, the south end points received new plants.  Elegant buddleia adds a delicious aroma and soft texture to contrast with the vertical, pink lined leaves of cordyline.  On the other side of cordyline, lantana repeats the soft texture with color that accents the beauty of the rock in the stone wall.  Cheerful petunia in pink punctuates the design.

Behind the Scenes

The young poinsettias were pinched this past week to encourage them to grow into well branched plants full of holiday color.

Its Holiday Show companion lavender is thriving in the greenhouse.  I don’t often need to water them because like other herbs they like to be on the dry side, but what a treat when I do.  Their moistened leaves release relaxing aromatics into the greenhouse. Ahhh.


Look up and out through the glass ceiling of the conservatory for added ambiance.  Some days you can see the avian acrobatics of a family of swallows as they swoop over and around the Sunken Garden roof.

Plant of the Week

This is the first time I’ve ever grown Lewisia and I love it!  A relative to purslane, it is endemic to the rocky slopes of north-central Washington and neighboring Canada, so it’s been a challenge to keep it as well drained as it likes.

Answers for Last Week’s Sunken Garden Scavenger Hunt

These are what I found for answers; you might have found something else that works just as well or better!

  • A flower that looks just like a little white moth. (Hint: it sways atop a thin stalk)

  • A tall, green stem whose top looks like it has burst into green fireworks. (Hint: ancient Egyptians used this to make paper)

  • A pink flower that would make a great trumpet for a garden fairy.

  • A leaf that is shaped like a pie with a very thin slice cut out.

  • A white flower that is the size and shape of a gumball.

This Week’s Kids (of all ages) Challenge

Unscramble these three words to reveal the current color theme of the Sunken Garden:

Kipn dan theiw

Good Luck. Answers in next week’s blog!


– Karri, your happy horticulturist