Guests love the Kauffman Memorial Garden’s spring bulb display, but personally, October is this gardeners favorite month to enjoy the beauty of nature. The trees turn colors that are out of this world, the annuals are at their maximum size and the wind turns crisp, harkening the holiday season and warm family memories.
October colors in the Kauffman Garden
The summer and early fall annual flower beds were chock full of bright and vibrant colors that included ‘Ruby Siam’ bananas, variegated tapioca, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia, ‘Redhead’ coleus, chrysanthemums and many other bold-hued plants.
Then it was time to remove the warm weather plants to get the annual beds ready for the tulip and cool-season flowers. We removed at least 5 truckloads of plant material and sent it off to Missouri Organic for composting.
Volunteers and staff removing the summer plants
mid-removal of the summer annual flowers
It can be quite a stark contrast for our regular visitors to see bountiful flower beds, overflowing with color, and then the next day, an empty plant-less scene.
After every plant is gone, we remove stray leaves and grade the beds smooth. If the soil level is low, then we bring in compost that is rich with macro and micronutrients. By keeping the soil healthy, we are able to meet most of the needs of our plants and flowers.
Fall beds waiting for cool season plants
Once the flower beds are prepped and ready, it is time to pick up our violas, dianthus and pansies from the greenhouses at Powell Gardens. I really try to maximize every trip, so quite often I fill up the back of a box truck many times and I even pack the passenger seat in the cab up as full as I can get it. I haven’t resorted to driving with plants on my lap, but I won’t rule that option out for the future.
The truck is literally full
Underneath all of the cool season violas and dianthus the Kauffman gardeners and volunteers will plant thousands of tulip bulbs of every shape and size that we can get our hands on. Every year the design is different and the annual flowers, amazingly will last from October to early June. Even our little Crazy cat likes to get involved in the action.
Princess Crazy Cat is protecting the bulbs.
Of course, nothing is ever easy, and this year there seemed to be a lot of construction going on while we were trying to plant. First, there was a crew hanging holiday lights around the Kauffman Foundation building. Most of us had to wear hard hats while planting that day since we were working directly under a huge lift.
Planting cool season annuals and bulbs at the Kauffman Foundation
Then, before we could plant around Mr. and Mrs. Kauffman, their markers had to be straightened. Over time they had settled and become crooked. Since they are the reason that the garden is even in existence, it was very important to make sure that their corner of the garden is kept in good shape.
Straightening markers before flower planting.
After their markers were straightened we added about 2 yards of fresh compost, 200 tulip bulbs and about 400 light pink violas.
The updates didn’t end there. Days after we completed the winter plantings at our front gate, the crumbling curbs were re-poured. I had to divert my eyes and calm my nerves as workers worked around freshly planted and graded flower beds. It was a necessary construction project, but it is never an easy thing to watch.
Pouring new curbs around the front flower beds
On a more fun note about spooky things in the garden that get my heart racing, most of the calm mornings this October, there was a mist coming from the waters of the main canal fountain. It was a very eerie and fun scene as the fog crept up around the dancing sculptures.
The morning fog on the fountain
I saw another Halloweenie sight when I was dead-heading Canna and I saw a sinister mantis chomping on the head of a large grasshopper. This insect was fat and happy and not bothered by me at all.
A spooky Halloween mantis
As the month of October comes to an end, the gardeners at the Kauffman Garden were very pleased to see that the Endless Summer hydrangeas FINALLY bloomed. Both spring 2016 and 2017 we had late frosts that damaged their blooms, making them flowerless when they should be covered in bountiful bracts. The plants have remained healthy, but we were really missing those large, multi-colored stems in our entry allee.
Everyone have a safe and enjoyable Halloween! We will see you in November.
Endless Summer Hydrangea in the Kauffman Garden