During any weekday, a visitor to Missouri Botanical Garden is likely to see at least a few of almost thirty staff members who maintain the outdoor gardens. It is hard to imagine all the work that is done by thirty people working 40 hours a week, plus the hours which volunteers contribute. But everything that you do in your home garden is done here on a grand scale.
As the seasons change, so do the duties performed by the Horticulture staff. Many flower beds are re-planted 2-3 times each year. During summer, colorful warm season annuals accent the lily pools in front of the Climatron and the Linnean House, and throughout the Garden. As fall arrives, these spent flowers are removed and mums may be planted in their place. Later in fall, 70,000 to 75,000 bulbs are planted for next spring's display! Hardy pansies are planted at the same time, often amidst tulip bulbs.
Pansies bloom through fall and then revive for another show in spring. In mild winters, they may never completely stop blooming. In spring, the bulbs grow up through the pansies, providing a multi-layer color explosion. Consider the fact that each plant and bulb is planted by hand!
Weeding is a necessary chore in spring, summer, and fall. Watering and irrigation are a big concern in St. Louis' hot summers. Mulching is done all year, but is increased in fall and winter to protect plants and decrease weeds. Valuable non-hardy bulbs are dug up and stored over the winter.
Boxwoods are trimmed starting in May, while privet and yews are shaped in late summer and fall.
After the aquatic plant growing season, our aquatic specialists and other staff don waders to empty and clean out the lily pools.
With approximately 6000 trees in the Garden, leaf pick-up becomes a priority for a few months each year.
Fall and winter provide the aborists and horticulturists with clear views of the pruning needed to keep the Garden's trees and shrubs in top condition.
And last but not least, the outdoor horticultural crews tackle the often monumental task of snow removal. They work diligently to provide a safe winter setting for our visitors. The Garden is open every day except Christmas and is spectacular on snowy days. If there is heavy snow or ice overnight, the outdoor crew arrives at 5:00 a.m. to clear paths to our buildings and parking lots before other employees arrive. Then they clear pathways through the interior of the Garden. At times, this process takes the whole day.