Brightside St. Louis


I went to a series of workshops done by Brightside St. Louis and was impressed by their staff and what they are accomplishing for the city of St. Louis. Here are a few notes from the seminars.

Free Grants

Brightside offers grants up to $1500.00 for city neighborhood groups who want to improve some public property or schools. Last year Brightside approved thirty-two grants. They have a list of approved plants. Roses have been taken off the list because of the Rose rosette disease. Applications are due by August 14th.
Here’s a picture I took of some roses which have either died or are doing poorly.



Rain Gardening

The program was led by Perry Eckhardt from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. He said that most rain garden literature is wrong. To find the right plants to put in, he recommends the MoBot Plant Finder.  I did a search and got a long list, but I notice they put Asclepias tuberosa on the list – something that likes dryish soils. They have a nice rain garden area at the Brightside home on Shenandoah and Kingshighway although they had to fill-in part of it with rock because of bridge safety requirements. He recommends not adding sand to the soil. Also don’t dig out an area if you are going to be disturbing tree roots. Trees take up a lot more water than any rain garden.

Note – here’s some more information from Perry – “Many rain gardens have had soil amendments or soil replacements that include a sand component.  Additionally, most rain gardens are actually very dry, especially if they are engineered to drain quickly.  In those instances, almost any prairie plant will work as they can withstand brief periods of inundation. I do think that butterfly milkweed is tolerant of relatively wet conditions too; I noticed them as a prominent part of the plant palette at Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area, which is a fen complex in the Ozarks. Personally, I wouldn’t stick in the boggy parts of a rain garden, but I would definitely consider it around the margins.


Home Depot Pesticide Plants

Ed Spevak mentioned that some plants at Home Depot have a a Neconid pesticide warning, but it is hard to find. It may be behind the main plant tag.

Urban Soils – Nathan Brandt

  • The speaker recommends getting a Lead test for any city soils. It costs $45.00. The example he used had a score of 461 which is a bit high and limits what you can grow in your garden. He recommends a raised twelve inch bed with fabric below it keep out the soil below.
  • A standard soil test, available from Brightside, costs $22.00.
  • Don’t add sand to clay soil – use organic matter and plants to break up the clay.
  • If you soil is really poor, he does recommend amending it with organic matter, tilling etc. After that, use plants and cover crops to improve the soil.
  • Native plants don’t need added fertilizer.

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Butterfly Videos

I just found a new podcast that I’m enjoying, Smarter Every Day, and found that he did a whole series on butterflies.  I think you will enjoy it.

Here’s the link for the entire series.

Below is a link to just one of the videos.



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Classes and Tours – June 2015


There are a number of great classes and tours available in June in the St. Louis area that you may want to try out. Some are free and the most expensive is only $20.00.

June 4, 2015
1 p.m. – Sunset Hills community center, 3939 S. Lindbergh, Sunset Hills, MO 63127

Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs
Betty Struckhoff is giving a presentation on Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs at Free and open to the public.


June 6, 2015
at Brightside St. Louis’ Demonstration Garden
Check in at 8:30, then classes held from 9:00 until 12:00 noon
Only $10 for 4 workshops – one every 40 minutes!
Workshop classes offered:
Neighbors Naturescaping (for public spaces)
Native Annuals and Perennials
Gardening for Birds
Native Shrubs
Dealing with Urban Soils
Native Grasses
Gardening for Butterflies
Native Small Trees
Rain Gardening
Gardening for Pollinators
Care & maintenance for Woody Plants
Naturescaping for Your Home
Pruning Woody Plants


June 20, 2015
St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
A self-guided tour of 10 residential native plant gardens in central St. Louis County. Various locations in Brentwood, Clayton, Glendale, Kirkwood, Webster Groves and more.
Sun, shade, butterflies, birds, dry sites and wet
Traditional and natural designs
Take pictures and ask questions
Cost: $20 per person.

June 20
10 a.m. to noon.
Forest ReLeaf is offering monthly tours of their nursery, CommuniTree Gardens, located in Creve Coeur Park.

Registration is preferred and the tour runs from 10:00-12:00.  Please or call 314-533-LEAF to register or for more information

June 27-28 (Metro Area)
15th annual Pond-O-Rama, pond and garden tour, open to the public.


You can find more events on the Gateway Gardner website.

Note – the picture is common milkweed grown by Weldon, right behind Ronnie’s Cine. He’s got at least fifty various milkweed plants growing along with a lot of new zinnia plants. It should be spectacular later in the summer.


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Save the Monarch – Butterfly Gardening


Tom Terrific will present the “Ten Commandments of Butterfly Gardening” program at the Crestwood Community Center, 9245 Whitecliff Park Ln, Crestwood, MO 63126.

The date is Saturday – May 23rd and the program will begin at 10 A.M.and will last until 11:30 A.M.

The program is free and is geared mainly toward adults, but interested children are welcome. This would be an excellent program for Boy and Girl Scouts interested in setting up a butterfly garden.

Tom will show you how to attract and keep butterflies in your yard, patio or apartment balcony. He will talk about site selection, preparation, host and nectar plants, native plants, sun/shade and lots more.

Tom will also talk about what people can do to help the Monarch butterfly whose population is at historic lows.

After the program you are invited to tour Tom’s butterfly gardens in Crestwood to see the 100 butterfly plant species that he grows.

Tom uses pictures, video and hands-on exhibits to teach participants everything they need to know to create a butterfly paradise.

His website is a good place to checkout ahead of time.

He personally guarantees that you will find the program – Terrific!

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Monarch Article – Spring 2015


I found this Fish and Wildlife Spring 2015 magazine which talks about “Saving the Monarch” butterfly.

Here’s the link to download.

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Botanical Garden at Sue’s House

I just visited Sue Leahy’s house in Brentwood, MO and immediately knew I was at the right place when I noticed that there was no front lawn.


She has quite a variety of plants in the front that just gets mid-day sun, but the plants are thriving. She uses a combination of Black Gold compost and shredded hardwood mulch to feed the plants and keep down the weeds.

As you go around the back, you notice all of her accreditations – she said she still had a couple more to put up.


In the back she has a couple of rain gardens, a beautiful pond and stream setup and even five turtles that need to be rounded up before the lawn is mowed.

One tip she mentioned was that she got a local grant to put in the rain gardens – check with your local Sewer District and send them a proposal if you have an area that gets a lot of runoff.

I also noticed that her Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, seems to be quite happy in the pond. I’m going to put a plant in my pond this year as an experiment. She mentioned that she thought the larvae might drop off into the water which would be a problem. I’ll probably collect the larvae and move them to a different location.

I admired her professional labels and she mentioned that her husband Andy had access to a professional laser engraving machine. I guess I’ll have to stick with my label maker.


Andy, with the help of a friend, has moved as much rock and stone as one of the Egyptian pyramids – just a slight exaggeration.


Thanks to Sue and her husband for such a lovely morning visiting her fantastic gardens.



Filed under Gardening, Lawn

Gardening on the Balcony


Even if you are in an apartment or condo, if you have some sort of balcony you can use, then you can create your own little mini-park. Below is an article I found that you can download which will give you many ideas on how to create a nature preserve on your balcony.

I found this to be true with my Aunt Betty. She had a second story apartment in the city of St. Louis. I gave her some milkweed for her balcony and later that summer we found some Monarch larvae happily munching on it. Butterflies don’t care where the host plant is – as long as it’s outside and they can get to it.

My only tip would to be sure you put a plastic tray under your plants so that when you water them it won’t drip on your neighbor below.

Click here for the article.


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