Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hey, Bud Expo at Botanical Garden Offers Advice to Grow On

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hey, Bud Expo at Botanical Garden Offers Advice to Grow On

Article excerpt

If moles are pushing up mounds in the lawn, rabbits are eating everything in sight, and the azaleas and daffodils didn't bloom well this spring, the Missouri Botanical Garden might be able to help next weekend.

For the first time, the garden will roll out a three-day GardenExpo with special activities, displays, lectures, information booths and other assistance for novices as well as expert home gardeners. The expo will open Friday and continue through next Sunday.

More than 25 of the garden's horticulturists - the ones who keep the garden's plants and flowers thriving - will be stationed at outdoor "teaching tents" and at indoor booths to answer questions and give advice.

Visitors will find the tents near the Japanese, rose, woodland, bulb and rock gardens.

The booths will stand in the Orthwein Floral Display Hall, part of a World of Plants Showcase featuring various plant society booths and displays.

Expo organizers also will erect tents on the parking lot northeast of the garden's main entrance. There, visitors will find about 40 vendors selling all sorts of gardening and lawn-care equipment and supplies.

Visitors also will find part of a garden tradition there - its annual spring plant sale. The sale also will be under way in the Garden Gate Shop.

As for the "teaching tents," Chip Tynan, the garden's chief horticulture answer man, is expecting lots of questions about keeping moles, rabbits, squirrels and other critters away from lawns and plants.

He says not to expect easy answers.

Take moles, for example.

"The thing we recommend is traps," Tynan said, adding that the approach is somewhat hit and miss, "a lot like learning to hit a baseball."

He does not recommend the approach many gardeners use - poison or pesticides to kill grubs, which moles eat.

"Pesticides kill earthworms, too, which are vital to healthy soil," he said.

But you might try spraying your lawn with diluted castor oil, or one of the new castor bean-based solutions sold in stores to repel the furry critters.

"It works for some people, but not for everyone," Tynan said. "So we encourage people to try. You might be one of the lucky few."

To keep rabbits away, Tynan said: "The only sure-fire thing is an exclusionary fence" that goes below ground - to keep them from tunneling in - and rises at least 18 inches above ground.

But if you build a fence, don't do what Tynan once did in his own back yard. He built a fence and later discovered he had fenced in a nest of baby rabbits hidden beneath foliage.

Tynan says he's also seen "moderate success" with homemade hot-pepper sprays, made by cooking chilis, hot sauces and anything else you can think of to add to the stew.

"But you have to keep putting it on the plants," he said, "because it washes off . …

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