Missouri Botanical Garden April 2008

April 15
I picked up a rental van first thing in the morning.  After a class and  meeting, I worked in my office while the students trickled in.  We made a couple of stops in town, another for gas and again in Hannibal for lunch.  We didn’t hit too much traffic except for on I-270.  We arrived at the Bot Garden at 4, and I knew they closed at 5.  We made the most of the time available. 

On the way down, Lee taught everyone how to fold these really cool paper airplanes.  Naturally, they had to try them as soon as we got out of the van.  Brent, Lee, Brian.

An artist named Niki had an installation scattered throughout the place.  Her work consisted of huge sculptures covered with mosaic tile and mirrors.  Really cool.

Lady with pots.                                                      Sitting dude.

This gigantic skull was the best.  My colleague Lee Enger makes a good scale.  Inside, mirrors make you see as though through fly’s eyes.  I think Brian is picking his nose.

I kind of like this Cyclopean Buddha.

Tulips were peaking, and they have plenty of them.

Lots of yellow!

Inside the Climatron, much was blooming in the perpetual tropical warmth and humidity, including orchids and bromeliads.  This red thing, whatever it is, is huge, about a foot wide.

This is Nepenthes, or Monkey Cups, a carnivorous plant.  I just lectured on it a week ago, but had never seen a live one.  It’s a type of pitcher plant, wherein small animals fall into the tube and die in a pool of water.

More pretty flowers in the Climatron.

I think both of these are daffodil varieties, of which there are many.

A few of us were standing around a crabapple in bloom in this lovely garden when one of the students said, “There’s a fox!”  It came running toward us, then made a hard turn.  I got the camera up as fast as I could and kept firing in burst mode.  This is the first frame.  I don’t know when I’ll ever be this close to a fox again outside of a zoo.  This one probably makes a good living on the abundant squirrels and, perhaps, a bit of garbage.  Strange to think that this is within the city limits of St. Louis.

Afterward we went to the gift shop, which is open a bit later than the gardens.  Some of us bought Lithops, a relatively rare succulent that looks like little pebbles.  We went to the Bug Store down on the corner.  I got a little coat rack made of cast iron lizards; the tails form the hooks. 

The plan was to go eat, then to make it to a talk on plants at a Nature Center down the highway.  By the time we chose a place to eat and got seated, it was clearly going to be too late to make the talk.  Most of us ate Thai food.  It was delicious but took its revenge on me later.  We caught up with the rest of the students at a hookah bar.  Lee suggested we stay a while and enjoy a smoke of the hookah.  I’m always agreeable to trying different cultural experience (bar owner was from Jordan) as long as they’re legal.  So we sat down and had a few rounds of mango flavored tobacco.  It was pleasantly fruity, at least until they readjusted the burning cake and the smoke came too hot and thick.  Gaaaaah!

We made several stops on the way home for pee breaks and gasoline.  The students played an ABC game that was kind of fun, especially considering the words they came up with for the various letters.  “T” is for tachyphyllaxis.  Man, did that van eat gas.  I think I put 80 bucks worth into it. 

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