News

Corpse flower ready to bloom at Botanical Gardens

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Erin Grajek

on July 28, 2014 - 5:50 PM

Visitors to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens are about to find out just how stinky Morty – the corpse flower – can get.

The flower, one of the largest in the world and extremely rare in a public setting, is expected to bloom over the next 10 days, emitting an odor compared to rotting flesh.

“We are all cautiously optimistic about what is going to happen,” said Erin Grajek, marketing director for the Botanical Gardens.

Additional hours are planned for the increased attendance that would typically show up for special displays with sweeter scents.

“There’s probably still a 7-year-old in all of us who think gross things are entertaining,” Grajek said.

The corpse flower – its actual name is amorphophallus titanium – only blooms every six to 10 years, which makes the occasion rare enough. Making it an even rarer occasion is that only around five bloom annually worldwide because so few are in captivity.

Jeff Thompson, the horiculture director – with the added title of “undertaker” for the duration of Morty’s blooming – said the plant, which resembles a “big, gnarly potato,” is 51 inches tall, growing at a rate of 5 inches a day and expected to reach 6 to 8 feet tall. The potatolike part of the plant currently weighs 120 pounds.

The bloom typically lasts 24 to 48 hours, and the scent of rotting flesh lasts about 12 hours.

The corpse flower is one of three the Botanical Gardens obtained in early July. They are native to the rain forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, and are difficult to grow, requiring warm, humid greenhouse conditions.

The plant also eventually sends up a leaf that is the largest in the world, rising to 30 feet. The leaf typically lasts for two weeks before going dormant for years.

“We’re very excited about having this plant here, We’ve all talked about it for many years, and it just so happened that we got three of them. Hopefully, in the future, we can do something like this again,” Thomson said.

The @mortystinks Twitter account will update daily photos and information on the plant’s status. Updates also will appear on the Botanical Gardens’ Facebook page. The name “Morty” could be short for either “Mortimer” or “Morticia,” Thompson said of the plant, which is both male and female.

In Pittsburgh, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens set one- and two-day attendance records when its corpse flower named “Romero” – for legendary horror movie director George Romero, who filmed “Night of the Living Dead” in Pittsburgh – drew more than 12,000 visitors over a two-day period last August – 9,200 on the first day alone.

Those attendance figures would shatter Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens’ attendance records over a similar time frame, Grajek said.

“The large size, the awful smell and the limited time of the bloom all contributed to the corpse flower’s unprecedented success at Phipps,” said Joe Reed, Phipps’ interactive markeing assistant.

“For me, the most exciting thing of all as to see people lined up by the hundreds to see and learn about a plant. There really is nothing else like it for public gardens.”

email: msommer@buffnews.com

Morty the Corpse Flower

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Erin Grajek

In early July 2014, the Botanical Gardens acquired three Amorphophallus titanum tubers and one is set to bloom. Corpse Flowers (its common name), are native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia and are famous for their horrible smell, like rotting flesh, while in bloom. Corpse Flowers can bloom every 6-10 years, making it a rare sight to see and smell!

Like many Corpse Flowers living at botanical gardens, ours has a name, Morty. Corpse Flowers can be quite challenging to grow so Morty’s “Undertaker”, Jeff Thompson, Director of Horticulture and our horticulture team are making sure it has the right conditions to thrive in our environment.
 
It is hard to predict when the plant may bloom but our best estimate of bloom time would be within ten days. Growing quickly, the bloom can grow about two to eight inches a day and can grow six to eight feet tall. When it finally blooms, the flower, and its accompanying stench, lasts only 24-48 hours.
 
Amorphophallus titanum is in the Arum family. The bloom or leaf come from the part of the plant called a corm. A corm is an underground tuber, a swollen plant stem that is a storage organ for plants. A corm is similar to a true bulb. This large structure looks like a big potato and according to his Undertaker; Morty’s corm weighed approximately 120 pounds when it arrived.
 
Morty will be on public display inside the Botanical Gardens and depending on the bloom, will be on display through August.  During its short bloom the Botanical Gardens plans to have extended hours. After it flowers the plant wilts and the stench fades. When not flowering, it will send up a green leaf structure.
 
Visitors can receive updates on the plant, extended hour information, fun facts, and its blooming stage on the Gardens’ Facebook page and through Morty’s Twitter Account @Mortystinks - “like” and “follow” to get regular updates. Use hashtags #corpseflower and #buffalogardens when posting!

Posted in corpseflower

Ransomville couple still married after all these (60) years

Posted on July 15, 2014 by Erin Grajek

Buffalo News
By Shawn Campbell | News Staff Reporter
on July 14, 2014 - 7:47 PM
See more photos here!

Shirley Metzler could only smile. She had wondered why a white limousine pulled up to her home in Ransomville earlier in the day. The drive to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens puzzled her, too.

But by around 3 o’clock Monday afternoon, it all added up.

“We are here for a reason,” Metzler’s husband, Melvin, told her as they sat at a table for two inside a greenhouse.

Before Shirley knew it, Melvin, dressed in a black suit, was down on one knee, grasping her right hand and popping the same question he asked so long ago.

Sixty years to the day after the couple said “I do,” Melvin got another “yes” from the love of his life.

The re-engagement wasn’t the only anniversary surprise, though.

Seated in front of a gazebo outside the greenhouse were more than a dozen family members, including the couple’s four daughters, ready to watch Melvin and Shirley Metzler renew their wedding vows.

“By the authority vested in me by the State of New York, I do now declare they are husband and wife ... still,” said Town of Porter Justice Wayne Pollow, drawing a round of laughs amid the touching ceremony. 

After receiving the cue, the new groom kissed his new bride, rekindling some memories of July 14, 1954, in San Diego. 

Two of Melvin and Shirley’s daughters live in Colorado and made the trip to Western New York for the special day. Monday also was the 35th wedding anniversary for their daughter and son-in-law, Melody and Tim Curry, of Ransomville.

The Metzlers, who own a small farm in Ransomville and have lived there for more than 40 years, have eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Since retirement, they have enjoyed travelling in their motor home.

“We just came back from Florida ... because I knew this was happening; she didn’t,” Melvin said.

Shirley never saw it coming.“It was a big shock. He didn’t tell me much of anything – just that we were going out to dinner,” she said as Melvin chuckled away. “Then the limo pulled up. I have never been in a limo. I said, ‘This must be for somebody else,’ but it was for us. ... The whole thing was a surprise.

”Melvin grew up in Bellefonte, Pa., before his family moved to Niagara Falls. A four-sport athlete at Trott Vocational High School who once had plans of playing professional baseball, he is a member of the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame. He served in the Navy and was stationed at San Diego when he married the former Shirley Taylor, a native of Bergholz. She met Melvin after she broke up with his best friend. (The men did remain close friends.)

When asked what the secret to a strong marriage is, Melvin and Shirley initially responded with one word each.

She said tolerance; He said love.  She liked his answer better.  “Love, that’s the main thing,” Shirley said. “And respect for each other. You’ve gotta have love. I can’t imagine life without him – I really can’t. It’s been a great ride.”

email: scampbell@buffnews.com

Enjoy outdoor gardens every day of the week at Botanical Gardens; if it rains, see exhibits inside

Posted on July 09, 2014 by Erin Grajek

Enjoy outdoor gardens every day of the week at Botanical Gardens; if it rains, see exhibits inside

Posted on www.buffalo-niagaragardening.com
July 8, 2014

gazebo at Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Explore the outdoor gardens at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

coleus showpiece at Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Check out the coleus showpiece. Perhaps you can take this idea and do it on a smaller scale in your garden. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofo

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Do you realize you can visit gardens every day of the week in Western New York?

There are garden walks as part of the National Garden Festival every weekend through Aug. 2.

Open Gardens continue on Thursdays and Friday through the end of July.

And each day you can visit the outdoor gardens of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

I think a lot of visitors to the Botanical Gardens walk in the front door and never realize what they’re missing outside.

There are lovely flower beds lining the front walkway, but step off the sidewalk and stroll to your left. You’ll find paths and a gazebo and sunny gardens and shady gardens.

One area is designated as the Bicentennial Peace Garden and commemorates two centuries of peace with Canada. The wonderful relationship we have that nation is something to be treasured. It’s a quiet, meditative spot where you can rest and relax.

colorful containers at Buffalo Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens brings the outdoors inside during the celebration of Coleus and Color Show. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Of course, if it rains, there’s plenty to see inside the Botanical Gardens.

The Celebration of Coleus and Color, sponsored by Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, continues through Sunday, July 27. In addition to the outside gardens, you’ll see spectacular displays inside. We gave you a preview of some of the coleus plants that are used as well as tips on creating containers. Now you can see the finished pieces.

For the kids, there are indoor and outdoor children’s gardens as well.

See all that the Botanical Gardens has to offer– outdoors as well as indoors.

Botanical Gardens launches new butterfly exhibit

Posted on June 09, 2014 by Erin Grajek

Buffalo News - City & Region

By Lisa Khoury | News Staff Reporter
on June 8, 2014 - 6:20 PM, updated June 9, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Liz Wheeler keeps butterfly pins, pictures and statues in and around her West Seneca home. The life of the insect – which starts as a caterpillar, becomes a butterfly and then lays eggs to renew the cycle – is symbolic for her family.

Her grandmother Jean, who died a few years ago, loved butterflies.

“When she started with cancer, they became a symbol of her changing life,” Wheeler said as tears filled her eyes. “Just how life evolves for you, and how when change comes it’s not necessarily bad.”

Wheeler, who has a multicolored butterfly tattoo on her forearm with “Hope” written in the middle, and her husband, Brian, took their three children to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens on Sunday for the launch of its first-ever Native Butterfly Exhibit. The exhibit has 15 to 20 Monarch butterflies, which are native to Western New York and parts of Canada.

The butterfly display and its adjacent chrysalis and caterpillar enclosure show the butterfly in its different stages of life. The exhibit will be open until early fall and is included in general admission, according to Marketing Director Erin Grajek.

The Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm in Clarence supplies the butterflies. The Botanical Gardens, in collaboration with the farm and a private donor, funded the new exhibit.

To celebrate the opening Sunday, the Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm set up an enclosed tent where visitors could interact with Monarch butterflies. John, Wheeler’s 9-year-old son, laughed as a Monarch landed on his palm, expanding its big orange and black wings. John often chases butterflies in his yard in West Seneca but has never been able to catch one.

“It feels like prickles touching you,” he said.

Throughout the summer, the gardens will be selling plants on which caterpillars and butterflies feed. Grajek hopes those who visit the exhibit purchase the host plants – particularly milkweed, the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source – for their gardens, to sustain the dwindling pollinator populations in Western New York. Residents can plant milkweed in their gardens for caterpillars to eat, as well as for butterflies to get nectar and lay their eggs.

Sunday, the Wheeler family bought milkweed, which has been disappearing from American fields over the past 10 years because farmers have switched to genetically modified corn and soybeans that are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate that kills other plants.

The Wheelers plan to plant the milkweed in the new garden they’re planting next to their front porch. Wheeler hopes the milkweed bring more butterflies around their home because she spots them only a couple of times per year.

To Wheeler, a butterfly’s symbol of the renewal and cycle of life is important for her 9-year-old, 5-year-old and 1-year-old children to see while growing up.

“Not all change is bad, that’s what they need to understand,” Wheeler said. “There’s a lot of changes and not everyone’s around for a long time and then things do happen. It might be a bad thing for a little while and you might not understand, but something good always comes out of it in some way, no matter what that situation may be.”

Butterflies, like bees, are pollinators that help produce flowers, which in turn contribute to producing food. “As a gardener, you kind of have to get used to half-eaten leaves because that’s a good thing and that means the caterpillars are there, they’re getting healthy and happy and they’ll eventually turn into a butterfly,” Grajek said.

The Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm will switch out the butterflies every couple weeks, as a butterfly’s lifespan is several weeks long. David O’Donnell, the owner of Eastern Monarch in Clarence, will bring in native butterflies like Viceroys, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Mourning Cloaks, White Admirals, Cabbage Whites and Common Sulfars.

Butterflies typically live for four to six weeks. Monarchs born in late August, though, migrate to Mexico and can live up to a year.

But in the last decade, there has been a steady decrease in the size of the migration. People often tear out milkweed from their yards because they think it smells bad or is an unnecessary plant. Farmers use herbicides more regularly throughout the country, which has killed many of the plants, according to the Internet website World Wild Life.

The number of Monarch butterflies that made it to Mexico in November 2013 was the lowest since 1993. Monarchs occupied 1.65 acres of forestland in Mexico last year, a 43.7 percent decrease from December 2012, World Wild Life reported. The Wheelers hope their new milkweed plants will help to keep more butterflies alive. Plus, the more butterflies that fly around their home, the more examples there will be for their children to witness the natural cycle of life.

email: lkhoury@buffnews.com

CLICK HERE for more photos!