Horticulture Supervisor, Kyle Cheesborough
The northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) is a large, deciduous tree native to Missouri. The almost chartreuse-green, heart-shaped leaves give this tree a tropical feel and the flowers in late spring are a stunning addition. A delicacy for a variety of bees and the only host plant for the catalpa sphinx moth, the northern catalpa also attracts hummingbirds. Though the northern catalpa is a well-shaped, attractive, native tree growing up to 60’, it can be messy. The falling flowers are very slippery on pavement and the long, bean-like pods that develop and persist into winter can be a nuisance. There are northern catalpa throughout the cemetery.
Ballerina-flower (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’), so named for the flowers that resembled a troupe of dancing ballerinas. The ballerina-flower is a tender perennial, not always reliable in a tough Missouri winter. The flowers emerge in mid-to-late spring, and persist into summer, until hot weather sets in, at which point the blooms almost completely disappear. In the fall, as temperatures cool, ballerina-flower will put on a second show of numerous white blooms, dancing in the slightest breeze. The ballerina-flower is planted in Wildwood Valley.
Known to many as an overly-aggressive water plant, blooming native water-lily (Nymphaea odorata) quickly covers the surface of small ponds and is powerfully fragrant. As temperatures warm, the white blooms appear in large numbers, being very attractive to native bee species and beetles that feed on the pollen. Muskrats and beavers seek out the roots and leaves of Nymphaea odorata as a food source, as well as turtles. Of course, the real star in the picture here is the Black-Crowned Night Heron hiding among the leaves of the thalia in the background, stalking the fish that live in Cascade Lake.
compiled by Cara L. Crocker