Gardening: A work in progress

Coreopsis is a summer favorite; we'll see if this one thrives.
Coreopsis is a summer favorite; I hope this one thrives.

Now that it’s mid-April, plant sales are springing up all over. I spent much of yesterday in search of Black-eyed Susans to replace my pair that did not survive the Winter, and some more of those diaphanous Indian feathers I discovered last year.

I found neither. But, I did come home with some willowy (I’m hoping) coreopsis and several angelonia, which I am delighted to find should bush out quite a bit and bloom all Summer long.

Leopard's bane, backed by an Indian feather and a purple angelonia.
Leopard’s bane, backed by  Indian feathers and a new purple angelonia.

Since I couldn’t find any Black-eyed Susans, I would have bought several more of both the coreopsis and the angelonia, but I happened upon that particular high school plant sale a little too late. Most of the flowers I liked had already been plucked by other gardeners.

The flower bed in front of the house is filling out, although I think I need to get some more heuchera to keep the ones I have company. The bleeding hearts are blooming, though,and so is the Indian Hawthorn I brought home last year.

Out back, I repositioned and fertilized the hydrangea and planted my husband’s tomatoes, as well as the new butterfly bush I found for just $5. If everything grows as planned, we should enjoy a colorful Summer.

Get wild in the city: The Saint Louis Zoo

I’m like a kid when it comes to the Z-O-O. Mention those three letters in succession and I am prowling the Internet, in search of snow leopards and polar bears.

My husband’s latest assignment landed him in Saint Louis. I was able to visit after a few long months, and my first outing (after we spent a chilly evening exploring the city around the hotel), was to the St. Louis Zoo.

Bordered by Government Drive and Wells Drive in 1,371-acre Forest Park, the zoo is family-friendly, and mostly free. I parked on the outskirts, in order to bypass the parking fee, and walked nearly a mile before I asked a parent the grown-up equivalent of, “Are we there yet?” Just around the corner, was the reply, so I knew then I was heading in the right direction.

Looking back at the map now, I could have saved myself some time in finding the objects of my affection, because I apparently took the long way around. But there was much to see around every corner.

tall giraffe
No zoo visit is complete without seeing a few giraffes.

I found the Bird House and Bird Garden, which included a burrowing owl, and several Collie’s jays. I took pictures of both, but the jays are extremely lively and the owl was a bit too far away to get the snapshots as clear as I wanted.

I did manage a few peeks at Kali, the new bear on the block (he has lived at the zoo for less than a year). Popular with children, Kali was looking for treats that afternoon, and quickly found some.

polar bear looking
Kali was orphaned in the wild, but responds well to visitors.
polar bear yum
Kali enjoying an afternoon snack.

Once I made my way to Big Cat Country at Red Rocks, I began my search for snow leopards. I found one, sleeping comfortably, in the crook of a tall tree.

DSCN2304 (2)
Snow leopards are known for their big paws and long, bushy tails.

I also found a gorgeous Amur leopard, also napping the afternoon away. Amur leopards are even more rare than snow leopards; they are nearly extinct in the wild.

amur leopard
Breathtakingly beautiful, Amur leopards are also known as Far East leopards. They are critically endangered.

No less beautiful, but more intent on exploring its habitat, was a nearby jaguar.

leopard
Unlike some of the other big cats, this jaguar was wide awake.

I made a few more trips to see the snow and the Amur leopard before I left the zoo. I missed seeing the cougar (who must have been sleeping away from prying eyes), and the tiger was awake, but not wanting to sit still for pictures.

The male lion, however, obliged.

daddy lion
This handsome fellow kept both eyes on me, until he became bored with my picture taking and moved away.
daddy lion mane
While the female hid in the shadows, her mate was more interested in finding a nice spot in the sun.

All good trips must come to an end, and I had to find my way back to the car. I headed out, as I had a long walk. I was amused on the way out by a gorilla, who was tossed a bag of goodies by a zookeeper. He grabbed the bag and ran, to enjoy his snack, out of sight.

gorilla gimme that
This Western lowland gorilla grabbed its lunch and disappeared.