Category Archives: What’s new?

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Gardening for Hummingbirds, Tracy Koehler, Horticulturist U City in Bloom

I love having hummingbirds visit my garden and look forward to it every year. I have never had feeders but instead choose to use annuals and perennials to feed these tiny, beautiful birds. I usually plant containers with nectar plants near a doorway or window to get a good view of the birds. There are so many plants that attract hummingbirds to choose from and easy ways to find them. A few internet resources you can use to search for plant recommendations are the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder, Missouri Wildflower Nursery, and

If you want to use feeders there are some things to keep in mind.      In an Audubon article, “Turn Your Yard into a Hummingbird Spectacular”, Scott Weidensaul gives dos Continue reading Gardening for Hummingbirds

Rain gardens/Bird garden cleanup

Spring is in session at the Heman Park Bird Garden.  Saturday’s workday included a great presentation from U City in Bloom’s Betty Withrow about the benefits of rain gardens and the how to’s of creating one.  

A rain garden is a shallow landscaped depression that functions as a detention and filtration area for rain water.  Rain gardens are beneficial as they help to reduce runoff, minimizing erosion Continue reading Rain gardens/Bird garden cleanup

February 2017–What’s in Bloom?

An unseasonably warm stretch in February and nature is bursting open! Enjoy some beautiful blooms around U City photographed by our own Horitcultural Director, Jesse Gilberson.  While it is easy to get anxious to start clearing away the winter coverage, don’t be fooled as cold weather will likely be back and the tender new plant growth needs the cover of the leaves or mulch to be ready when Spring comes to stay. 

U City in Bloom Volunteer Dates

Are you looking for a new way to help in our community? Or do you work full-time during the week, but still would love to help in the gardens?  We now offer Saturday morning workdays during the growing season so you can make an impact on your schedule.  Come share your experience, and since each Saturday has a different focus, you’re sure to learn from our experience too.  

To volunteer, simply give reach out to us by clicking here:  Volunteer

 Upcoming Saturday opportunities for Volunteers:

March 4, 2017 – Bus Shelter blitz clean-up  10 am – 12 noon;  

March 18, 2017 – Rain Garden in the Bird Garden 9 am – 12 noon

April 22, 2017 – Earth Day Tree Planting 9 am – 12 noon

May 20, 2017 – Planting at the new       Hanley/Washington/Kingsbury garden 9 am – 12 noon

 June 17, 2017 – Tree Tour, Trees of U City 9 am – 12 noon

 July 15, 2017 – High School Blitz clean-up 9 am – 12 noon

 August 19, 2017 – Lewis Park clean-up 9 am – 12 noon

These regular Saturday U City in Bloom workdays will be directed by one of our 3 horticulturists, you will work while learning from an expert.  The days are 9 am – noon, unless otherwise noted.  An email will be sent ahead of time for location if not already assigned, and will be available on the web site.

Bring your own garden gloves, and if you have any hand tools you prefer, please bring those.  We usually have a water jug available, but feel free to bring a beverage if you would like.  In return for your volunteer help you will make wonderful new friends, learn gardening skills from experts, and have the satisfaction of bringing beauty to our city.  

 These events are a great way for individuals and families to meet people and help beautify our community!  Come join us! 

Continue reading U City in Bloom Volunteer Dates

U City in Bloom Volunteers


U City in Bloom was at its inception in 1985 an all-volunteer group. Three years ago, UCB’s success and growth lead to transitioning to an organization under the direction of a Board of Directors.  The Board employs a part-time Executive Director and a full-time Horticultural Director with two full-time staff.  Our Board members bring expertise in finance, law, fundraising, social media, and journalism to the table.  Several are certified Master Gardeners.  They are all volunteers and volunteers are still the heart of U City in Bloom.  Without support from hundreds of volunteers, U City in Bloom’s work could not be done. 

Some volunteer jobs involve working in the gardens, but not all do – there is something to fit your interests, skills, and activity level.  Here is just a partial list of volunteer opportunities with U City in Bloom:

  • Work with Horticulturalist Jesse Gilbertson and his terrific staff in our gardens Monday – Friday throughout the year.  Jesse posts an email telling volunteers where they will be needed prior to the start of each work day.  Join his email list to receive notifications and show up when you can; no prior notice is necessary.
  • Do you work full-time during the week, but still would love to help in the gardens?  During the growing season, occasional Saturday morning workdays are also planned.
  • U City in Bloom maintains vegetable gardens at our public schools which teach students about nature, where our food comes from and how it grows, and what constitutes a healthy diet.  UCB founder Mary Ann Shaw is in charge of this important educational initiative and would love help on their work days with the children in the gardens.
  • Volunteer to be responsible for watering a specific garden or two as needed in dry weather. 
  • Once a year the Loop planters are filled with annuals, and later greenery and ribbons bedeck them for the winter holiday season.  These two projects are an early morning blitz to get the work done before Delmar gets busy with traffic.
  • Join the hardy souls dividing perennial plants and potting them up for sale at our Annual Plant Sale in April.  Work begins as soon as plants begin to emerge in the early spring and is done in (almost) all weathers.  Volunteers work at the Mary Fahey Pavilion at the Vernon Nursery, and those with strong backs can also help dig up donated plants from donors’ gardens.  Linda Fried leads this important project.
  • The Annual Plant Sale is a big push and major fundraiser.  It’s held on the last full weekend in April and begins early Friday morning bringing the potted plants over from the Vernon Nursery and setting them up in the Heman Park Community Center.  Later that afternoon, we prepare for the Preview Party which is held that evening.  At the party, and during Saturday and Sunday sale hours, we need people to tote up the prices of customers’ selections, cashiers to take their money, people behind the tables of plants refreshing them with more pots as plants are sold, and a clean-up crew.  No prior experience necessary!
  • Another fundraiser is held in the fall.  In 2017, this will be our biennial U City in Bloom Garden Tour on Sunday, September 24.  If you think you would like to be on the Planning Committee, it involves committing to a monthly meeting during the months preceding the Tour.  We need a new volunteer coordinator this year.  If this is a special skill of yours, we’d love to hear from you!  On the day of the Tour, we need people to be hosts in the gardens, to set up the closing reception at City Hall, and to help clean up afterwards.

In return for your volunteer help you will make wonderful new friends, learn gardening skills from experts, and have the satisfaction of bringing beauty to our city.  Take the first step in volunteering by registering here.

U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Event

Artist at UCB Plein Air eventThe weather was perfect for U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Competition and Reception on Sunday, September 18.  Thirty artists checked at Centennial Commons early that morning then fanned out across the designated locations, set up their easels, and got down to business.  Many found the fountain in Heman Park, just steps away from where they checked in, appealing, while others enjoyed the butterflies and flowers filling the nearby Bird Habitat Garden.  Several were drawn to the iconic lions in front of City Hall and the “Fish on a Bicycle” sculpture in Lewis Park.  One enterprising person planted herself in the roundabout to paint the view of the Loop down Delmar from that perspective.  The finished creations were judged by Michael Lucas, Anne Murphy, and Elinor Ruder at 4 PM.  Guests arrived at 6 PM to view the artwork, enjoy food and drink, and bid on an appealing array of items in a silent auction.  At least four of the day’s artworks went home with attendees.

First place winner, Allen Kriegshauser, second place winner, Mary Dee Schmidt, and third place winner, Margaret von Kaenel, will exhibit the work created at the competition along with other examples of their creativity in The Gallery of the University City Public Library.  Xu Zhen, who cleverly depicted Continue reading U City in Bloom’s Plein Air Event

The Olive Challenge–UPDATE!


In our 2015 November year end giving letter we announced the new initiative to beautify the Olive Boulevard corridor and look what we have been able to do with your help!Mayor Welsch and UCB staff & volunteers

 Last week, Mayor Shelley Welsch, along with U City in BloomExecutive Director, Judy Prange, UCB Board President, Jack Breier, and UCB staff and volunteers gathered to celebrate the success of the “Olive Challenge,” which reached its fundraising goal this week. Unfortunately for the humans, Continue reading The Olive Challenge–UPDATE!


Celebrate the Beauty of University City!

A Plein Air Art Competition

Presented by U City in Bloom on September 18th, 2016   at Centennial Commons, 7210 Olive Boulevard, University City, MO

Jo Seltzer plein air paintingWatch artists create their works during the day from 9 AM- 3 PM in Heman Park, Lewis Park, and around the historic University City Civic Plaza. Finished art work will be judged at 4 PM. The art will be displayed inside Centennial Commons and available for purchase during the evening event which begins at 6 PM.


Beautifying Olive Blvd in U City

Check it out!  The beautification efforts have begun! The first phase of planters are in and plants are in place!

The beauty for Olive Blvd
The beauty for Olive Blvd

The Background:  Olive Blvd. stretches four miles through the center of University City, from the light industrial district on our eastern border, along Heman Park, and westward to I-170 through the International District of Asian shops, businesses, and restaurants. Olive Blvd. is often the first impression a visitor to our community has. Over the years, the City worked to make this important corridor more attractive. Decorative street lights in some areas, and a grant program to encourage business owners to freshen up the facades of their buildings are among these efforts. U City in Bloom has partnered with the City to improve Olive Blvd. and received funding from EDRST (the Economic Development and Retail Sales Tax fund) for thirty three-foot square planters. These large planters, are currently being placed and planted on Olive Boulevard from the western city limit to Woodson Road, will brighten the streetscape at this important entrance.

The Olive Challenge:  Earlier this spring, a couple talked with U City in Bloom about making a significant financial contribution. They learned about the planters  and were excitied by this new effort to enhance a street which is an important part of their family’s history as well as U City. They offered to donate $10,000 to add more planters at bus stops along the length of Olive. Additionally, they challenged U City in Bloom to raise additional money to further this beautification project.   If U City in Bloom can raise up to $16,000, they will add another $6,000 to their gift.

How to expand the planters further down Olive Blvd:    U City in Bloom is appreciative of the support  it has enjoyed from the City of University City and its citizens for over thirty years. First impressions count! Help us make this vital route through the center of University City more welcoming. Donations of any size are appreciated.

You can use the convenience of your PayPal or Credit card account to make a contribution by simply clicking on the link below:

Enter “Olive Beautification” in the “In memory/honor” field so your donation will count toward the match.

Thank you for your continued support to make our community a more beautiful place to live and visit.