Photos and article by Cydney Ross, Outdoor Education Manager

During the growing season, plant and nature enthusiasts meet five times a month at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center. Organized by Deep Roots and Missouri Department of Conservation, get your hands dirty as we explore seasonal gardening topics. Do you like birds and flowers but aren’t sure where to start? Are you a Master Gardener or Naturalist who wants to advance their native plant knowledge? With hands-on learning, Work and Learn Gardening Days are great for inexperienced and advanced gardeners alike. Feel empowered and learn skills alongside native gardening experts and enthusiasts! From plant ID to seasonal and species-specific maintenance tips, there’s always something to learn while outdoors. Plus, we have tons of fun! Each workshop ends with a naturalist-led garden tour as we talk all things Missouri flora and fauna. Often laughter can be heard across the grounds, which makes sense when a bunch of effervescent plantspeople get together.

The Deep Roots demonstration garden is located on the west side of the Discovery Center grounds, past the pond. This garden underwent a major makeover this past year with the vision to inspire homeowners to add native plants to their own landscape. Over 100 plants were installed from the Sweet Sixteen: Most Likely to Succeed native plant list for their common availability, ease of maintenance, and tolerance of site conditions. Volunteers learned basic landscape design and how to install plants, pathways, borders, and places for visitors to sit and enjoy the garden. Additionally, we learned about stormwater bioswales, how to plant in an established native garden, plus identified removal methods for non-native invasive species.

Of the forty people who joined us last year, four volunteers stood out in the landscape by attending ten or more workdays in 2023. Thank you for your dedication and congratulations on your achievement!

  • Kelly Finn (30+ sessions!)
  • Shelly Shipley (26 sessions)
  • Robin Wall (16 sessions)
  • Hunter Gale (10 sessions)

Over the seasons I’ve grown to know and look forward to seeing you all at the Discovery Center. As champion volunteers you are dependable and bring thoughtfulness and insight to the garden. A sincere thank you to all our volunteers. You are an integral part of a healthy community ecosystem and it’s clear that you understand what you plant matters.

Being in the garden feels great especially when you’re learning with others. This year we are offering more topics and opportunities to meet other nature enthusiasts! View the full 2024 schedule of Work and Learn Gardening Days and sign up today.

Is there a specific topic you would like to learn? We’d love to hear from you! Send an email to