Corpse Flower FAQ

You can watch live streams of our corpse flower throughout the blooming process at the following links: 

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What is that plant?

This plant is an Amorphophallus titanium, titan arum, more commonly called a corpse flower. It is comprised of a central spike, called a spadix, surrounded by a spathe, which looks like a large petal. It is called a corpse flower for the strong odor, like a rotting carcass, the plant emits when it blooms.

 

Where does it come from?

Titan arum is native to the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where it grows in the tropical rain forests.

 

How long has it been at Meijer Gardens? 

We received the plant as a one-year-old seedling in August of 2000. Since then, it has been growing in our back greenhouses. Back then it fit in a 4.5” pot!

 

What’s with the smell?

The plant releases strong odors to attract carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) that pollinate the plant. In addition to the smell, the plant also heats up to about 98 degrees (roughly human body temperature), and is a deep red color, which serves to attract those pollinators. Read this blog post from Chicago Botanic Garden to learn more about the chemical makeup of the smell.

 

How long does the bloom last?

Titan arum blooms for a short time, it will start to wilt after about 24 hours.

 

Will it bloom again? 

Yes! There is a lot of variation among plants, so it is difficult to predict. Some bloom as soon as the next year, others take another 7-10 years. The average is every 4-6 years.

 

Why did it take so long to bloom?

Titan arum stores energy in its corm, like a bulb. The plant will send up a leaf, that looks like a small tree, that sends energy to the corm. When the corm has enough energy stored up, it will produce a bloom. Putricia’s corm weighed in at 52 pounds this past May.

Leaf and Corm

Left, our Director of Horticulture Steve LaWarre pictured with the titan arum leaf. Right, the titan arum corm, weighing in at 50+ pounds

 

How big can they get?

Titan arum can reach more than ten feet in height!

 

Is this the biggest flower in the world?

Sort of! You can say that titan arum is the biggest flowering structure in the world. The actual flowers are very small, and can be found on the inside of the plant, near the base of the spadix. The plant produces both male and female flowers. Plants like this one are called inflorescence, which means a stalk of many flowers. Calla Lilies have the same structure as the corpse flower.

 

Why did you name this plant?

It is a tradition among botanic gardens to name corpse flowers because they are so rare and unique. Their large size also make quite a statement! Our horticulture team lovingly named our corpse flower “Putricia,” for the putrid smell. Chicago Botanic Garden named theirs “Spike,” Cornell University dubbed theirs “Wee Stinky,” and “Rosie” lives at Tuscon Botanical Gardens, to name a few.

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Entering into a new chapter at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

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Since opening in 1995, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has evolved into a major cultural attraction focusing on horticulture, sculpture, the natural environment and the arts. Our Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love campaign means that a number of exciting changes are coming, and we’re thrilled that you’re along for the ride.

We have heard from our members and guests that being able to see our progress up close as it happens is desirable. We are making every effort to allow you to safely witness the expansion while maintaining the high quality of horticulture and sculpture presentations that we are known for.

Come watch us grow in person and follow our progress online at www.meijergardens.org/growing

Beginning Monday, July 9, guests will notice the start of a new era here at Meijer Gardens. As you arrive for a visit, please follow all posted signs to help find your way and feel free to ask our helpful staff members and volunteers if you have any questions.

Some things that you can expect to see over the next several months:

  • Parking Lot A will be closed and our handicap accessible parking spots will be moved closer to the new entrance.
  • The Peter C. and Pat Cook Entry Arbor and PNC Bank Garden Portico (the glass covered walkway under which you used to enter the building) will be removed and recycled. All guests will enter through the temporary entrance that has been rising over the last few months.
  • A new temporary entrance is ready for visitors. Guests will now enter through this building and approach the Welcome Desk from the west. This will be the main entrance until our new Welcome Center opens.

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Masayuki Koorida: Beyond Existence

Masayuki Koorida is well known for his landmark work Existence in The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. For all its quiet majesty and widespread admiration, Existence represents but one aspect of Koorida’s repertoire.

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Existence in the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

In the last decade, Koorida has emerged as among the most elegant voices in Contemporary sculpture. Although he has exhibited in China, Japan and across Europe, the Meijer Gardens exhibition is among his very first in the United States. Sculpture at a variety of scales and in a variety of media will be featured.

Born and trained in Kyoto, Japan, Koorida lives and works primarily from a studio in Shanghai, China. As a sculptor who works frequently with large stones, the studio in China places him in close contact with abundant stone quarries, but also allows him an opportunity to have the large industrial space needed for carving and polishing. From here, Koorida operates a very hands-on studio with very few assistants. He is deeply, physically engaged with his work.

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Koorida at work in his studio

Audiences will undoubtedly be surprised to encounter both grand and intimate scale sculptures in which the rigors of geometry and geometrically-based imagery play a significant role. Patterned forms involving the circle and sphere abound. Each is rendered with careful attention to the form and a meticulous treatment of the surface. The latter is made even more astonishing when recognizing these affects are the results of human hands. Although Koorida often uses titles like “seed” or “flower” for such sculptures, the works themselves are more scientific and mathematical, than natural and organic in form or as seen with the naked eye.

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Granite, in a completely carved and highly polished form, plays a prominent role, but so too does black and white marble. In its precise state, with completely and carefully articulated surfaces, such work may feel in opposition to the rugged and only partially carved properties of Existence. Hand polished to a mirror finish, his sculptures are deceiving because they appear machined. But more than stone, gleaming works in stainless steel and acrylic will also be featured. Using industrial materials, Koorida challenges us to think beyond Existence.

One final element to note is an extraordinary group of drawings that Koorida has created specifically for Meijer Gardens. These are not small sketches or preparatory renderings, but monumental presentations that can evoke the same sense of awe as the sculptures themselves.  Second, although the decided use of geometry may seem familiar, close inspection reveals the cohesion of thousands of individual pencil strokes that combine to create singular forms. By any measure, these never before seen works will leave a lasting impression.

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Masayuki Koorida: Beyond Existence is a significant endeavor devoted to a deeper understanding of the sculptor and his sculpture. Considered with the granite ensemble in the Japanese Garden, it provides a meaningful opportunity to come to know a master beyond one masterpiece. This exhibition has been organized exclusively with the artist and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park._DSC0441.jpg

Spring Break at Meijer Gardens

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Enjoy all that Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has to offer during spring break week!

The annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition at Meijer Gardens is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. Thousands of tropical butterflies from around the world fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. Throughout the exhibition, there is special educational programming and the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden offers butterfly-themed activities.

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We are also honored to display a selection of 70 works from American sculptor Beverly Pepper. These works range from the early 1950s through present day and are part of Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper. From sketches capturing scenes of everyday life and landscape views to abstract explorations of space and form to technical drawings and independent prints, the exhibition will evidence one of the most profound artistic careers in recent memory.

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While you’re here, don’t miss our newest hands-on experience for all ages, Inside/Outside: An Interactive Sculpture Experience for Families. Each of the educational stations includes a hands-on activity that underscores concepts of featured sculptures. Inside/Outside: An Interactive Sculpture Experience for Families is yet another way that we encourage children to bond with sculpture and foster a lifelong enjoyment of the arts!

Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper

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Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is honored to present the premier exhibition of drawings and prints by iconic Contemporary sculptor, Beverly Pepper. Known regionally for her soaring steel Galileo’s Wedge, a favorite in our Sculpture Park since 2009, Pepper’s monumental sculptures are celebrated from Manhattan to San Francisco. Our galleries will display more than seventy works, dating from the 1950s to present. Never before seen in public, these works on paper are a treasury of ideas and forms.

Pepper Steel

Pepper first emerged on the international scene in 1962 as the only female artist to be invited to exhibit her early steel creations with established figures like Alexander Calder and David Smith. Her career has been both prolific and prodigious across the course of Contemporary art. A pioneering force for women in the visual arts, Pepper joins Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois to form the quartet of female sculptors foundational to opening doors for young women artists.

This exhibition coincides with the artist’s 95th birthday and celebrate her extraordinary gift to Meijer Gardens that spans nearly 900 sketches, drawings, prints and notebooks, as well as a series of models, including Galileo’s Wedge. Among the rarities of her gift is a series of sketchbooks Pepper maintained over her career. Although Pepper’s sculptures are featured in prominent public and private collections across the globe, her works on paper–especially her drawings–are little known yet have a critical role in her studio practice and trace the trajectory of her career, from observational life studies to abstraction.

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Born in Brooklyn, Pepper trained at both the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York. She enjoyed a successful early career in advertising before leaving America for an impoverished, post-World War II France to become an artist. There, she studied with Modern masters Fernand Léger and André Lhote. She also met and married fellow American Bill Pepper (1917-2014), a reporter turned bureau chief for Newsweek and acclaimed author. The couple settled in Rome, where Pepper established her first studio. For more than a half century, they divided their time and respective creative endeavors between Italy and New York.

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The exhibition opens with a series of extraordinary street drawings of post-war Rome that depict Pepper’s fascination with the remnants of the Old World giving way to the new. These drawings capture workers and wives, children and Cardinals in everyday life. A trip to Southeast Asia in 1960 captivated the artist and led to a dramatic change in style; still figurative, these new drawings were decidedly abstracted and served as a springboard for her non-representational imagery. In her bountiful two-dimensional works from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, the mature Pepper shows her full command of an abstract vocabulary of forms, conquering a quest for a sense of monumentality. Some drawings are sketches for sculptures, others are highly detailed studies. When she begins making prints, the relationship between two- and three-dimensional imagery extends even further. In Pepper’s repertoire, the dialogue among all forms is fluent and flawless.

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From her studio in the Umbrian countryside, Pepper continues to draw and make sculpture. Since the 1990s, her drawings often link to her sculptures yet are bold explorations of form. Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper is a groundbreaking exhibition of one of America’s greatest living artists and a grateful commemoration of one of the most important legacy gifts made to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park– a true cause for celebration and exploration.

Winter in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden

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Have you discovered winter fun and many ways for adults and even the youngest curious minds to get outside and learn through play during this frosty season?

Winter Time Walks, held throughout the week and weekend, are hosted by PALs and highlight winter, Christmas and holiday traditions. Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am and Saturdays at 11:15 am during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World, guests are invited to explore the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden with themed walks that are followed by a correlating storytime. These themes are Garden Carol, Mitten Motifs, Tree Dance, Winter Wonderland, Bird Senses, and Children’s Garden Pioneers.

Sung to the 12 days of Christmas during Garden Carol, guests take walks through the garden as a group of true friends finds for them several exciting features that highlight the Children’s Garden.

With Mitten Motifs guests learn multicultural appreciation through designs and symbols on mittens that come from around the globe and even attempt to all fit in the “mitten- shape” at the map of Michigan in the Great Lakes Garden.

Tree Dance invites guests of all ages to find the rhythm and the motion of trees, taking a closer look at the shapes each canopy makes in the winter.

Guests will be invigorated by going on a snowflake hunt throughout the Butterfly Maze after learning about their hexagonal shape on a Children’s Garden Winter Wonderland Walk.

Learning the calls of plush birds and how birds use their senses in the Kid-Sense Garden is the highlight of Bird Senses.

Finally, after learning about animals in their winter homes made from natural materials, find engaging chores in a people home made with similar resources in with Children’s Garden Pioneers.

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After the thrill of Winter-time Walks, Winter-themed and Christmas and Holiday Traditions-themed storytimes wrap up in January, guests bundle up and venture out into the Children’s Garden to explore tracks and permanent features in the snow. Self-guided play is encouraged during the months of January and February, until we invite guests to celebrate winter with Winter Family Day on February 10th from 1-4 pm with complimentary hot chocolate, ice sculpture, winter craft, a Naturalist Walk and more.

The Lena Meijer Children’s Garden is the place to be this winter for guests of all ages!

Volunteer of the Year: Nancy LePage

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Volunteer of the Year Nancy LePage (second from left) pictured with Meijer Gardens Volunteer Manager Amber Oudsema (left), HR Manager Angela Violet (second from right) and HR/Volunteer Coordinator Jess Knapp (right)

By Nancy Crawley

Don’t look for the 2017 Volunteer Of The Year in the main halls of Meijer Gardens or the conservatories or the outdoor gardens.

You’ll find Nancy LePage in the lower-level offices, far from the pathways used by visitors and most other volunteers.

There, the cheerful, hard-working 73-year-old spends two or three days a week doing secretarial work for the bustling communications department.

She manages files and archives, inputs data, updates the website, proofreads, and does tedious jobs that demand time and concentration. “I tell people I’ll do any dirt job,” she says with a laugh and twinkle in her eyes.

A volunteer for about 14 years, Nancy was honored Oct. 25 at the annual Connie Snell Volunteer Recognition Dinner where hundreds of volunteers as well as staff members gathered to recognize outstanding volunteers.

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Nancy LePage presented with her award

There, with tears in her eyes, the surprised and delighted Nancy received her award, and lots of hugs, from Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker and Volunteer Manager Amber Oudsema. Of course, communications staffers were in the audience to cheer for her.

Nancy is a transplant from the east side of the state. She was born and raised in Northwest Detroit, and she and her husband Ron raised three children in Woodhaven, south of Detroit.

She held a variety of jobs, including executive secretary at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers headquarters in Dearborn. Later, she ran her own secretarial services business.

After they retired, the couple moved to the Grand Rapids area to be near their daughter and grandchildren. It wasn’t long after she arrived that a neighbor suggested she try volunteering at Meijer Gardens.

But Nancy didn’t start out in the communications office. First, she tried several other volunteer roles. When the communications spot opened, she was interviewed by the director of communications, Roger Bleiler. “We really hit it off,” she said, and now she enjoys working with the entire staff.

She has been in the office for 12 years, working 12-14 hours a week. In total, she has chalked up more than 5,600 volunteer hours.

“As you age, you want to feel useful, that your talents and skills are beneficial,” she said. “If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it.”

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Nancy pictured with Meijer Gardens President & CEO David Hooker