Friday, August 26, 2016

Exbury Gardens





The Exbury Gardens, located in Hampshire, England, are a real treat for the eyes!  In fact, in December of 2011, they were awarded the Hudson's Heritage UK "Best Garden" award.                     

The gardens contains over 200 acres of rhododendrons, azaleas, and a plethora of rare trees  and shrubs.  They are the inspiration of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild  who passed away in 2009.  Today, his grandchildren carry on the legacy.


 There are several ways to view the gardens. You can walk on the numerous trails, you can ride a chauffer-driven buggy, or you can do my favorite thing:  ride a miniature steam locomotive through the gardens. 
 

The train will pass through the Summer Lane garden.  From there, you'll catch glimpses of the rock garden, followed by the wildlife pond.  Next, you'll pass the plant nursery and exotic fruit patch.  Then you'll pass by the sunflower field, which if you visit in the summer, is just amazing!  Finally, you'll loop around the oldest tree in the garden:  the Domesday Yew.  The train ride takes about 20 minutes.






The gardens are open daily from March to early November.  Admission for adults is 14 British pounds and 4 British pounds for children.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Five Things to Do with Your Garden Tomatoes









Did you plant tomatoes this year?  If you did, I bet you have a plethora of them now.  Are you wondering what to do with them?  Here are some ideas:

1.  Roast them:  Core the tomatoes and cut in half horizontally.  Place them in a glass baking dish.  Drizzle with about a 1/2 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place in a 200 degree oven and bake 2-3 hours.  Cool.  Refrigerate or freeze with the oil.  Roasted tomatoes can be used for pizza, rissoto, and salad dressing.

2.  Make a BLT.   These are great summer sandwiches.  Get some applewood smoked bacon, sourdough bread, lettuce, mayonaise, and of course, tomatoes.

3.  Make a super-easy sauce.  Core, seed, and dice your tomatoes.  Toss with 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing, 1 Tablespoon fresh minced garlic, and 2 Tablespoons of fresh cut up basil leaves.  Mix it all together and serve over hot pasta.

4.  Do you have more time?  Try making a cooked sauce.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add 1 diced onion and cook until soft.  Add 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and 1 cup of chopped carrots.  Cook about 2 minutes.  Add about 3 pounds of peeled, cored, and seeded tomatoes.  Cook on low for about an hour.  Cool and puree in batches in a food processor or blender.  Return to pot and add 2 teaspoons sugar, 1-2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon oregano.  Cook until sauce is desired consistancy.  Use immediately, or cool and freeze.

5.  Can them.  Peel and core your tomatoes.  Leave them whole.  Sterilize jars and keep them in a deep pot of hot water.  In each quart-sized jar, place 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Pack tomatoes into the jar, leaving about an inch at the top.  Ladle boiling water into the jars.  Place lids and bands on.  Place jars in the deep pot, cover, and boil about 40 minutes.  Turn off the heat, wait 5 minutes, remove jars, and let them cool.

What do you do with your tomatoes?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Michigan 4-H Children's Garden





The Michigan 4-H Children's Garden is located on the campus of Michigan State University.  It opened in 1993, as one of five gardens that are part of the Michigan State University Horticulture Demonstration Gardens.


 The children's garden covers about half an acre, and it features 30 different play areas.  These include a dinosaur garden, a pizza garden, a Peter Rabbit garden, an ABC Kindergarten garden, a Teddy Bear and Animal garden, a Storybook garden, and an Alice in Wonderland Maze which leads to a secret garden.




  Some of the fun things kids can do are find lambs ear and feel the leaves, smell chocolate mint, dance on dance chimes, and cross over the Monet bridge.
 The garden is open Monday through Friday from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free, but parking is $3.00 for 1 1/2 hours or $5.00 for 3 hours.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to Make a Succulent Container Garden


All of the hot weather we've been experiencing has made me grateful for the succulents in my garden.  They can handle the heat, and don't need a lot of water.  They also come in a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and sizes.

Succulents are easy to grow in containers.  Here's how to do it:

1.  Choose the succulents you wish to use.  Two to four different types work nicely.  Here are some possibilities:  Hens and chickens, aloe vera, jade plants, and donkey's tail.

2.  Select a container.  Shallow bowls with good drainage work well. I use the same kind that I use for planting my container lettuce garden.

3.  Design your garden.  Do this with the plants still in the pots.  Place them in such a way to create interesting texture and color combinations.

4.  Use cactus potting mix when you're ready to plant them.  You can also use sand and small pebbles around them to create an interesting effect.  I think black river stones look nice, too.

5.  Place in a location that gets a few hours of direct sun, and a good amount of indirect sunlight.  Too much direct sunlight isn't good.  It'll burn the leaves.

6.  Keep the soil moist, but not wet.  In the winter, when the plants are dormant, water less frequently.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Viceroy's Palace Garden





The Viceroy's Palace Garden, located in New Delhi, India is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.  It is part of the property of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India

The garden covers 13 acres.  It was designed in the late 1920s by Edwin Lutyens.  There are beautiful ornamental fountains, walls, gazebos, flowering trees, gorgeous flowers, and shrubs.  Indians call it "God's own Heaven." 


                                               

The gardens are open to the public only two weeks out of the year, in late February and early March.  Expect security to be tight, but it is certainly well-worth the visit!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Ault Park







Ault Park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a little gem that was very close to where I used to live in Cincinnati .  It's a 224 acre park in the Hyde Park/Mount Lookout area of Cincinnati.

 The gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect, Albert D. Taylor, and named after Levi and Ida Ault who played a big roll in developing Cincinnati parks.  They  were opened to the public on May 30, 1930.  The gardens have changed quite a bit through the years.  Today, the main attractions are a dahlia garden, and the Hilda Rothchilde Memorial Old Fashioned Rose Garden.



 There is also an Italian-style Pavilion located on the grounds, which is a popular site for weddings. 


The gardens are open year round from 6 AM to 10 PM.  Admission is free.




Before I go, I'd like to share a promo video that I did for the upcoming anthology, The Thing That Turned Me. Release date will be the end of August. (It's been moved from the original date.) I this video, I share a little about myself and the piece I wrote for the anthology.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Fellows Riverside Gardens







Fellows Riverside Gardens is a free public garden located in Youngstown, Ohio's Mill Creek Park.  It covers 12 acres, and includes an assortment of gardens.  It is probably best known for its variety of roses. Three of its gardens are dedicated to roses:  The Formal Rose Garden, Climbing Rose Allee, and the Rose Garden Terrace.  If you wish to see these gardens in full bloom, the best time to go is in June.

  

Other gardens include the Blue Garden, the shade garden, and the perenial border walk.

If you visit the gardens in the spring, you'll absolutely love all of the spring flowers.  The grounds are planted with 40,000 spring bulbs.  You'll see crocus, tulips, narcissus, and other colorful blooms.

The gardens are open year-round from dawn to dusk.