Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monticello Gardens

Virginia is a place rich in history. Last week, I wrote about the Colonial Williamsburg gardens. This week, I'll tell you about the gardens at the home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.  The gardens surrounding his home, the Monticello, are impressive. They are a tribute to the creativity and inquisitiveness of his great mind.

Set among mountain views, the gardens showcase a variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Jefferson grew 170 types of apples, peaches, and grapes in his orchards. He had 330 different vegetables growing in his 1000-foot-long terrace garden. Jefferson liked to experiment with plants and create new types. These gardens were the places he conducted his experiments.

Visitors can explore the gardens on their own, or they can take a Garden and Grounds tour which is available April through October. Other events include a Spring Wildflower Walk in April, and a Heritage Harvest Festival in September. 

The  grounds are open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Cost of admission to view the house and gardens is $22 for adults and $10.00 for children. 

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I'm a guest on the ePublishing Children's Book Blog. I'm talking about my upcoming book, Don't Feed the Elephant. If you'd like to visit and see a sneak peak of a couple of the illustrations, visit here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Colonial Williamsburg Gardens

You may know that Williamsburg, Virginia, is well-known for its historic buildings, but you may not know that it also has many beautiful herb, flower, and formal gardens. The Williamsburg of 1777 did not have such lush green spaces. Horticulturalists and historians worked together to choose native plants which would tolerate the area's hot summers and cold winters. The result is simply stunning. Visitors can photograph and enjoy the picturesque landscaping. 

There are several tours one can take to see and learn about the gardens. "Through the Garden Gate" is a walking tour that explains the historic documents and archaeological evidence that was used to create the gardens. "Gardens of Gentility" visits the formal gardens of the Governor's Palace. "Meet the Gardener" is an opportunity for visitors to ask volunteer gardeners about the gardens they see.

There are a total of 90 acres of gardens, ranging from those at the Governor's Palace to the Kitchen Garden of the James Getty site.

Garden tours are available April - September to Colonial Williamsburg ticket holders. Reservations are required. The cost of a single day ticket is $40.99 for adults and $20.49 for children. Colonial Williamsburg is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum

Located on the northeast coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Garden of Eden is an island paradise worthy of its name. It was created in 1991 by Alan Bradbury, a certified arborist and musician. Mr. Bradbury's original intent was to create a recording studio retreat, but he soon discovered that the salty, humid air was not good for his recording equipment. Not wanting to let the gardens go to waste, he decided to make it a place where people could enjoy the natural ecosystem of the island. He named it, "Pua Nani," which means "flower from heaven." When it was opened to the public in 1996, many visitors said it looked like the biblical Garden of Eden. The name stuck.

The Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum covers 25 acres and has 500 labeled tropical plants. It's claim to fame is that it was seen in the opening sequence of the movie, Jurassic Park. Don't worry though, you won't see any dinosaurs roaming around if you visit.   

The garden is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Cost of admission is $15.00 per adult and $5.00 per child. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Smith's Tropical Garden Paradise

If you visit the Hawaiian island of Kauai, make time to experience Smith's Tropical Paradise. It's a thirty-acre botanical and cultural garden on the east side of the island, known as the "Coconut Coast." It's located within the Wailua Marina State Park, and is home to the island's most popular luau.

Walter Smith, Sr. started the business over sixty years ago, as a way for visitors to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Kauai and the Wailua River Valley. As you wander the mile of meandering pathways, you can see peacocks, Polynesian huts, a beautiful Japanese garden, and an orchard that contains twenty types of fruit, including breadfruit, starfruit, and macadamia nuts.

The luau is what you'd expect from a traditional Hawaiian experience:  roasted pig in an earthen imu oven, lots of traditional food, a Hawaiian hula dance, Tahitian drums, and a fire-knife dance.

The gardens are open from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The cost to visit the garden is $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for children. (The luau is extra and starts after 5:00 PM. It's costly, but worth it:  $98 for adults, $30 for kids ages 7-13, and $19 for kids 3-6.)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Quarryhill Botanical Gardens

Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, located near Glen Eden in California's Sonoma Valley, was founded in 1987.  It is a 25 acre botanical garden that houses one of the largest collections of Asian plants in North America.  Visitors will enjoy flowering Asian trees and plants, magnolias, rhododendrons, and walking paths with places to sit and enjoy the beautiful ponds and waterfalls.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 per child.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fall Container Gardens

Fall is a great time to experiment with different plants and create attractive container gardens. It doesn't have to be restricted to mums. I recently made one with ornamental peppers, cabbage, violets, pansies, wirevine, and . . . a mum. It looks beautiful!

The one pictured above, done by Estabrooke Farms in Yarmouth, Maine caught my eye. I like how the snap dragons look like candy corn. The purple nemesia looks so pretty against it. In case you're wondering, the other plants in the pot are red snap dragons and leather leaf sedge.

Get creative with textures and leaf colors. Grasses work well, because they add height and contrast. You can also choose to plant one type of plant in a container and group a bunch of containers of contrasting plants together. The effect is pretty.

Just because summer is over, doesn't mean you can't have pretty plants. Have fun adding some splashes of color!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Limahuli Garden

The Limahuli Garden is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, in North Kauai. This 1,000 acre garden nestled in the mountains, is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. It was donated to the American Horticultural Society in 1976. In 1997, it was rated as the best natural botanical garden in the United States. 

Seventeen acres of the garden are available for public viewing. Visitors are able to see the natural beauty of the island and learn the cultural history behind it. One of the most interesting parts of the garden is the terrace system, which was used by ancient Hawaiians to grow crops. These terraces are still in place, and are used to grow taro and sweet potatoes. Other food grown in the garden includes bananas and sugar cane.

Another lovely feature is the Lima Auli Stream which flows through the garden down to the ocean. There are self guided tours along with guided tours that range in price from $15.00 to $100 per adult. It's a fascinating place, and well worth the visit if you go to Kauai. The garden is open Tuesday through Friday, and on Sunday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.