Monday, April 13, 2015

Boone Hall Plantation Gardens

 Boone Hall Plantation is located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  It's a former 18th century cotton plantation (the current building on the property was built in 1939, so it's not the original plantation.  The slave huts on the property, however, are original.) The gardens around the plantation are lovely.  Visitors will see formal gardens, an antique rose garden with roses that are over 100 years old (I had no idea roses could live that long!), colorful azaleas, and a beautiful live oak alley with Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  (Here's a bit of trivia that I learned last week on my trip to South Carolina:  Spanish moss is named after the beards of the Spanish settlers.)

The grounds are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 - 6:30, and Sunday from 12:00 - 5:00.  Admission for adults is $20.00, and for children, $10.00.  Cost of admission includes the Plantation House Tour, Slave Street and History Tour, Garden Tour, and admission to the Butterfly Pavilion.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bell Park Cacti Garden

Bell Park Cacti Garden is located in Hale Center, Texas.  It was started in 1974 by the late Hershel Bell.  At that time, it contained 15 plants.  The garden has grown a bit, and now displays 350 plants, representing 15 species of cacti.

There is a walk-through path for viewing the cacti, and a grassy area with picnic tables.  The garden isn't anything fancy, or something to go out of your way to see, but if you happen to be in the area, it might be a nice place to stop for a picnic. Just don't touch the prickly plants!

The garden is open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tips for Growing Peaches

I've been living in the fine state of Georgia for about two years, and of course I had to grow my own peaches.  For those of you who don't know, Georgia is the "Peach State."  The first year, I had no idea I even had peach trees in my backyard.  So I went out and bought one.  I planted it right next to the other peach trees, which at the time, I had no idea were peach trees.  When spring came, they all had pretty pink flowers on them.

Hmmmm, I thought.  Those look like the all the same flowers.  I must have three peach trees now!

Sure enough, the baby peaches started to form.  I was all excited about that.  I imagined making all kinds of delicious peach pies.  But then something horrible happened.  All the peaches fell off.  Yes.  Every single one of them.  I did not get one juicy peach.  So this year, I did a little research.  I'm not going to let that happen again!

So, today, I'm going to share with you what I've learned.

First of all, you can expect to lose 80% of the peaches on your tree.  It's mother nature's way of keeping only the good fruit.  But if you lose them all, something is wrong.  Here are the possible culprits:

1.  Inconsistent watering

2.  Too much shade

3.  Not enough pollinators (a problem with diminishing bee populations)

4.  Too cold - a frost can kill the young peaches

5.  Insects (like stink bugs) eating the fruit

6.  Insufficient nutrients

To solve the problem, make sure your trees are getting enough water.  You may have to water by hand if they're not.  Plant your trees in a sunny location.  Keep an eye out for insects.  You don't want to kill the pollinators, so spray insecticides only as a last resort.  Use fertilizer.  A 10-10-10 mix is ideal.  Apply 1/2 cup for new trees, and 1 - 5 pounds per year, for older trees.  Do not apply the fertilizer against the trunk.  Apply a foot away from the trunk so the roots can get to it.

I plan on trying the fertilizer this year.  Right now, the trees are in bloom, which means this is the time to do it.  I'll let you know if I get any good peaches this year.

I hope these tips help those of you who try to grow your own peaches!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Located in Houston, Texas, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is part of the Museum of Fine Arts.  It contains fourteen acres of woodlands and gardens, which are simply lovely.  These include the Clio Garden, Diana Garden, and Euterpe Garden.  These three gardens are formal, with statues, hedges, roses, azaleas, and pink magnolias.  When the pink flowers are in bloom, it is stunning!  The Carla Garden, interestingly, is named after a hurricane that came through and created a clearing for the garden.

Other gardens include the East Garden, Butterfly Garden, and Topiary Garden.  The latter has lovely wire  topiary sculptures of a turkey, squirrel, rabbit, deer, and eagle.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $15.00 for adults.  Children under 12 are admitted free.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tips for Planning a Vegetable Garden

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to start working in a garden.  It's been a long winter!  If you haven't already done so, and you want to grow a vegetable garden, now is the time to begin planning. A while ago, I created a Slideshare presentation on how to grow your own fruits and vegetables.  The following is one of the slides from that presentation.  It offers some tips for how to lay out your garden and plan the placement of your crops.  Happy gardening!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Barton Warnock Center

Today's garden spot is a little bit different from the lush, tropical gardens of Florida that I've been sharing.  Barton Warnock Center, in Lajitas, Texas, serves as the eastern gateway to the Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Set against a stark, southwestern backdrop, it covers two acres, and is filled with plants of the Chihauhaun Desert.  These include native cacti, desert shrubs, and trees.

On the self-guided tour, visitors will learn how geology shaped the cultural heritage of the area - how plants, animals, and humans adapted to the harsh conditions of the desert, and how the plants were used for food, shelter, and medicine by the early inhabitants.

The Center is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Admission for adults is $5.00.  Children under twelve are admitted free.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Antique Rose Emporium

The Antique Rose Emporium, located in Brenham, Texas, is a great place to visit if you like roses.  The Emporium is the display gardens of a retail nursery that specializes in old roses.  It features a Victorian home with plenty of rose gardens, a cottage garden, an herb garden, a cactus garden, lovely ponds, and a tribute to Queen Mary's garden in London.

The gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Sundays from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is free, and of course there are roses for sale that you can purchase and take home to create your own rose garden.