Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Presby Memorial Iris Garden

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair, New Jersey, has been called, "The Rainbow on the Hill." And for good reason. The myriad of color stretching over 6.5 acres of hilly property is from an expansive collection of beautiful irises–over 10,000 of them, It is said that there are approximately 1,500 varieties. Each iris plot has a marker, telling visitors exactly what kind of iris it is, and what awards it may have received.  The garden was started in 1922. Today, volunteer gardeners take care of the plants.

The best time to see this beautiful place is mid-May to early June, when the irises are in full bloom.

Also on the property, is the Walther House (open 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM during peak iris-blooming season) and a Bloom Room Gift Shop which sells delicious iris honey.

The gardens are open daily from dusk to dawn. There is no cost of admission to view the gardens, but a donation of $8.00 is suggested.

Before I go, I want to let you know of the release of my new picture book, Don't Feed the Elephant!

Blurb:  People say you're not supposed to play with your food. But the adventurous little elephant in Don't Feed the Elephant never got the message! This charming children's story won't just entertain kids with its hilarious descriptions and zany main character. It will also educate them about the alphabet and help them learn the order of letters. As the elephant works his way through food stuffs, each new dish features a new letter of the alphabet. From animal crackers to zebra cakes, the elephant is enthusiastic to gobble everything up, even when it lands him in hot water.

Here are some sample illustrations:

It's available on Amazon as a Paperback book. For my international friends, it will be available in the UK, Canada, India, and anywhere else Amazon sells in about a week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Deep-Cut Gardens

New Jersey is called the Garden State. It's called that for a good reason. In this next series of blog posts, we will explore some of the gardens that make it deserving of this title.

Our first stop is Deep-Cut Gardens, located in Middleton, New Jersey. Situated on land that once belonged to the crime boss, Vito Genovese, its 54 acres of greenhouses and gardens are a living catalog of native plants. Home gardeners can go there and get inspiration for planting in their own spaces.

The greenhouse contains an impressive collection of bonsai trees, cacti, and succulents. The grounds are beautifully planted, with formal rose gardens and flowers. There's even a koi fish pond with benches for visitors to rest and enjoy the scenery. It's a lovely place for taking pictures, having a picnic, or just plain relaxing. An indoor area has a library with a wealth of information about gardening.

The best part is that this garden has free admission. It's open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.   

Friday, December 29, 2017

Paradise Gardens

This "garden" is one of the strangest I have ever seen. But it's so interesting, I have to post about it. Paradise Gardens is located in Summerville, Georgia. It was created by folk artist, Howard Finster. He spent more than thirty years making art from objects people normally throw away. The inspiration for it came in a dream, where God told him to create art and make a garden. He started the garden in 1970 and continued until his death in 2001.

Visitors will see all kinds of junk put together as art: Saw blades, wheel wells, hub caps, bottles. You name it. It's probably there. Before you walk around the garden, you should start by viewing the video of the artist's life and work. It will give you some insight into this unusual individual.

The garden is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $15.00, and $5.00 for students.

Before I go, I have two announcements. Actually three.

1.  My book, That Mama is a Grouch is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

2.  My book, Ten Zany Birds is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

3. Don't Feed the Elephant, my upcoming picture book, will be published in 2018. We have some formatting issues we're still trying to work out. My apologies to anyone who might've wanted to get it as a Christmas gift. I'll let you know when it's here.

Hope you all have a very Happy New Year and a terrific 2018!   


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.)