Monday, May 30, 2016

Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are located on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.  Plans for the gardens began in 1931, when  Alexander Elg, chairman of the Botany Department at the university decided to create gardens featuring plants native to the area.

The gardens were opened to the public in 1985, and they've expanded to include flora and fauna from all over the world.  The gardens feature sections of Australian plants, Mediterranean plants, African, and European plants.  There's also a Bonsai Japanese garden.  In addition, there's a tropical house, an herb garden, and a Bible patch, featuring 70 species of plants mentioned in the Bible.

If you visit, be sure to see the 2000 year old burial cave located on the grounds that were discovered in 1902.  The cave has the inscription, "Bones of Nicanor of Alexandria."

 The gardens are open daily from 7:00 AM to sunset.  Admission is 20 ILS for children, and 35 ILS for adults.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Schoenbrunn Palace Gardens

The gardens at Schoenbrunn Palace, located in Vienna, Austria, were opened to the public around 1779.  The Schoenbrunn Palace was the former summer residence of the famous Hapsburg family.

The palace gardens are essentially baroque in style.  There are several interesting structures located throughout the gardens.  One is the steel Palm House, pictured on the bottom.  Neptune Fountain, with its groups of Greek - Roman statues, is a picturesque focal point.  There's also a zoo - the first in the world.

    Two other gardens, not to miss, are the dry landscape Japanese garden, and the tea garden, both presents of goodwill from Japan to Austria.

The Palace gardens are free.  They are open year-round from 6:30 AM to dusk.  There is a charge to visit the Labrinth Garden and Palm House.  Admission is 3.30 euros.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Choosing the Right Fertilizer for Your Garden

 It's time for gardening to begin.  And that means a little bit of soil fortification through fertilization.  Do all of the different fertilizers have you a bit confused?  If so, here's a brief tutorial.  There are three main ingredients in fertilizer bags:  nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  Nitrogen is for foilage growth, phosphorus is for flowers and roots, and potassium is for overall health.  When you look on a bag of fertilizer, you'll see a set of three numbers.  These represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that are in the mix.  So, a 5-10-5 mix has 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 5% potassium.

"Okay," you say.  "So what do I need?"  Well here's how you decide:

1.  Test your soil.  Those tests you get at the store will tell you your pH, but not necessarily what nutrients are missing in your soil.  So I would recommend contacting a government agency or local university to have a soil test done.  These are usually free (or there might be a small fee).  This will tell you exactly what kind of nutrients you will have to add to the soil in order to grow your desired plants.

2.  If you aren't able to test your soil, then pay attention to your plants to see what they need.  If the leaves on your plants are yellow and unhealthy, select a fertilizer with a high nitrogen count (21-3-3).  Be aware, if a plant has too much nitrogen, it won't produce flowers.  If you want to produce more flowers or fruit, choose a fertilizer with more phosphorus.  Note:  purplish leaves usually indicate a deficiency in phosphorus.

3.  If you want a general guideline, follow this:  1-2-1 is a great mix for vegetable gardens, 5-10-5 is a good all-purpose fertilizer.

4. There are also fertilizers for specifc plants.  Always follow the labels on the packaging when fertilizing your plants.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

George Washington's River Farm

George Washington's River farm and gardens are located in Alexandria,Virginia.  The property covers nearly 25 acres and overlooks the Potomac River.  The farm was owned by George Washington from 1760 until his death in 1799.  It now serves as the headquarters for the American Horticultural Society.Children can enjoy this historic site, as well.  There are a dozen small gardens made just for kids.  These include a Fairy Tale garden, Hummingbird Garden, Butterfly Garden, Scratch and Sniff Garden, Maze Garden, and Bat Cave.
The Wildlife Garden is a big favorite for kids.  They can hang out at the pond, pictured above, and spot little creatures like turtles, goldfish, and frogs.
The gardens are open Monday through Friday. Admission is free.