Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a 400-acre property that was founded in 1678 by the Drayton family. It is Charleston's most visited plantation, and it's easy to see why.  There's a lot there! It's home to America's oldest garden - The Barbados Tropical Garden. Other gardens on the property include a Biblical garden, a topiary garden, a maze of camellias, and a swamp garden that spans 60 acres. Bald Eagles, egrets, otters, and of course, alligators, can be seen in the swamp garden. Visitors can enjoy a variety of bog plants, ornamental grasses, and wildflowers. 

Additional attractions include a petting zoo, Old African American Cabin, and a conservatory.

The gardens are open daily from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The cost of admission for adults is $15.00, and for children, $10.00. There is an additional cost for the plantation house tour, nature boat tour, and the Audubon Swamp Garden. All-inclusive tickets are available, but those are rather costly - $47.00 for adults, $43.00 for children.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Bellingrath Gardens


Bellingrath Gardens is a 65-acre garden and mansion located in Theodore, Alabama, a town on the outskirts of Mobile, Alabama.  They were first opened to the public in 1932.  The gardens include an Oriental garden, a Mermaid pool, a bridal garden, and a river pavilion where guests can take a river cruise down the Fowl River on a boat called the Southern Belle.  Beautiful flowerbeds adorn the gardens throughout the year. These include azaleas, roses, tulips, snapdragons, begonias, and marigolds.

If you happen to visit around Christmas, be sure to see the phenomenal display of over three million lights, known as the Magic Christmas in Lights.  It truly is magical!

The gardens are open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  During the Christmas light show, they're open until 9:00 PM.  Admission for the gardens, home, and cruise tour is $29.00 for adults at $19.00 for children.  Gardens only is $12.50 for adults and $7.00 for children.  

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Spring Gardening Tips


I know it's not quite Spring yet, but it'll be here before you know it, so I thought I'd share some ideas to help you get ready.

1. Spring is a great time to find out the Ph of your soil.  You can get a Ph testing kit from your local garden center.  If you know your Ph, it'll make it easier to know which plants to choose for your soil, or what additives you might need to grow the plants you desire.

2. If you haven't already done so, remove the dead growth of perennials and grasses.  I usually do this in the fall, but there are several gardeners who prefer to wait until the spring.

3. Apply a general fertilizer to prepare the soil for the planting you'll be doing.

4. Get rid of any weeds that might be starting to grow.  I know where I live, it's been a really mild winter, so I was out there weeding in January!

5.  Spring is a good time to mulch.  The soil is usually moist, so mulch will help trap that moisture and make it nice for your plants.  Be generous with your mulch.  I'd say 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep is good.

6.  If you didn't divide clumps of perennials in the fall, do it in the spring.

7. Lastly, edge your garden borders.  Make sure grass isn't growing into it, and if you're using stone borders, make sure they look neat and tidy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Charles Towne Landing Gardens


Charles Towne Landing Gardens are located in Charleston, South Carolina. This is the original site of Charleston, where settlers first landed. It is now a state park that contains a zoo, freshwater lagoon, 80 acres of English park gardens, trails, and a 1670 Experimental Crop Garden.

The zoo is home to the animals the original settlers encountered, including pumas, bison, alligators, black bears, otters, bobcats, and wolves. The Experimental Crop Garden (which is what will be growing in the above picture later in the season), includes indigo, rice, sugar cane, and cotton.

There's another interesting thing to see on the grounds:  The Adventure - a life-size replica of a typical trading ship docked on Old Town Creek.

 The park is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Adding Plants In Your House

COVID-19 has kept a lot of us indoors. Because of this, there has been a growing interest in finding ways to bring plants inside. Plants give us a sense of calm. They rejuvenate us and lift our spirits. Here are some ideas for how you might bring plants into your space.

1. Display plants on picture shelves. Find different types—grassy ones, cascading vines, ones with interesting leaves— to create a pleasing visual effect. Select containers that complement each other.

2. Make a terrarium. This is a low-maintenance option for people who don't feel they have a green thumb. You can make them yourself. There are plenty of online instructions on how to do this, or you can buy one. 

3. Grow herbs indoors. If you have some space in the kitchen, you can grow them on your windowsill. If you want to get fancy, you can buy indoor herb garden kits. It's always nice to have fresh cooking herbs within easy reach.

4.  If you don't have a lot of space, consider hanging planters. 

 5. Put humidity-loving plants in the bathroom.

These are just a few ideas. With a little creativity, you can have a peaceful oasis right in your own home. 

Do you have live plants in your home? If so, where do you have them? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Jardin des Tuileries


The Jardin des Tuileries, located in Paris, France, is one of the most visited gardens in Paris, due to its location between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.  It was created by Catherine de Medicis in 1564 and was opened to the public in 1667.

It is known for its ornamental ponds, terraces, and collection of bronze figures by Aristide Maillol.  In addition to the beautiful perennial flowers, the garden is home to 20 species of trees, including Mulberry and Judas trees.

The garden is open daily in April - August from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and in September  - March from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Katsura Imperial Villa Garden


Today's garden is one from Japan.  It's the Katsura Imperial Villa in western Kyoto, Japan.  Completed in 1645, it is the residence of the Katsura family, who are members of Japan's Imperial Family.

Seeing this place is not easy.  You must make reservations for a limited number of tours that are given by the Imperial Household Agency.  The tours last about one hour and are in Japanese.  You don't speak Japanese?  That's okay.  You can get an English audio guide.  They are very strict about following the rules - you must stay with the group on the path, and you are only allowed to take pictures at designated areas.

That said, the garden is really lovely.  Visitors will see a pond, bamboo, four tea houses, and a lovely arched wooden bridge called a "Dobashi."

The agency is open Monday - Friday from 8:45 - 12:00  and 1:00- 5:00 PM.  Tours are held during these times, but you may be able to get a Saturday tour.  No tours are ever given on Sunday, and I would venture to guess that no tours are being held during the COVID pandemic.

Before I go, I would like to let you know about the release of my latest book, Bubba and Squirt's Mayan Adventure.  I'm on tour with MC Tours for the month of September and October. If you would like to follow along and have a chance to win an autographed copy, you can go here.