Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory, located in Columbus, Ohio, was built in 1895.  It houses over 400 species of plants, and features a Victorian Palm house with more than forty different kinds of palms.
Throughout the year, there are many special displays.  One of the prettiest, is the Victorian Garden Orchid display, held during winter months.  You can see hundreds of orchids and learn about how they were cultivated during Victorian times.

Victorian Palm House

The Conservatory is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Admission is $11.00 per adults, and $6.00 for children.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beijing Botanical Garden

BeijingBotanical2.jpgThe  Beijing Botanical Garden, located in Beijing, China, was established in 1955. It is the largest botanical garden in northern China.  Eleven themed gardens make up this 400 hectare complex.  These include a tree garden, rose garden, peony garden, and traditional medicinal herb garden.

The gardens contain over 6,000 species of plants.
In addition to all of the beautiful plants, the garden contains several historic sites, including the Cao Xueqin Memorial Hall, Tomb of Liang Qichao, and the Temple of the Sleeping Buddha.
With its ponds, elegant bridges, and gorgeous flowers, the Beijing Botanical Garden is a place of great beauty.  Admission is free, and the garden is open daily from 7 AM to 5 PM.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Window Box Gardens

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about creating a winter container garden.  This post is similar, but this time we'll talk about box gardens. Many winter plants, which require well-drained soil, are perfect for creating winter garden boxes. Hellebores, mentioned previously, are perfect for adding a splash of color to your box.  They come in a variety of colors which include pink, yellow, and lavender.  I think the October Skys Asterflower is a pretty plant to pair  with hellebores.  These are lovely blue flowers that grow in a mound.

Evergreens provide color and texture all winter long.  You can use evergreens from the pine family to create height, as pictured above.  Others can be used as drapes that hang over the garden box.  October Daphne is a hardy ground cover that works well for this.  It produces pink flowers as well.
Velvety silver lambs ear is also a good addition that will add a different color and texture to your box.  Other plants to consider are pansies, violas, and ornamental cabbage.

October Skies Asterflower

                                                                                                     October Daphne

Lambs ear                                                                                                      Pansies

Note:  If you like the window box with the trialing ivy above, here are the plants that were used:  A pyramid-shaped boxwood serves as the focal point.  Two small round boxwoods are planted on either side.  Between the shrubs are two small paperwhites.  Plants used in the front are green and white flowering cabbage, silver dusty millers and white violas.  Varieagated ivy hangs over the box.  For a splash of color, add some red nandina berry leaves in the front.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Holly plants are one of the few plants that can be grown in all fifty states.  There are hundred of species, ranging from spreading shrubs six inches tall, to trees seventy feet tall.
Landscapers use this plant in many different ways. They can be used as a focal point, as privacy screens, or as accent plants.
Most holly are evergreen, which make them a great addition to a winter garden. As an added bonus, many birds are attracted to the bright red berries. Holly can help feed these winter friends.
Most holly prefer well-drained acidic soil, but a few, like the deciduous winterberry holly, do well in wet soil.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brookside Children's Garden

Brookside Children's GardenThe Brookside Children's Garden is part of the Wheaton regional park in Maryland.  Probably the most interesting feature of the garden, is the tree house pictured above.  It is constructed of recycled material.  Kids can climb the stairs, then play with wooden blocks or construct things with other natural materials.
The garden also features a gnome hut, where kids can follow stepping stones to a tea party, and a water garden, where kids can observe frogs and other assorted water creatures.
Brookside Gardens Pictures
The Brookside Chidren's Garden is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warsaw Biblical Gardens

If you're looking for something a little bit different, check out the Warsaw Biblical Gardens in Warsaw, Indiana. The gardens cover about 3/4 of an acre and contain hundreds of plants that are named in the Bible.

The gardens were started by Saralee Levin and a few of her friends.  They decided to take an eyesore and create a collection of beautiful gardens.  These include a meadow, wet-dry brook, orchard, grape arbor, desert, gathering place, forest, and crop area.  Each garden contains a plaque that lists the spiritual reference or biblical story associated with it.

Admission to the gardens is free, but if you want an hour-long tour, the cost is $2.00.  The gardens are open from May 15th through September 15th from dawn to dusk. The best time to visit to see spring flowers is April 1 - May 1. The best time for the most color is May 14 - July 4.  September to early October is best for viewing the fall meadow displays and grasses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar

Previously, I posted about the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore.  These are located in Pakistan.  The gardens I write about today, are located in a city called Srinagar, located near Dal Lake, India.
The Shalimar gardens were laid out in 1616 by Emperor Jahangir, while he was founding the city of Srinagar. They were a gift for his wife, Nur Jahan.

They cover nearly twenty acres, and feature fountains, shaded trees, and gorgeous flowers that are in bloom during the spring and fall months.
If you happen to visit the gardens any time from May to October, be sure to stick around for the sound and light show that's put on every evening.  It's simply spectacular!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Creating a Winter Fairy House

One of my kids' favorite things to do outside in the garden, is create fairy houses.  If you don't know what these are, they're tiny abodes created for the whimsical creatures that live in the woods and fields.  Articles from nature are used to construct them.  Think twigs, leaves, flower blossoms, pebbles, etc.  It's fun to use different building materials to suite the season. 

Here is what we do in the winter:  First, bundle up. It's cold out there!  Then start collecting twigs, evergreen sprigs, and pinecones.  We traditionally build ours under the pine tree in our yard, but you can make yours anywhere that you feel is relatively protected from the blistery winter winds. 

Once you've gathered your materials, start building.  We typically create something that looks a little like a tepee (see the picture at the right).  Then we cover it with our sprigs.  When we're satisfied with it, we decorate with pinecones, feathers, and other assorted natural treasures.  Sometimes we even create walkways with pebbles and tiny stones.  If your fairy house is in a garden, you might want to add fairy figurines and woodland creatures.  There are plenty of fairy garden shops where you can purchase them. Otherwise, just wait for the magical fairies to make themselves at home.  Creating a winter fairy garden is a fun thing you can do to keep the gardening alive in the winter months.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Jasmine

Winter jasmine are vines that add a pretty splash of color in late winter or early spring.  Their one inch diameter yellow blooms appear before the leaves emmerge.  Winter jasmine can be gown in planting zones  6-10.  When unsuppported, they reach four feet in height and about seven feet in width.  This makes them perfect for wooden arbors.  Winter jasmine can also be used as ground cover.  It works really well for landscaping slopes. Be sure to prune your winter jasmine in late spring after they have bloomed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Children's Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, located in Brooklyn, New York, has been helping children learn all about growing flowers, vegetables, and herbs since 1914.  Kids ages 2-7 can plant their own crops in late spring and then come back to harvest them in the fall.
The Children's Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
The Discovery Garden allows kids to touch and smell plants and experience different habitats;  woodland, meadow, farm, and wetland.  Kids can also dig up worms at the Nature Center. And what kids doesn't like digging up worms?

The gardens are open year round.  Admission for adults is $10.00.  Children under 12 are free.                                                           

Children's Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Toledo Botanical Gardens

Located in Toledo, Ohio, the Toledo Botanical gardens is a collection of eighteen gardens that covers over twenty acres.  Featured gardens include the azalea garden (pictured above), an herb garden, cottage garden, rose garden, perennial garden, green garden, and my favorite, the Pioneer garden.

The Pioneer garden is a small garden that is dedicated to northwest Ohio's first settlers.  It features a log cabin that belonged to Peter Navarre, a well-known frontiersman.  It has been said that Johnny Appleseed himself planted the large apple tree that stands near the cabin.  The garden contains a variety of heirloom flowers and vegetables.

The gardens are free and open to the public year round.

Monday, January 16, 2012

US Botanical Gardens

Started in 1850, the United States Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America.  It houses about 26, 000 plants, including medicinal plants, orchids, and cacti.

The Conservatory, built in 1933, houses a jungle, desert, and primeval paradise.

Outdoors, the National Garden features a variety of mid-Atlantic plants.

The gardens are open 10-5 daily, including weekends and holidays.  Admission is free.