Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ithica Children's Garden

The Ithica Children's Garden, located in Ithica, New York, was founded in 1997.  It covers three acres and features an assortment of gardens.  One of the most notable attractions, is a 30 foot by 60 foot snapping turtle named Gaia (from mythology, Gaia is Mother Earth).  On its back is a lunar calendar.

Other features include a Strawbale Troll House, Wetlands, an edible garden where kids can harvest their own fruits and vegetables (like strawberries and asparagus), a Sod Salamander (and other sod sculptures), a meadow with lovely flowering perennials, a labryrinth, a bird habitat, and a large pinoak tree, affectionately called the "reading tree."The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall and gardens, located in Akron, Ohio, is one of my favorite places to visit.  It was originally the vast estate of the Seiberling family, founders of the Good Year Tire Company.  The estate originally covered more than 3,000 acres.  Now it covers 70 acres.
The gardens were designed between 1912  and 1915 by the famous American landscape architect, Warren Manning.  The gardens are divided into ten sections:  The English Garden (Gertrude Seiberling's favorite), Birch Allee Vista, The Dell, Grape Arbor, Great Meadow, Japanese Garden, Lagoon, West Terrace, the Great Garden, and the Breakfast Room Garden.  My personal favorite is the Breakfast Room Garden.  With its blue, white, and gold color scheme and lovely fountain, it compliments the Breakfast room of the manor perfectly.


 The gardens open April 1st and remain open through December.  Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am - 6 pm.  Admission for non-members is $8.00 per pesron.

Monday, February 27, 2012

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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Separate Bulbs


Last week, when I wrote about preparing your borders for Spring, I mentioned separating your bulbs.  The best time to do this is late fall or early winter when the bulbs are dormant.  But if your bulbs haven't started coming up, you might be able to still do it.  Here's what to do:

1. If you haven't already trimmed back dead leaves, cut them back so they are a few inches above the soil.

2. Make a large circle around the plant with a trowel, then carefully dig below the bulbs.  You want to make sure that you leave the root system intact.  This might mean that you need to go down a half a foot or so.

3. Shake away loose dirt so you can see the bulbs.  This will make separating easier.

4.  Separate with your fingers. Don't cut the bulb roots or try to separate them with a knife.  This can damage the plant.

5. Replant the bulb immediately.  If you can't do this for some reason, store the bulbs in a cool dry place, but don't store the bulbs for more than three months.

You'll want to separate your bulbs every two to three years.  Bulbs have this habit of multiplying underground.  So if you just let them sit around, you'll have a pretty crowded garden!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The Blackthorn is a deciduous shrub that is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northwest Africa.  It grows to be about seven feet tall, and has blackish bark and dense, stiff, branches that are covered with thorns.

The flowers, which are rather pretty, bloom in early spring.  They are about an inch in diameter and have five creamy white petals. The berries, which resemble blueberries, ripen in the fall.  They are edible, but they have a rather tart taste.  They're better for making jams than for eating off of the bush. The juice from the berries is used to make Spurious Port Wine.

Probably the best use for the Blackthorn is as a hedge.  In fact, Europeans used to use it to keep out the cows (or in).   Blackthorn can be found in a wide range of soils, from moist to well-drained, and from acidic to alkaline.  They also live a long time.  Some have been known to live up to one hundred years. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Huntington Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Botanical Gardens, located in San Marino, California, were founded in 1919 by prominent businessman, Henry Huntington.  They are part of the Huntington Library and Art Collections.  The gardens cover over two hundred acres, and contain 14,000 different varieties of plants. There are more than a dozen
different gardens on the property.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Topiary Park

Topiary Garden
I don't know about you, but I've always found topiaries to be fascinating focal points of gardens.  If you like topiaries, the place to visit is Topiary Park, in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  The seven acre park is famous for its topiary interpretation of Georges Seurat's famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

The park was dedicated in 1992, but it goes back to the early 19th century.  It was once a part of the Old Deaf School Park. The concept came from artist, James T, Mason, who teaches sculpture at the Recreation and Park's Department of Cultural Arts Center. He designed and installed the frames and living topiaries.
   Topiary Garden
The garden contains 54 topiary people, eight boats, 3 dogs, a monkey, a cat, and a pond, which represents the Seine River.  The largest feature is 12 feet tall.

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Admission is free.  The best viewing is April through November, when the greenery is in bloom.

Monday, February 20, 2012

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 at the top.  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.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring Gardening Tips to Spruce up Borders

I know it's not 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.


Thursday, February 16, 2012


The Spindleberry is a large, shrubby tree that is native to Great Britain.  It's a fast growing plant that's perfect for hedges or rough screening.
The Spindleberry grows well in alkoline soil.  It's a great plant for the fall and winter months, because its tough, leathery, narrow leaves turn a gorgeous reddish purple color in the fall.  It also has some unusual reddish-pink "berries" that can be a conversation piece for people admiring your garden.  Cornus stolonifera Red Stem Dogwood fall colorRed Stemmed Cornus (Dogwood)

If you'd like to create a natural looking garden with the Spindleberry, I would suggest pairing it with the Red Stemmed Cornus, pictured above.  It also grows naturally in the wild, and would add even more color to your fall or winter garden.  Just be aware that the "berries" of the Spindleberry are poisoness to humans, so keep small children away from them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Green Bay Botanical Gardens

Opened in 1996, the Greenbay Botanical Gardens in Greenbay, Wisconsin, contain forty-seven acres of gardens and natural areas that showcase Wisconsin's seasonal beauty.    
Within these forty-seven acres is the Gertrude B. Nielson Children's Garden.  It covers only a half an acre, but there are so many neat things for kids to do.  Some of the fun features include a tree house, a slide, a vine maze, a re-circulating pond, and a giant sundial.


There are seven gardens within the children's garden where kids can explore natural wonders.  These include the Einstein Garden, Peter Rabbit Garden, Sensory Garden, and Frog Bridge.  
The gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 9-4.  Admission is $7.00 per adult and $2.00 for children.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It was opened in 1983, and covers a total of 100,000 square feet.  It features over 1200 plants from 500 different species.
The conservatory features a 25,000 square foot seasonal garden, a tropical garden (top picture) with a gorgeous waterfall, orchids, and palms, and a desert garden.  There is also a lovely outdoor area.

The conservatory is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5, Thursday from 10-8, and Sunday from noon - 4.  Admission is $5.00 per adult and $3.00 per child.