Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jasmine Hill Gardens

Jasmine Hill Gardens and Museum is located in Montgomery, Alabama.  It is known as "Alabama's Little Corner of Greece."  There are over twenty acres of flowers and classical sculptures, including many of Olympic heroes and mythical gods.  One fascinating feature is a full-scale replica of the Temple of Hera ruins as found in Olympia, Greece.  The Museum on the grounds displays memorabilia of Olympic games of the past.

The gardens are open Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM.  From July through October, they're open on Saturdays only.  Admission for adults is $10.00 and for children, it's $6.00. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

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, Mermaid pool, 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.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Jimmy Carter Center Gardens

The Jimmy Carter Center Gardens, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a thirty-seven acre wooded park that contains a formal garden, wild flower meadow, cherry orchard, Japanese garden, a couple of lakes, and waterfalls.  The rose garden contains about 400 plants with 80 different varieties.

Of course the gardens aren't the only thing to see here.  The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is here, which features an exact replica of the Oval Office and the Nobel Prize awarded to Jimmy Carter.

The gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 -4:45 and Sunday from 12:00 - 4:45.  Admission is $8.00 for adults.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Barnsley Gardens

Barnsley Gardens, located in Adairsville, Georgia, are 160 year-old gardens that feature over 200 varieties of heirloom roses.  It's a romantic getaway that's a setting for many weddings.

The original estate was a manor called Woodlands.  Construction began in 1840 by Godfrey Barnsley as a gift for his wife, Julie.  Unfortunately, Julie never lived to see its completion. She died in 1845 of a lung ailment.  After her death, construction ceased.  It is said that Julie's spirit appeared to Godfrey the following year, urging him to finish the estate for their children and future generations.

In 1991, Barnsley Gardens was opened to the public as an historical garden and museum.  Today it's a resort destination with luxurious cottages, a golf course, spa, hunting, fishing, hiking, and numerous other activities.

Admission to see the gardens is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jardin Botanico Chagual

The Jardin Botanico Chagual, is located in the Metropolitan Park of Santiago, Chile.  It covers nearly 70 acres.

Opened in 2002, its focus is to preserve plants that are native to Chile. There are also many plants that are native to the Mediterranean region. Many of them are rare and endangered.

As you walk through the gardens, you will see evergreen trees, shrubs, mountain cypress, and a lot of cacti. 

The garden is open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, The Atlanta Botanical Garden is home to one of the world's largest permanent displays of orchids.  There are also 15 acres of outdoor display gardens, and the Fuqua Conservatory which houses rare tropical and desert plants.

The Children's Garden is quite impressive.  Kids learn that plants help us LAUGH, LIVE and LEARN.  Special attractions include the Laugh Garden, where kids can wind through a cocoon tunnel and come out as a butterfly.  There's a Dinosaur Garden where kids can dig for fossils and learn about carnivorous plants in the Soggy Bog.  They can slide on a leaf, listen to story time reading of Peter Rabbit, and then walk through the story's scenery. There's even an Indian hut and a giant tree house.  This is one of the best children's gardens I've ever seen!

The gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 - 5:00.  Admission is $12.00 per adult and $9.00 per child.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wuhan Botanical Garden

Wuhan Botanical Garden, located in Hubei, China, covers over 150 acres and contains over 4,000 species of flora.  It was formed in 1956 as a place for scientists  to study plants native to China.

There are several gardens on the property.  These include an Aquatic Plant Garden, Rare Endangered Plant Garden, Chinese Gooseberry Garden, Ornamental Garden, Tree Garden, Pine and Cypress Garden, and Bamboo Garden.

The garden is open daily from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.  Admission is 30 yuan.

Monday, November 18, 2013

UBC Garden

UBC Garden, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, is Canada's oldest university botanical garden.  It was founded in 1916.  Today it covers over 100 acres, and contains about 12,000 plants from temperate regions all over the world.

There are several gardens within the garden.  These include the Alpine Garden, Asian Garden, Carolinian Forest, Food Garden, and Native garden.  Visitors will see magnolias, rhododendrons, dogwood, roses, and a plethora of Alpine flora.

The garden is open daily from 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM.  The best times to visit are April and May, or September and October.  Cost of admission is $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Splash of Winter Color

I saw these lovely flowers by the entrance of my neighborhood in northern Atlanta, Georgia.  It's the middle of November, a balmy 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and these plants are doing well.  I thought I'd share this with you, so that you can see it is possible to still have a splash of color in your garden, even when the temperatures are dropping.

What are these plants?  Let me tell you.

The back, tall gray plants are dusty millers.  You can also see some larger greenish purplish bluish clumps.  Those are ornamental cabbages - a perfect fall plant.  The lovely red and white flowers are cyclamens. They flower almost all winter.   The yellow flowers near the front are pansies, and the purple, vine-like plants are called weeping loropetalum.

Hope you enjoyed the little splash of color.  If you're experiencing winter, stay warm!  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pirianda Garden

For today's garden, we're going to take a trip down under to Australia.  Pirianda Garden is located in Victoria, Australia within the Dandenong Mountain range.  If you go, be sure to wear good hiking shoes, because this place has some seriously steep inclines.

The twenty-five acre garden was built in 1962 by Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Ansell of Ansell industries.  The gardens were open to the public in 1977.  If you're looking at these pictures and thinking that this doesn't look like Australia, it's because most of these plants were imported from overseas.  You'll see hydrangeas, Blackwoods, Mountain Ash, rhododendron, azaleas, magnolias, and one very unusual tree, the Chinese Handkerchief tree, which flowers in November.

For those of you who like a little trivia, the word, Pirianda, is an aboriginal word that means, "sufficient" or "enough."  I'd say it certainly has enough inclines!  If you don't mind that sort of thing, it's a lovely place to walk -especially in the fall.  The colors are just gorgeous!

The garden is open daily from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM June through September.  Hours are 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM the rest of the year.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Flowers Deer Won't Eat

After I moved to Georgia, I discovered that there was a rather substantial deer population residing in the woods behind my house.  Sure enough, they invaded my flower garden, and ate just about everything in it.  I decided to do a little research and find out which flowers they won't touch (unless of course, they're starving).

Here's the list:






Butterfly bush

California poppies


                                                                 Blue Salvia


If you have a deer infestation, and you like to garden, you might just want to plants some of these in your yard!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens, located in Pine Mountain, Georgia, covers 6,500 acres.  It was begun in 1952 by Cason and Virginia Callaway to protect native azalea plants.  Today there are a multitude of attractions, including an Overlook Garden, Vegetable Garden, Butterfly Center, Horticultural Center, and Pioneer Log Cabin.

The property is also the site of Robin Lake Beach (the world's largest man-made white sand beach) and Iceberg Island Floating Water Playground.  Between the gardens, hiking trails, and water features, it's definitely a place where you can spend an entire day.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $13.00 per adult and $6.50 per child. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are considered one of the most beautiful in the world.  The property covers over 1,000 acres.  However, only about 80 acres is actually cultivated. The gardens were founded in 1913 to preserve the country's unique plants. It's the first botanical garden in the world that was designed for this purpose.  Today the garden contains over 8000 species of plants.

You can spend an entire day roaming through the gardens.  There are plenty of gurgling streams, ponds, trails, and gorgeous plants to look at.  If you want to get an education about the various species of plants, I'd recommend taking the guided Fynbos Walk.  You'll learn all about the indigenous flora of South Africa.  There are many other free garden walks as well.  If you want to go on those, visit the gardens on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.  Also, if you like to hike, there are many trails leading from the garden into the mountains.

If you visit in the summer, be sure to stick around for one of the summer sunset concerts.  They are held every Sunday at 5:30 PM from late November to mid-April.

The gardens are open daily September - March from 8 AM to 7 PM and from 8 AM to 6 PM April through August. Admission is R40 for adults, and R10 for children.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Exbury Gardens

The Exbury Gardens, located in Hampshire, England, are a real treat for the eyes!  In fact, in December of 2011, they were awarded the Hudson's Heritage UK "Best Garden" award.

The gardens contain over 200 acres of rhododendrons, azaleas, and a plethora of rare trees and shrubs.  they are the inspiration of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild who passed away in 2009.  Today, his grandchildren carry on the legacy.

There are several ways to view the gardens.  You can walk on the numerous trails, you can ride a chauffer-driven buggy, or you can do my favorite thing:  ride a miniature steam locomotive through the gardens.

The train will pass through the Summer Lane garden.  From there, you'll catch a glimpse of the rock garden, followed by the wildlife pond.  Next, you'll pass the plant nursery and exotic fruit patch.  Then you'll pass by the sunflower field, which if you visit in the summer, is just amazing!  Finally, you'll loop around the oldest tree in the garden, the Doomsday Yew.  The train ride takes about twenty minutes.

The gardens are open daily from March to early November.  Admission for adults is 14 British pounds and 4 British pounds for children.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Chrysanthemums, or mums, are one of my favorite fall flowers.  They are native to Asia and northeastern Europe.  Their flowers are daisy-like in appearance, and come in a variety of colors such as red, yellow, orange, and purple.  The name itself comes from the Greek words, "chrysos," which means "gold," and "anthemon," which means "flower."

There are two basic groups of chrysanthemums:  garden hardy and exhibition.  The first can survive winters in northern latitudes, the second cannot.  Generally, garden hardy mums have smaller flowers, are shorter, and are less showy than the exhibition varieties.

Chrysanthemums have all kind of uses besides looking pretty in a garden.  In Asia, the flowers of one species are used to make tea.  The leaves are also boiled and eaten much the same way as we might boil spinach.  The flowers can be used as an insecticide, too, when pulverized and mixed with oil.  Having a pot of chrysanthemums in your house, according to the NASA Clean Air Study, can help reduce indoor air pollution.

To care for your chrysanthemums, keep them in an area where they can receive a lot of sun. Don't overwater. For hardy mums, once they turn brown from a hard frost, cut them down to ground level and cover with a light mulch, such as pine needles. In the spring, give them a fertilizer to promote blooms.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alhambra Gardens

The Alhambra Gardens are located in Granada, Spain.  They are part of a palace that was constructed in the mid 14th century by Moorish rulers who governed Granada.

The gardens are simply delightful.  You'll see roses, oranges, myrtles, English elms, and of course, fountains.  You'll even hear nightingales singing.  Talk about paradise!

The gardens are open daily from 9:30 AM to Dusk.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Purple Cone Flowers

Purple cone flowers, or Echinacea, are perennials native to North America.  They are wonderful plants for attracting butterflies and birds to your garden.  In late summer, it is fun to watch the golden finches perch on top of the cone and pick the seeds out.

Purple cone flowers grow in dry areas and are drought tolerant.  They bloom in early summer and continue to early fall.  Their stems are usually stiff and hairy, and they usually have purple, daisy-like flowers, with petals that grow downward from a prickly cone in the center.  Some purple cone flowers can be other colors like white, yellow, and pink.

If you see a wild coneflower, do not dig it up!  It might be endangered.  There are only 7-9 species of purple coneflowers, and two of them are on the endangered list.

Many people believe that the Echinacea plant has medical benefits, but research is showing that there are no benefits in relation to sickness or with help in fighting colds.  The consumption of Echinacea may increase white blood cell counts, but that is most likely due to the body fighting off one of the chemicals in these plants.  The increase of white blood cells is short-lived.  The good news, is that if you're one of those people who pops an Echinacea pill when you get a cold, there are no health risks. And who knows,  if you believe it will help you,  you may experience a little placebo effect.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Courances Castle Gardens

The Courances Castle Gardens are located in France, about 40 miles from Paris.  They are situated on a 40 acre park that surrounds a beautiful French Chateau that was built in 1622 by the Clauss family.

The Courances Castle Gardens are considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in France.  It's a French formal garden as well as a Renaissance water garden.  As you stroll along the paths, you'll see plenty of ponds, canals, and fountains.  The reflections of the chateau in the water features are just gorgeous.  For those who like a bit of trivia, there are 14 springs on the property that flow into the 17 water features on the estate.

Also located on the grounds, is a Japanese hill and pond stroll garden which features beautiful flame-colored plants. 

The gardens are open from March 31st to early November.  Admission is 7 euros.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

The Cleveland Cultural gardens, located in Cleveland, Ohio in the area known as Rockefeller Park, contain over 50 acres of gardens divided into individual gardens representing the ethnic communities of the great Cleveland area.

The gardens were created by students and professors of Cleveland State University.  The first garden, the British, or Shakespeare Garden, was built in 1916.  In 1926, Leo Weidenthal, editor of Jewish  Independent, had the idea to make the cultural gardens represent the city's different communities.  He wanted people of different nationalities to work together and learn about each other's culture.

Today there are 35 gardens.  These include Polish, Slovenian, Czech, Russian, Slovak, Italian, Greek, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, and Hebrew gardens, amongst others.  The newest is the Croation garden, built in 2011.

When I lived in Cleveland, I enjoyed visiting these gardens.  There are lots of fountains, decorative iron work and sculptures.

The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Michigan 4-H Children's Garden

The Michigan 4-H Children's Garden is located on the campus of Michigan State University.  It opened in 1993, as one of five gardens that are part of the Michigan State University Horticulture Demonstration Gardens.

The children's garden covers about half an acre, and it features 30 different play areas.  These include a dinosaur garden, a pizza garden, a Peter Rabbit garden, an ABC Kindergarten garden, a Teddy Bear and Animal garden, a Storybook garden, and an Alice in Wonderland Maze which leads to a secret garden.

Some of the fun things kids can do are find lambs ear and feel the leaves, smell chocolate mint, dance on dance chimes, and cross over the Monet bridge.

The garden is open Monday through Friday from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free, but parking is $3.00 for 1 1/2 hours or $5.00 for 3 hours.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens, located about 30 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a gorgeous collection of flowers situated on 1077 acres of land.  (Only 325 acres are open to the public.)  There are twenty indoor gardens, housed in a conservatory which contains 5,500 types of plants.  There are also 20 outdoor gardens featuring exquisite flowers, trees, and dazzling fountains.

Longwood Gardens has a very rich history.  Over two hundred years ago, the land was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Indians.  In 1700, a Quaker family purchased the property from William Penn (the guy Pennsylvania is named after) and established a farm there.  In 1906, Pierre du Pont, the famous industrialist, purchased the property and created what is enjoyed today.  In 1946, the Gardens were turned over to a foundation set up by Mr. du Pont.

One of the gardens is the Bee-aMazed children's garden.  It features a tree house, a Honeycomb Maze, Flower fountain, and Buzz Trail.  Kids can learn about bees and the various parts of a flower through these interactive features.

The Gardens are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.  Admission for adults is $18.00.  Admission for children is $8.00.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Three Houses

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens are located in Richmond, Virginia.  These gardens are simply amazing.  In fact, they are the winner of the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library service.
The history of the gardens is interesting.  They are on property that was once the hunting grounds for the Powhatan Indians.  The land was also owned by Patrick Henry.  In 1884, Lewis Ginter purchased the land.  In 1913, Ginter's niece, Grace Arents, developed gardens on the property.  It was her desire that when she and her partner died, the land be given to the city of Richmond to be developed as botanical gardens, honoring Lewis Ginter.  In 1968, the city took over the property, but the gardens didn't come to fruition until 1981.

The children's garden is one of the best I've seen.  There are about eight different areas where children can learn about the natural world.  One neat feature is the International Village.  There are playhouses and plants that represent cultures from all over the world.  There's a "tukal" African shelter, a Latin American "casista," and a Native American longhouse.  There's also an Asian teahouse and an "everyone's house," where kids can design their own place.

Other features include the water play area, a bird and butterfly meadow, a tree house, a children's greenhouse, and a section of weird and contrasting plants.

The gardens are open daily form 9 AM - 5 PM.  Admission is $11.00 for adults, and $7.00 for children.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Aullwood Park

 Aullwood Park, located in Dayton, Ohio, is a 31-acre park that was donated by Marie Aull to the Five River Metroparks in 1977.  It's an historic estate garden with numerous native and exotic flowers.

There are hiking trails through the park that allow you to enjoy all of the beautiful plants.  Every season is different.  In the spring, you'll see tulips, daffodils, lenten roses, and wildflowers.  In May, the Lilac Lawn smells absolutely heavenly.  You might even see clematis vines growing in the shrubs.  In June, look for the gorgeous peonies.  And in July and August, check out the butterfly garden, magic lilies, and begonias.

If you visit the park, take the time to find these attractions:  a bur oak tree with the 1913 flood watermark, and a twin sycamore tree that was alive in 1492, when Columbus discovered America.

The gardens are open April 1 - October 31 from 8 am - 10 pm, and November 1 - March 31, from 8 am - 8 pm.  Since it's part of a park, admission is free.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Palaise Het Loo

Palaise Het Loo is a Dutch baroque garden in the Netherlands which was created in 1684 by William and Mary - the same people who later became the king and queen of England.  It has been called the "Versailles of Holland" because of the layout, fountains, and statues.  As is typical of Baroque gardens, they follow perfect symmetry.  Within the gardens are four individual ones:  A King's Garden, which has a bowling green, a Lower Garden with beautiful statues, a Queen's garden , which was the private garden of Queen Mary, and an Upper Garden.

If you visit the gardens in the warmer months, you'll see orange trees planted in square white tubs.  These are placed in the garden as an emblem of the Prince of Orange.  They are returned to the orangery in the cooler months.

The garden is open year round Tuesday through Sunday from 10-5.  Admission is 12.50 euros for adults and 4.00 euros for children.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Clean Garden Fountains

Last year, I posted these tips on how to clean garden fountains..  I thought I'd share them again, since it's the end of the summer, and many fountains probably need cleaning.

Fountains are beautiful additions to your garden, but if you don't clean them regularly, you'll notice algae growth and stinky, murky water.  Here's how to prevent problems.

1.  Skim debris out daily.  This is the best way to prevent problems.

2.  Do a full cleaning once a week (some people do this once a season, but I find it is better to do it once a week).  If your fountain came with instructions, read that first.

3.  Turn off the fountain pump and remove it.

4.  Drain the water.  A lot of fountains have drain plugs.  If yours has one, use it.  It makes the job easier.

5.  Remove any leftover debris.

6.  Wipe the fountain thoroughly with a rag.  If necessary, use a soft bristled tooth brush to remove algae. White vinegar can be used for stubborn stains, but test in a small area to make sure it won't hurt your fountain.

7.  Rinse the fountain with a hose.

8.  Clean the pump by removing the cover and picking out any debris that might be inside.

9.  Wipe the inside and outside of the pump and replace the cover.

10.  Re-fill your fountain with clean, fresh water.  There are special cleaning enzymes you can add to help keep the water clean.  You can get these at fountain supply stores.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

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 Straw Bale 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 labyrinth, 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.