Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwood Gardens

The Highfield Discovery Garden at Glenwood Gardens Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of my kids' favorite places to visit in the summer.  It features a 25-foot tall Discovery Tree which kids can climb and discover all kinds of hidden animals and treasures.  My personal favorite is Grandma's Scent Garden which contains many fragrant plants and herbs.  There's also a Wizard's garden, a Vegetable Garden, a Trolley Garden (sure to be a hit for train lovers), a frog pond (my son's favorite), and a Fairy Garden.

The garden is open from May 1st to August 31st.  Admission is $4.00  for adults and $3.00 for children.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

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, 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 from dawn to dusk.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shalimar Gardens in Lahore

The Shalimar Gardens in Lahore are located in modern day Pakistan.  They are Persian gardens which were built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1641.  The word, Shalimar, means "garden of love."

The gardens feature 410 fountains.  Tree varieties include almond, apple, apricot, cherry, mango, and mulberry.

The gardens are open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is equivalent to about .20 cents per person.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cleveland Botanical Gardens

The Cleveland Botanical Gardens are the nation's oldest gardens.  They were started in 1930, and cover seven and a half acres.

The gardens include the Hershey's Children's Garden, which is the first public children's garden of Ohio.  It features a tree house, cave, dwarf forest, and herb garden.

The Japanese garden features a dry cascade of ornamental grasses, evergreens, and rock forms.

The Mary Ann Sears Swetland rose garden is especially beautiful.  If features over 50 varieties of roses.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hershey Children's Garden

The Hershey Children's garden, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is a great place for kids!  As you enter, you are greeted by a fine spray of water delivered by Hershey Kiss misters - perfect for a hot summer day!  The garden features a tree house, butterfly house, a caterpillar tunnel, and a Native American garden.

The garden is open daily from April 15 to late October.  It is also open on select dates in November and December.  Tickets are between $7.00 and $10.00.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Keukenhof Gardens

If you love tulips and spring flowers, the place to visit is Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam.  The gardens cover over seventy acres and are planted with nearly seven million spring flowers.

The gardens were the idea of the 1949 Mayor of Lisse.  He wanted to create an open-air flower exhibition to showcase Dutch bulb grower's latest hybrids.  It is now the world's largest and most photographed flower garden.

If you want to see it, the best time to go is in April.  The gardens are located between the towns of Hillingom and LIsse.  The exhibition runs from the end of March to May.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Choosing the Right Fertilizer for Your Garden

It's almost time for gardening to begin.  And that means a little bit of soil fortification through fertilization.  Do all of the 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 foliage 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 percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium 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, and 5-10-5 is a good all-purpose fertilizer.

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

Hopefully these tips will take some of the guess work out of the fertilization process.

Happy gardening!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is located in Niles, Michigan.  It covers 105 acres along the St. Joseph River Valley.  Only eight acres are landscaped.  The rest are miles and miles of trails.  It was voted Best Hiking and Best Family Outing in A Leader Publications 2013 Best of the Best readers poll.  On the eight landscaped acres, visitors can see a Japanese garden, hosta garden, lilac garden, lily pond, and an herb garden featuring over 200 types of herbs. Every season offers something new.  In the spring, the daffodils and primroses offer a nice splash of color.  In the summer, the perennials are in bloom.  Autumn is the peak season for ornamental grasses.

The garden is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $7.00 per adult and $4.00 per child.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge

This was my second year doing the A-Z challenge, and just like last year, I met many new bloggers and gained new followers.  It was a lot of fun reading other posts.  They were all so different.  Some writers wrote flash fiction.  Others featured book, movies, and music beginning with each letter of the alphabet.  One of my favorites, was one where the blogger came up with a fictitious word, and invited other bloggers to give a definition.  So creative!

The best piece of advice I would have for anyone doing this in the future, is to be prepared and know exactly what you are going to write about before the challenge even begins.  Then you don't have to stress each day.  Just get it done, and visit other bloggers.

Thanks to Arnie for coming up with this, and thanks to all who worked to organize the event and make it possible!

Before I go, I want to let you know that I am a guest over at Brian Hayden's blog, where I have written an article about how to write an excellent query letter.  If you'd like to read it, please stop by!