Sunday, June 30, 2013

Topiary Park

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 George 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.

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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

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 the city of Srinagar, near Dal Lake, India.  The Shalimar Gardens were laid out in 1616 by Emperor Jahnagir while he was founding the city.  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!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How to Make Compost

 Compost is like a mulch and fertilizer all mixed together.  If you're a gardener, you know how great it can be for your soil.  It adds valuable nutrients,  helps clay soil drain better, and sandy soil retain water.  So how do you make a compost pile?

1. Choose an area that is out of sight, yet convenient to your garden.  You don't want to have to look at your compost pile every day, but you also don't want to walk a million miles to get to it.

2.  Gardening stores sell all kinds of composting bins.  Some can get kind of expensive.  If you're short on cash, you can use a stiff wire mesh to contain your compost.  The ideal size is 3 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft.  Compost breaks down quickly with that size.

3.  Compost is made up of two basic things:  green garden debris and brown garden debris.  Green debris includes stuff like raw vegetable peelings from your kitchen, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and animal manure from herbivores (don't use dog feces or cat litter!)  Brown debris includes things like dry leaves, newspapers, and sawdust.  Things NOT to include are meat, oil, dairy, or plants treated with herbicides.  Green ingredients are high in nitrogen.  Brown ingredients are high in carbon.

4.  You'll want a mix with the ratio one part green debris to two parts brown debris.  Too much green debris makes your pile stink.  So, if your pile is smelling bad, up the brown debris - add newspapers.

5.  To jump start the microbial action, toss in a shovelful of finished compost or garden soil.

6.  Your pile should be moist, but not too moist.  Add some water if it starts to dry out.

7.  Turn the pile once a week to keep the airflow continuous.

8. Your compost should be finished in about two months.  You'll know it's done when you can't tell what any of the original materials were.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

US Botanical Gardens

Started in 1850, the United States Botanical Gardens in Washington DC, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in North America.  It houses about 26,000 plants, including medicinal plants, orchids, and cacti.  The Conservatory was added later in 1933, and contains a jungle, desert, and primeval paradise.  Outdoors, the National Garden features a variety of mid-Atlantic plants.

The gardens are open year round from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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 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.  What kid doesn't like that?

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Canadian Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens, located near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island, contains 55 acres of simply gorgeous floral gardens.

In 1907, garden designer, Isaburo Kishida, came to Victoria to build a tea garden for Esquimalt Gorge Park.  A prominent citizen of the area, Jeanie Butchart, saw the garden and commissioned Kishida to create Japanese gardens for her estate.  In 1909, the sunken garden was created, followed by a rose garden and Italian garden.

Ownership of the gardens remains within the Butchart family, but they are open to the public.  The gardens are open every day from 9 AM to 4 PM, except for Christmas, when the gardens open at 1:00 PM.  Admission prices range from $3.00 for children, to $29.00 for adults, depending on the season.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Giverney Water Garden

If you ever have the chance to be in Giverny, France, be sure to visit the famous gardens of artist, Claude Monet.  They are absolutely beautiful!

Monet moved to Giverny in 1883.  He began several gardens on the property surrounding his home.  In 1893, Monet bought a piece of land next to his property and dug the first pond on it.  This pond became the famous Japanese water garden.  Later, it was enlarged to its present size.

The famous Japanese bridge is made of beech wood and is covered with wisterias.  There are other bridges in the garden as well.  Weeping willows give a very restful feeling, and gorgeous nympheas bloom all summer long.  It is no wonder that Monet used this garden as the subject of his paintings!

The gardens are open from April 1 - November 1 from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM.  Tickets are 8 euros.