Sunday, December 28, 2014

Zilker Botanical Gardens

Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas, cover 26 acres, and are nicknamed, "The jewel in the heart of Austin."  The name is well-deserved.  It's a picturesque place with several themed gardens, including a rose garden, herb garden, and Japanese garden.

As you can see from the pictures, there are plenty of streams, waterfalls and koi filled ponds.  This place is a paradise for those who enjoy water features in a garden.

The gardens were established in 1955 to promote education and love of gardening among all people.

Zilker Botanical Gardens are open from 9:00 AM top 5:30 PM.  Cost of admission is $3.00 for adults, and $1.00 for children.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

McKee Botanical Gardens

Located in Vero Beach, Florida, the McKee Botanical Gardens are 18 acres of tropical gardens along the Indian River.  They were begun in 1929, when landscape architect, William Lyman Phillips, designed the basic infrastructure of streams, ponds, and trails. Native vegetation and ornamental plants were added with the goal of establishing an impressive collection of water lilies and orchids.

It flourished throughout the 1940s, but by the 1970s, competition from other Florida attractions caused it to close its doors.  Sixty of the original acres were sold.  The remaining acres sat vacant for twenty years. Then in 1994, the Indian River Land Trust purchased the property and restored the garden.  It was reopened in 2001.  There are now several buildings on the property, including a gift shop, education center, and restaurant.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday noon to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $10.00, and for children, $8.00.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Key West Garden Center and West Martello Tower

Key West Garden Center and West Martello Tower is located in Key West, Florida.  The ruins of an old civil war fort are home to the Joe Allen Garden Center and Key West Garden Club.  There are many native exotic trees and plants, including orchids, growing within these ruins.  A gazebo that overlooks the ocean, is a perfect back drop for weddings or for enjoying gentle sea breezes. Visitors will also see a lovely waterlily pond and waterfall.

The Key West Garden Center boasts that it is one of the island's last free tourist attractions.  The gardens are open from dawn to dusk.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens are located in Gainsville, Florida.  This 62 acre site overlooks the beautiful Lake Kanapaha, and contains nineteen different themed gardens.  These include a Butterfly Garden, Asian Garden, Vinery, Hummingbird Garden, Herb Garden, Rock Garden, Water Lilly Pond, Water Garden, and a 29 acre arboretum.

The gardens are open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM (or dusk, if that comes earlier).  Admission for adults is $7.00, and for children it's $3.50.  On the first Saturday of the month, guided two-hour tours are offered.  These are great for those who wish to learn more about the plants they are seeing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Historic Spanish Point

Located in Osprey, Florida, Historic Spanish Point is a museum complex and archaeological site with preserved pioneer dwellings, Native American remains, and lovely garden landscapes.  Included in the gardens, are the Fern and Jungle Walk with a scenic aqueduct, and a Sunken Garden and Pergola.

The historical things on the site are quite fascinating.  There's an Indian burial mound, an archaeological exhibition built inside a shell mound, and an old house built in 1901 that once belonged to the Guptill family.

Historic Spanish Point is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, and from 12:00 to 5:00 PM on Sundays.  Admission for adults is $12.00, and for children, $5.00.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Heathcote Botanical Gardens

Heathcote Botanical Gardens are located in Fort Pierce, Florida.  The three and a half acres were once part of a nursery.  Now they are filled with paths bordered by orchids and palms. There are several gardens, including an herb garden, childrens garden, and a lovely Japanese garden that contains a picturesque pond.  The Japanese garden also boasts the largest tropical Bonsai collection in the United States.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from 1:00 PmM to 5:00 PM  (November through April). Cost of admission is $6.00 for adults, and $2.00 for children.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fragrance Garden

The Fragrance Garden is part of Lakes Park, a 277 acre park in South Fort Meyers, Florida, where you can touch and smell the scents of native exotic plants and walk a fruit and spice path. It was started in 1991, with a small collection of herbs.  It has grown quite a bit, and now has a huge assortment of trees and flowers.

The park is open from 9:00 AM to dusk.  There is a parking fee for motorized vehicles:  $1.00 an hour or $5.00 all day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Harry P. Leu Gardens

Located in Orlando, Florida, the Harry P. Leu Gardens contain fifty acres of ancient oak trees, camellias, and giant camphors.  In fact, it has the largest camellia collection and formal rose garden in the southern United States. The gardens were donated to the city of Orlando in 1961 by Harry P. Leu and his wife, Mary Jane. There is also an herb garden, butterfly garden, palm garden, and bamboo garden on the grounds.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except on December 25th, when the gardens are closed.

Cost of admission, which includes a tour of the Leu House Museum, is $10.00 for adults, and $3.00 for children.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fruit and Spice Park

The Fruit and Spice Park, located in Homestead, Florida, is a unique place to visit. It is a thirty acre public park that features 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts. Guided tours are available, and visitors can quite literally munch their way through the garden.  (There's a tasting counter at the park shop to sample things you can't yank off the plants and eat.)  If you want to learn about fruits and vegetables and see how they are naturally grown (especially ones that aren't found in your area), this is the place to visit.

The park is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Cost of admission for adults is $5.00, and for children, it is $1.50.

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that as a follow up to my radio interview, Solving the Hunger Problem, I created a Facebook group dedicated to sharing ideas that might make a difference for those who struggle with hunger issues.  You can find it here.  If you're on Facebook, I invite you to join.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Fairchild Tropical Gardens is located in Coral Gables, Florida.  It is an 83 acre botanical research and education center that contains an impressive collection of tropical plants.  Featured on the grounds is an 16,500 square foot conservatory called Windows to the Tropics, the McLamore Arboretum (10 acres of flowering trees), an endangered plant garden, a Keys Coastal Habitat (4 acre garden), and a rainforest exhibit (which contains the People of the Rainforest exhibit).

The gardens are open daily, except on December 25th, from 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM.  The cost of admission for adults is $25.00, and for children, $12.00.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know about a radio interview I did called, Solving the Hunger Problem.  In it, I discuss a very big problem facing a lot of families, and possible solutions.  I invite you to listen.  (It's short.)  You can find it here.  (Episode 20)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ernest Hemingway Museum Gardens

The Ernest Hemingway Museum Gardens are located in Key West, Florida.  These are the gardens which surround the Spanish colonial home where famous writer, Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his novels.  There are many lush, tropical plants on the grounds.  But the most interesting thing, in my opinion, are the cats.  They are descendants from the fifty cats Hemingway used to have.  Many of them are six-toed poly dactyl cats.  And they are everywhere!

The cost of admission for adults, which includes a guided tour, is $13.00.  The cost for children, is $6.00.  The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Collect Seeds from Fleshy Fruits and Vegetables

Are you interested in learning how to collect seeds from fleshy fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers?  Perhaps you have some heirloom tomatoes you'd like to grow next year from this year's crop.  Here's how you do it:

1.  Scoop out the insides of the vegetable and leave in a container to ferment.

2.  In three to five days, a mold will have formed over it.  This is fine.  It encourages germination.

3.  Scoop the mold off with a spoon and then add water to the container and swish around.

4.  Some seeds will float, others will sink.  Keep the ones that sink.

5.  Rinse and dry on a tray out of direct sunlight.

6.  When dry, store in a labelled envelope.  Include date on the envelope.

7.  Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place.  They are viable for about three years, but it's better if they are used the following season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Canning Your Fruits and Vegetables

Canning is a great way to preserve the fruits and vegetables you have harvested, and enjoy them year round.  Here's how to do it:

1. Peel the fruit.  (Tomato and peach skin can be removed by placing the fruit in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  The skin will crack.  Remove the fruit and place in cool water.  Once cool enough to handle, slip the skin off.)

2.  Remove the cores, pits, or damaged parts.  Tomatoes can be canned whole.

3. Slice fruit to preferred size.

4.  Place fruit in a pot with water and turn on high heat.

5.  Add sugar to fruit:  approximately one cup per quart of fruit.

6.  If desired, add seasonings.

7.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

8.  Prepare jars.  Use clean, sanitary jars.

9.  Turn off heat and fill jars to about a half inch from teh top.

10.  Place lids on each one and screw on a band, tightening snugly.

11.  Process the filled jars by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil the jars with water level a half inch above the tops of the jar.  This kills any remaining microorganisms.  (Process times are listed below these instructions, or follow your recipe.) Start timing when water comes to full boil."

12.  Remove jars carefully and place on a dish towel to cool.

13.  Jar lids should snap down and make a "pop" sound.  When the lids are pressed, they should not pop up.  If the jar is not properly sealed, refrigerate.

14.  Dry the jar lids to prevent rusting.

15.  Store in a cool, dry place.

Process times for jars:

Quart:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  25 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  20 minutes,  Peaches:  25 minutes, Pears:  25 minutes, Tomatoes:  45 minutes.

Pint:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  20 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  15 minutes,  Peaches:  20 minutes,  Pears:  20 minutes,  Tomatoes:  40 minutes.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens, located in Lake Wales, Florida, covers 157 acres, and sits on top of Iron Mountain, one of Florida's highest points (298 feet above sea level.  For Florida, this is high!).   This National Historic Landmark was begun in 1921, when Edward Bok, editor of the magazine, Ladies Home Journal, decided to create a bird sanctuary.  Mr. Bok died in 1930, and is buried at the base of the bell tower, which is located on the property.

Not only are there thousands of beautiful flowering plants, there are other interesting sites and events to see while visiting this place.  There is the bell tower, which contains 60 bells, and chimes at 1:00 and 3:00 daily.  Tours are available to see the inside of the bell tower.  The Pinewood Estate Mansion, located on the grounds, is also available to see.  There's a short 3/4 mile trail to wander down, too.  And as an added bonus, throughout the summer months, there are live orchestra and jazz concerts at 7:30 PM.

   The gardens are open daily from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  Admission is $12.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Butterfly Rainforest

If you like butterflies, the Butterfly Rainforest, in Gainesville, Florida, is the place to go.  This 6400 square foot enclosure is part of the Florida Museum of Natural History.  It houses gorgeous tropical plants, birds, and over 1,000 butterflies.  There's also a butterfly hatchery, for those who are interested in seeing the life cycle of a butterfly.  Visitors walking through the rainforest will see waterfalls, ponds containing koi and turtles, and plenty of feeding stations for the birds and butterflies.

Admission is $10.50 for adults and $6.00 for children.  The rainforest is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Biltmore Estate Gardens

If you are ever in Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate Gardens are something you definitely want to visit!  The estate sits on 8,000 acres of beautifully manicured grounds, and includes a four-acre walled garden, and Italian garden with statues and a pool, a spring garden, an azalea garden, a bass pond, and woodland trails.

The chateau is quite a masterpiece.  This former residence of George Vanderbilt was completed in 1895 and has 250 rooms!  Visitors will see vintage clothing, furniture, and beautiful artwork.

The estate is open from the end of March to the beginning of November. Hours are from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily.  Admission for adults is $44.00.  Kids are free with adult admission.  The price of admission includes a self guided tour through the mansion and the grounds.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, was founded in 1901 and covers 67 acres.  There is a Spring Garden which features azaleas in the spring, a Camellia Garden, which features camellias in the fall, and a Rain Garden  which features magnolias in the summer.  There are also beautiful statues and fountains on the grounds.  One thing you won't want to miss, is a giant 467 year old oak tree, lovingly named, "Airlie Oak."

The garden is open March through December, daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $9.00.  Admission for children is $3.00.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

North Carolina Botanical Gardens

North Carolina Botanical Gardens are located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and are part of the University of North Carolina.  They were begun in 1903 and have grown over the years.  Today, they cover 700 acres.  The purpose of the garden is to research, catalog, and promote native plants of North Carolina.  There are 14 display gardens, including carnivorous plants, a fern collection, water garden, and mountain habitat.

The gardens are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 - 5:00, and Sunday from 1:00 - 5:00.  Admission is free.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tryon Palace Gardens

Located in New Bern, North Carolina, the Tryon Palace gardens surround the Governor's Palace and cover 14 acres.  They were designed by landscape architect, Morley Jeffers Williams in the 1950s, and are in the style of formal 18th century European gardens.

Formal box shrubs line red brick paths.  Seasonal flowers add color within the geometric shapes of the shrubs. In the spring, visitors will see daffodils and tulips, in the summer, marigolds and celosia, and in the fall, mums.

Tours of the Governor's Palace and the Dixon and Stanly houses which are on the property are also available.  Visitors can expect to see tour guides dressed in period clothing of the late 1700s as the history of the area is explained.

The gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Caribbean Gardens

The Caribbean Gardens are located in Naples, Florida as part of the Naples Botanical Garden complex.  They are one of the oldest tropical gardens in the United States.  They cover 52 acres and features a mile-long path of tropical plants and trees.    The purpose of the garden is to recreate a Caribbean island paradise. 

The gardens are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.  Admission is $12.95 for adults and $7.95 for children.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bird Garden of Naples

Located in Naples, Florida, the Bird Garden of Naples contains fie acres of tropical plants, butterflies, exotic birds, and two miles of walking trails.  The place offers refuge for over two hundred birds which have been rescued and need rehabilitation.  There is a tour which visitors can take that is led by the owner of the garden.  On it, she relates personal stories and facts about many of the birds that have been rescued.  There are plenty of opportunities to hold the birds and have pictures taken with them.

The garden is open Thursday through Sunday, but tours must be arranged by appointment only.  There is no set admission fee, but donations are appreciated.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ancient Spanish Monastery St. Bernard de Clairvaux

The Ancient Spanish Monastery St. Bernard de Clairvaux is located in North Miami Beach, Florida.  The picturesque 12th  century monastery was originally built in Spain.  It was dismantled, piece by piece, and brought to Florida by newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, in 1925.  It never got assembled until 26 years after his death.

Today, the grounds include extensive formal gardens, and are a popular venue for weddings.

The monastery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM, and on Sunday from 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Admission for adults is $8.00, and for children, $4.00.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Albin Polasek Museum and Garden

Located in Winterpark, Florida, Albin Plasek Museum and Garden contains three acres of gardens displaying works of sculptor, Albin Plasek. It was founded in 1961, and contains over 200 works of the Czech artist.  The grounds which overlook Lake Osceola are quite lovely.  It's a perfect place for a leisurely stroll to enjoy the beauty of nature and art together.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $5.00, and admission for children is $3.00.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens

Located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina (south of Myrtle Beach), Brookgreen Gardens is listed in the 2013 Trip Advisor list of Top Ten Public Gardens in the United States.  It's easy to see why.  The 9,100 acre property is simply spectacular!  There are several themed gardens, including the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden.  It was designed in 1931, in the shape of a butterfly, and houses many of the works of Anna Hyatt Huntington.  These include the Goddess Diana Hunting, and Fighting Stallions.

Other gardens include the Diana garden with 300 year old oak trees, the Dorothy P. Peace Garden for Children, the Fountains of the Muses garden, and the Labyrinth.

Also located on the property, are the Low Country Zoo and the Low Country Center.  Tours are available to go to the recent archaeological discoveries of the foundations of several buildings which were part of the original Oaks Plantation.  (The entire 9,100 acres were once part of four rice plantations.)

The gardens are open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $14.00.  Admission for children is $7.00.