Friday, December 29, 2017

Paradise Gardens

This "garden" is one of the strangest I have ever seen. But it's so interesting, I have to post about it. Paradise Gardens is located in Summerville, Georgia. It was created by folk artist, Howard Finster. He spent more than thirty years making art from objects people normally throw away. The inspiration for it came in a dream, where God told him to create art and make a garden. He started the garden in 1970 and continued until his death in 2001.

Visitors will see all kinds of junk put together as art: Saw blades, wheel wells, hub caps, bottles. You name it. It's probably there. Before you walk around the garden, you should start by viewing the video of the artist's life and work. It will give you some insight into this unusual individual.

The garden is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $15.00, and $5.00 for students.

Before I go, I have two announcements. Actually three.

1.  My book, That Mama is a Grouch is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

2.  My book, Ten Zany Birds is available as a free ebook from Smashwords from now until January 1st. Please visit this link to get your copy.

3. Don't Feed the Elephant, my upcoming picture book, will be published in 2018. We have some formatting issues we're still trying to work out. My apologies to anyone who might've wanted to get it as a Christmas gift. I'll let you know when it's here.

Hope you all have a very Happy New Year and a terrific 2018!   


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monticello Gardens

Virginia is a place rich in history. Last week, I wrote about the Colonial Williamsburg gardens. This week, I'll tell you about the gardens at the home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.  The gardens surrounding his home, the Monticello, are impressive. They are a tribute to the creativity and inquisitiveness of his great mind.

Set among mountain views, the gardens showcase a variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Jefferson grew 170 types of apples, peaches, and grapes in his orchards. He had 330 different vegetables growing in his 1000-foot-long terrace garden. Jefferson liked to experiment with plants and create new types. These gardens were the places he conducted his experiments.

Visitors can explore the gardens on their own, or they can take a Garden and Grounds tour which is available April through October. Other events include a Spring Wildflower Walk in April, and a Heritage Harvest Festival in September. 

The  grounds are open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Cost of admission to view the house and gardens is $22 for adults and $10.00 for children. 

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I'm a guest on the ePublishing Children's Book Blog. I'm talking about my upcoming book, Don't Feed the Elephant. If you'd like to visit and see a sneak peak of a couple of the illustrations, visit here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Colonial Williamsburg Gardens

You may know that Williamsburg, Virginia, is well-known for its historic buildings, but you may not know that it also has many beautiful herb, flower, and formal gardens. The Williamsburg of 1777 did not have such lush green spaces. Horticulturalists and historians worked together to choose native plants which would tolerate the area's hot summers and cold winters. The result is simply stunning. Visitors can photograph and enjoy the picturesque landscaping. 

There are several tours one can take to see and learn about the gardens. "Through the Garden Gate" is a walking tour that explains the historic documents and archaeological evidence that was used to create the gardens. "Gardens of Gentility" visits the formal gardens of the Governor's Palace. "Meet the Gardener" is an opportunity for visitors to ask volunteer gardeners about the gardens they see.

There are a total of 90 acres of gardens, ranging from those at the Governor's Palace to the Kitchen Garden of the James Getty site.

Garden tours are available April - September to Colonial Williamsburg ticket holders. Reservations are required. The cost of a single day ticket is $40.99 for adults and $20.49 for children. Colonial Williamsburg is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum

Located on the northeast coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Garden of Eden is an island paradise worthy of its name. It was created in 1991 by Alan Bradbury, a certified arborist and musician. Mr. Bradbury's original intent was to create a recording studio retreat, but he soon discovered that the salty, humid air was not good for his recording equipment. Not wanting to let the gardens go to waste, he decided to make it a place where people could enjoy the natural ecosystem of the island. He named it, "Pua Nani," which means "flower from heaven." When it was opened to the public in 1996, many visitors said it looked like the biblical Garden of Eden. The name stuck.

The Garden of Eden Botanical Arboretum covers 25 acres and has 500 labeled tropical plants. It's claim to fame is that it was seen in the opening sequence of the movie, Jurassic Park. Don't worry though, you won't see any dinosaurs roaming around if you visit.   

The garden is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Cost of admission is $15.00 per adult and $5.00 per child. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Smith's Tropical Garden Paradise

If you visit the Hawaiian island of Kauai, make time to experience Smith's Tropical Paradise. It's a thirty-acre botanical and cultural garden on the east side of the island, known as the "Coconut Coast." It's located within the Wailua Marina State Park, and is home to the island's most popular luau.

Walter Smith, Sr. started the business over sixty years ago, as a way for visitors to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Kauai and the Wailua River Valley. As you wander the mile of meandering pathways, you can see peacocks, Polynesian huts, a beautiful Japanese garden, and an orchard that contains twenty types of fruit, including breadfruit, starfruit, and macadamia nuts.

The luau is what you'd expect from a traditional Hawaiian experience:  roasted pig in an earthen imu oven, lots of traditional food, a Hawaiian hula dance, Tahitian drums, and a fire-knife dance.

The gardens are open from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The cost to visit the garden is $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for children. (The luau is extra and starts after 5:00 PM. It's costly, but worth it:  $98 for adults, $30 for kids ages 7-13, and $19 for kids 3-6.)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Quarryhill Botanical Gardens

Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, located near Glen Eden in California's Sonoma Valley, was founded in 1987.  It is a 25 acre botanical garden that houses one of the largest collections of Asian plants in North America.  Visitors will enjoy flowering Asian trees and plants, magnolias, rhododendrons, and walking paths with places to sit and enjoy the beautiful ponds and waterfalls.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 per child.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fall Container Gardens

Fall is a great time to experiment with different plants and create attractive container gardens. It doesn't have to be restricted to mums. I recently made one with ornamental peppers, cabbage, violets, pansies, wirevine, and . . . a mum. It looks beautiful!

The one pictured above, done by Estabrooke Farms in Yarmouth, Maine caught my eye. I like how the snap dragons look like candy corn. The purple nemesia looks so pretty against it. In case you're wondering, the other plants in the pot are red snap dragons and leather leaf sedge.

Get creative with textures and leaf colors. Grasses work well, because they add height and contrast. You can also choose to plant one type of plant in a container and group a bunch of containers of contrasting plants together. The effect is pretty.

Just because summer is over, doesn't mean you can't have pretty plants. Have fun adding some splashes of color!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Limahuli Garden

The Limahuli Garden is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, in North Kauai. This 1,000 acre garden nestled in the mountains, is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. It was donated to the American Horticultural Society in 1976. In 1997, it was rated as the best natural botanical garden in the United States. 

Seventeen acres of the garden are available for public viewing. Visitors are able to see the natural beauty of the island and learn the cultural history behind it. One of the most interesting parts of the garden is the terrace system, which was used by ancient Hawaiians to grow crops. These terraces are still in place, and are used to grow taro and sweet potatoes. Other food grown in the garden includes bananas and sugar cane.

Another lovely feature is the Lima Auli Stream which flows through the garden down to the ocean. There are self guided tours along with guided tours that range in price from $15.00 to $100 per adult. It's a fascinating place, and well worth the visit if you go to Kauai. The garden is open Tuesday through Friday, and on Sunday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Enchanting Floral Gardens

The Enchanting Floral Gardens is located in Upcountry, Maui on the Hawaiian islands. It covers eight acres and includes more than 1,500 tropical plants such as orchids, hibiscus, and fruit trees.  Probably the most enchanting part is the entrance. As you go under the bridge, you are transported into a world of colorful flowers.

The gardens are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Cost of admission is $5.00 for adults. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located on the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island. It is "a gift to the people of the world" from San Francisco business man, Dan J. Lutkenhouse. Visitors can walk along an elevated boardwalk which winds down the narrow ravine of Kahalii Stream. The stream itself is now dry due to a landslide that diverted its water into the Onomea stream. But the scenery is no less spectacular. There are over 2,000 species of plants such as orchids and palms, along with beautiful natural waterfalls and a gorgeous view of Onomea Bay.

There is also an aviary which features all kinds of tropical birds.

The garden is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission for adults is $18.00, and $5.00 for children.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bibler Gardens

Bibler Gardens is located in Kalispell, Montana. It is in my opinion, one of the prettiest gardens in the state. The property overlooks Flathead Valley, the Swan Mountains and parts of Glacier Park.

The gardens were designed by Louis "Sam" Bibler at his home from 1979 - 2002. They are really a labor of love.

Public tours are held twice a year:  In the Spring when daffodils and tulips are at their peak, and in the summer, when the flowers are in full bloom.

The gardens include waterfalls, bridges, sculptures, fountains, and a gazebo. There are also beautiful Argentinian black-necked swans that roam the place.  

Admission is $15 for adults and $5.00 for children.

For those of you who don't follow my other blog, I posted a video from my recent viola recital. Here it is if you'd like to listen to me play: 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Moss Mansion Historic House Museum and Gardens

Moss Mansion Historic House Museum and gardens is located in Billings, Montana. The house was built in 1903 for the Moss family. They are the ones who developed Billings Light and Water Power Company. It was designed by renowned New York City architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh who also designed the original Waldorf Astoria. The cost to build it was $105,000 which was well above the national average of $5000. The red stone mansion has three stories as well as a basement and attached solarium. It's just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside.

Admission to the museum will also allow visitors to tour the lovely gardens on the property. This is a popular site for weddings. It's certainly easy to see why.

The museum is open every day except Monday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Cost of admission is $12.00 for adults. Children five and under are admitted free.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Old Lexington Stamp Mill

Old Lexington Stamp Mill and Gardens is located in Butte, Montana. The stamp mill was built in 1867. It's not a stamp mill that makes postage stamps. It's an ore-crushing machine that pounds rock into fine sand. A lovely botanical garden has been developed around it. One of the features is a botanical butterfly, which is a replica of one from an amusement park which had closed down.  It's a rather pretty feature which can be seen from the road as you drive by.

The gardens are open May through October from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Mint is one of those plants that grows like crazy. Unless you want your entire garden to be mint, you need to take some precautions to contain the roots. It's pretty simple:  keep the mint in a pot and plant the whole thing in the ground. Keep some of the rim above the ground so the plant's runners don't try to sneak over the barrier.

To keep mint looking fresh, harvest the stem tips before it flowers. Other than that, keep the soil moist, and out of the hot sun.

There are several varieties of mints, including apple, pineapple, spearmint, orange, and my favorite, chocolate. Each one smells great!

If you want something a little different to do with your mint, try making ice cream. Here's a recipe:

6-8 cups fresh mint leaves, rinsed and air-dried

2 cups half-and-half cream

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Place the leaves in a small pot. Mix the half-and-half, whipping cream, sugar, and salt and pour over the mint. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and pressing the leaves into the cream. Do not let the mixture boil. After about 10 - 15 minutes, cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit until cooled to room temperature. Stir in vanilla. Pour through a mesh strainer into a container, pressing down the leaves to extract as much liquid as you can. Chill for at least 8 hours. Then process in an ice cream maker by following the manufacturer's instructions.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gatiss Gardens

Gatiss Gardens, located in Kalispell, Montana, is an English cottage-style garden which covers four acres. It was developed by the Gatiss family, and now is maintained by the Siblerud family. Visitors can meander along a mile-long trail and enjoy a wide assortment of colorful perennials.

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tizer Botanic Gardens

Tizer Botanic Gardens, located in Jefferson City, Montana, is Montana's only fully certified botanical garden and arboretum. It covers six acres and contains numerous gardens, including a rose garden, herb garden, wildflower walk, children's garden, and gazebo garden. There's also a vegetable garden which includes raspberry and strawberry patches. If you happen to visit in season, you may even get to sample some of those raspberries and strawberries.

The gardens are open from May through September from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $7.00, and children under five are admitted free.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Memorial Rose Garden

Memorial Rose Garden, located in Missoula Montana, is part of a small city park. It was begun in 1946, and now contains more than 2,500 rose bushes, which serve as a memorial to the casualties and veterans of America's twentieth century war conflicts.  In addition to the roses, the garden features a twelve foot bronze statue.

There is no cost to view the gardens. They are open from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Memphis Botanic Garden

Memphis Botanic Garden, located in Memphis, Tennessee, covers ninety-six acres. Visitors can explore an arboretum with over one thousand trees, and twenty-nine specialty gardens. Included in these specialty gardens are an Asian Garden, Butterfly Garden, Desert Garden, Prehistoric Plant Trail, Sculpture Garden, and Water Garden Room.

The garden is open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Powell Gardens

Powell Gardens, located in Kingsville, Missouri has something for everybody. There's a 12 acre lake, water gardens, woodland plants, a wildflower meadow, and a hiking trail. Some other attractions to see are North America's longest living wall, the nation's largest edible landscape, known as the Heartland Harvest Garden, and a giant ant.

There are special exhibits, too, that change with the seasons, keeping visitors returning throughout the year.

 The gardens are open daily, year round. Hours are from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $10.00, and for children, $4.00.