Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greenwood Gardens

Greenwood Gardens, located in Shorthills, New Jersey, is a lovely gem that contains 28 acres of Italiente garden terraces, grottoes, fountains, moss-covered paths, ornamental trees, and flowers. It looks like a classic European garden, but it is relatively new.

In 1906, real-estate auctioneer, Joseph P. Day, purchase the property as a family home. He spent the next twenty years developing the estate.  It was much later, in 2002, that the property was opened as a public garden.

The garden is open from May through October, although there are some classes and events held at the site during winter months. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Cost of admission is $10.00 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Before I go, I'd like to share some good news. My first middle grade book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China, will be released September 4, 2018. Here's the cover:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three Free Gardening Apps

Today we have a special guest post from Wendy at My Seed Needs. She shares some free apps that can help you develop your gardening skills. (If you need some seeds for your spring planting which is right around the corner, please check out her site.)

Photo site/credit

 Free Apps To Help Enhance Your Gardening Skills
Modern gardeners have it easier than ever to plant their flower gardens, vegetable, gardens, and herb gardens. The know-how may not have passed down to you from your ancestors, but you have something they didn’t. The internet.
Do you love flowers but are not sure what to plant or when? Do you even know what your flower seed needs are? Help is as close as your smartphone or tablet. There are tons of free apps out there that will tell you what plants will thrive in your area.

You may be new to gardening, or maybe you are skilled and want to incorporate new plants into your garden. Here are some things to consider while choosing a gardening app:
     What plants thrive well in your area
     How much time do you have to dedicate to the garden? Do you need low maintenance plants?
     How much sun and water will your garden get naturally?
     How to identify signs of plant disease or infestation.
The following three apps are some of our favorites. There are plenty out there, so look around and see what works best for you.

Permaculture Garden App

This free app is designed to help anywhere. Gardeners from the United States to the UK find what they need with this app. The fun thing about Permaculture is it’s landscape design abilities. Use your own information to design your garden and see how your plans square up with the plants you are planning to use. 


This app has been around for a while, and it keeps getting better. It is free (that is always good) and it is very user-friendly. The geo-mapping makes it easy to select plants that you are incorporating into your garden. The screenshot makes sharing with other members easy and fun. This app makes you feel as if you are part of a garden community.

Garden Answers Plant Identifier

This app is so cool! You can snap a photo of a plant you like and it instantly identifies it for you! It has a library of over 20,000 plants. It also offers gardening tips, troubleshooting for gardening problems and it has built-in features to make it all effortless.


As the winter months drag on, your gardening sites are exposed. If you did not properly prepare them before the season turned, be sure to take the time to do it before you plant.
Gardening takes nutrients from the soil. You will need to till the ground well and add nutrients or fertilizer to the soil before you plant again. If you are preparing a new site (for the first time) check the site for sunlight and irrigation. Just because you want flowers in a spot, if it is not suited for plant life (if nothing is growing there now, that's a tip) you either have to select a different site or plant seeds that will grow in those conditions.
If you planted last year and gave up when illness or infestation overcame the site, you must be sure that the diseased plants are no longer in the soil. When you till, remove any old plant life. If you did this before your season ended and added mulch, you are probably fine. But, watch for signs of any disease that you fought before and get to it early.

No matter what you plant, you will need a little help. That’s what these free apps give you. A tip on what is going wrong and how to fix it. That’s all you need. The power is in your hands. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Presby Memorial Iris Garden

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair, New Jersey, has been called, "The Rainbow on the Hill." And for good reason. The myriad of color stretching over 6.5 acres of hilly property is from an expansive collection of beautiful irises–over 10,000 of them, It is said that there are approximately 1,500 varieties. Each iris plot has a marker, telling visitors exactly what kind of iris it is, and what awards it may have received.  The garden was started in 1922. Today, volunteer gardeners take care of the plants.

The best time to see this beautiful place is mid-May to early June, when the irises are in full bloom.

Also on the property, is the Walther House (open 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM during peak iris-blooming season) and a Bloom Room Gift Shop which sells delicious iris honey.

The gardens are open daily from dusk to dawn. There is no cost of admission to view the gardens, but a donation of $8.00 is suggested.

Before I go, I want to let you know of the release of my new picture book, Don't Feed the Elephant!

Blurb:  People say you're not supposed to play with your food. But the adventurous little elephant in Don't Feed the Elephant never got the message! This charming children's story won't just entertain kids with its hilarious descriptions and zany main character. It will also educate them about the alphabet and help them learn the order of letters. As the elephant works his way through food stuffs, each new dish features a new letter of the alphabet. From animal crackers to zebra cakes, the elephant is enthusiastic to gobble everything up, even when it lands him in hot water.

Here are some sample illustrations:

It's available on Amazon as a Paperback book. For my international friends, it will be available in the UK, Canada, India, and anywhere else Amazon sells in about a week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Deep-Cut Gardens

New Jersey is called the Garden State. It's called that for a good reason. In this next series of blog posts, we will explore some of the gardens that make it deserving of this title.

Our first stop is Deep-Cut Gardens, located in Middleton, New Jersey. Situated on land that once belonged to the crime boss, Vito Genovese, its 54 acres of greenhouses and gardens are a living catalog of native plants. Home gardeners can go there and get inspiration for planting in their own spaces.

The greenhouse contains an impressive collection of bonsai trees, cacti, and succulents. The grounds are beautifully planted, with formal rose gardens and flowers. There's even a koi fish pond with benches for visitors to rest and enjoy the scenery. It's a lovely place for taking pictures, having a picnic, or just plain relaxing. An indoor area has a library with a wealth of information about gardening.

The best part is that this garden has free admission. It's open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.