Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera, is native to the mountains of south-eastern Brazil.  It likes shade and high humidity.  It can be recognized by its leaf-like pads and pink flowers which flower only around Thanksgiving or Christmas (hence the name).

Here are some tips for caring for your Christmas cactus:

1.  Keep away from direct sunlight, drafts, heat vents, or fireplaces.

2.  Provide a source of humidity.  You can put a tray of water next to the plant so that the water evaporates and provides humidity.

3.  Do not overwater.  Once a week should be enough.  And if you can, don't water from the top.  It is best to put the plant in a tray of water and allow water to seep through holes in the bottom of the container.

4.  Prune your cactus one month after blooming.  

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Brook Lodge

Brook Lodge, located in Auguste, Michigan, was the former home of Dr. W. E. Upjohn, founder of the Upjohn company.  It is now a hotel and conference center belonging to Michigan State University's Division of Housing and Food Service.

While it may seem a little odd to visit a conference center's gardens, they are really quite beautiful and definitely worth seeing.  The property covers 637 acres and contains trees, waterfalls, and many beautiful flowers, including irises and peonies.  Brook Lodge is a popular site for weddings, and if you visit, you will see why.

The grounds are open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Anderson Enrichment Center and Lucille E. Anderson Memorial Garden

The Andersen Enrichment Center and Lucille E. Anderson Memorial Garden are located in Saginaw, Michigan.  If you like roses, this is definitely a place to see.  It contains hundreds of them. Other things to see include perennials, a brick walkway, and a fountain that features Marshall M. Frederick's sculpture, "Flying Geese."

The center itself promotes the arts and entertainment of the area and can be rented for weddings.

The garden is open from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Liberty Hall Historic Site and Gardens

Liberty Hall Historic Site and Gardens is located in Frankfort, Kentucky.  The gardens cover nearly three acres and are on the grounds of a Federalist-style mansion.  (There are a lot of these types of mansions in Kentucky!)

It features the largest formal boxwood garden in Kentucky.  It also has many beautiful perennial and annual borders, and a large variety of roses.

 The gardens are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk.  Tour prices to view the house are $4.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. 

One thing before I go:  I went to Book 'Em North Carolina and met Diane Wolfe, my publisher at Dancing Lemur Press.  It was great to meet her. She works very hard! If you're one of her authors, know that she is doing a lot to promote your book!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Hunt-Morgan House and Gardens


The Hunt-Morgan House and gardens, located in Lexington, Kentucky, is a Federalist-style house that was built in 1814 by John Wesley Hunt.  It is reminiscent of the days when Lexington was known for its affluent lifestyle.  Today, it serves as a Civil War museum.

After you tour the museum, you can visit the small, but lovely garden which features hydrangeas and a gazebo. It is often used as the setting for wedding pictures.  In fact, the entire facility can be rented for weddings.

The museum is open from March 1 through mid-December.  Tours are offered Wednesday - Friday, and Sunday from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM each hour.  On Saturday, tours are from 10:00 - 3:00 PM.  There is a small admission fee.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Farmington Plantation Home and Gardens

The Farmington House and Gardens are located in Louisville, Kentucky.  This red brick Federalist style mansion was the childhood home of Joshua Fry Speed, who is considered to be Abraham Lincoln's closest friend.  In fact, one of the interesting facts about this place is that Abraham Lincoln slept here.  The other interesting fact is that it was designed by Thomas Jefferson.

The eighteen acres surrounding the house contain many formal gardens, as well as an apple orchard.  It's really a nice place to visit!

Hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and Sunday from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM.  Admission for adults is $9.00, and $4.00 for children.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Big Bone Gardens

Big Bone Gardens is located in Union, Kentucky across from Big Bone Lick State Park (which is a great place to hike if you're in the area).  It's a six acre private garden that includes 7 water gardens, an herb garden, and an adorable gnome garden.  

The garden is open to the public on weekends from mid-April through mid-July.  The hours are from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It was opened in 1983 and covers a total of 100,000 square feet.  It features over 1200 plants from 500 different species.
The conservatory features a 25,000 square foot seasonal garden, a tropical garden (top picture) with a gorgeous waterfall, orchids, and palms, and a desert garden.  There is also a lovely outdoor area.

The conservatory is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5, Thursday from 10-8, and Sunday from noon - 4.  Admission is $5.00 per adult and $3.00 per child.

Before I go, I thought I'd share a video of a recording from a recital I recently did. I shared it on my other blog and thought you'd like to listen, too.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

How to Get your Garden Ready in Early Spring

Green Leaf Plant Beside River

Today's guest post is from the folks at Worx and Rockwell Tools. They're here to give you some helpful hints on things you should be doing to get your garden ready for the upcoming planting season.

  How to Get Your Garden Ready in Early Spring

When spring arrives with sunny days and warm weather, many feel the impulse to embrace nature by tackling outdoor projects. From making sure your electric grass trimmer is ready for the season to getting your soil ready for your garden, there’s no shortage of tasks to complete once spring weather arrives.

Are you ready to get your spring garden underway? If so, consider starting your spring gardening with these tasks. Working through a checklist of small projects early in the season will help you get the best results from your garden this year.

Essential Early Tasks

There are some practical jobs you should handle at the start of spring to make gardening easier later on. The first one is clearing drainage ditches. Debris tends to accumulate in them during winter, which can be a problem for seeds if they require soil that drains well.

It’s also important to inspect your garden beds. If you have raised beds, check to see if any sides are bowed or leaning, and make the necessary repairs if they are. Repair any damaged trellises and fencing as well. You may need to use oscillating tool blades if the areas that need repairing are small.

For the planting area, be sure to remove or kill spring weeds from your garden beds, and apply compost to them as you get ready for planting. When completing these early tasks, you should also check your soil’s pH, making adjustments if it’s too alkaline or acidic.

Planting Vegetables & Flowers

Wait for soil to dry out before planting any vegetables and flowers, as wet soil can get compacted which ultimately prevents aeration. Additionally, check the soil for ice crystals before planting.

Keep in mind that temperatures can fluctuate during early spring. If you’re expecting a cold night, protect early spring seedlings from frost by covering them with pots, buckets, boxes, or anything else you have on hand.

Slugs often arrive with spring, too, and can pose a threat to your budding garden. Thus, it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Use barriers, bait, non-toxic slug control products, and similar means to prevent them from causing damage. Use barrier paper to guard against cabbage moths as well.

You might also have some bulbs that were kept in pots as you waited for spring to arrive. Now is the time to plant them. If you’re planting perennials, plant them in deep soil. This helps them survive during those summer droughts.

Planting Shrubs & Trees

Start tending to your existing shrubs and trees by pruning them of dead or damaged branches. It’s particularly important to prune fruit trees well prior to buds blooming. If you don’t, the trees could become overburdened, reducing the amount of fruit they produce.

If you have any young trees that were planted in the fall, you might have chosen to protect them with tree guards or wraps. Remove them to prevent the buildup of moisture, which could otherwise leave your trees vulnerable to disease.

It’s also a good idea to research the upkeep needs of the various trees in your garden. For instance, pear trees might benefit from the early application of horticultural oil sprays. Since this isn’t necessary for all trees, it helps to research the specific needs of yours.

Planning on transplanting shrubs? Do so early in the season when the soil is moist for the best results. Be cautious when using your cordless lawn mower after planting. While you want to avoid running over fresh roots or budding plants, you will want to ensure you’re keeping grass neat.

Again, it’s easy to understand why you might feel the urge to start gardening around this time of year. Remembering these points will help you prepare. By taking key steps early in the season, you’ll be much more likely to have a thriving garden as the months progress.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Warsaw Biblical Gardens

If you're looking for something a little bit different, check out the Warsaw Biblical Gardens in Warsaw, Indiana. The gardens cover about 3/4 of an acre and contain hundreds of plants that are named in the Bible.

The gardens were started by Saralee Levin and a few of her friends.  They decided to take an eyesore and create a collection of beautiful gardens.  These include a meadow, wet-dry brook, orchard, grape arbor, desert, gathering place, forest, and crop area.  Each garden contains a plaque that lists the spiritual reference or biblical story associated with it.

Admission to the gardens is free, but if you want an hour-long tour, the cost is $2.00.  The gardens are open from May 15th through September 15th from dawn to dusk. The best time to visit to see spring flowers is April 1 - May 1. The best time for the most color is May 14 - July 4.  September to early October is best for viewing the fall meadow displays and grasses.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How to Separate Bulbs


If you notice that your spring flowers–daffodils, tulips, etc.– are looking a little crowded, it may be time to separate the bulbs.  The best time to do this is late fall or early winter when the bulbs are dormant.  But if your bulbs haven't started coming up, you might be able to still do it.  Here's what to do:

1. If you haven't already trimmed back dead leaves, cut them back so they are a few inches above the soil.

2. Make a large circle around the plant with a trowel, then carefully dig below the bulbs.  You want to make sure that you leave the root system intact.  This might mean that you need to go down a half a foot or so.

3. Shake away loose dirt so you can see the bulbs.  This will make separation easier.

4.  Separate with your fingers. Don't cut the bulb roots or try to separate them with a knife.  This can damage the plant.

5. Replant the bulb immediately.  If you can't do this for some reason, store the bulbs in a cool dry place, but don't store the bulbs for more than three months.

You'll want to separate your bulbs every two to three years.  Bulbs have this habit of multiplying underground.  So if you just let them sit around, you'll have a tightly-packed garden!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

The Cleveland Cultural gardens, located in Cleveland, Ohio in the area known as Rockefeller Park, contain over 50 acres of gardens divided into individual gardens representing the ethnic communities of the great Cleveland area.


The gardens were created by students and professors of Cleveland State University.  The first garden, the British, or Shakespeare Garden, was built in 1916.  In 1926, Leo Weidenthal, editor of Jewish  Independent, had the idea to make the cultural gardens represent the city's different communities.  He wanted people of different nationalities to work together and learn about each other's culture.


Today there are 35 gardens.  These include Polish, Slovenian, Czech, Russian, Slovak, Italian, Greek, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, and Hebrew gardens, amongst others.  The newest is the Croatian garden, built in 2011.

When I lived in Cleveland, I enjoyed visiting these gardens.  There are lots of fountains, decorative iron work and sculptures.

  The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ault Park

Ault Park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a little gem that I used to visit a lot when I lived there.  It's a 224 acre park in the Hyde Park/Mount Lookout area of Cincinnati.

 The gardens were designed by renowned landscape architect, Albert D. Taylor, and named after Levi and Ida Ault who played a big role in developing Cincinnati parks.  They  were opened to the public on May 30, 1930.  The gardens have changed quite a bit through the years.  Today, the main attractions are a dahlia garden, and the Hilda Rothchilde Memorial Old Fashioned Rose Garden.


 There is also an Italian-style Pavilion located on the grounds, which is a popular site for weddings.  The gardens are open year round from 6 AM to 10 PM.  Admission is free.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Fellows Riverside Gardens

Fellows Riverside Gardens is a free public garden located in Youngstown, Ohio's Mill Creek Park.  It covers 12 acres, and includes an assortment of gardens.  It is probably best known for its variety of roses. Three of its gardens are dedicated to roses:  The Formal Rose Garden, Climbing Rose Allee, and the Rose Garden Terrace.  If you wish to see these gardens in full bloom, the best time to go is in June.

Other gardens include the Blue Garden, the shade garden, and the perennial border walk.

If you visit the gardens in the spring, you'll  love all the spring flowers.  The grounds are planted with 40,000 spring bulbs.  You'll see crocus, tulips, narcissus, and other colorful blooms.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Aullwood Park

Aullwood Park, located in Dayton, Ohio, is a 31-acre park that was donated by Marie Aull to the Five River Metroparks in 1977.  It's an historic estate garden with numerous native and exotic flowers.

There are hiking trails through the park that allow you to enjoy all of the beautiful plants.  Every season is different.  In the spring, you'll see tulips, daffodils, lenten roses, and wildflowers.  In May, the Lilac Lawn smells absolutely heavenly.  You might even see clematis vines growing in the shrubs.  In June, look for the gorgeous peonies.  And in July and August, check out the butterfly garden, magic lilies, and begonias.

If you visit the park, take the time to find these attractions:  a bur oak tree with the 1913 flood watermark, and a twin sycamore tree that was alive in 1492, when Columbus discovered America.

 The gardens are open April 1 - October 31 from 8 am - 10 pm, and November 1 - March 31, from 8 am - 8 pm.  Since it's part of a park, admission is free.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Chadwick Arboretum

The Chadwick Arboretum, in Columbus, Ohio, is a 60 acre arboretum on the campus of Ohio State University. Its mission is to provide an educational environment for students' horticultural studies as well as be a resource of learning for the general public.

The gardens began in 1888.  At that time, the Columbus Horticultural Society tended them on campus.  They were called the Horticultural Gardens.  In 1926, the gardens were opened to the public.  In 1980, the gardens were renamed as the Chadwick Arboretum, in honor of Dr. Lewis C. Chadwick, a professor at the university.

Today, the gardens contain a large selection of Ohio plants, tropical plants, wildflowers, and woody plants.  It represents one of the most varied collections of plants in the state. 

The Learning Gardens are the most visited section of the arboretum.  These are a collection of twelve gardens, which include the Easy Elegance Rose Garden, the Katherine F. Fosser Wildflower Garden, the Gazebo Garden, and the Bamboo Garden.

The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Stan Hywet Hall and gardens, located in Akron, Ohio, is one of my favorite places to visit.  It was originally the vast estate of the Seiberling family, founders of the Good Year Tire Company.  The estate originally covered more than 3,000 acres.  Now it covers 70 acres.
The gardens were designed between 1912  and 1915 by the famous American landscape architect, Warren Manning.  The gardens are divided into ten sections:  The English Garden (Gertrude Seiberling's favorite), Birch Allee Vista, The Dell, Grape Arbor, Great Meadow, Japanese Garden, Lagoon, West Terrace, the Great Garden, and the Breakfast Room Garden.  My personal favorite is the Breakfast Room Garden.  With its blue, white, and gold color scheme and lovely fountain, it compliments the Breakfast room of the manor perfectly.

 The gardens open April 1st and remain open through December.  Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am - 6 pm.  Admission for non-members is $8.00 per person.

Monday, February 4, 2019

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 (pictured above), 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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Cleveland Botanical Gardens

The Cleveland Botanical Gardens are the nation's oldest  gardens.  They were started in 1930, and cover over 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 with ornamental grasses, evergreens, and rock forms.

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

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5, and Sunday from 12-5.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory, located in Columbus, Ohio, was built in 1895.  It houses over 400 species of plants and features a Victorian Palm house with more than forty different kinds of palms.

Throughout the year, there are many special displays.  One of the prettiest is the Victorian Garden Orchid display, held during winter months.  You can see hundreds of orchids and learn about how they were cultivated during Victorian times.

The Conservatory is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Admission is $11.00 per adults, and $6.00 for children.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Christmas Cactus

Some of you may have gotten a Christmas cactus over the holidays. I figure this is a good time to tell you a little about the plant, and to give some tips about how to care for it.

The Christmas cactus, or Schlumbergera, is native to the mountains of south-eastern Brazil.  It likes shade and high humidity.  It can be recognized by its leaf-like pads and pink flowers which flower only around Thanksgiving or Christmas (hence the name).

Here are some tips for caring for your Christmas cactus:

1.  Keep away from direct sunlight, drafts, heat vents, or fireplaces.

2.  Provide a source of humidity.  You can put a tray of water next to the plant, so that the water evaporates and provides humidity.

3.  Do not  overwater.  Once a week should be enough.  And if you can, don't water from the top.  It is best to put the plant in a tray of water and allow water to seep through holes in the bottom of the container.

4.  Prune your cactus one month after blooming.  

Before I go, I'd like to thank those of you who voted for my book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China in the cover contest. I appreciate it! There's one more day to vote in round two. If you'd like, please follow this link to vote for it:  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Krohn Conservatory

Krohn Conservatory is located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It houses over 3,500 plant species from all over the world.  Inside, you can find a replica of a rainforest, a desert, and a conservatory with a beautiful collection of orchids. One of my kids' favorite seasonal displays is the Butterfly Show held from mid-April to June.  The Christmas display is also very nice.  Hours are from 10-5 PM. Cost of admission is $7.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.

Before I go, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I'd also like to let you know that my book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China is in a cover contest for the month of January. If you'd like to vote for it, here's the link.