Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Well kiss my tulips hello!

This was a great year for my tulips. During the Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto last year, each participant was given a certificate for 100 free bulbs from Colorblends Wholesale FlowerBulbs (seen above). I have to say - they are the tallest, most sturdy, longlasting bulbs I've ever had.

I'm no bulb collector or tulip hound, but from my little expereince with them, these have been the best performers I've ever had. The tulips I've had for years come back each year, maybe a few less each time. Many of them came from Holland - my wife was in Amsterdam and picked up a few bags with exotic colors – reds, oranges, yellows, purples, blues – and they all came up yellow. Buyer beware.

WIVB TV Channel 4 reporter Lauren Hall
posted my tulips on her Instagram page.
no, I don't know her, it was a random
event a mutual friend noticed.
The colors are great. It was a mixed collection and not only are the colors varied, but the heights varied as well, which made for a better view of each as I planted them in clumps. I have bulbs elsewhere in the garden, as you can see from the other photos, but all similar bulbs are the same height, which is fine, but the Colorblends collection is more dramatic with different heights.

I planted them in my hellstrip - the area between sidewalk and road. That area is notoriously poor soil, though I have been adding compost and mulch each year to remedy that. They bloomed AFTER all my other tulips, drastically prolonging my spring bulb season.

Neighbors have all stopped to comment on them. A local TV reporter, just walking by, randomly took a photo for her Instagram page, and someone forwarded it to me. Every day I can hear people outside from my office window remarking on them and taking pictures.

I'm now hooked. I'll have to order more Colorblends bulbs this fall and fill in more of the hellstrip with them. Hopefully many of the tulips from this season will come back. And no, we didn't have any problems with squirrels taking them.

My usual collection of tulips. They've been there for years and I've not added to them in about five years. They come up pretty well each year. You can see the Colorblends tulips in the background hellstrip just starting to pop.
Don't pay attention to the scurvy grass. That will all disappear this spring as I do some finish paver and brick work to the hellstrip to eliminate grass forever.
Couldn't be happier if they were free. And they were!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Before and After garden bench

I made this garden bench from a bed frame we had sitting in the basement for 15 years. It was my wife's grandmother's bed. At least this way we'll be able to appreciate it in the garden - rather than the basement.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Disney Concert Hall Garden and a bit of The Broad

The Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles holds a secret garden, The Blue Ribbon Garden,  that you would never know was even there walking by the alien exterior of the building.

A steep staircase off a busy sidewalk takes you to a rooftop public park/garden oasis, about an acre in size, with plenty of shady areas to sit and relax and take in the impressive architecture. Frank Gehry designed the building - and garden.

There are areas for kids performances, as well as serves as a pre- and post-performance reception area. It's also available for private events and children's programming.

One of its most unique features – other than the space-age design and materials is a fountain Gehry designed for its patron, Lillian Disney.

Disney was a rose collector – and collector of Royal Delft porcelain. According to the John Lithgow-narrated audio tour, Mr. Gehry himself said that the Delft wasn't that royal – in that she collected even cheap souvenir Delft as well.

Since she loved rose and her Delft porcelain, he created a large rose fountain made from Delft porcelain pieces and tiles.
Another feature of the building that was nature-inspired are the columns that support the building and mechanicals. Massive tree trunk-like wood-clad pillars give the lobby a sculptural forest-like vibe.
Free tours leave from the lobby daily. We had gotten there too late for the last tour but were able to take the audio tour (at no charge) and wander the building and garden at our leisure.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

New fence. Old fence.

Had a new cedar fence built last week. Finishing touches happen this week. 

Old picket fence? It's now the walls inside my new potting shed.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A potting table for the potting shed


Wow. I didn't post once in February. That's new.

It's been a crazy month. Thank god it was the shortest month of the year. We did a Caribbean cruise and a few days at Disney World at the end of January, then two weeks later did a six-day trip to Birmingham, England (Stonehenge, Warwick Castle, The Roman baths at Bath, and a monkey forest!).

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My garden is in the Bible. The Garden Bible, that is...

 I made it into the Bible, you know, the good book, The Garden Bible, Designing your perfect outdoor space. Friend (and friend to Buffalo and its Garden Walk) Barbara Ballinger has written the garden bible and Buffalo is well represented. Even a little corner of my garden was snuck in there. 

She (and I) have been waiting patiently for its publication and release. I asked her id it was like giving birth – and she said it was worse! 

Where ever a Buffalo garden is featured, Garden Walk Buffalo got a nice mention. Photos from Buffalo were shot by either photographer Don Zinteck, or myself.

It's a 224-page hardcover book with glorious and generously sized photos throughout. There's plenty here for the beginner – and the pro – with design tips and lots of inspiration (20 case studies!). They're chapters on understanding your site and climate, developing a budget, hiring professionals, finding a style, design principles, recognizing problems – and a whole section on garden tours that features Garden Walk Buffalo prominently.

Currently it's available on Amazon, but it will be seeping out to bookstores in the coming weeks and months.

Friday, January 22, 2016

DIY garden bench, window boxes, and shutters for the garden shed

It's been a busy few weeks in the basement workshop. Not only did I make three window boxes from old louvered closet doors left over from a bathroom remodel, but I've made a garden bench from an old headboard we were going to throw out. And then I made some shutters for the garden shed's round-topped windows.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

In the garden, in December

Not much going on in December, in the garden, in Buffalo, chez Charlier. The only news here is that we've had the least snow so far this winter in recorded history. We've also broken the top recorded temperatures for almost every day this month.

In the photo above you get to see the bones of the diamond-shaped dwarf pear tree espalier. I have to do something about trimming the tops this spring. They get pretty massive and thick up there.

Since there's not much to say about gardening, I can show what's been happening around the yard and garden.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Potting shed details, details, details...

Le Châtelet de Charlier is progressing nicely, even though it's winter. Buffalo hasn't had any snow yet – and it looks like it'll be at least a week before there's even a chance of it.

This past weekend I built three flower boxes from old closet bi-fold doors taken out of the house in a bathroom remodel a few years ago.

I made a door handle from a hand rake that we never used. I made three more hanging solar lights from terracotta pots, moved a shelving unit in from the garage that was there when we moved in 14 years ago, and started making mullions for the windows that didn't have any. It was a very productive weekend!

My neighbor Steve was walking by (as neighbors do) and suggested that the upper diamond window get some mullions in it because the solid glass almost made it look like there was no glass there – this coming from the guy that told me not to waste time adding the slate tile foundation because it was making the shed too "precious"! He's had some valuable suggestions along the way and he's fun to talk to, so every time I add a clever detail, or something that requires extra effort, or have some design scheme in mind, we now refer to it as "precious."

If the weather holds out this weekend, I'll get a potting table structure started out there. I'm thinking to use the $500 gift certificate I won for the scrap marble and granite "carpet" creative competition a couple years ago and see how far that goes toward getting a "scratch and dent" piece of soapstone (thanks Roxanne for that idea!), or unfinished marble table top for it.

I'm getting a lot more done this fall than I thought I ever would.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A conifer collector's confection

I've been to a few "Collector's Gardens" – gardens of true plant-a-holics that collect non-run-of-the-mill plants. Mostly they've been garden writer friends or folks that work for nurseries that can more readily get their hands on unique plants, or hard-to-find cultivars of more common plants. In my experience, they're usually less "designed" and more of a hodge podge of plants (well-suited to their spots) that the owner gets excited about.

This plant collector's garden, just outside Toronto, blew me away.

The Marion Jarvie garden was more of a curio cabinet of a garden. Or it looked as if you were touring a botanical garden, condensed into a small suburban lot. The more, and closer, you looked–the more there was to see.

Mostly featuring dwarf conifers of every size, shape, and color, it also hosts wonderful trees, shrubs and even some perennials I'm sure came from other planets.

This was just one of the dozens of gardens toured as part of the 2015 Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto this past June. More than 70 gardeners attended. It was difficult to get photos without other gardeners in them–crouching, stretching, and contorting to get their photos taken. I wouldn't want it any other way. You can learn a lot touring gardens with 70+ people smarter than you that can answer questions, make you look at things you wouldn't normally see, or even just ask great questions themselves.

Not much else I can say. You'll just have to appreciate the photos...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Pot lights for the potting shed

I wanted some solar terracotta pot lights for the potting shed (the shed has no electricity). What potting shed should NOT have a plant pot light? Seemed simple enough. I went looking for something like this by Googling and searching on Pinterest, but came up empty.

So I went to my friendly local hardware store, bought the solar lights and pots. The hardware store folks were a great help in suggesting how best to drill terracotta, the exact "L" brackets that are bendy enough to adjust its angle, and suggested the neoprene (rubber) washers for the screws.

I think they came out pretty well. The lights are rather dim, but this was just the first night's photos. I don't think the lights got enough sun power before I put them up. Even if they are on the dim side, they still work well. Glad I painted the interior of the pot white.

At first I tried drilling the holes with wood drill bits. It worked, but it took about 45 minutes to drill two holes. I have a masonry drill bit now, and it was suggested that I add water as I drill and that may help things along. Then I just added the solar light on top with just a couple dabs of glue. Almost any glue would work. I had some glass/metal glue on hand and it works fine. UPDATE: The masonry drill bit worked wonders. Keeping the area wet, it drilled through with little effort. I drilled six holes in three pots in ten minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gardening on Instagram

I'm new to Instagram as of about four weeks ago. I like to jump on trends years after they begin. 

It's a very visual medium. I've been blogging here for nigh on nine years. The blog is writing and photos. Facebook is short blurbs and images and links. Pinterest is my visual "file folder" of things I find I like and can easily refer back to. Instagram's strength, in my opinion, is it makes a viewer focus on one image at a time. It's got plenty of garden porn for my visual pleasure. 

Through Instagram I am able to share the thousands upon thousands of garden photos I've taken over the years – from garden blogger meet-ups, trips abroad, garden tours locally and around the country, visits to botanical gardens, hikes, and my own garden and neighborhood. Some photos have been published on this blog, most have not. It's nice to have a venue for them – as opposed to sitting on a hard drive on my desk.

I'm still getting the hang of how it all works. Hashtags are new to me. Do people really use them? The interface on my desktop computer is lackluster and basic (and frustrating). The iPhone images seem so small at times, especially for complex photos. The iPad is just right.

If you're on Instagram, look me up, you can find me at jimcharlier.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I am Grout, the potting shed update


Almost ready for winter. I'm grouting the diamond-shaped slate tiles along the foundation this weekend. Then I just have to frame in a couple small windows.

Then, it's "winterized." Or, at least, the exterior is 90% finished. As long as these nice weekends hold, I may be able to get some work done inside – principally a potting bench and pegboard walls. Over the winter will be decorative elements – window boxes, lattice, an arbor, and a shelf under the window you see above, all built in the basement – the house basement. No, the potting shed doesn't have a basement.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dragging-of-the-Plants Weekend

This was the annual Dragging-of-the-Plants Weekend (also known as the Scratching-of the-Floors Weekend). Shown are the before and afters of some of the rooms after the plunking down of potted plants. Their summer vacation outside is over.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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