Monday, June 22, 2015

Shedding in the garden

The Harry Potter Garden will go back in the diamond-shaped areas at the base of the shed you see in the photo.
Finally a productive weekend working on the potting shed. After a weekend in Toronto visiting gardens for three days straight (which I wouldn't have missed for anything) and a trip "home" to Binghamton, NY (about 3.5 hours from Buffalo) to visit with my Alzheimer's-afflicted mom, it was finally Jim time – a two-day weekend to work on the shed, and a few other smaller projects in the garden. And of course, a garden dinner party with good friends!

It's coming together! Like a puzzle that's kicking my ass.
The diamond-shaped window is the exact size
of the diamond-shaped pavers the shed sits on.
The front window is going to be an oval-topped
window that came out of 1897 Dutch Colonial house.
Another feature is a bay window, intended to
accommodate any future greenhouse ambitions.
I'm really liking the diamond-shaped paver floor already.
Built the bar base last fall. The black-eyed Susan vine is happily climbing the wall grate.
The vine is the best thing to ever grow in this space.
In real life, the color of the clematis and the plates were much closer!
My wife made new curtains for around the hot tub.
This is on of the happy hostas that get stored in their pots in the
garage all winter. This winter it'll be in the new potting shed.
Finally cleared this area out. It was the home for the lumber left over from the destruction of the jungle gym over the winter.
The granite and marble scrap "carpet" did well over the winter. A few adjustments here and there and it'll be good as new.
The coral bell bed and coral bell copper fountain are looking good.
Houseplants, overwintered pots and annuals mix it up on their summer vacation. There are hostas, coleus, hens and chicks, Japanese fountain grass, a columnar apple tree, peace lily, basil, asparagus fern, sedums, an avocado tree, a pine tree, lantana and much more - just in this photo!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

An urbane urban garden

Urbane, suave, sophisticated, refined, curated, cosmopolitan. If I had to start all over again with my own garden, I might go more in this direction. People might start to think I was all of those things, being the least suave person I know, I could use the PR bump. Of all the gardens we saw during the Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto earlier in the month, this is the garden looked as though it would fit me well, being suave and all that.

Don't get me wrong – we saw tiny urban gardens (much like many of Buffalo's gardens), historical landscapes, woodland savannahs being restored, plant collector's gardens, a roof garden, a peony garden in a park, a garden geared toward wildlife, gardens in a reclaimed industrial site, and a jewel of a botanical garden – all great gardens – but this garden on a good-sized city lot in the Forest Hills neighborhood fed the designer inside of me.

The first thing to strike me was the clever rebar "fence" in the very front of the garden – enough to not hide a single plant – but enough to keep dogs out of the fern-heavy woodland garden that had birch trees set back a bit, and a stand of pines, providing privacy to the living portion of the garden – which is actually the front yard of the home.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I never met a heuchera I didn't like

All these were taken in my garden today. It's a good day. Heuchera (coral bells) have become my go-to-plant-to-visit at any garden nursery. They come in such great colors, textures, sheen, leaf shape, size, and work in a garden bed or planters. There is nothing a good heuchera cannot do.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Katy Moss Warner and Disney, Garden Tourism Part VI

My favorite talk of the International Garden Tourism Network's North American Conference was by Katy Moss Warner. Her talk was titled, Making a Difference with the Disney Garden Experience.

No slides, but she kept us captivated!
I told her later that I could have
listened to her all day!
But the talk, to me anyway, was more about creating legitimacy and relevance for garden tourism experiences – especially in the realm of tourism where horticultural events, activities, and features were either considered a "side" attraction, or not considered at all.

She had no slides to show, hence all I have to show is the one bad photo I took from my seat. What she did have to tell was stories. Great ones. The rest of the photos you see here I took during different trips to Disney World over the years.

She was Director of Disney's Horticulture and Environmental Initiatives at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. With a team of nearly 700, she was responsible for the landscapes of four parks, 15 resorts and more than 70 miles of roads on the 30,000-acre property.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Harry Potting Shed progress...

The potting shed was started in earnest this past weekend. It's the largest puzzle I've ever constructed. First was the previous weekend, preparing the base – digging, adding "base" gravel, placing a pallet and a half of 16" square pavers and leveling with sand, then sweeping sand into cracks. Then watering to help sink the sand into the cracks. Then more sweeping. And wetting. And sweeping. And wetting....
Anxiety. Will it come together correctly? Math's never been my
strong suit, and there is a lot of math here. I spent more time
staring at it than I did assembling.
This past weekend was construction. First a base of pressure treated wood, then one side at a time. Measuring, cutting, measuring, cutting hammering, measuring cutting and hammering. Three days of it with intermittent trips to Home Depot for supplies.

I was able to get the whole thing framed, and then half of it walled up. This weekend I'll finish the walling and start the roof. Its looking much larger than I had thought it would. It's 8'x12'. God only knows how tall it will be.

I've built this 1,000 times in my head, so I didn't have an actual drawn-out plan to refer to – which amazes and infuriates my wife. Of course that also leads to the aforementioned extra trips to Home Depot when I run out of lumber. Or nails.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May days around the spread

The wisteria is VERY happy this year.
Haven't done all the planting for the summer yet (boxes, baskets, and pots). It's too early. It's back down into the 30s and 40s at night – and we turned the heat back on today! But here are visuals of things happening around the garden this spring already.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hokkaido Gardens, Japan, Garden Tourism Part V

One of my favorite presentations at the North American Garden Tourism Conference in Toronto was by landscape designer Takano Fumiaki. His topic was Making a Garden Tourism Difference in Japan, specifically focusing on the Hokkaido Garden Show. He not only wowed me, but from the audience's reaction to his projects and the projects of local collaborators, he wowed all. If one would ever consider giving a standing ovation to a garden tourism presentation - this would have been the one. Pity the fool that had to present after Takano.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten North American Gardens Worth Traveling For, Garden Tourism Conference, Part IV

Vallarta Botanical Gardens in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Each year, in the spirit of highlighting North America’s most dynamic garden experiences and garden tourism’s potential, the International Garden Tourism Network's North American Conference determines a list of the Top Ten North American Gardens Worth Traveling For. This year was no exception. Tourism is the world’s fourth largest industry – and garden tourism is a significant part of it.
The awards are presented to gardens that have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction. To view past winners, visit and click on the ‘media’ tab.
 I've been to only two of these gardens. How many have you been to?
2015 Winners, listed alphabetically:

Friday, May 8, 2015

It must be spring, prom flowers have popped up

The tulips are coming up, and the front bed – which I haven't added any bulbs to in years – still looks good. Many of these came straight from Holland. But the most important flowers of the season came from a teenage boy.

My daughter was asked to the junior prom with a dozen cream roses with red edges. The flowers came with a baseball that read, "I usually strike out the batter, but I hope I don't strike out asking you to the prom."

And the card with the flowers read, "Please return the baseball with your written response."

She threw him a wadded up piece of paper that said, "Yes!" She's keeping the baseball. It's a first "date" though they've been friends for years. We believe they're just going as friends, but clever use of flowers for an invite invites some speculation. We give the boy points for creativity.

So as much as we enjoy the spring flowers popping up in the front yard, the most memorable of the season are the dozen inside.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Garden Tourism Conference, Who was there, Part III

My fellow panel participants (left to right) Kathy Gilber of Vancouver's Sun Yet Sen Classical Chinese Garden, me from the Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara, Dr. Heike Platter from Italy's Gardens at Troutmansdorff Castle, Beth Monroe from Virginia's Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, and moderator Abbey Spencer of the American Public Gardens Association. I wasn't as scared as I look.
Not only were the speakers at the North American Garden Tourism Conference people doing great things in horticultural tourism, but so were the audience members.
Italy's Dr. Heike Platter

I sat next to my friend Heike Platter, Director of Marketing & Corporate Strategy for Italy's Gardens at Trauttsmandorff Castle. I've visited her garden in Northern Italy before. She introduced me to our other seatmate, Luc Behar Bannelier, the landscape designer in charge of all of Disneyland Paris. I was just in Paris a week earlier and my daughter brought up going to Disneyland Paris. We were there to see Paris, so it was a non-starter. But next trip, we may take up Luc's offer of a guided landscape tour. I was also able to meet Luc's former boss at Disney World, Katy Moss Warner.
 America in Bloom's
Katy Moss Warner

Katy is retired from Disney World, after having worked there for decades. She was the developer of the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Now Katy is a Vice President and City Judge for America in Bloom, as well as President Emeritus of the American Horticultural Society. I could have listened to her talk all day long. I'll do a post on her talk at some point soon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Tourism Conference, Longwood Gardens, Part II

As opposed to the detail of the previous post, I have here, and going forward, just some thoughts from different presenters from the North American Garden Tourism Conference held in Toronto last month. As opposed to going over every presentation, I'll keep it to presentations that relate somehow to my group, Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara, and lessons it can take away from the Conference.

Longwood gardens is already known for its beauty,
but does not rest on that alone to draw tourists (and their dollars!).
First presentation, after the keynote speaker, was How Longwood Gardens is Making a Tourism Difference by Paul Redman, Executive Director of Pennsylvania's Longwood Gardens. They have about 1.2 million visitors to the spectacular gardens, rightly one of the most popular gardens in the U.S.

The former Pierre Du Pont estate, replete with fantastic conservatories, elaborate gardens, towering fountains, organ concerts, and fireworks displays is ever-changing to keep its audiences coming back – for generations. Visiting Longwood Gardens at Christmastime is an annual event for local families, with former kid visitors bringing their own kids when they're older. As a matter of fact, Paul mentions that Longwood considers there to be five seasons - Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn – and Christmas.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Garden Tourism Conference, Part 1

Who knows how many parts this Garden Tourism blog series may be? I'll try to keep it simple, and brief, but there was a lot of information packed into the two-day North American Garden Tourism Conference in Toronto last month.
To recap his presentation from 2013, he did a quick review
of the garden tourism trends from that presentation
and how they held up, which formed the basis of much of his talk.
Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara (GWBN), the Buffalo Niagara region's garden experience and tourism group was kind enough to sponsor my trip to the Conference. So this series of blog posts is my report to them, and, as GWBN is a public benefit corporation, it is my report to the public.

I had attended this biennial conference in 2013 and enjoyed what presentations I saw immensely. In fact, I gave a presentation along with Buffalo News columnist and Channel 4 garden personality Sally Cunningham; along with Ed Healy, VP Marketing of our visitors bureau, Visit Buffalo Niagara. We met many people involved in garden tourism from around the world – and found where we fit within that garden tourism world. The good news is, we're proactive, innovative, and definitely on the right track. There is no bad news.


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