Friday, August 21, 2015

Taj-maShed Progressing

The mother of all potting sheds, the Shrieking Shack, is slowly progressing. Major projects still include the roofing and the tiling of the base with slate tiles. Small projects abound, from framing the round-topped window (NOT looking forward to that), trimming out all the windows and door with stop and trim, adding latches and a lock on the door, and siding the entire back side (it can't be seen, so it wasn't a priority!).

Tomorrow I'll probably add the fourth, and last window that goes in the bay window area facing the street. It'll look much more finished when that is done. All the windows were our attic windows that got replaced this year. Even the door came from the house originally.

The goal now is to make it weather tight. Then later this fall, and in the spring, I can add planter boxes, lattice trellis, and arbor, finish up the painting, add some solar lights, and outfit the interior with a potting/work bench and peg board and the like. And I have to start to put the Harry Potter Garden back in front of it.

It won't have electricity or water. It does have wifi though - because it's so close to my home office.

I love working on it. It's like constant problem solving and I can work on it for hours at a time.

I've found the secret to carpentry, for me anyway, is the art of mistake covering – you build a frame and make mistakes – and cover it with paneling. You make mistakes with paneling – and you cover it with clapboard and shingles. You do sloppy clapboard and shingles – and you cover it with trim pieces. I just have to get better with trim – there's nothing to cover that with.

I''m thinking about adding shutters to round-topped window. These are the things that keep me up at night.

The fascia got skinned with shingles.

The inspiration. The shed is a mini-me of our house.
No turret though – round stuff is advanced carpentry. I'm just a weekend handyman.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens/Vallarta Jardin Botanico


We visited the Vallarta Jardin Botanico in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, way back in April of this year. I'm finally getting around to posting about it. I'm WAY behind.

 I was first made aware of the botanical garden during the North American Conference of the International Garden Tourism Network, when they were named one of the Top Ten North American Gardens Worth Traveling For.

While at the conference, I briefly met Jesus Reyes, then the Gardens' Director of Operations. I mentioned I would be visiting Puerto Vallarta in just a few weeks from then, and he encouraged me to visit.

I convinced my friend Jay, whom we were visiting in Sayulita, to take the trek out to the Gardens. He'd never been there, but knew of it and had friends that were volunteers there. He's got a fantastic garden and is always up for learning more. It's a much different plant palette than what he uses in NYC on a terrace.

It was nearly a two hour drive from Sayulita. It's about 45 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta itself (and Sayulita is a good 45 minutes north of Vallarta!). Beautiful drive along the coast though.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Garden Walk Buffalo - put it on your bucket list

My house. I know, it's subtle.
I've been a bad blogger and haven't posted in quite a while. I've had lots of great garden experiences, including a garden/sustainability bus tour, a gardener's party at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, hosting a garden bus tour from AAA, visited some Open Gardens, was a stop garden-by-bike tour that was part of a Roswell Park Cancer Institute gala prize package, and a couple other garden parties. not to mention participating in America's largest garden tour, Garden Walk Buffalo. With 416 gardens open for free for two days, if anyone can find a larger residential garden tour - please let us know!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

All ready for America's largest garden tour...

The best Garden Walk ever? We think so, but we're extremely biased. This was the "above-the-fold" banner on the front page of the Buffalo News when I woke up yesterday. Always the start of a good weekend.  

And to the right here was the Home & Style section. Have to thank the Susan Martin/Sally Cunningham duo to give garden tour coverage its due.  

I was then off for a 6:00 a.m. live TV segment on the local NBC affiliate with Channel 7 WKBW weatherman Andy Parker. At the same time, Garden Walk Buffalo Chair, Cindy Loomis, was on WIVB's News 4 Wake-Up morning show. After my segments, it was off for a radio interview with WECK's Tom Donahue.

Then, home to do more Garden Walk Buffalo Facebook posts, a client meeting then helping set up our three headquarters. I'm tired.

But, the garden is ready for around 3,000 visitors today. Well, as ready as it's gonna' get anyway. In total we'll have around 70,000 visitors. And Andy Parker said the weather will be good – hot. Maybe even the hottest its been in two years.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Shrieking Shack update

Lots of progress cladding the exterior this weekend, got more windows hung. Still more shingles to add at the top of the one side, but have to buy a vent first. Once that's done, then I can start the window and door trim.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Shedding summer

My shedding summer is amped up these last few weekends before Garden Walk Buffalo. My plan is to have the shed as finished as possible before Garden Walk (in two weeks, July 25 and 26). Here is the progress so far on, what is now dubbed, Taj MaShed.

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!

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.

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