Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekend Work Two: The Anniversary Present.

As a 25th anniversary present, my wife bought me plants (she knows me too well). They are to replace the gangly and in-constant-need-of trimming white-flowering ninebark that hid our air conditioner (and intruded over into our neighbor's porch if we didn't maintain it).

We bought a Redvein Enkianthus "Red Bells" for its columnar habit, red stems, and height of 6-8'. It also has creamy yellow flowers veined in red in summer and brilliant red leaves in the fall, and berries in between. The other plant, for in front of the Redvein, is a Lacecap Hydrangea in a pale pink with reddish veining. I'm proud of myself for actually planting them according to their suggested mature plant size. I have a habit of planting things too close.

My wife's always hated that ninebark shrub, we never liked the white flowers, and she's wanted it replaced for a while, hence the anniversary gift. (I know her too well).

She gets her way and I get new plants. It's a system we've developed over 25 years. We both win.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Work One: Goodbye Harry Potter.

We said goodbye to the Harry Potter Garden – for now.

I dug up the Gillyweed, Devil's Snare, Bubotuber, Mimbulus mimble-tonia, Puffapod, Flitterbloom, Alihotsy, Dittany and more over the weekend. They replanted temporarily for safekeeping in another part of the garden. It'll all go back. We're getting rid of the kid's jungle gym and swing. It was here when we bought the house.

Our daughter is 16 and hasn't even looked at it in years. A few neighborhood little ones use it. But that doesn't justify keeping it – so it's goodbye Mr. Potter and hello potting shed! I'll post my potting shed plans at some point in the future. I've been researching potting sheds on Pinterest. I have too many ideas that have to get prioritized and narrowed down to what is realistically in my budget and weekend carpentry skills.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

For you a rose in Portland grows...

Portland Oregon's International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park is the oldest of 24 public rose test gardens in the U.S  for the All-America Rose Selections (AARS) - being established in 1940. The five-plus acres of roses sits on one of the highest points in the city and is worthy of a visit if you get to Portland. Thousands of roses represent more than 550 different varieties of roses. The visuals and smells are stunning.
Roses under test are not named but are given only a number. Varieties are submitted by hybridizers to the AARS, who then distributes them to the test gardens. Four plants of each entry are evaluated, for two years, on different characteristics, including plant habit, vigor, disease resistance, color, flower production, form, foliage, and fragrance. About 200 rose cultivars are trialed each year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Buffalo's best fence? Or greatest fence? You decide.

It stands in the 18th Street Community Park, at the corner of 18th Street and Rhode Island Street, whose care is semi-neglected by the city. It separates the park from Urban Roots Community Garden Center, one of the first co-operative garden centers in the country. Years ago, when my daughter was young, Urban Roots had a kids activity making tiles for the fence. I've since forgotten which tile she made, but all the tiles made by the kids were incorporated into the unique fence. I bet she'll remember.

It was conceived and built by UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, under the direction of Brad Wales (architect, educator, set designer, landscape designer, writer, media artist, and photographer). The gate is made of spaced concrete vertical slats that are mirrored on the ground and also has designed sculptural seating of the same materials. The concrete is hand-hammered, each slat a unique object that works as a transparent divider between Urban Roots and the park. Even though the materials used are steel, concrete, metal and tiles, it has an airy look and feel to it. It took about four years and 150 students to accomplish.

It reminds me of an urban take-off of a Louise Nevelson sculpture. No surprise that designer Brad Wales is a fan of architect Antoni Gaudi, who imbued even his most simple and mundane projects with creativity (and also tiles!).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Such selective successive succint succulent and sedum successes

The succulents have filled in nicely throughout the summer. I suspect, if they survive the winter well enough, that you won't be able to see any of the sphagnum moss/chicken wire next year. Some stuff'll have to be cut back a bit – just the sedums. They get gangly.

The spiders seem to like the thing. Every day the same web is remade in the same place. And that top part of the frame is sagging more now than it did when it was hung. Not quite sure how to remedy that. The thing weighs a ton. Okay, maybe not a ton exactly, but it weights a lot.

I'll leave it in place for the winter, covering it up with a shrub coat fabric and taking it off on decent days when I think about it. They are used to snow cover, so light won't be too much of an issue. If anything, I'm told that the drying winds may be more detrimental.

I was told that these succulents and sedums actually like the moisture level similar to that of a really well-ring-out sponge. That's not been a problem all summer. I've only had to water it a few times by sparing it with the hose. Rain seems to keep 'em happy for the most part.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A train garden to beat all train gardens...

There are probably many more great train gardens out there, but this is the best I've come across in my travels. Though I have to admit, not being a train person, I don't seek them out. But I am impressed when someone's passionate hobby mashes up with a nice garden.

I should have expected something was up
when I saw this mailbox.
This garden in Hamburg, NY was on the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens - 90+ Open Gardens throughout Buffalo Niagara on Thursdays and Fridays for the month of July.

Here at Dave and Barb's Whit's End, the trainscapes are so well incorporated in to the gardens that it doesn't seem too train-y until you get in close. I didn't see it when the trains were running, but I'm sure it ups the experience even more. This is the first garden among the 90 or so gardens on the Festival's Open Gardens that I could see a kid wanting to stay in.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My favorite garden discovery of 2014's Garden Walk

Like the classic mullet haircut, this garden is formal business in front and all party in the back! Shown above is the front yard garden and it could not be more formal with its four symmetric parterres of Japanese maples, perennials and boxwoods, all surrounding a great water fountain. The garden is on Norwood Avenue, down near the Summer end, for those that know the neighborhood.

Even though its underlying structure is formal, the plantings are looser and more casual, making a strict formal garden feel a little more "Buffalo-like." That may not be true once those outlining boxwoods grow in more together and get trimmed. Trimmed boxwoods instantly give a garden a crisper look.

We like our grassless front yards here in Buffalo, and most fall into the "Cottage-y" category, if they can be classified at all – jam-packed with little regard to spacing and color coordination.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The front yard is the blackyard

I wanted to show off the handsome Garden Walk Buffalo garden of Mark, on Richmond Avenue. I met Mark out at Italian Marble & Granite when I was there choosing the marble and granite scraps I was collecting from their dumpster for my project. Mark was there (for a fourth time, I think) collecting more marble and granite for his Garden Walk projects in his garden. The largest of his projects is seen above - two large "floating" pieces of marble smack dab in the middle of his front yard garden.

He painted the rocks black
with water seal paint.
The front garden is very small, but jam-packed with plants, all perennials. An overall "theme," if you can call it that, is the color black. The marble has much black in it, the mulch is black, and he's even painted the stones in the walkway black. The marble pieces above are resting on blocks that are covered with black marble – giving it that look of floating – as the blocks just disappear.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A hidden house on hosta hill

During the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens, I got to visit the home of Jayette and Steve. I've known them as casual acquaintances for many years and we've talked gardens before, but I never had the chance to go and actually visit their garden. They certainly underplayed their gardening hand! Their house is practically buried in hostas, and they have a spectacular wooded swale separating them from a busy road nearby.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fencing Garden Art

During Garden Walk Buffalo. I got out to visit just a few gardens I've never visited before. Local artist Sally Treanor had been in my garden – not once – but twice on Saturday alone for the Walk and I told her I'd try and get over to Richmond Avenue to see hers in the morning.

One thing Garden Walk Buffalo issue that has never been satisfactorily solved is the ability to have gardeners visit other gardener's gardens. During the Walk, we're all in our own gardens. Before the Walk, it's crunch time and we need the time to work on our own gardens. Following the Walk, and I'm only speaking from my own experience, I'm too tired of seeing and talking gardens that it's hard to muster the energy. 
We have tried though. We used to have either the Pre-Garden Walk Party, or the Thank You Party for the gardeners in people's back yards. That worked nicely – until the parties got too big!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Morty the Corpse Flower, on the verge...

I met Morty! The Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens has a star attraction currently. Morty (short for Morticia) the Corpse Flower (titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum) is set to bloom sometime within the next week. Commonly named because when in full bloom the flower will have the scent of a rotting mammal corpse. The smell will permeate not just the room in which the flower is located, but they are anticipating the smell to permeate the entire botanical gardens facility for the length of its bloom – usually 24-36 hours.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Garden Walk Buffalo Wrap Up

It was an exhilarating and exhausting week. It started on Thursday and never let up until Sunday evening. And then there was more.

Thursday saw Open Gardens, the National Garden Festival's Thursday and Friday free open gardens throughout Buffalo Niagara - 90+ gardens open for free! Mine was one of them – from 2-6 p.m. We did get pretty good traffic through - around three dozen each time we were open on a Thursday. Last year, we may have had two dozen for the entire month of July! It helps to have "Mary's Garden" on my street. That's a garden worth traveling for. Also on Thursday, the judges from Italian Marble and Granite came through to judge the scrap marble and granite "carpet" I made - more on that shortly.

Also on Thursday, around 6:30 p.m. Sally Cunningham, leading one of her AAA/Horizon Club Tours, stopped by on her "Heart of Garden Walk Tour." It was16 tourists, for the better part of an hour, in the garden for a light dinner catered by the Lexington Coop, which is across the street from my house.

Monday, July 28, 2014

VIDEO Billy & Pat and me & my garden...

Newcomers to Buffalo, Billy & Pat, have done a vlog post on Garden Walk. Instead of the usual reporting on or about the Walk, they took a more practical approach by soliciting tips and tricks for people in their age and life circumstances (most likely many of their viewers) – newly married, just starting out in a new city (having come to Buffalo from New York), living in an apartment, and dreaming of owning their own home and growing a garden.

Hopefully Garden Walk Buffalo made them more crazy for Buffalo and more enthusiastic for owning a home. Though I cannot picture these two more enthusiastic than they already are.

Visit Buffalo Niagara made some suggestions as to gardens/gardeners that they might glean some tips from – that would represent the Walk well on camera. You can catch much of Billy and Pat goofing around in my garden, as well as goofing around in other great gardens. They can be silly, or they can be serious, but no one can argue that they aren't pros at communicating a message, or telling a story. They even made me sound coherent and knowledgeable on gardening – they're good editors. I guess I know what I've learned from mistakes. Thank god they didn't ask for a plant name, panic doesn't look good on camera.

They have a large (tens of thousands) and engaged following on their Youtube vlog, Billy & Pat Two Guys Who Got Married. I'd love to help them get more followers - visit their vlog and follow along on their adventures by subscribing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A TV makeover garden designer whose own garden took more than two days

One of the things I like most about being the area's chronicler of residential gardens, is that I still get astounded, in slacked-jawed awe, of a new spectacular garden that I never knew existed in our area. Such is the case of going on the Snyder Clevehill Garden View tour a couple weeks ago.

I came across the garden of Peter BonSey, a genuine TV show gardener. Peter was the garden designer on TLC's season 1 (2002-03) of While You Were Out, a reality series makeover show whose gimmick was that the redecoration was kept secret from the homeowner. Peter is/was also the founder of The English Gardener, a well-known Buffalo area landscape design firm. But he's also been a butcher, cabin boy, Naval officer, real estate salesperson, construction company owner, teacher, actor, chemical company owner, head hunter, convention planner, graphic artist, printing production manager, radio show host, and writer, among other things. He's retired from it all now, having mostly accomplished his goal of "...becoming an interesting old man." He does still do the occasional talk/lecture for groups.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A garden with nice jugs

Sorry. Had to go there (I cannot help myself).

I've got lots of posts in me, but alas, no time to write them Garden Walk Buffalo is in another week, and the National Garden Festival is up and running. I've got a bonafide HGTV star's garden to share (back when there were Gs in HGTV), as well as the best themed garden I've ever been in, and not a fairy garden - but a fairie VILLAGE. But you'll have to wait.

Sally Cunningham was by to film a short bit on
garden tourism for AAA this week. Remember –
the camera adds ten pounds and, there had to be, like,
ten cameras on me...
So far my garden has been on one bus tour (another coming next week), two open gardens, it's been filmed on live TV for Sally Cunningham's garden segment, filmed for an AAA garden tourism video, been shown in the Buffalo News twice, and a photographer is coming to photograph my window boxes later today. And next week is the big kahuna – more than 3,000 are expected to come through my yard on Saturday and Sunday. Garden Walk Buffalo will attract more than 60,000, so that's a mere sliver of the crowds.

But this post is about jugs – big ones and small ones. And vases, pots, and exquisite pottery too. I visited an Open Garden today in Hamburg, NY and I fell in love with the gardens of artist Vicki Warhol (good name for an artist). Not only does she have a great and glorious collection of hostas, but and even greater (and more glorious) collection of pottery. And the pottery seems as though it is paired with a curator's eye with the plants. This garden was bliss for this art director. Rather than me yak about it, take a peak at just some of her jugs – without commentary. I'll just get myself in more trouble.


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