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.

The windows come from the attic of the house. The door is
from an original door that was in the house that has been
in the garage for the last 14 years.
I'm just excited to get to the point of the finish work – clapboard siding, trim, shingles, potting bench, window boxes, painting, and more. And then there's the inside – shelving, benches, brackets – and LOTS of space for garden supplies. So much garden junk and patio furniture is jammed in our garage in the winter that passengers have to get out of the car outside the garage because once the car's in the garage, we can't open the doors!

This is not a she-shed, nor is it a party shed, or an office, or man cave. It's a definite garden shed.
In context to the rest of the garden. It's incorporated in the checkerboard garden, next to the potager.
The Harry Potter Garden will go back in the front bed you see at the bottom here. Maybe I should call it the "Harry Potting Shed."
Here's the plan. As with any plan, changes are occurring as I proceed.
Not the shed, but the front garden is looking uber-lush right now. Next it'll be shaggy, then unkempt, then out of control – they are its seasons.

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 www.gardentourismconference.com 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.

Friday, March 13, 2015

International Garden Tourism Conference? I am SO there.

I'm excited to attend the 2015 North American Garden Tourism Conference in Toronto on Monday and Tuesday. I've been invited to speak on a panel on Monday on Garden Tourism Awards – How They Have Made a Difference.

Conference organizer Michel Gauthier in MY garden
during Garden Walk Buffalo in 2013.
It's a bit of a self-serving topic for the conference – they being the only ones that give out garden tourism awards. It's a panel, so no one will have to go too in-depth on the topic – probably just strategies on how to leverage awards into marketing and fundraising.

I'll certainly learn from the other panel participants:  moderator Abby Spencer, Director of Marketing American Public Gardens Association, USA;  Kathy Gibler, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Canada; Darren Heimbecker, Whistling Gardens Botanical Garden, Canada; Dr. Heike Platter, Director Marketing & Corporate Strategy The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Italy; and Beth Monroe, Director of Public Relations and Marketing Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, USA.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adding the element of time to a garden design

A few weeks ago we went on cruise vacation that stopped at Walt Disney World's Castaway Cay. We'd been there before, but this time on the cruise, I attended a lecture by one of Disney's Imagineers – an architect by trade.

He gave two talks, one was on the Imagineer's process as they concept and develop attractions – whether it be a ride, store, hotel, transportation, or a new park.

The second talk he gave was about the revamping and construction of what used to be called Disney Village - an area outside the parks with shopping and dining options, as well as Planet Hollywood and the venue that holds Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show. Disney Village is being rebranded as Disney Springs, and he is intimately involved in its concept and production – on all levels.

What I found interesting was that the concept for Disney Springs was to develop a town that started back when other Florida cities and towns were starting off in the late 1700s and early 1800s – and starting to designing from there.

Studying other Florida towns, and their development, led to thinking of the new and existing buildings as being built on a timeline, starting with older-style, more rustic-designed facilities, nearer what they deemed as the center of the village. Then outward from there would be buildings and infrastructure designed that would have been built over the next generations – more mercantile shops, buildings for an imagined fishing industry, with larger facilities being on the outskirts of this "town." All employing the design styles of their times (and plants and landscaping).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Portland's Boy's Fort - my new favorite garden store

If I could open up a garden store (and I can't), the kind of garden store I would open would be like Portland, OR's Boys Fort. It was the manliest store I've ever been in that had a large selection of garden supplies – and it even had a florist's shop!

It had a great mix of rough hewn and rugged, repurposed and worn home decor, furniture, and lighting that would be most appropriate for a, well, a boy's fort. Not even a mancave really. It had a bit more rustic and authentic, handmade, handcrafted vibe to all its merchandise, definitely curated to hark back to more juvenile memories. They call it "Manthropology."

C'mon, what guy wouldn't want the succulent planters above – I need a collection of these.

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