Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apple & pumpkin-picking picnic

Saturday had us off to Blackman Farms for our annual apple-picking and picnic in the orchard. It was perfect weather for a picnic. We picked two bags of Mcoun apples and picked up a dozen Bosc pears.

If you're on their list, they email AND snailmail you when your favorite apples are ripe for the picking. All this for the low, low price of $.50 a pound.

There's a few "things" for kids. A petting pen of goats, a small maze for little tots, and plenty of pumpkins for perusing.

They even have a turkey pen, where you can choose a turkey, give it a name, like "Tom." Then you come back the week of Thanksgiving pick up "Tom" and eat him with side dishes with your family. We haven't done that–we're never at home for Thanksgiving and don't want the hour-and-twenty-minute drive round trip the week of Thanksgiving, which is hectic enough.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Garden District? Georgetown? King Wiliam District? No, just little ol' me, Buffalo.

Here's some shots of homes & gardens from a neighborhood walk last weekend. Primarily it is Linwood Ave, Summer Street, Oakland Place and Elmwood Avenue.

Here's where we started. My house.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Idiots at work

Found this on a local Buffalo-oriented blog. According to the article, these painters working on the exterior of a building, couldn't position their scissor lift just right, so they took out a young tree. It was the size of the tree you see in the photo to the left of the scissor-lift.

They just chopped it down, as if they were in a forest of trees that they owned. In fact, it's a busy commercial strip in a popular area of the city. And they don't own the tree. It's on city property. My daughter's school is three buildings away from this building. I drive by this building every day when I drop her off and pick her up.

I'm hoping they're fined (or imprisoned or otherwise harassed). Either the workers themselves or whoever hired them or told them to take out the tree. You just can't chop down a tree on a sidewalk, even if you say you're going to replace it.

To read more about it, and the comments about it, which range from outrage to laissez-faire, visit here.


Da Vinci Woods, Clos-Lucé Manor House, Amboise, France

Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here in Amboise. The site of his manor house has a very pleasant trail through the woods. Along the trail are exhibits relating to the woods and Da Vinci’s works and experiments. His famous square-ish parachute hangs from a tree. His military tank was created full size and is a blast to play in. There are audio stations, as well as interpretive signs at each of the 12 interactive sites in the woods.
Favorite thing: A great setting for viewing art.

To read my first post on Leonardo's Manor, visit here.

To visit the official website for the house, visit:
Clos-Lucé Manor

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Million, billion, trillion. A little perspective.

Millions in golden parachutes.
Billions in credit debt gone.
A Trillion-dollar bailout.

To put it in perspective:
One million seconds = about 11.5 days
One billion seconds = almost 32 years
One trillion seconds = just under 31,688 years

Above: Monet's Garden at Giverny, for more photos of Monet's garden, visit here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday at the greenhouse...

Garden Walk Buffalo had a booth at this weekend's Fall Fest at Lockwood's Greehouses in Hamburg this weekend. It was a great chance to spend a half day at a nursery - a great nursery - and get to hang with other plant nerds.

Elizabeth, of Garden Rant and Gardening While Intoxicated was apparently there, but not while I was I guess. She posted about this Fall Fest on Garden Rant, here. Please read her post. She's a professional writer and more coherent. Me, I'm a rambler and am more apt to ramble without purpose. To the right are some of the grafted apple espaliers. Each branch is a different variety of apple. I didn't find out how much something like this costs. I am curious though.

This Fall Garden Fest was previously in the charming village of East Aurora, home of the Roycroft artists colony, in the early 1900s. It was a great place for the festival, amongst the Roycroft shop and Roycroft Inn. I don't know why it was moved.

It is a good, maybe better, "fest" here though. Lockwood's and the local experts gave classes and workshops on topics like Hydrangeas (more than 90 attendees!); Fall Containers; Great Plants, Better Gardens; Groundcovers; Keep the Annuals, Bring in the Houseplants, Ornamental Grasses and Fall Bulbs for Spring Bloom. Attendance for each surpassed their expectations. To the right is master gardener and our local gardening guru, Sally Cunningham. She's got regular TV segment (see it here), a one-hour radio call-in weekend garden show and a regular column in the Buffalo News each Friday.

There were a decent number of "exhibitors" selling everything from espaliered fruit trees to paintings of espaliered fruit trees. Garden Walk was invited to have a table and hand out information (Lockwood's is one of our first corporate sponsors ever). We also sold raffle tickets for a basket filled with a Garden Walk hat, shirt, tote bag, magnet, hard cover Garden Walk Book and a $25 gift certificate to Lockwood's. (Thank you Lockwood's!).

The winner happened to be a Garden Walk gardener from 16th Street–one of the more popular gardens on the Walk. It was all on the up and up. I'm sure of it. To the right is Upstate Gardener's Journal's Maria. You can visit their blog here.

The invitation to the Fall Garden Fest was very handsome, if I do say so myself. Full disclosure–I designed it in trade for plants! I was able to pick up a good amount of plants I schlepped for three-and-a half hours in the car to my mother's cottage. Her garden was virtually plowed under in the destruction of the old cottage and construction of the new cottage. But we don't talk about that three-and-a-half hour car ride with my allergy-prone wife. It's a bad topic.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Look, up in the air...

If your balcony faced directly into, and at eye level with, the tens of thousands of tourists that walk down the Spanish Steps in Rome each day, wouldn't you too have a screen like this? There were people sitting on this balcony when we went by, but you wouldn't know it. Now, if it were only soundproof...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Garden Tour Video - like being there but not as much.

Here's another YouTube Video I found, created by NoPointNLying, an obvious Garden Walk fan. He/she got around - the Cottage District, Kleinhans area, Linwood and many other spots.

They write, "Here's my own experience at the best gardenwalk in the country and it's only a small snippet of the great little treasures you find. This year I went on the very lower West Side off Huron and along Prospect Ave."

For other videos of Garden Walk Buffalo, visit:
Garden Tour Video- kinda' sorta like being there. Almost. In a way.
My Garden on TV. I wasn't expecting that.
It's Garden Walk Time!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Garden Blogger Bloom Day at the Botanical Gardens

The other day I had to pick something up from the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens. (I know, it's a mouthful, but fortunately, their web address is easier to remember - BuffaloGardens.com.) Since I was there, and actually happened to have remembered to take my camera, I took a quick spin around. They have more in bloom than I do.

The park in which the Botanical Gardens are located, was designed in 1894 by none other than Frederic Law Olmsted - landscape designer of Central Park, the Capital Mall in Washington D.C, Boston's "Elmerald Necklace," Yosemite Valley, Chicago's Riverside and Buffalo's parks, parkways and traffic circles.

The three-glass-domed conservatory was built in 1897 and designed by Lord & Burnham, based on the Crystal Palace and Kew Gardens Palm House in England. It's really a spectacular building.

It was really a quick walk through, I was already late for another stop I had to make. So I rushed by the topiary dinosaurs, the towering waterfall, the succulent room, the cacti room, the bromeliad garden, orchid garden and even whisked by the section with all the carnivorous plants - and I never do that.

The one take-away I did get though was this one tree that was part of the bonsai tree display - it's an English Ivy! I can even try that. And I just might.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The view from the kitchen window (OR, That friggin' squirrel taunts us so.)

Here's the view out the kitchen window of the Harry Potter garden & morning glory vines (we call Devils' Snare) overtaking the playground.

Looks innocent enough, but below is a detail.

Damn squirrel. Picking tomatoes is a delicately-timed balance of leaving the tomato on the vine long enough to ripen, but picked before the squirrel(s) have their chance to pick it first. (I'm sure they're thinking it's a delicately-timed balance of letting it ripe before the humans living in the big box get a chance to pick it first.)

Part of his strategy, obviously, is to leave the half-eaten tomato perfectly placed, in direct eye line from my kitchen sink–to prod, infuriate, embarrass, humiliate, discourage, and ultimately break my spirit–thus having me withdraw from this petty game of gardener vs. nature.

All I see is the wasted opportunity for a BLT. Although for each tomato stolen, the thought of a Squirrel Lettuce and Tomato (SLT) sandwich is sounding better.

This round, he won.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Best compliment ever...

During Garden Walk this past July, an enthusiastic woman came up to me in my back yard. She introduced herself as Joanna and said we had had a phone conversation back couple years ago about how to start a garden tour in her community. She's originally from Buffalo, had visited our garden tour in the past, but has lived in North Carolina for many years - enough to change her accent!

Well, she started a garden tour, raising money for two home-oriented charities - Women Build and Habitat for Humanities. It is a 15-garden tour in Lake Norman & Mooresville, NC. It was held for the first time in spring of 2007. From our conversation, she was able to figure out her priorities, found sponsors, gardeners, a designer for the brochure and more.

She gave me this copy of the brochure and told me how enjoyable everyone found the tour to be and that they did raise some money for their charities. It made me smile for the rest of the day just to think that she thought I shared in the credit of the success of their tour. Honestly, it was almost two years earlier we had talked and I had forgotten about the conversation until she reminded me. I've talked to a handful of people in other cities that were interested in how we do things with our tour. We love the idea of sharing what we've learned.

Organizing a garden tour in your community is a good-sized project to take on, but the return is immense in terms of creating a community of like-minded gardeners, sharing your community with visitors, beautifying neighborhoods and sharing gardening ideas.

In a future post (or two), I will go over some of the steps Garden Walk Buffalo went through from its early days as a small block-club-oriented tour of 28 gardens to how the group operates as the country's largest garden tour of more than 300 gardens. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sensitive Plant Bloom

Anyone ever see this? I have a Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica), the carefully-deliberated plant choice of my ten-year-old daughter.

In our area, it's a house plant, but it loves being outside. It doubled in size this summer! I've only had one before, and it didn't last a month. I think we may be able to keep this one going. It did get these little tiny-pink-puff of a bloom on it this year. It looks like the speck of dust that Horton carries around, insisting the inhabitants of Whoville are in danger.

When touched, the leaves fold up immediately.

The Sensitive plant was a big hit during Garden Walk this year. We put it in my daughter's Harry Potter garden. Whenever board kids were dragged into the yard by parents or grandparents, rolling their eyes and wanting to be anywhere on earth–except a garden tour–we would bring them over to the Sensitive Plant and let them touch the leaves to watch them fold closed.

After a day of being told not to touch any plants, this was a welcome relief. Many kids came back to our yard, this time dragging their parents, either later in the day or the second day of the Walk to play with the plant again.

Garden tour video - kinda' sorta like being there. Almost. In a way.

Here's a nice little video/interview I found on Garden Walk Buffalo by Brian Zabka. It covers a few of the gardens in the Cottage District of Buffalo, a beautiful area of Civil War-era small cottages and one of the most popular areas of the Walk.

I rented the green house shown at :34 seconds into the video in the late '80s and early '90s. It looked nothing like it does now though. It was a rental and I wasn't "into" gardening at the time.

Here come the bus.
You can also see a quick shot of the Arbordale Nurseries/Garden Walk Buffalo free hop-on/hop-off shuttle bus that did a half-hour loop of a portion of the Walk. It's big, green and has no roof! The bus organizer tell us that the bus was at capacity both afternoons and groups of people walking along our main commercial drag, Elmwood Avenue, were waving and cheering to the riders on the bus. gardeners are such upbeat, pleasant people. And it didn't rain - that's good when you have a bus with no top.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Apple product fell far from the tree

I love Apple Computer. I've worked on their Macintosh computers since the late '80s. In my book, they can do no wrong. Until now.

Their blogging/website software, iWeb, is, in concept, great. In practicality, the blogging software has a ways to go before it is compatible with the way the blogging world spins.

That being said, I've switched from iWeb to Blogger with my blog. I will miss the ease of working with images and type. I'll miss the on-the-fly photo editing, I'll miss the drag & drop photo compatibility with iPhoto. I'll miss, most of all, the design flexibility (me being a designer!). My company website (JCharlier.com) is still up on iWeb.

What I gain is cross-platform compatibility. I'll gain the ability to actually show up in RSS feeds. The site will be quicker to load. I'll be able to post remotely. Readers will have less problems viewing the site and it'll be more consistent across browser platforms. In short, it's better for everyone that reads it. Both of you.

Yes. That's my home office workstation above (minus the stack of business cards Post-It notes and other assorted office detritus), with a photo of my back yard on the screen. Usually I'm torn each day to either be in front of the screen or IN the backyard. But without time in front of the sreen, I'd have no backyard!

My Garden on TV. I wasn't expecting that.

More Garden Walk blathering, this time on television. THAT I expected, but I’d have cleaned up the yard a bit more had I known they wanted to shoot it so much! Usually there’s an establishing shot and then cut to photos/running footage. We did one take–about seven minutes–and I didn’t screw up once! All That Matters is a Time-Warner regionally-based talk show hosted by Peter Anderson. Thanks to Peter and crew for making this happen.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Past Posts

Here is a list of past posts, from my old blog format, that are still viewable, still commentable, and still worth reading (I think):

Trellis, Screen & Vine
The 2,000 year-old garden
Let the wine flow!
I'm just plum stupid.
What the hell strip.
Garden Walk photo albums
Whimsy? Not me.
Better Homes & Gardens back one mo' time!
About 2,000 in the back yard this weekend.
Top three questions during Garden Walk
Gardening at the art gallery
If it's Thursday, it must be dinnertime.
It's Wednesday. It must be Cottage Living magazine.
It's Tuesday. It's WSYR & Channel 13 at my house.
It's Monday. It must be Channel 4.
If it's Sunday, it must be Channel 2.
Gardens in the News
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day
When neighbors garden together separately.
Better Homes & Gardens in Buffalo. Again.
The amazing disappearing potting bench.
It's Garden Walk time!
I went to a garden party.
Garden Walk in the Buffalo News.
"Deck Envy."
Buffalo gardens in more magazines!
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day
Potager Progress
Do you have an overstimulated clematis?
Garden Walk Buffalo in Lake Erie Living magazine.
My iris eyes are smiling.
Buffalo in Organic Gardening magazine.
Great balls o' flowers.
Garden Walk rocks
The purple waterfall
Never work with kids or animals
Oh, happy day!
Garden Bloggers Bloom Day
Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living in Buffalo
DaVinci's garden
The world's largest fake tree.
Messing with young minds.
Spring at home.
Buffalo in Garden Design magazine
Full Frontal
Another Garden Walk garden in the national press.
I am a published garden writer. As of today.
Spring in Kuekenhof.
32,000 tomatoes. And that's not the record.
Chateau de Chaumont rock garden.
Cherries Jubilee!
Garden Walk container plantings.
Alfred Sisley's subjects, Moret-sur-Loing, France
Garden Walk website has grown.
Nessie. Spotted in a bush.
Tree stairs.
Where do I get me one of these?
Sit & Spin garden.
Where I garden.
Garden with a view of a view of a view...
Four Buffalo gardens in Great Backyards magazine.
Villandry Garden of Love.
Mickey-shaped vegetables are just goofy.
Someone said color?
A garden with big balls.
Monet's gravesite.
Villandry Potager
Birth of Venus puzzle pond
International Garden Festival, Chateau de Chaumont
Strawberry Stairs Forever
Monet's front door
Garden Blogger's Bloom Day
More great gardens in Great Gardens magazine
Garden Walk Buffalo arbors
Van Gogh's subjects, outside the asylum, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Garden Gate magazine's sexy centerfold.
Hike to Middleham Falls & Ti Tou Gorge, Dominica
Arbors & Pergolas, Frank & Me.
Buffalo's new image
Monet's & my espaliers
Cover story!
Mercer House, Savannah, Georgia
The American Museum garden at Giverny
Shelburne Farms, Vermont
Gotta buy five copies for my mother...
Bringing the art indoors, Part 2
Princess Diana Memorial, Hyde Park, London
Monet Yard
Bringing the art indoors, Part 1
West Princes Street Gardens (Edinburgh Castle Gardens)
Andre Le Notre garden at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte
Monet garden at Giverny
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland
Better Homes & Gardens shoots on Lancaster Avenue, Buffalo


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