Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wa Alley–pot espaliers & cattails

In Provincetown, by far, out favorite spot was the store Wa. Wa is Japanese for harmony. And there isn't anything much more harmonious than the Asian-inspired garden alley alongside the store leading to their formal garden.

Apple espaliers in pots–in pots!

There were some great ideas along the long, square stone path. The first of which we noticed was the apple tree espalier growing along the fence–the trees were growing in pots! Not only that, they were in pots, in the pots. Not sure how long they've been growing there. Also not sure how cold it gets there in the winter. Not sure I could do something like this here in Buffalo. I am partial to espaliers, having a couple of my own, and was intrigued by this method.

Planted in sort of every-day, regular window box type planters, set below grade keep the water & planters hidden from view.

Even with the espaliers stealing most of the attention, on the other side of the narrow walk were cattails. Upon closer inspection, the cattails were growing in long, narrow planters filled with water. The planters were set below the level of the walk, so you couldn't see them. I assume there is an automatic watering system set up–I forgot to look and see if there was. These made a great simple graphic planting along a wall where you would never normally see cattails.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Provincetown gardens

For our summer vacation were able to sneak in and out of Cape Cod for the hottest week of the summer–between the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the arrival of Hurricane Bill, Hurricane Obama and death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. While there, we did get into Provincetown, way out on the tip of the Cape, for a day. It's a pretty little town of jam-packed homes & businesses separated by narrow, creative-looking gardens. Their gardens are a great mix of everything from hokey to handsome. It was the day before their Gay Pride day (good timing on our part again), so the town was all a twitter and being decorated in anticipation for what looked to be a very colorful party. Here's some of what we saw, peeking over & around fences.

Not often having back yards, they make the most of front yards.

I've seen wagons planted before, but it was the placement in front of the steps, middle of their walk, that struck me as odd. Oh, and the rocks.

These flowers were as big as a hub cap.

A lot of work trimming to such an odd shape. Maybe they're working on getting it into a heart shape?

The store, Wa. I'll be posting on their gardens in back of the store in the near future.

Liked the relief sculpture of buildings carved into the stairwell.

Awesome fence of metal flowers. Matched their light poles around the restaurant tables.

Another front garden with seating. Good karma when your awning fabric matches your furniture fabric.

Pretty use of a narrow space.

Great looking plantings looking very "Cape Cod-like."

Couldn't resist.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tom's easy-peasy rainwater reclamation system

Click on the image to link to the TV interview with Terry & Tom.

Garden Walk Buffalo Gardener, Tom Palamuso, faithfully presents his Granger Place garden each year. But as much as his garden is something to see, his home-made, rain-barrel based, 150 gallon, rainwater collection system is something to behold as well.

Lake Palamuso on Granger Place.

This year, YNN Channel 14's Garden Journeys host, Terry Ettinger interviewed Tom about his system. It is step beyond a simple rain barrel connected to downspout in that it holds three times the water, and is connected to a conventional outdoor hose spigot.

Here's the skinny: rainwater falls on his garage roof and collects in gutters feeding three, recycled, 50-gallon drums connected with hoses. The third drum is attached at the bottom by a hose that is snaked through his garage to an outdoor spigot. That's it. It's that simple. The hardest part was designing a table in his garage that could support the weight of 150 gallons of water (approximately 417 pounds.)

Another consideration was a specific downspout overflow device that was purchased to allow water to continue down the conventional downspout in the event the barrels filled up. The barrels can get full after one good rainstorm.

The Palamuso-Siracuse garden is a highlight on Garden Walk Buffalo, a water color painting of it was featured on a past Garden Walk poster, and was featured in Garden Gate magazine here.

The benefits Tom is seeing? Being on city water with a meter, he's spending less on his summer water bills. The plants benefit from having chemical-free water, as opposed to city water. Tom has a pond and the rainwater, with no chemicals and a better ph-level for ponds, allows him to fill it up without worry of having to add chemicals to counteract chemicals found in city water. And anther benefit is, he got on the Time-Warner news and was broadcast all over NY State (except for NYC & Long Island) for this broadcast on August 4.

I learned a lot by seeing Tom's system up close and personal and am designing a system for myself (in my head only for now). After I figure it all out and install it (if I get that far), I'll share.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Garden Walk Reflections, by Sally

All this week I've posted articles the Buffalo News ran this year in advance, during and post Garden Walk Buffalo.

But one of the biggest fans of Garden Walk in all of Buffalo is the Buffalo News garden columnist, Sally Cunningham. She's an evangelist for the Walk, always offering support of any kind–but not always in her column–one can't play favorites. She is a strong supporter of ALL garden tours in the area. Nothing educates a gardener better than a garden tour and the ability to ask questions of other gardeners–of any skill level.

This year, Sally wrote two great articles about Garden Walk. The first, the day before the Walk, was entitled Wondering along the Garden Walk, which you can read here. It comes complete with a cheat sheet of what types of flowers a visitor might expect to see.

The other article ran after the Walk and was titled Reflections on Garden Walk you can read it here. This column reinforced some of the take-aways from Garden Walk (or any garden tour, for that matter), such as:
  • The generosity of the people
  • How to use space
  • Personal marks
  • Artifacts and props
  • Quiet places
  • Wonderful plants
Thanks for bearing with me as I catalog our press from this year's Garden Walk. I'm away all week–we slipped into Cape Cod between the Kennedy-Shriver funeral and the Obama vacation.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Garden Walk afterglow

So after the Walk is all said and done, we were left with the reviews. Fortunately, this year, the Walk was first reviewed by Stacey Hirvela, Senior Associate Garden Editor for Martha Stewart Living, on the Martha Stewart Radio blog, which you can read here. Two Buffalo News columnists picked up on Stacey's glowing, positively mushy review of the Walk and her weekend in Buffalo

Donn Esmonde had nice things to say. You can read his column here. (I gotta get him to write something about the Walk next year–but about our neighborhood revitalization stories & beautification grants!)

Mary Kunz Goldman's column mentioned Stacey's Hirvela's Summer Street garage hideaway during the surprise storm and mentioned that Urban Roots/Five Points Bakery was the best place to be stranded during the momentary monsoon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More Garden Walk press

On the second (last) day of Garden Walk, the Buffalo News printed this article. Bear in mind that the Home & Garden editor of the News is a "friend of the Walk." But we never know what coverage we'll get each year.

Months preceding the Walk, we are in touch by phone or email once every few weeks, but there's never an "ask" to cover the Garden Walk. Nor does she fill me in, necessarily, on what coverage she has in mind. And then there's other "sections" of the paper that may be covering the Walk without her knowledge. But the amount of coverage this year was outstanding!

For this article, which you can read the full article here, but there were some good quotes:

"Saturday, urban planters and wide-eyed suburbanites trekked from Huron Street all the way to Bird Avenue, and caravans of cars caused momentary backups on Elmwood Avenue."

"What started as a four-block stroll on the edge of the Elmwood Village has since transformed into one of the biggest events of the summer and a registered nonprofit."

“The Garden Walk has done more for the West Side than any of the silver bullet projects. It’s pretty — it brings us together.”

And then there's a nice comment from a visitor from Texas that makes the pilgrimage here each year to attend the Walk, added to the comments section of the article post

Then, there's this comment added to the post too, "A Garden Walk? Are you kidding me? LMAO
Sounds like they interviewed the only 2 people that attended." I felt like adding a comment to say it was closer to 50,000 attendees, but instead I was too busy LMAO that this person had nothing better to do than add a comment to an article about a garden tour.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Garden Walk gets its first editorial cartoon!

Even the Buffalo News' editorial cartoonist helped promote the Walk. What a surprise to find the editorial cartoon on the Viewpoints page of the newspaper took a break from the affairs and resignations of governors and a Kenyan-born president sitting down for a beer summit and such.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Garden Walk press, this time with me

Here's another article that appeared in the Buffalo News on the first day of Garden Walk.

Yup. That's me walking in front of Ellie's garden in on Summer Street in the Cottage District. You can see more of Ellie's garden here.

Also, on the picture page of the newspaper, this photo of blurry me with blurry Bunny appeared with this in-focus Asian lily. You can see more about Bunny's garden here.

I tried to get Ellie to come out of the house to get a gardener's photo in their garden. But Ellie was being demure, or obstinate, I'm not sure which. With the lack of a gardener, News photographer Bill Wippert shot me walking by a garden that is not mine. My wife says she'd recognize that walk anywhere. This is a charming little street of Civil War-era cottages. I used to live on this street in the late '80s, early '90s.

The link to the article is here. It was mainly announcing the fact that the Walk was to take place rain or shine. When asked by the reporter, "What if it rained?" my response was,“Yeah, well what are you gonna do?” the president of the garden group shrugged. “We figure, it’s gardeners. Unless it’s a deluge, gardeners will be out...rain or shine.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Garden Walk on the front page–above the fold!

We did get some incredible coverage from the Buffalo News this year. I met up with News photographer Bill Wippert in the Cottage District on the day before the Walk to shoot some gardens. We came across Garden Walk gardener Mary Louise, trimming her enormous hedge with scissors (she told us she can't lift a hedge trimmer, so she's always out there with her scissors keeping on top of the trimming). We got a few shots before she realized we were photographing her.

We then approached her and told her we were taking some shots and asked if we could take a few photos of her working in the garden. She protested and protested, not wearing anything nice and not having run a brush though her hair. She didn't want to pose for us and kept protesting (in a nice way). Until we started to walk away. Then she yelled after us and asked if this pose, the one that we used on the front page of the paper was okay. We came back and took more photos. She was very sweet.

After the photo ran, I got this email from one of her neighbors, "Mary Louise is running on the last 5% of her heart muscle (and a lot of spit and vinegar) and really, really deserved that front page foto despite all her protestations. And she was just in her glory over it (bought six copies of the paper even tho' she has no living relatives) although she's still denying it..."

Kinda' makes you smile, no?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A garden to finaly stop following

I'm away from my garden all this week. I've been wanting to catalog some of the press Garden Walk got this year, so my next few posts will be of some of the Buffalo News pieces that were in the newspaper this year. You are my hapless audience.

First press of the week (we're talking the week of Garden Walk, the last week of July, 2009) was for the third article in an unprecedented series of articles following Jennifer & Jim Guercio's work in the garden at their rental property on St. James Street here in Buffalo. In their own garden, a block away, they'll be expecting visits from more than 3,000 attendees from around the country during the Walk.

Here is the link to the actual article with a little video of Jennifer showing off her hard work.

Here are my previous two posts on the articles from May and June.
Spreading the Glow, June, part two
How does her garden grow? May, part one

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's YOUR state soil?

State soil? No, it's the official soil of my garden. An exquisite and tasty mix of topsoil, compost, manure, peat moss with notes of potting soil, small rocks, and the occasional chunk of lost plastic plant markers.

Inspired by Linda at Each Little World's blog post on Wisconsin's state soil (Antigo silt loam), of which I now know WAAAY more than I had ever thought I would about Wisconsin's state soil (they have a state soil SONG for god's sake!), I thought I'd post about my own state soil.

I didn't even know you could have a state soil. I mean, I know I have a state bird (
Eastern Bluebird); a state flower (Rose); a state fruit (apple); and state tree (sugar maple). But until I went looking, I didn't know we had a state beverage (milk); state bush (lilac); state fossil (Euypterus Remipes); state insect (lady bug); state reptile (common snapping turtle): and state muffin (apple).

And we have a state soil–Honeoye! “Honeoye” is from the Iroquois “Hay-e-a-yeah.” And one of the Finger Lakes, mid state, is named Honeoye.

Honeoye soils are good for corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, vegetables, alfalfa, grass pasture, hay, grape and apple orchards. Wooded lots contain sugar maple, white ash, red and white oak, hickory, and more. This soil is found on about 500,000 acres across the state, are fertile, have a high base saturation, and are slightly acidic at the surface and neutral in the subsoil. No New York State soil song though.

For those of you with dirty minds–you have a state soil too (assuming you live in the states, Puerto Rico & Virgin Islands). To find out if you're a Downer, Crider or a Pamunkey, check out the list below. Click on your state to get a .pdf of information on your official state soil.

To find out even more, visit the State Soils page of the Natural Resources Conservation Services' website.

There. Now you are just that much smarter than the gardener next door?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The grate light

The grate has been up for a few weeks, by day, the mandevilla is climbing happily, but now at night, it's a night light

From a bit further away–the "outdoor kitchen."

In context–it's tucked in the back corner of the deck.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Scary Tree

Not sure what type of tree this is, other than angry. Saw this this past weekend on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff house. It's one mean-lookin' tree.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A test garden for future annuals on Lake Erie

Photo by Don Zinteck, Photographics2

Argyranthemum Maderira Red, Ball Flora Plant

I'm sure I've already convinced most that Buffalo is a gardening Mecca. Another great asset we can claim is the Erie Basin Marina University Test Gardens, where about 300 specialty annual varieties (6-9 plants each!), are tested each year before they reach the market–if they reach the market. And they're hidden in plain sight–open the the public all summer–long right along a Lake Erie waterfront public park & marina. There are test gardens around the country. Maybe there are some by you.

The test gardens take on plugs from world-wide seed companies like Danziger from Israel, Syngenta of Switzerland and Ball Seed of the U.S. The plugs are grown in the nearly antique greenhouses (and this year, a few in cold frames) of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, located in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, one of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed city parks. After three weeks there, they're ready to face their test–the conditions in this Zone 6 city on the wind-whipped waterfront, in a city that has the top percentile for sunny days for the months of May through September of any city in the U.S.

Coleus Versus Burgundy to Green, Pan AM

The gardens are tended by Stan Swisher, Superintendent of Grounds and his merry band of caretakers, mostly interns & volunteers. Stan is a master gardener of whom Stacey Hirvella, Martha Stewart Living's Senior Associate Garden Editor, said, " knowledgeable it was scary!"

How cool is this? Flowers & sailboats!

And the plants themselves? Fascinating. They are planted in the ground and in more than 50 large stone urns around the marina, beside sidewalks, and in dedicated beds. All are drip irrigated, or, if in the pots, misted. He uses very little fertilizer on them once established. He tries to care for them in much the way we would in our own gardens. While they don't have ALL the predators we might in our gardens (like deer, although they've had a few down there!) they do have bunnies, birds, bugs & squirrels like a typical Zone 6 garden.

Summertime Red Velvet, Dummen

I have been able to listen to Stan talk about the plants while people like Stacey, horticulturist Terry Ettinger and Steve Aitken (editor-in-chief of Fine Gardening), were asking him questions. You can learn a lot by hanging out with people that know what they're talking about. The flowers here, mostly annuals, are genetically modified to carry traits conducive to selling, marketing and shipping products. You would think the seed companies would be testing new colors and disease resistance, which they most certainly are, but they're also trying to increase stem-strength, spill-over for baskets, create high bloom-counts, make larger mounding forms and increase flower size, among dozens of other traits.

To see a video of Terry Ettinger's "Garden Journeys," (airing on Time Warner's YNN all-news network), with an interview of Stan, visit here.

Coleus Chocolate Splash. Who test-markets these names? This is a winner name!

One thing they're always doing is introducing more miniature versions of plants. Miniature butterfly bushes, miniature hostas and so on. They do this, not based on marketing surveys or consumer demand, but because they're cheaper to ship than large plants! I didn't get a photo of it, but the Test Gardens has a miniature sunflower plant, about knee-high, with about a dozen large flower heads–ranging from bud to full bloom. It's wickedly cool. I can see these being big sellers not only for people that want something different, but for people with limited space for full-size sunflowers and for pots.

Osteospermum Summertime Sunray, Dummen

Stan and his team of volunteers keep careful records, take plenty of photos (and weed a lot) and report back to the seed companies their results, even if the plant sucks. There's a "Field Day" when growers from the Northeast are invited to see the potential introductions, in person, in the garden. In the future, Stan sees increasing the number of perennials they test.

Salvia Sallyfun Blue Tune, Danziger. This was one of my favorites. Even the spent part of the flower had a great, pale, lime-green color after the tiny purple flowers fell.

The Marina Test gardens are on Garden Walk Buffalo each year. One cool thing they do is give flags to visitors during the Walk. You are to put the flag by your favorite flower in the garden. This information gets recorded and sent back to the seed company as well. So our Garden Walk does have some (slight) influence on which of these annuals you might see on the market in a year or two. Is it scientific? No. People tend to put flags by the brightest-colored plants nearest the table where they hand out the flags!

Test planter to check out plant height and spill for container-designed plants.

Last two times I was down there I got gifts! Stan pointed out a Falicia Daisy, a plant from South Africa, that had a small, sky-blue, yellow-centered, daisy-like miniature flower with variegated, rounded leaves. The leaves feel like an 80-grit sandpaper. Then he pulled it out of the ground and handed it to me! I felt like a criminal walking around with it. You're really not supposed to take the plants with you.

My new "turtle rock," a glacier remnant. Stan told me the actual scientific name of the rock–something long and complicated that I've forgotten–but it's found in Western New York around construction sites.

When I was there last week, taking around Steve & Kerry from Fine Gardening, Stan gave me a "turtle rock" for my rock garden, from the back of his truck. This is no little rock. It's big. And heavy. Steve was very jealous. Stan gave him a small chunk of turtle rock (to keep him happy) that he was able to take back to Connecticut. Apparently they don't have enough rocks there. He reports the rock is happy but his wife questioned why he would bring a rock on a plane. Some wives, they just don't understand.

My Felicia Daisy from South Africa ended up in the Harry Potter Garden this year.

The Erie Basin Marina is right in downtown Buffalo. Neighbors include City Hall, a couple TV stations, the Naval Park (with a destroyer, a guided missile cruiser & submarine), and the spot where the Erie Canal ended it's trek across NY State. Most people come down to the Marina to get onto their boats, picnic in the park, eat at the Hatch Restaurant (burgers, clams, ice cream cones–that sort of thing), climb the observation deck, walk along the massive rock wall, contemplate the 1833 lighthouse seen in the top photo, or just to watch the sun set over Canada. It's a beautiful setting, and if you ever get here, a great place to see flowers of the future!


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