Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tulip bed time story


Back about six weeks ago, when I thought it would be the last decent-weathered weekend, I planted my bulbs for next spring. I ordered bulbs about mid-summer, before there was a chance of them being out of stock. The added bonus was, they were paid for, well before they arrived.

I publish them here now, with "lifted" web photos because by spring I will have lost all record of what I purchased and have absolutely no recollection of what I'd purchased the summer before when I selected them.

2008 Tulip bed in front yard. Ignore the recycling out by the curb. The swath or "river" of grape hyacinths along the driveway does come back every year. I do try to keep the swath clear of bulbs.

Had no idea we'd have at least four more weekends when I could've planted them, but it's over and done with. And the sore knees, legs & back from bending, stretching and kneeling are just starting to feel better now. I bought a fancy bulb hole digger and used that when I could add a couple bulbs in one hole. But there are so many perennials planted in this area, I had to work around and didn't want to disturb too many roots with the bulb hole digger. So I used the "whack & wiggle" method with the garden trowel for most of them. So far, no trouble with squirrels digging them up. The only other natural predator, for this area beside the driveway, is the plow guy. He's scrapped through this bed accidentally in the past.

I learned from reading garden blogs, especially Gardening While Intoxicated, that if you put yourself in the mindset that that tulips are annuals and treat them as such, you'll be a much happier gardener. I believe that whole-heartedly.

2009. I hadn't planted any new bulbs, hence there was less tulips and less color. Ignore the trash can non the curb. Can't figure out why I always take pictures on trash pick up day. As an art director, you'd think I'd stage my photos better.

Previously I had planted bulbs and assumed they'd come back every year. Only the naturalizing ones come back. If any other tulips came back, they were less vigorous growers or wimpier in color or would get a good start and fizzle before there was much of a bloom. I am much more content planting all new bulbs every couple of years and also experimenting with some tulips I may not have ordinarily chosen, since they're only temporary.

There's a small chance of a big gardening magazine coming to shoot small-space spring bulb gardens and I wanted to load up the front tulip strip with good-sized flowers, and color with impact.

Here is what I planted this year:


Ostara Hyacinth - deep porcelain blue florets return annually for renewed beauty.


Estella Rijnveld Tulip - fringed petals combine bright white with flamingo red and touches of green open to 18 cm.


Toronto Tulip - pink flowers sport a tangerine-pink interior. Each bulb produces two stems with multiple blooms.


Spanish Pinkbells - naturalizers multiply easily in shade & every type of soil. Pink flowers are shaped like a broad bell with a flared rim. Each bulb will produce about 12-15 flowers.


Drumstick Allium


Donald Duck Tulip - yellow and red flower was introduced to honor the anniversary of Donald Duck. 12 cm blooms adorned with brown stripes and speckles. Great for naturalizing.


Azure Allium


Monsella Tulip - canary-yellow blooms open to dark red painterly streaks. Each bulb produces about three blooms that measure up to 15 cm.


Parrot King Tulip - Light yellow petals, yellow-orange edges offset by an emerald-green midrib. At full maturity, their emerald-green color disappears and a yellow-orange color spreads across the petals, now outlined in red.

Daffodil Rainbow of Colors
Daffodil Rainbow of Colors - As they bloom, the split cups appear yellow, transforming to pink orange as the flowers mature.


Don Quichotte Tulip - pink flowers.


Tom Pouce Tulip - flower colors are long lasting and short, sturdy stems make them ideal in windy or exposed locations.


Golden Parade (Sun Gold) Tulip - golden-yellow blooms.


Guinevere Tulip - pink blooms.


Red Dynasty Tulip (Red Impression) - signal-red blooms.


Halley's Comet Tulip (Oxford Elite) - yellow blooms with flames of deep red.

And a few others:
Purissima - lustrous white blooms.

Towering Prism Tulip (Perestroika) - this enormous bulb - 14cm. or larger - produces a tall (over three feet tall!), chalice-shaped flower with a pink blush, fading into a yellow trim.

Golden Charm Tulip - pure white flowers with a yellow base surrounded by green basal leaves which form a rosette. Good for naturalizing.

Variegated Firespray Tulip - White-edged leaves add beauty after the flowers fade. Stem is topped with three to five bright red blooms, highlighted with a pale yellow base. Multiplies annually.

I think I'm going to like that Halley's Comet tulip the best.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Christmas wish list


I usually don't pick up photos from other blogs & shopping websites and post them here. But I do troll many design blogs & sites always looking for cool & new products to satisfy my visceral visual need for well-designed unique products. Reading garden blogs isn't enough to feed my design habit. No offense to you garden bloggers.

Detail of the ginkgo mobile.

Here's a few images I've collected of things I want. Chief among them is this ginkgo biloba mobile. I've got an immense, two-story tall space in my stairwell that begs for this mobile every day. The mobile can be found here for the reasonable price of $228. But if you're in the mobile market, you might want to check out this interior designer's blog, A Schematic Life.

I found this tiny Polaroid-looking planter/hanging light combo to be exactly something I want but don't need. I'll need about 20. It can be found here. Unfortunately, here is in Korea.

We've been searching for just the right light to go over our round table in our turret (image right). This comes close. The glass & brass fake candle-looking chandelier that's been there since we moved in bothers me every time I look at it. I think I could like looking at this. It'd be like moving the moon into the room. I think I could almost make this from a large lampshade and black & white transparency film.

And I don't have a large window to add any decals to, but if I did. I'd want something like this on the right. It's actually an architect's custom window stencil for the house found on this blog.

And wouldn't this be cool? A wooden turned pedestal with your profile? My wife would probably never in a million years have something like this made (she of a unique nose). But isn't it awesome? All it takes is a photo of your profile & $150.

Being a graphic designer, and attracted to typographic solutions and unique type forms, I really want this door mat. Only $30. Can be found here.

In an effort to attract only the coolest of birds to my property, I'd take any of these Joe Papendick designed birdhouses and any of his bird feeders.

And this, the selfish Sunny Day Bench for one, is the ultimate piece of furniture for my antisocial side. No price listed. That means something.

And what gardener wouldn't want these salad servers? $30 bucks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The worlds largest fake tree.


Disney only does things in a big way.
This 145’ tall (that’s 13 stories!), 170’ to 50’ wide, artificial tree is the centerpiece and icon of the Animal Kingdom Park, the largest of the Disney parks in Orlando. It is a refitted oil platform, believe it or not, and engineered to withstand hurricane-strength winds.

Each branch unit does have an expansion joint to encourage life-like movement. You know, keepin’ it real.

The 103,000 leaves of many colors, and four different shapes & sizes, are made from kyner (polyvinylidene fluoride, the homopolymer of 1,1-di-fluoro-ethene (VF2) – THAT sounds environmentally-friendly). The substance is a thermoplastic that is stable in harsh chemical and ultraviolet environments. The leaves were attached by hand onto the more than 8,000 branches. It took 18 months to build.

The design of the 1998 tree is based on Rafiki’s tree in the movie The Lion King. It has 325 different carvings of endangered and extinct animals, created by more than 20 international artists, sculpted into its trunk and painted to look like tree bark. The sculptures are actually quite beautiful. There’s even a hidden Mickey in the tree, although he’s hardly among the endangered.

Legend has it that there were originally 324 animals sculpted into the tree until Dr. Jane Goodall visited and commented that there were no chimpanzees on the tree, so they sculpted one more – of her favorite chimp, David Graybeard.

The cave-like base of the trunk is, appropriately enough, the host of It’s Tough to be a Bug!, a 3D film and interactive, 430-seat stage show, based on the movie A Bug’s Life.

The second largest fake tree in the world has to be the 1971 Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Based obviously, on the 1960 movie, Swiss Family Robinson.
The banyon tree look-alike “residence” has bedrooms, kitchen, family rooms, library and dining areas and a winding staircase to connect them all, fully-furnished in a cast-away chic elegance style. Any fan of the movie, and come on, who isn’t, will recognize the waterwheel/pully-system for plumbing.

This tree was made of steel and concrete. It is 90’ tall with a canopy diameter of 60’. The “root” support system goes 42’ into the ground. There are 330,000 polythene leaves, attached by hand, on 1,400 branches. This tree does have real Spanish moss on it for effect.

The species of tree is listed as Disneyodendron eximus which translates to “out of the ordinary Disney tree.”


This is a favorite old post, created before I was on Blogger. I repeat it here to save & catalog it on this new site. Sorry if you've read it before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Canned cannabis and the Amsterdam Flower Market


Back a couple years ago, on another barge trip, from Amsterdam to Bruges, we had a day to spend in Amsterdam. We spent an hour or two walking around the Flower Market enjoying the sights and marveling at the different options for purchasing your cannabis products.

Tulips made of wood. When lit, they smoke, but you can't smoke 'em.

Cannabis Starter Kits came shrink-wrapped, in boxes and in cans (3 for 10 euro!) sold alongside other paraphernalia--pots; softball-sized bulbs; fake, live & dried flowers; books; posters; tools and so on.

All cannabis was in seed form for planting--not good for anything else. Not exportable.

The flower market was a psychedelic blur of colors and smelled great, but we didn't inhale.

Awesome selections with even better names--Shiva, Orange Skunk, Early Skunk, Silver Haze, Jack Horror, Hindu Kush, Purple Power, Dutch Hope, Skunk #1, White Widow.


The dried-flower ceilings were beautiful. Good place to dry your herbs.


Most bulbs sold here were exportable to other countries, though last time we bought tulip bulbs, in some great jewel tones, they all came up yellow. Buyer beware...


The basket on the left was dried moss. Just add water!


Softball-sized bulbs.


The orchids were orching.



They look good enough to eat, if you had the munchies.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Extreme Home Edition


We went over to the site of the Extreme Makeover house yesterday. Top photo shows as close as we could get. Today is the big reveal to the home winners. It'll be more of a zoo than it's been all week, so we'll be avoiding the neighborhood.

This community garden, which wasn't there a week ago, has cobble stone paths, a gazebo, trees, shrubs and lighting. The neighboring house got a new parking pad. I'll get back there sometime soon to get more pictures. They were filming and we couldn't get too close.

As part of Garden Walk Buffalo for twelve of its fifteen years, and president for four, the Garden Walk committee has quietly gone about with a similar mission. In our marketing materials we say, "Garden Walk rejuvenates streets, re-energizes neighborhoods, increases property values, and takes the chill out of Buffalo's image." But I've never seen anything like what's happening on Massachusetts Avenue.

The level of goodwill and volunteerism has not abated throughout the week. It's only gotten more intense.

More than 40 houses around this one new house have had everything from paint jobs to new roofs - at no cost to the owners. It's not ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition doing these, the TV show was just the spark that ignited all these Buffalo companies and volunteers. In fact, so many people volunteered or even just showed up with tools, that rather than turn them away, the home developer that took on the house (David Homes) started sending them to nearby houses - and the "Miracle on Massachusetts" started.

Most of these people would not have known even where Massachusetts Street was on the West side of Buffalo. Now? They have great stories to tell - and they have some ownership of the street, having been part of this effort.

Some good deeds I learned about last night? The mural you see being painted is covering up former graffiti. The artist traveled here from Pennsylvania to take part in the neighborhood rejuvenation. She found out the owners of this building are from Laos and designed and started painting this Loation-themed wall mural.

My friend, (and client!) Joy Kuebler, a landscape designer has been there all week helping construct & consult with landscape issues. She's also lead on getting the new garage roof to be a green roof, planted much the same way her own studio's roof is.

Not content to tear down one house, Buffalo ReUse dismantled this neighboring abandoned home in 14 hours.

Buffalo ReUse, our local home materials reuse non-profit, decided to dismantle another house around the corner. The materials from this house will be used in community gardens and be sold in their store to keep them in business. They are the first company to ever do a "green deconstruction" for the Extreme Makeover TV show. This event has kicked of a green jobs initiative here in the city. The two deconstructed buildings were used to train men & women from the Minority Contractors Alliance to track the material used from the makeover home to be sold later.

And how do you feed 5,000 volunteers for a week? The food coordinator brought in for the week, a teacher at the Culinary Institute of America, located locally in St. Mary's School for the Deaf, brought in his students to get some real-world catering experience. They're also helping to build a gazebo in a community garden when not preparing meals.

You can see here the roofers precariously doing a tear-off and complete redo of a roof on a building at the end of the block. It's a steep roof. And big. And done for no charge to the owners.

Here you can see pop singer Ashanti and 10 of the Buffalo Bills and Jills cheerleaders emptying the truckload of gifted furniture from Ashly's Furniture HomeStore. Former Buffalo Sabres Larry Playfair and Rob Ray were actually onsite and working during the week.

Even the Gods were being generous this week by providing chamber-of-commerce-like weather - clear blue skies and warm days in the 50s. Not our norm for the second week of November.

The house next door to the Extreme House hadn't had water service for two years. He now has up-to-date and up-to-code plumbing throughout the house, thanks to a local plumber.

Volunteers plant a tree.

ReTree WNY a local reforestation non-profit planted 120 trees in the neighborhood this week.

One resident put out all her Christmas decorations this week. When asked why, she said Christmas came early for their neighborhood this week.

Another local company (Save-A-Lot) stepped up and was delivering turkeys and complete Thanksgiving meals to the nearest 120 homes to the Extreme House.

My friend Nancy is handling the PR for the event on-site this week. We asked how she can look around, hear these stories and not tear up. She said just about everyone has. The hardest part for the people she'd been dealing with is not having people tear up in press interviews.

Today Ty Pennington gets the crowd to yell "Move that bus." When, in actuality, the crowd moved a city.


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