Sunday, February 28, 2010

Half way through Farch...

It's halfway from February to the end of March, or Farch, as other garden bloggers have taken to calling it. I'm over winter and anxious to get started on outdoor projects. I want drinks on the deck, parties on the patio, peppers from the potager and burgers on the barbecue. Below is why I'm wistful. Just have to get through the rest of Farch first.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Poinsettias & paradoxes in Israel

On a recent trip to Israel, we stopped in Nazareth for a quick visit to the Church of the Annunciation. Built over the childhood home of Mary, this is where Mary lived when the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to to Jesus.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What if Buffalo were known nationwide for its gardens?

What if we already, sort of, are? What can we do to reinforce and make it our legacy?

Step one, get community leaders to recognize what many national garden experts; the national gardening media; and local, regional and national gardeners (and international -- Canada is a couple blocks away!) already seem to have caught on to -- there's something happening garden-wise in Buffalo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I have the Wright kid...


She's 11 and wants to be an architect (severely disappointed that Mattel opted to go with the TV anchor, and computer tech Barbies -- she voted at least three times a day online for architect Barbie). This past summer she went to a week-long architecture summer camp at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House, here in Buffalo.

They're nearing the end of a $55 million dollar reno/rebuild of the site, but tours have been going on there for a few years now. It is a museum, and as such, tourists are asked not to eat or take photos within the house -- except for the architecture day-campers. They let the brats take photos anywhere in the house they wanted.

They would learn Wright-specific architectural concepts in the morning and then be let loose on a photo scavenger hunt searching for photographic evidence of things they learned about.

My sneaky kid took pictures of plants, plantings and gardening things inside the house she thought dad would get a kick out of. That's a good kid. Here are some her clandestine photos -- some of which almost no one else has access to or permission to photograph.


They're still working on the exterior gardens. Interior renovation takes priority right now. Eventually, the gardens will follow Wright's original plans.


The Conservatory is mostly ferns.




Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory) graces the Conservatory.


A famous Tree of Life Window. Most are in storage until construction nears its end, a few are in museums around the world, some are gone forever.


One of Wright's signature wide-bowl planters.


My daughter's tree of life "Stained Glass" artwork.


Wright's idea of a play on words - these are martin houses perched atop the Martin House. There's no record of any birds taking up habitation here.




When you walk in the front door off the street, you look through the house and down this corridor to the conservatory & Winged Victory statue. Quite the impressive first impression.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bullet Train Bushes

This very odd, yet probably very expensive, landscape item caught my attention a few times as we passed it three times in the course of a week spent around Strasborg, France.

It's a cross between a sculptor's poor use of hedges, a landscape designer's poor use of a full-sized train, a junk heap and a rock pile. If I had access to a spare train, this might not be my first choice. Though, to improve it, I'd have painted the train green and had the paint texture sort of merge with the hedges, or planted orange hedges. Maybe they ran out of money to do that. It's an expensive pile of rocks on which it sits.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Baha'i Shrine & Gardens

In the port city of Haifa, Israel, is one of the most amazing gardens I've ever seen. The Shrine of Bab, the second-most holy site in the Baha'i religion, is surrounded with a spectacularly designed, immaculately maintained, terraced garden. The Baha'i garden was designed by Fariborz Sahba (a Canadian) and constructed from 1990-2001.

The terraces are lined with stone balustrades, fountains, and stone eagles.

The number 19 is a spiritual number in this religion (their year consists of 19 months, each having 19 days) and there are 19 levels to this garden on the side of Mt. Carmel. There are nine terraces above and below the shrine (completed in 1953), with the shrine taking up a terrace on its own.

The base design of the garden is concentric circles, or waves, out from the shrine. The terraces are linked by stairs flanked by twin streams of running water cascading down the mountainside through the steps and terrace bridges.

The religion values symmetry -- gardeners use measuring tapes when they prune to insure every plant and hedge is uniform.  

The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the full gardens are open to the public from 9-12 daily. The outer gardens are open from 9-5 daily. Wouldn't you know, they were closed the day we were there. I think it was a Baha'i holy day. Oddly enough, I think this is one garden that can be more appreciated seen from a distance.

We got our first look from the top of Mt. Carmel, over looking the gardens, shrine, the city of Haifa, and the Mediterranean. Across the bay, up the coast, just out of visual range, is Lebanon. We then drove to the base of the mountain and got the view looking up the bottom terraces toward the shrine (photo, left).

Rumor has it that underneath the gardens is a huge underground hideout with bomb shelters, conference rooms, medical clinics, dining hall, supermarket and parking garages – all spotlessly shiny, clean, and freakishly empty.

The Baha'i religion isn't even that old -- started in the mid-1800s in Iran. Emerging from Muslim society, Baha'is believe in the unity of ALL religions and believe that messengers of God -- like Elijah, Moses, Jesus, Buddha & Muhammad -- have been sent at different times in history with doctrines varying to fit changing social needs, but bring substantially the same message.  

They teach that there is only one God, one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will.  Its believers support the unification of all religions and world peace. They preach equal rights among men and women, the dispersion of knowledge, education around the world and the creation of one worldwide community based on justice and equality. There's believed to be about five million Baha'is world-wide, largest concentration in India.

You can see more on their gardens website here.

I like me some espalier. Here this espalier went up the sides of the stairwells. You could only see them from the side. Looking straight on the garden, you'd never see them.

If there were a few ideas I could steal from this garden, it might be trying to use more symmetry in my own garden. Though it would seem symmetry requires maintenance & work, both of which I abhore. Really only my vegetable potager garden has any symmetry. I also liked the idea of having a spiritual number and repeating it throughout the garden. I don't have a spiritual number though. Do you? And how do you determine one? Your height, divided by your width?


Monday, February 1, 2010

Seven Garden Walk Buffalo gardens featured in Great Backyards magazine

Great Backyards spring issue is out. And it contains seven Buffalo gardens, all of which are on Garden Walk Buffalo. Each garden has a two-page spread and helps illustrate landscaping solutions.

The gardens, from diverse neighborhoods within Garden Walk Buffalo, appearing in this issue include:
  • 44 Irving Place (Perennial Impact - Seasonal color changes provide just the right punch)
  • 56 North Pearl Street (Full-Shade Splendor - A writer with a penchant for spring bulbs shows how they can flourish). The garden of Elizabeth of GardenRant / GardeningWhileIntoxicated)
  • 815/819 West Ferry Street (Symmetrical but Different - Unifying two gardens on the driveway - each with different needs)
  • 377 Little Summer Street (Up Against the Wall - How a garden grew against a neighbor's garage)
  • 533 Auburn Avenue (Funky English Style - A tiny, lush lot evolves with an artist's help)
  • 167 Richmond Avenue (Less Lawn, More Garden - A garden, house and homeowner finally nestle together)
  • 7/11 Putnam Street (Colorful Daylily Profusion - A professional's three gardens flourish with 360 varieties)
All are long-time Garden Walk Buffalo participants. The magazine features 50 gardens from around the country, with Buffalo being represented more than any other one city or area of the country. Last year's issue of this same magazine also featured 12 Buffalo gardens. All photography was created by Garden Walk Photographer Don Zinteck of Photographics 2.

Great Backyards, a magazine by Harris Publications, can be found at Wegmans grocery stores and most other bookstores where magazines are sold throughout the country. Editor Barbara Ballinger will be visiting us for Garden Walk Buffalo this July.

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