Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Berlin Zoo gardens

In August, we visited Berlin. Our first stop, after a few hours sleep was the Zoologischer Garten Berlin. Opened in 1844, it's the oldest Zoo in Germany. With 1,500 species and 17,000 animals, it's the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

Its most recent famous inhabitant was the polar bear Knut, raised by humans after being rejected by his own kind. Knut was siad to be a social psychopath in that he craved human interaction. He was quite the showman/showbear. He's since passed on. I think his death was a plot by the pandas who were tired of sharing the limelight with such a media hog.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gnasty Gnomes


Gnomes for your garden (not mine). You can't see it here, but the gnome on the right, behind the frog, is exposing his gnome gnaughty bits. I didn't feel it was okay to rearrange the display to get a shot of him. But I regret that now. Found these in a novelty gift shop in Amsterdam, Holland, across from the Hortus Botanicus.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Farm-to-fork: The latest book I've designed - Nickel City Chef

Nickel City Chef, Buffalo's Finest Chefs & Ingredients hits the bookstores this week. The book, written by Christa Glennie Seychew, features the Nickel City Chef competition - an hour-long competition between chefs using a surprise local ingredient in front of a live audience - with expert judges and audience participation determining the outcome. It's the only competition like this in the U.S. Even the chef competitions on TV have limited audience members or engagement - and none feature locally grown or produced ingredients.

I've attended a competition and it's a break-neck pace of chefs doing the most creative things with ordinary ingredients - but all of the highest caliber. While chefs are cooking, attendees (around 250 each competition) are treated to great food & drink, hosts talk to the chefs while they work, the secret ingredient farmer or producer is there being interviewed by the hosts, you can purchase, or order the secret ingredient during the event. Multiple overhead video monitors and a video crew allow every seat to be a good seat. The competition takes place in a kitchen & bath store, in an old warehouse with two working (drool-worthy) kitchens.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Plants in cans

 
This must be the newest way to sell plants. These are photos from a recent trip to Amsterdam - in the flower market. I'd seen canned cannabis before, but now all sorts of plants come in cans - birds of paradise, Venus flytraps, orange trees, lemon trees, sensitive plants, cucumbers, daisies, strawberries and tulips. Haven't seen these in the States yet. Wonder how long they stay viable? I wonder too, if it is allowed to bring them into the states in cans?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Give a tree an inch...


Last week, my daughter and I went for a hike in the Niagara Gorge, just downstream from Niagara Falls. This poor tree was doing its thing in a crack in the rock with no soil visible all around in any direction. It was a beautiful day for a walk in the gorge. It's a pretty harsh existence here in the rapids, winters must be brutal.

We've hiked this trail before, though this time I counted 309 stairs down to the water level. Last time I counted 308. I have more & better photos here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wright's Martin House plantings looking spiffy

Over at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex – things are looking great inside and out. The National Historic Trust holds its annual conference here in Buffalo this week and the whole city's being spiffed up a bit – but the advances at the Martin House have been significant.

The major work to the inside in nearing its end, there's LOTS of "finishing up" work to be done. One room, the reception room, is completely finished (minus a few original windows). There is carpeting and furniture in the dining an living rooms, and Japanese prints hanging on the walls. And an impressive reproduction of the "I" shaped dining table is holding steady in the dining room. I've seen it all, and wish I could share pictures, but there is no photography allowed in the House.

The kitchen restoration is still being worked on – but it is already, in its working state, a huge transformation from the bad floors, walls, lighting, and yellow-formica'd past. I toured the building in the early '90s and remember thinking I had a better kitchen than what this one had turned into.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A bed of succulants

Literally. At the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, they now have a bed of succulents. And a dresser. And a table. And a doghouse.


And, along with the succulent "show" was the exhibit "Cacti and Other Treasures" in the Arcangel Gallery at the Gardens, of artistically rendered photographs of, you guessed it, more succulents. The exhibition was of photos by Buffalo artist Eileen Graetz. Eileen was the artist of two past Garden Walk Buffalo posters (2011 & 2008) and also of this past year's Parkside Garden Tour's poster. Th exhibition closed this week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Our daughter has Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) -- an actual, disorienting neurological condition that affects human perception, often associated with migraines. It can effect some or all of a person's senses, usually manifesting with visions just before the onset of a migraine.

A few times, she's seen
classmates sink into the floor.
But our daughter has them every single day -- most are not severe and she's learned to just deal with them and not even call attention to herself. Here are some of the things she's experienced almost every day:

Friday, October 14, 2011

My lantana bonsai

Okay, so it's not really mine, yet. Really. It is, but it isn't.  I saw this beautiful, old, clipped lantana in a garden on the KenTon Garden Tour this past summer. I told the owner that I admired it because I grow lantana, as annuals in baskets, every year. And then he asked me if I wanted it!

He grows many lantana and said he overwinters these in a cold space -- first he severely prunes them -- and then root prunes them before putting them away for the winter. He says that too many leaves requires to much energy, and if there's less leaves, it makes sense there should be less roots to keep it going.

Then he offered to give it to me after the season was over. Of course I said yes, I'm not stupid. Last week I went to pick it up along with another one he'd trimmed up for the winter -- and three other non-bonsai lantana in pots! Now the pressure is on me to keep them going through the winter. I am notoriously bad at watering pants kept in the basement. Wish me luck.

Above is full bloom, to the right is what they looked like when he gave them to me.

People on garden tours are the best kind of people. I left him a bottle of Fleur Pinot Noir in return, but that hardly seems fair.

What are you overwintering?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Garden Walk Buffalo Zip Code study


So in addition to the Intercept Survey done during Garden Walk Buffalo this year (paid for by Visit Buffalo Niagara, results found here), Visit Buffalo Niagara, a few gardeners, and GW headquarters volunteers, collected zip codes from visitors. Here's the result.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A garden in new ruins

Saw this garden on the KenTon Garden Tour this past summer. This gardener's been gardening here for a loooong time. She's been collecting columns, architectural remnants, sculptures and more for years, adding them to the garden as she sees fit. The lot was shockingly deep, once down the narrow and long driveway, the actual garden started in the narrow area beside the garage with three parallel paths all leading to the huge area behind the garage.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A resort in the backyard

Found this garden on the Amherst Garden Walk this past summer (it was less of a walk and more of a repeated car drive from one garden to another). This was one of my favorites from the few gardens I got to visit. The cantilevered deck over the pond made the pond look much larger than it already was (which was a good-sized chunk of the yard already). The lush plantings made it look downright tropical. This Balinese-esque retreat was behind a very unassuming first-ring, older suburban home.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Outdoor rooms defined

Friends have built an intriguing structure for their back yard that provides not only a division of the former driveway into defined areas -- dining room and living room -- but provides them with a roof, green wall, planter, porch swing and a built-in shelf in the fence (wall) of the space.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Purloined Plant Prevention

On a beautiful side street that faces Delaware Park here in Buffalo, we spotted this doorway/fence/arch/ combo (oh, and lights too) that had planters sitting on the stone wall ledge - in cages built into its "pillars"-- to obviously prevent purloined pots. Seemed like a brilliant way to keep plants out by the sidewalk in planters. Might have been less expensive to just build pots INTO the stone wall.

I've heard from many gardeners over the years about stolen plants - everything from hanging baskets that disappear over night to prized trees, like a Japanese maple being stolen shortly after planting. I wouldn't say its rampant, but it happens.

I've had iris picked out of my front yard, and had solar lights stolen out of the front yard (back when they were new on the scene and expensive), but never had actual plants stolen. I'm cognoscente of it though. My front yard baskets are wired securely to the brackets. They can still be stolen, but it would make it difficult to get them off the brackets.

My alternative would be to plant poison ivy in my front yard baskets. They still might get stolen, but it would give me a certain measure of satisfaction.

Ever have something stolen from your garden?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Survey Results for Garden Walk Buffalo

I think what surprised me most was that 75% of visitors from out-of-town come here specifically for Garden Walk Buffalo. That means, while here, they visit Niagara Falls, or the Albright-Knox Art Gallery or Wright's Martin House or other attractions, as opposed to the other way around (spending money all the while).

A Granger Place Garden
I also found it surprising that 43% of visitors outside the area have come to Garden Walk an average of three times. That means we're doing something right. I mean, I know people in the neighborhood have gone on Garden Walk and average of seventeen times (it's seventeen years old), but out-of-towners?

Another unexpected result found was that out-of-towners spend an average of three nights here for the weekend -- with about half of them needing hotels rooms. I would not have expected three nights as an average (it was actually 2.9).

And I was very pleased with Garden Walk's REALLY, REALLY high marks with satisfaction on the event (a 4.9, with 5 being excellent).

And I totally expected 96% to leave with an extremely favorable view of Buffalo (4.6, with 5 being excellent). How could you not?

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