Friday, May 31, 2013

The Drunken Botanist is stumbling to Buffalo...

Amy Stewart, has regaled Buffalo audiences in recent years with tales of plants that kill and bugs that alter the course of history, is coming back courtesy of Talking Leaves Books, in collaboration with Buffalo Spree magazine, and Mike A’s at Hotel Lafayette, to discuss her brilliant tips for combining plants and mixology, as presented in her new book, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks (Algonquin Books).

Mike A's @ Hotel Lafayette
We’ll meet in the lounge of Mike A’s @Hotel Lafayette at 6 pm Monday, June 17, to witness her encyclopedic knowledge of both alcoholic beverages and plants, and the space where they meet. Special cocktails will be available for purchase, as will copies of all of Amy’s books. Anyone wishing to have books autographed is expected to purchase them from Talking Leaves, as an act of respect and support for the author and the bookstore who is hosting her visit.

In The Drunken Botanist Amy explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.

This concoction of biology, chemistry, history, etymology, and mixology—with more than fifty drink recipes and growing tips for gardeners—will make you the most popular guest at any cocktail party.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The longest press release in garden tourism history...

One of the gardens that is on both a weekend garden tour and Open Gardens on Thursdays and Fridays.
Just released by Visit Buffalo Niagara, our local visitor's bureau, on the events taking place this summer for the National Garden Festival:

Buffalo’s fourth annual festival features 15 garden walks (including America’s largest),
workshops, open gardens, a Buffalo-Style Garden Art Sale and more

BUFFALO, N.Y. – May 20, 2013 – The fourth annual National Garden Festival will take place from June 21 to Aug. 4 in Buffalo, N.Y. and it is, by far, the largest garden festival in America.

The six-week-long festival offers something for anyone with (or without) a green thumb:
15 garden walks and tours throughout the Buffalo Niagara region, totaling nearly 1,000 private gardens. The most popular of the tours is Garden Walk Buffalo – the largest free garden walk in the country, with more than 350 private gardens on view – on July 27 and 28.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hellstrip progress

There is progress on the hellstrip! I dug up, added compost, planted divisions, and then added black mulch to a curvy shape within the hell strip. 

The eventual plan is to add some large pavers or bricks along the road side, for people to get in and out of their cars without having to step into the garden. I'd also like to add a "pad" of pavers to the area where I have to put my garbage cans for garbage day. I'd also like to add a row of lavender alongside the sidewalk to match the lavender on the other side that is there already. I planted many grasses of varying heights from divisions. I'd like to plant some other tall, "wispy" plants - salvias, Russian sage, and the like.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Garden tour by GObike Buffalo

Looking for a great way to see gardens? Sign up for the National Garden Festival's City Garden Tour by Bicycle! Coordinated by the people that know bike touring, GObike Buffalo, we'll start off in Delaware park and see many city gardens with a stop for lunch (box lunch included in tour cost) served in a community garden. It's only 3 hours and you'll also get a good view of what Buffalo is doing to make our streets more friendly to bicycles -- new bike paths, bike lanes, "sharrows" (street markings reminding card rivers that they're sharing the road), bike parking and more.

It's also going on at the same weekend the Ride for Roswell is happening. This should have all of Buffalo out riding bikes, with one of local bike enthusiasts' busiest weekends.

Sunday, June 23, 10am-1 pm, $30 includes lunch!

I don't know what gardens we'll be hitting up, but it should be fun. Find out more and register here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is it perverse to paint a plant?

Who sees a plant and says, "Oooh, I must paint that!"? While out scouring what's in store a the garden stores this early in the season, I came across these poor painted plants. I mean, if someone asked me if I wanted to paint plants, I'd break out some acrylics and stretch a canvas. Some person has the responsibility of hand painting or airbrushing paint onto these succulents. 

I cannot imagine a plant is at its best when it can't do its photosynthesis thing. Isn't this suffocating them?

Didn't nature make them perfectly beautiful and functional to begin with? Didn't it take tens of thousands of years of adapting to get to where they are today? If bright colors were good for them, wouldn't they have evolved that way?

I wanted to buy them all and take them home and give them a good scrubbing and then set them free.

But I held back. I didn't want anyone to see me buying painted plants. I do have a reputation to uphold.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Favorite garden channels

One garden feature I've added is a couple "channels" around a brick paver patio where I've removed a course of bricks and planted stuff in the channel it creates. Above I did last year. I took the bricks out and added a row of violets which were in another part of the garden and getting invasive. That's another benefit of planting in a small confined space like this -- no unmanageable spreading. The blue violets happen to go well with the blue-ish outdoor carpet. The flowers won't last long, but the bushty green leaves soften the patio edges quite nicely.

Another channel I've been watching is the one around my raised-bed vegetable potager. It is planted with strawberries. I think the variety of strawberries I have here are kinda' big for the space. They're sort of hard to see in this photo below, but they're more sparse, than bushy, like the violets and don't "mound" as nicely. They are directly beneath a knee-high dwarf apple tree espalier that I'm training to become a living "fence" around the potager garden - an idea I stole from Monet's garden in Giverny.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buffalo's Japanese Garden cherry trees in bloom

Took a walk with my daughter over to the Delaware Park Japanese Garden here in Buffalo on Tuesday. Caught the evening light on the forest of cherry trees at the height of their bloom. It was stunning. The Japanese Garden sits on Mirror Lake in Delaware Park behind the Buffalo History Museum (the only building built permanent from the 1901 Pan American Exhibition where President McKinley was assassinated). Delaware Park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in NYC, Boston's Emerald Necklace and Washington DC's U.S. Capitol Grounds, among others.

The Japanese Garden has cherry trees that come from the trees in Washington, DC, which were a gift in 1912 from the people of Japan. The Buffalo trees are still young --  the oldest tree is only about 10 years old. In 2012, 20 more were planted to match the 20 that were already there.

The Garden is a popular spot for wedding pictures. We had our wedding party pictures taken here. The Japanese Garden is also a stop on Garden Walk Buffalo -- complete with docents -- each year.

The Japanese garden itself was a gesture of friendship from Buffalo's sister city, Kanazawa Japan. The garden was modeled on Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, one of the most famous gardens in Japan. The garden was conceived in 1970, construction started in 1971 and it was completed in 1974. the original design contained over 1,000 plantings, nearly 20 globe-type lights, three small islands connected to the mainland by bridges.


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