Friday, September 27, 2013

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum Gardens in Venice

The gardens with sculpture surrounding the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy are actually called the Nasher Sculpture Garden. The building itself is referrred to as the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, built in the 1750s. If you are ever in Venice, the Museum should surely be one of your stops. 

This is the entrance courtyard,
where you purchase tickets.
Once Peggy Guggenheim's home, it's now a museum with a world-class collection of European and American art from the first half of the 20th century. The permanent collection is made up of works by Picasso, Braque, Léger, Brancusi, de Chirco, Mondrain, Kandinsky, Miro, Klee, Magrtitte, Polack Gorky, Calder and Peggy Guggenheim's husband, Max Earnst. Many of these artists more significant works I can see just a short walk from my house here in Buffalo, at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, I might add.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hiking Cinque Terre in Italy

So this is a rare non-gardening post. We recently took a a week's vacation in northern Italy. One of the things we really wanted to do was to hike Cinque Terre – five fishing villages along the Mediterranean coast. Once we started looking into the visit, it was hard finding exacting information on the length of trails – both in distance and timing. So I put together this little video of our hike to help show and explain what to expect on the trails. We read that the hardest and most difficult trail(s) are tough. But If I can do it, just about anyone else can.

The "Last" village, Monterosso, is where we started.
It has the only sand beach of all five villages.
The five villages, are linked by train and roads – though there are no roads within the villages themselves. The train rides are short – usually two - five minutes. You can buy a pass and take the train to each village – but make sure you have train schedule. It's not like a hop-on hop-off train. They have regular stops and keep to a schedule that may not line up with your plans.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How to make a jewel-toned succulent pumpkin

A recent purchase. We're not big on fall decorations. A couple pots of mums for the outside. A couple decorative pumpkins we've had for many years (maybe decades) made cleverly from air filters and painted orange, made by my Aunt Doris. That's pretty much it for us for the fall. But when I saw these pumpkins filled with these jewel-toned succulents at Lockwoods Greenhouses, I caved.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Raising canna

Here is my neighbor Helen's canna. She started out a couple years ago with just a few tubers. And they have increased almost tenfold each year. She plants them in her hellstrip between sidewalk and street and this is what they do for her. They are currently about eight feet tall with profuse flowering - even now in late September. These photo were taken late yesterday afternoon.

I told her I am going to do EXACTLY what she does next year with my own - put them out the same day, water them the same amount, and bring 'em in at the same time in the fall she does. She stores the tubers overwinter in peat moss. It's not fair that hers look like this and mine looks like it does (in the photo to the right) - where the Persian Shield is larger than the canna!

Helen's an excellent gardener, her garden is on Garden Walk Buffalo each year. Her front yard garden is something the neighborhood appreciates all year round.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An inside/outside grape vine

They REALLY like their grape vine. So much so, that they drilled a hole for it to climb on the outside of the building. Seen in Verona, Italy.Do you have a favored plant you would build your house around?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gardens from up on high

Visiting northern Italy's Gardens at Trautmansdorff Castle is different from most any botanical garden or park in that it's built on a mountainside – great views up and down like no other public garden I've ever been to. First, most botanical gardens and parks are indoors, many have rolling hills and even the occasional belvedere. I've never been to any with a natural amphitheater-type terrain with paths going up about 300 feet from its lowest point. Add in two towering overlooks and part of the fun of this park is the view of the park from up on high, as well as a good view of the surrounding Dolomites - the Italian side of the Alps.

Here's a colorful hillside garden nearby the first viewing platform.
Gardeners work on ropes and harnesses to plant
on some of these near vertical slopes.
Above is the first tower/viewing platform. you have to go through the Aviary to get out on the platform. Along with a collection of plants from around the world, the gardens have a collection of birds and other animals.

The second viewing platform (seen below in photos) was designed by a local (Merano) engineer that wanted to contribute something to the Gardens.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Columnar apple trees, extinct trees, and a time machine

Everything at The Gardens at Trautmansdorff Castle is purposeful. The parking, ticket purchase area, and gift shop are all on one side of the the road. You have to cross over this pretty bridge above to enter the gardens. It was planned this way so that you could cross the visitor's bridge and leave all your cares and worries behind and enjoy the natural splendor of the park and gardens. It does indeed feel like you've left ordinary for something extraordinary.

Once you cross the bridge, most turn left towards the Forests of the World area of the Park, which contains an artist's pavilion called Ornamental Plants from Around the World - an homage to plant hunters and expeditions from long ago. It also has an East Asian garden, a Fern Glen, a Japanese Garden and LOTS more. Each seamlessly blends with another, but the effect of each is unique. Also in this area of the park is one of their two multi-media shows  -- this one being the Origins of Life. We didn't have time to see it this visit -- no time to see the show about time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Italy's Trautmansdorff Castle Gardens - the future of botanical gardens

Italy's most beautiful garden (2005, popular vote)
Number six on Europe’s Top Ten Gardens. (2006)
International Garden of the Year (2013 International Garden Tourism Conference, Toronto)

On our recent trip to Italy, we made plans to visit the Gardens of Trautmansdorff Castle. I had met their Strategic Marketing Director, Dr. Heike Platter, at the International Garden Tourism Conference–held in Toronto in March this year–where Trautsmandorff won the International Garden of the Year award. One of my garden tourism affiliations, Buffalo's National Garden Festival, won the Conference's Promotion of the Year Award. Other awardees came from France, Japan, Portugal, England, Australia and more.
Marketing Director
Heike Platter and me.

For our visit, we stayed in Verona, and made a day trip to Trautmansdorff which is in Merano, a city in northern Italy in an area called South Tyrol (Südtirol/Alto Adige), near the Austrian border (about a two-hour trip from Verona). Once there, we were actually closer to Innsbruck than we were Verona!

I do think it is a very significant botanical park. I hesitate to call it a botanical garden - it is so much more than that. Imagine if you crossed the educational aspects of a botanical garden with the entertainment value of creative gardeners of Disney World with the relaxing and recreational value of a beautifully-designed outdoor private garden (many of them!), and a kids playground. Now add in a top-flight restaurant, a sculpture-park's-worth of artists' creations, weekly concerts and socializing events, and a small-scale zoo. Now you're getting the picture. Now add in a couple Disney EPCOT-like multimedia shows. Now you have a better idea of what makes it unique in the gardening world.


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