Thursday, October 31, 2013

A deadly and ghoulish garden in Italy...

I've posted a bit about our trip to the Gardens at Trautmansdorff Castle in Merano, Italy. I've been saving up this post for Halloween – they have a poison garden filled with poisoinous plants (many of them common plants!) and the garden art to back up the scary garden.

Behind a closed, and threatening-looking door, beyond a path of blood grass is this garden filled with rough-hewn, weather-worn, garden art worthy of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre set.

Castor bean plants for making one of the world's deadliest poisons, ricin; Oleander; larkspur; monkshood; golden chain, wisteria; yew; nightshade and plenty more deadly and sickening plants make this ghoulish garden.

This garden was put together by Trautmansdorff gardens designers and staff, as are many of the specialty gardens you'll find around this great botanical park. If you get to Italy, and you're a fan of gardens, Trautmansdorff should be on your destination list - and I'm sure it would be a highlight of a trip to Italy. It's teh top tourist destination in this part of Italy (Southern Tyrol–the northern part of Italy–quite near the Austrian border).

Italy does celebrate All Saints Day Ognissanti or Tutti i Santi (November 1) and All Soul's Day Giorno dei Morti (November 2), usually with some tradition regional cookies. Celebrating All Saint's Day eve, or Dolcetto o Scherzetto is really only for the young ones and is a more recently popularized event. By the way, Dolcetto o Scherzetto is their translation for "trick or treat" – which translates more exactly to "dessert or joke."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Art in a botanical park

I've been showing pictures from our trip to the  Gardens at Trautmansdorff Castle to date, I've only show photos from only about halfway around the park. There's still plenty more to the park named the International Garden of the Year by the International Garden Tourism conference held in Toronto this past March.

Besides being a spectacular destination - where you could spend easily a day, if not two in a visit - there is plenty of original art throughout teh park - large and small scale.

One of my favorites is at the top of the post - Adam and Eve reaching for an apple on the apple tree beside the statue. Others are below. 

In addition to the statues around and about, there were 10 Artist's Pavilions and even more Experience Stations, designed by artists intended as educational or interpretive tools, but all are creative. And all are designed with kids in mind.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A garden curio wall

This past summer I went on a National Garden Festival GObike Buffalo tour of Parkside Neighborhood gardens. Once I'd gotten to this garden, I realized I'd been here before, quite a few years earlier, on the Parkside Garden Tour (worth a click over just to see Tom the 6'3" gnome!) I remembered this wall of antiques and vintage items, old garden tools, mirrors, and other assorted items. It was a great addition to the garden that gets added to every year. There were vintage and found objects posing as art throughout the gardens as well, but the concentration of them on the garage sidewall was the focus of most of the attention. It felt more like a life-sized "shadow box."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A colorful hosta garden

The front garden/entrance to back yard.
This Hamburg garden in the Boston Hills of Buffalo's Southtowns is a treat. Nearly across the street from the Kathy and Mike Shadrack's Smug Creek Garden, it's one of the National Garden Festival's Open Gardens each summer – when about 80 Buffalo Niagara gardens are open to the public for certain hours on Thursdays and Fridays, for five-six weeks.

The gardener, Barbara Sylvester, is a hosta collector and has a one-acre plot intensely cultivated both in front of the house and in the back. The front is a sun garden, the back is mostly shade, owing to the large garden-defining tree in the back yard. She has about 150 varieties of host in the back yard - from mammoth to miniature.

Troughs and containers hold the miniature hostas and other alpines. Many have fairy gardens - miniature arbors, doorways, furniture, small garden tools, and more – that kids seem to like (and many of the adults). 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The oldest tree in Buffalo

The plaque reads:
"THIS SYCAMORE TREE
IS BELIEVED TO BE
THE OLDEST TREE
IN BUFFALO
ABOUT 250 YEARS OLD
THE BUFFALO LUMBER EXCHANGE
EST. 1880
PRESENTS THIS PLAQUE
IN COMMEMORATION OF
NATIONAL FOREST PRODUCTS WEEK
OCTOBER 16-22, 1960"
This tree at 400 Franklin Street in downtown Buffalo is considered to be the oldest tree in Buffalo. A plaque on the tree cites its age in 1960, as determined by a city forestry officer, as 250 years old at the time.

That makes it around 300 years old this year. That puts it as a sapling around or about the year 1713.

The first permanent settlement in Buffalo was in 1758, as a French provisioning farm for Fort Niagara, at a time when even Native Americans had only seasonal camps here, so the sycamore would already have 50 years old then. Most of Buffalo's streets were laid out in 1804. (Until 1826, Franklin Street was called Tuscarora Street.) So the city was literally built around it.

The Sycamore tree is (roughly) 65 feet tall, with a girth of 12 feet. It is growing at nearly a 45º angle so it stretches across Franklin Street.

The tree is located in the Allentown Historic Preservation District of Buffalo. The neighborhood was designated a local preservation district in 1978 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980, Allentown is one of the first and largest residential historic districts in the United States.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

She'll never go for it...

Here's one idea for my garage door–artwork to look like this is where I park my X-Wing Fighter.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall projects and assessments

It's Fall around the spread and I haven't done much Fall-type stuff yet because the weather's been too bad, too nice (and hence have better things to do), or we've been away. Or just dealing with a basement flooding problem (fixed now).

The squirrels have had their way with the checkerboard area.
Anyone have any good squirrel recipes?
In the photo above, the Fall garden is looking good. On the right, the strip of dirt you see will get a low stone wall in the coming weeks. I met with the landscaper who will do the work today. He came up with some nice, simple ideas to make a wall of large rectangular cobblestones look unique and feature the rough cuts of the stone well. Its real intent is to stop all my invasive plants from getting into the neighbor's yard–Chinese Lanterns, Ivy, Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata) and Gooseneck Loosetrife. If they start showing up in the middle of their grass yard they won't be happy. I'm not happy about these particular

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Celebrate our new water feature!



Buffalo's Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Delaware Park has a 118-year-old new water feature. In Hoyt Lake, originally called The Gala Waters, a new water fountain–complete with lighting–has been installed matching the original fountain built in 1895.

A postcard showing the original 1895 fountain.
The lake was much larger then - much was filled in during the construction
of the Scajaquada Highway (Route 198).
The fountain has a central jet that shoots 50 feet in the air surrounded by lower water jets that reach 25 feet. It is at the Forest Lawn Cemetery/Delaware Avenue S-curves end of the lake. It's difficult to see from Delaware Avenue currently with all the leaves on the trees.

The fountain won’t run overnight, and will be turned off during the winter. It is powered by electricity, with the city picking up the tab. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Disco stump?

Underlife, Jason Middlebrook, 2012-13, steel, fiberglass, and tile, 360 inches wide.

War of the Worlds alien monster? Priscilla Queen of the Desert prop? Disco stump? Nope, it's a mirrored mosaic garden art installation by Hudson, New York artist Jason Middlebrook, titled "Underlife" on the grounds of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery here in Buffalo. It's actually still in progress, the work is surrounded by a chain link fence currently. It does have a lighting source for night time. I'd love to see what it looks like lit at night. It is scheduled to be finished this month. Th intent is to have visitors be able to walk under it.

The artwork is made of fiberglass and mosaic-mirrored tile. It's a homage to Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park and Buffalo's system of parks, parkways and traffic circles. It was created in response to the existing Frederick Law Olmsted–designed landscape that surrounds the Art Gallery’s campus – inspired by a tree that the artist uprooted on his property in downstate New York, it features a complex root system lifted from the soil and propped on root ends. The installation was commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery as part of its campus revamp.

Middlebrook is "...interested in the literal and metaphorical decay of landscapes and the point at which nature and culture clash. Often using recycled or salvaged materials—which he says 'have a history and still have a future'—he creates sculptural installations that re-render the natural environment. Throughout his work, Middlebrook questions the tense relationships humans have with nature and art. Although his work is a critique of these relationships, it is also a commentary on the beauty that surrounds us, even if we cannot see it."
Close-up of the mosaic "bark."

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