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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December Dreams

Sitting here at my computer, I get a wonderful satisfaction looking at old photos taken on garden tours. At times I shake my head to wake up from dreams of tours yet to come. Many of these places are close enough that a tour would only take half a day. Other places require a bit more planning, some require serious travel.

Planting Fields Arboretum is an easy half day tour for me, only 1/2 hour from my house. It is by far the place I've visited most. (Photo credit goes to my daughter Emily who took this shot when she was 12.)

Even closer than Planting Fields Arboretum are the trial gardens at SUNY Farmingdale, our local State University. Only a 15 minute ride, I could shoot a hundred photos there in an hour or two. Best of all, there's always something new to capture my attention.

Old Westbury Gardens was the first formal Gardens that I remember visiting as a child and we visited it often. Funny thing though, I couldn't find any digital images of this wonderful place and I realize it's been a number of years since I've visited there. This is something that needs to be addressed in 2010!

Now if you want a real treat, something totally unexpected, you need to tour the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park. Central Park is the most amazing place, smack dab in the middle of New York City. When you're walking through this delightful garden you'll never realize you are surrounded by skyscrapers.

Just a little bit north of Central Park (still in New York City) is the Bronx Zoo where you will find not only a vast collection of animals but some truly beautiful plantings. I was in heaven when I came upon stands of Podophyllum (May Apples).

Just across the highway from the Zoo is the famous New York Botanical Gardens and just a bit further is Wave Hill, another to-die-for garden visit. The Bronx is just chock full of garden places to tour.

Day trips taken a bit further afield include Stonecrop Gardens up state in Cold Spring, New York. The potager there had me on my knees, it was a dream come true.

Still within a day's travel is Chanticleer Gardens, just outside Philadelphia. Another place that you could totally lose yourself in as you wander around and drool over some of the latest plant material.

This photo is blurry and yet I still love it. My daughter Emily took it while riding a tour bus through Washington DC during the Cherry Blossom bloom season. I'd love to plan a trip there and see the US National Arboretum. What do you think, would you come with me?

Finally, furthest from home are the heart wrenching swamplands in Florida. Every year I make a trek down there to visit my mom. Every year she takes me to one or two of the wildlife sanctuarys where I feel like I've been transported back in time.

Mom called me yesterday and offered me plane tickets as my Christmas present. You can bet I said yes, so it looks like this January I'll be photographing the swamps and wildlife in Florida again. Maybe, just maybe I'll have a new camera by then. It's a great goal to shoot for...

Time to stop dreaming and get ready for work,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Easy Come...Easy Go....

Easy come, easy go...when the title of this post popped into my head it was strictly plant related. Then, while typing it in I realized that it could be applied to so many things in my life right now.

Some plants are easy to find, easy to care for but also, easy to go. These photos were taken in 2006 and some of these plants are no longer in my garden. In the opening shot you see the purple foliage Physocarpus 'Diablo', it is now a monster, much larger than I planned for but such a wonderful shrub that it's still in this spot. To the right is Baptisia 'Screaming Yellow' another favorite that's still here. But what's that in the foreground? Alliums that declined year after year and I know for sure that not one bloomed this year. How'd that happen?

Stachys monnieri is one the top 10 perennials in my garden. I have a wonderful pink variety I bought many years ago in a little pot at Franks Nursery. It's been divided and replanted all over my property so when I saw the purple variety, 'Hummelo' I thought it was a must have.

Unfortunately 'Hummelo' petered out almost instantly. Now I don't know if it's something that was wrong with the single plant I bought. If I remember correctly, my friend Kim bought it at the same time and hers is still growing fantastically. What ever it was though, 'Hummelo' is no longer in my garden but I would definitely try it again.

This photo isn't the best, I don't even know what the plant in the center is... I'm guessing it's Gaura. I've tried Gaura at least 4 times, never had it return. Perhaps it likes alkaline soil, my soil here is quite acidic. Have any of you had luck with this plant coming back? Any tips?

Of course there's the annuals and tender plants that I love one year and yet never seem to get again in future years. In 2006 my garden was on tour and over 600 people came through here in one week. I added 5 or 6 pots of Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandorf' which might not excite Dahlia collectors but excited me just fine with it's dark purple foliage. Hmmm, now I'm not even sure about the name...maybe it was Earl of something?

Still, as exciting as this Dahlia was, I did not dig the roots and never bought another one. Wonder of wonders...

Last but not least, it's not just plants that fit the easy come, easy go catagory. Gazing balls were a passion of mine but no matter how carefully I place them, something, wind, downed branches, Calie-the-wonderdoodle, something came and broke them.

Looking out my bedroom window right now I see what looks like a gazing ball in this same spot. Get closer though and you'll find it's a bowling ball. Bowling Balls are much hardier in my zone 6 garden, and that's a fact!

Today was my first day off in a week and my "to do" list is as long as my arm. Right at the top of it was "blog". It's wonderful to find the time to be here!