Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pre-spring fever?

Are you tired of winter yet?
I think we all were, right during the crazy snowstorms of December.
How crazy is 6-18 inches of snow in the Willamette Valley?
I hope that you all did not have too much plant & structure damage from those storms.
Being out of town during that time was weird as I kept seeing photos from friends & on the Internet. I was shocked to see the amount of snow covering the area.
As I said in my Blog from Chicago, that city still moves when there is snow.

Since I am back in the swing of the Gardening World, I am ready for spring. I have Pre-Spring Fever. The hellebores & Edgeworthia are blooming as are Primroses & Pansies at the Garden Centers. Bare root roses & fruit trees are in stock. I go to my favorite garden centers & they are ready for us gardeners. The calendar is the one thing holding us back. It’s Mid-January.
I get my garden fix & buy a few Primroses to brighten up my containers. I even brought some in to brighten up the house. I making notes & checking out the new varieties of everything that is available so far. It makes me feel like the calendar doesn’t say January.
At home, I have several new catalogues & magazines. These help by letting me dream a little more. Have you seen the new Plant Delights catalogue or Herb Companion magazine? I see plants to delight the senses & herbal recipes to entice you to cook something up in the kitchen. The Herb Companion spurred me on to try an old recipe I have. I made delicious rosemary herbal butter to spread on my baked potatoes last night. Yum!
We have several weeks to go before the real spring begins. I’ll have to find some more diversions to get me through. Maybe I’ll make some scones with last year’s frozen blueberries.

Take care,

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Time for Planning (planting?)

As we work our way through the final winter weeks of January we don’t just sit a home and eat bon-bons waiting for the new season of Garden Time to start. As part of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of Garden Time I thought I would fill you in on the process of planning for the new season. As many of you may know, each year brings new trends to gardening. An example, container gardening is a hot topic, due to the shrinking of the standard garden. In the past few years we have been doing lots of stories on building great containers. We will continue doing stories on letting your garden go to ‘pot’. This year we are also seeing the expansion of the ‘grow-your-own-food’ trend that started last year. Garden centers are gearing up for gardeners that are interested in saving money on their food bill by letting nature help them feed their families. We definitely will be doing more stories on that trend. We will also be covering the ‘green’ trends in gardening. In case you didn’t notice when watching, when we do a story on the show we showcase ‘all’ types of treatment. For example, a weed control story will include chemical controls and also non- chemical treatments. Our job is to educate the viewer and let them make the choice of the type of treatment that best fits their needs.
These stories are not just going to be covered on the show. We will also be including them in our new on-line magazine, Garden Time On-line. The GTO will also tell you about the ‘must have’ plants, local garden adventures you can take and items you can bring from your garden to your table. Stay tuned! Spring is just around the corner!

Garden Time Producer

Italy Gardens – Rome, part 2

This week we talk about other parts of Rome. While there we took a short tour of the Vatican and found out that they have a collection of fantastic gardens. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to see all of them. We did see some interesting parts though.

Check out this fountain at the Vatican museum it is covered with ferns, callabracoa and other moisture loving plants.

In the Garden of the Pinecone we found this sculpture in the middle of it.

It is the sphere with-in a sphere. A complex piece of art representing a complex world. One interesting insight, all the old buildings, walls and structures reminded me of the resilience of plants.

They seemed to be growing out of every wall and crevice. This plant found a home in the ancient wall of Vatican City.

We also took a day trip to Montecasino where a Benedictine monastery was bombed during World War II. It has been mostly rebuilt from donations from around the world. We found this wonderful courtyard garden that included a good collection of roses. Later we saw this garden, on the right, that used mixed containers in patterns on the bricks. The only permanent plantings were in small beds against the walls. The patterns were created with different containers of geraniums, citrus, maples, palms and boxwood plants.

Finally, I had to include this small terrarium in the lobby of our hotel in central Rome. I thought this really was the epitome of small gardening in Italy. Located in the middle of a lobby in the center of a building, away from all natural light, it was thriving. It showed me that if people want to garden, they will find a way.

Last notes… Garden Time makes an appearance at the Vatican. This is Fr. Bernie Starman wearing a GT hat. How handsome! Even the cappuccino’s are in the trying to copy the plants.

Next week we travel south down the Amalfi Coast

Jeff Gustin
Garden Time Producer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Italy Gardens – Rome, part 1

Rome took us out of the growing area of Italy and into the city where we saw how garden products make it to the people. As you recall from our earlier blog. Small gardening and containers are a way of life for the gardener in Italy. We saw lots of small florists/plant shops and we found out that is how most people get their plants. This small florist shop is also the local garden center. These small shops try to fill the needs of the local citizenry, but as you can tell it doesn’t have much room for plants. We found a limited selection of plants including citrus, cyclamen, mums and azaleas.
We were told that they rotate their stock to offer the best of each season. We even saw unique selections like this spray painted lily.
In a different part of the city we found this small garden center/flower shop that even had posters that talked about the correct use of pesticides and efficient water management. It had a little more room and even carried heathers, cypress and small maples.
The small maple was selling for 63 euro. Right now that is over $85; pretty expensive for a small tree.
In the local grocery stores you won’t find too many fresh vegetables, at least not the selection that we are accustomed to here in the stores. Most neighborhoods still have vegetable stands. Every morning we would wake up to hear the sound of the market next door to our hotel, getting their delivery of local fresh vegetables.
It was a new, very colorful, show every day when we walked by and sure to make you hungry!!

Next week we see part 2 of Rome.
Jeff Gustin
Garden Time Producer

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Italy Winery Tour –

Talk about Italy and people think about great art, friendly people and wonderful food, but for others it means lots of fine wine; and some of the finest wines are produced in the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy. These areas are covered with grape vineyards and olive groves. We were able to tour the fantastic Cantina Novelli one of the more progressive vineyards of the region, located near Spoleto and Montefalco. This winery is unique in that it is replanting a long neglected variety of native wine grape.

The vineyard is surrounded by hills topped with villas.

We were able to sample various styles and types of wine, along with a sampling of local meats and cheeses.
The winery itself is stunning, built in the middle of a beautiful area.

It is designed for wine tours and educating people about the wine and the country where it is made. Wine in Italy is unique; every winemaker tries to place their own stamp on the vintages and I can truly say that we didn’t have a bad wine while we were there. To find out more about their wines you can check out their website at, they will be happy to answer any questions you have if you e-mail them.

Next stop Rome

Jeff Gustin
Garden Time Producer