Friday, January 22, 2010

Travel blog 2009

During the course of the year I do quite a bit of traveling. The Garden Time and Fusion shows do keep me busy, but I’m not going to get rich and retire from doing them. I need to do other video jobs to keep the shows going during the lean times and to ‘pay the bills’. When I’m out traveling I notice gardens, unique plants and places everywhere in the country. In late 2008 I was able to observe gardening in Italy and share those observations with you. You can read about those adventures if you scroll down this page or check out the entries from late fall 2008 and early winter 2009. But for now, here are some interesting places I visited this past calendar year.

First, check out these cool ceiling support columns in the Sacramento airport... not garden related but still pretty neat.

Atlanta -
My first stop this past year took me to Atlanta to simulcast a big business conference. While there I was staying at the Omni Hotel near the Centennial Olympic Park. Check out the orchids they had hanging from the planters in the lobby (left).

They have a Fountain of Rings in the shape of the Olympic rings and it has a ‘dancing waters’ type of show that can be seen multiple times each day. This is the view from my room…

Down the street I also saw these huge, cool looking planters in front of a parking garage. I’m glad I didn’t have to fill those up with Black Gold soil!

Washington DC –
This place can be a zoo! I was there to do a story for the MDA and the Labor Day Telethon. There are tons of gardens to see and visit while you are there, unfortunately I had other things to do, but it is amazing what you can run into just on the street!

Check out this statue called The Awakening. It is at National Harbor near DC in Maryland. National Harbor is a shopping, condo, park area that attracts people all year round.

I was also able to wander through a farmers market near Connecticut and Q streets. A great selection of fresh veggies and other pretty treats.

Escanaba, Michigan –
This place is not a tourism Mecca. We were in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan to visit my wife’s relatives and we came across these parking strips and highway dividers. Now, doing a garden show we get a lot of complaints when we feature plants that are not ‘hardy’ here in the Pacific Northwest. I can tell you that some of these plants are tender, even in our climate. Still the city of Escanaba, in the upper mid-west, has embraced these plants in a zone that is much colder than ours, and the residents are the ones who get all the benefits of these ‘tropical’ plants.

Chicago –
Our final stop was in Chicago. It was a garden trade show that took us to Navy Pier. On the way downtown we noticed all the great plantings on State Street and Michigan Avenue. Absolutely beautiful... Of course, after a long day of walking the convention center floor there was just one garden left for me to check out…. The beer garden!

Take care and we will start checking out the northwest gardens when we return to the air in March of 2010.
Garden Time

Saturday, January 16, 2010

50-50 Chance

I meet gardeners of all levels of experience. Many are humble in their stories, many are loud & proud of their accomplishments and many are newbies. Last week I met a man that said he is not a gardener. He said he just puts the plants in the ground & stands back. “Do you water them”, I asked. Oh, of course I do the regular care of my plants but that is it. I don’t baby them. When I plant them, I tell them, “you can do 2 things, grow or not. You are on your own”. I have never heard of that style of gardening but I like his tact. I know I can kill a plant from too much care & fuss. I’ve done it enough. You would think I would learn.
He & I are alike that we keep trying. He said if the plants don’t grow, “I plant another one. It had its’ chance”. “I’m 75 years old, I’m not waiting around too long to see the end result”.
I’m not one for instant gratification but I like this man’s reasoning.
We work hard in our gardens to make them a beautiful place. I am going to take his advice and tell my plants a thing or two this spring!

Take care,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Zen & the Art of Shoveling Snow

Crazy Blog Title, eh? I was in Chicago for the Holidays. It’s snow season there so I shoveled. It’s funny what I miss from my Chicago days. If you dress with a warm coat, have good boots & gloves, snow shoveling is almost fun and actually good exercise.
During the holidays, I had been vegging out at my Mom’s house. We visited all the relatives & ate way too many Christmas goodies. I needed a more strenuous activity.
Snow storms large & small came & went the 2 weeks I was there. Here was my chance for a bit of exercise. I got out my Dad’s very thick Down coat & Down gloves.
I found a pair of overshoes. too. I was armed with a straw broom & shovel.
The first snowstorm was just a dusting with very dry snow. It was an easy 20 minute workout. I remembered to brush the snow off the Yew shrubs out front of the house. The snow can build up & then cause serious breakage of limbs. I was off the hook for the next 2 days as an unseasonal rain storm came in & washed all the snow away.
A few days later, winter returned & a beautiful all day snow began about 6AM.
It was a Thomas Kinkaid kind of snow. Big, fat clusters of snowflakes slowly descended all day long. I shoveled 3 times that day, between mugs of hot tea & hot chocolate and a few more cookies. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in a snowy area, but I enjoyed shoveling snow. I was warm in my Dad’s coat & it was so pretty to be out in the fresh air, out of doors on such a beautiful day. I didn’t think of driving to my Aunties house the next day or did I get gifts for all the relatives. I didn’t even think of all the cookies I had been eating all week. I just enjoyed being out of doors at that moment. It was very quiet as it was too early for the kids to be out & the adults had already left for work.
I thought it’s just like weeding my garden. It is that same Zen-like state when your mind is at peace from the moment to moment thinking. It’s relaxing & invigorating! It didn’t feel like a big chore. I even shoveled the neighbor’s front walk as they usually use their snow blower on my Mom’s walkway. I was on a roll.
I finished up all the sidewalks & garage entryway. I was putting away the shovel & broom & my brother pulls up with a snow blower in his truck. He was shocked that I had shoveled everything “by hand”. He is such a sweetie & stops by almost everyday to visit my Mom. I guess he has forgotten I was raised by the same parents. I didn’t need to be told to go out & shovel. I didn’t tell him about enjoying it, he would really think I have lost my mind!
Being back in Oregon, I feel the need to “Zen out”.
Last Saturday, I found a few bitter cress weeds to pull. Ah, it’s almost spring

Take care,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bulbs and Houseplants

As I was cleaning the carpets this week at home and doing my thorough cleaning I do every year after Christmas, I noticed how bare everything looked. I started bringing in some houseplants from the greenhouse. While I was placing them around my home I noticed how bare they looked.
One of the great things about working at a nursery is the write off stuff….once it’s out of inventory, you can take home. I had a dozen or so scilla peruviana bulbs that I was going to plant outdoors. Even though I know several people that have successfully grown these outside here I still tend to think they are about one zone away from true hardiness. The thought crossed my mind…’why not plant them in the bottom of the plants that look so bare?’ so I did.
Earlier in the day I had seen a very old bag of orchid bark that someone had given me this last summer. Unlike bark for your yard I knew this would be sterile and free of insects and such. I ran out to the garage and brought it inside. It was the perfect touch to finish off my new houseplant pots. The medium red bark really spruced up the entire pots. The plants looked great and like they were complete.
I then started thinking of all the great bulbs to plant indoors…the striking, brightly colored leaves of caladiums (which love shade outdoors so they seem perfect for indoors), the astounding fragrance and rainbow of colors from Freesias, and heck, why not plant Narcissus a couple months before the Holidays for their bright color and great fragrance at Christmas. For that matter you could even plant Amaryllis directly in the soil of your larger houseplants. How beautiful would that be during the holidays! Afterward you could dig them up, dry them out and reuse them next year. Or better yet, get new ones of a different color and style.
The point is, there are many ways to bring nature indoors. Try coming up with some of your own ideas…if they are successful, let us know!
I will be sure to follow up on this experiment and let you all know how the scilla’s turn out. Hopefully by the end of March I will not only have beautiful spring bulbs blooming outdoors but several indoor as well.
Happy Gardening,