Growing Succulents and Now, Learning about Them!

Two years ago I took over the care of the raised rock garden at Ault Park. After several days of weeding, more weeding and weeding some more and then some healthy editing I had the garden to the point where I could start to play, AKA add more plants!

My time with the rock garden was my first foray into gardening with succulents. I didn't do much reading about the plants and I hadn't recalled visiting many gardens with succulents- this was new garden territory for me. The first year the succulents thrived. We had a drier, warmer spring and the succulents loved it. 

First time I ever ordered plants from a website.
They did great!
The next spring was cooler and damper. I noticed that not only were the succulents not performing as well as they had the previous year the same was holding true for my sun garden just across the walk. Still, the raised garden looked much better, but it really needed a second major overhaul to bring it to its full potential. Luckily for me a new gardener joined us and she asked to take over the raised rock garden- happy day!

The succulents were much happier spending
the winter in the large picture windows of the new condo.
Those two years playing with the raised bed initiated me into the world of succulents. The first winter I tried wintering a few over in my condo. This was not ideal for the condo was quite chilly and dark. The second winter was far more successful for our new condo has big expanses of windows and a large patio.

I knew I had this book for a reason! Time to dig in
an learn from the expert, Debra Lee Baldwin!
This season I will do this right. I will educate myself about succulents. I am fortunate to own Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties by the lady who knows succulents - Debra Lee Baldwin. This is sure to be my go-to book for succulent growing advice as well as my guide to picking out new plants for the balcony garden.

My first wave of plants I tied to over-winter in the condo. They were not happy in their dark, shady winter home. 


Glenwood Gardens

I am certainly not up to moving anytime soon. Truth be told, Darryl is still recovering from the move here a year ago and says we are not moving unless we win the lottery hahaha... he's joking, well a little.

It would be hard to find a location in Cincinnati that has as much to offer as where we are now. A few days ago I did visit an area that has some rather impressive perks, including Glenwood Gardens which is a short hop from Glendale, a charming area with great shops, restaurants and beautiful old homes. 

Glenwood Gardens is 335 acres of open prairie, woodlands, streams, ponds, wetlands, paved trails and beautiful gardens. The comfortable and modern facilities, including a gift shop and meeting rooms makes this garden destination more than a park, it is a natural retreat, event center and escape from the noisy city.

It was still a bit early in the spring to explore the gardens, which were just coming to life. The grounds were decked in spring attire; daffodils and flowering trees.  Peepers, or I think that is what the small frogs are called, and the chorus of song birds filled the air.

I come to this park each spring to photograph the spring ephemerals. There is one spot in particular, by the river, that has a nice stand of cut leaf tooth wart, trillium, Dutchman's breeches, trout lilies and blood root. The invasive, horrible, impossible to control lesser celandine is creeping into this little patch of native wonder and I know one day I shall arrive for my early spring windflower fix to find only the yellow faces of the celandine in bloom. That will be a sad day indeed. 


Good Reads: The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, Dee Nash

Straightforward, practical garden advice punctuated with personal garden stories makes The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A no-fuss, down and dirty Gardening 101 for anyone who wants to grow stuff by Dee Nash a delight to read. 

A gardener with more years under my belt than I want to admit, I am always a bit leery about reading garden books written for the new gardener. I have gardened long enough to know there is always more, so much more, to learn about gardening. However, many my-first-garden-books are ho-hum and a bit on the light side, even for the first time gardener. 

Worry not my new to gardening friends; this book is a far cry from pedestrian! As soon as I dove in I could hear the collective sigh of relief of countless young gardeners. Imagine if you will a young gardener in training. She wants to grow her own food, inspired by all the talk about GMOs, the health benefits of growing your own food, the cost effectiveness of starting seeds and the wonderful, tasty bounty that is promised with a little hard work. But then reality sets in and she is about to throw in the trowel.

Starting plants from seeds? Crop rotation? Warm and cool season plants? Dressing up the edible garden with ornamentals? It's enough to make a freshman gardener head to the grocery store crying uncle!

Fortunately, Dee Nash has put her years of hands-on experience in the garden to paper. Her beautifully written garden advice and how-to is punctuated with personal stories, allowing the reader get to know this garden guru on a new level. The lovely photos and illustrations tie it all together.

If you are new to gardening and desire to grow your own edibles, or you know a new gardener looking for that one book that has it all, you cannot go wrong with The 20-30 Something Garden Guide.


Marian Gardens- Reflecting on the Number Three

Marian gardens and Marian plants honor the Virgin Mary. I have always been drawn to the history of garden design and plants and recently I started reading more about Marian plants, gardens and the life of the Virgin Mary. What I will write about and what I will discover; it is too soon to tell. I approached this new research topic from a scholarly point of view, but already my thoughts and reflections are turning to religion, faith, beliefs and my own spiritual journey. 

Lately I have been thinking about the number, three. In my faith the number three reminds me of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. As we approach Easter, I am reminded of Jesus, his death and rising from the dead after three days. Also, when Jesus was young, for three days he was lost, later to be found by his parents in the temple.

In gardening three is also a significant number. Most plants are best planted in threes. When we have a perennial garden, it is the third year that the garden really shines. And some may say that it is at least three years before we have a clue as to what we are doing in the garden. But like life, faith, and our spiritual journey, we are never done learning and growing in the garden...

The Hauck Botanic Garden and Civic Garden Center of Cincinnati

There really is no bad time to explore a garden, especially one that includes a wonderful selection of older trees and rare trees. Recently I had the opportunity to tour the grounds of the Civic Garden Center as well as the Hauck Botanic Garden with Mr Bennett Dowling of the Civic Garden Center. One should never pass up the chance to walk about a garden, park or arboretum with someone who works the grounds and knows the history of the place and the plants. To hear someone talk with passion and knowledge about garden spaces is a wonderful treat.

If these grounds could talk they would tell the story of not only the trees and gardens, but the history of the neighborhood in which it is nestled. Once the 'burbs'  then the center of commercial and low income housing, hospitals and now more commercial than residential buildings, the grounds, once called Sooty Acres after the many surrounding coal burning factories is a green oasis; a haven for those who need an escape from the busy roads, the chugging buses, service stations and fast food chains. 

The Civic Garden Center and Hauck Botanic Gardens includes a visitor center with the best garden lending library, meeting rooms, an education center, herb garden, hosta garden, woodland garden, a fabulous green roof, dwarf conifer garden, ancient trees and an organic veggie garden. The Civic Garden Center hosts a series of garden education programs and is instrumental in establishing community gardens throughout Cincinnati.

Most importantly these grounds are a reminder to us that green spaces, quiet spaces, gardens and groves are essential to us all. We cannot live in city cement, roads and buildings alone. We need places of natural beauty. And while it is not the easiest place to access and the neighborhood may make some a bit uneasy at times, this is exactly where such a places belongs. Cities are wonderful places to live, work, learn and play. But the cities that thrive and help their residents live well have balance- they have green spaces.