Gardens in My Neighborhood

Friday was a beautiful night and it was made even better with a birthday dinner, made by my mom, for my brother-in-law. A walk around my condo's grounds and then a quick walk to the party allowed enough time to enjoy a few flowers in bloom.
My condo setting is made of two U-shaped buildings sharing a courtyard garden complete with fountain. The grounds, the courtyard as well as the parking area is enhanced by gardens designed and maintained by a fellow resident. While a few of us 'help' Joan from time-to-time, we all know these are her gardens and she deserves all the credit for the beauty and endless blooms we have to enjoy.

Begonias still in full bloom outsides my parent's condo.

Sunday, we headed out for a walk to a local coffee shop. Only two blocks from our front door we were greated by a Ginkgo in full color. This is, by far, my favorite tree. Seeing its limbs covered in bright yellow leaves set the tone for our October morning walk for hot cider and scones.

Returning home, we stopped just long enough to peak around this garden. The home, located on a corner lot, has gardens wrapping around the yard on two sides. I think it would be safe to say that there is more in bloom in this home's street facing gardens than many of us have in our entire yard. The owner's love of plants and the ability to create continuous bloom in a garden design is apparent.

I imagined how nice it would be to enjoy the remainder of my hot cider while sitting on this bench, surrounded by flowers, butterflies and honey bees.


Grow Where You are Planted

This saying has been tumbling around my thoughts the last week. As a lover of all things garden, I see its message in terms of what gardening can teach me about life. I realize this is not a typical garden blog post. So I appreciate you humoring me and sticking with me to the end.

Life is like a garden, it deserves careful thought and consideration. Think carefully and be smart about your decisions. Like plants, not all decisions are easily changed once they are made. And some choices, even the simple ones, like selecting annuals, can have a big impact on the outcome.

Stick to your guns. Seeking advice from books and garden pros is just plain smart. However, it is your garden, your life. Decide what is best for you and stick to your path. Your design may be a bit different, even eccentric, but it is your design, be proud.

Patience Grasshopper. One of the cardinal rules of good garden design is to plan how your garden will look three years out. The first year of perennial gardening can be brutal. Hours of preparing the soil, pulling sod, removing rocks and planting your design. Then you wait. As an experienced gardener you know most gardens look their best the second and third year. They need time to get their footing before they prosper. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we feel stuck. Perhaps we want to make a major life change but nothing seems to be happening. We are where we are in life for a reason. Do what you can to set the wheels of change in motion and then concentrate on the present, living today and learning. The rest will come when the time is right.

Oh, you thought it would be easy! Creating a successful garden is not easy. Perhaps you were dealt depleted soil, ravenous deer and a budget. Take what you are given and make it great. Don’t become complacent, dismissive or disinterested. If you do, two years from now you will be standing in the same barren landscape. It’s not called the fruits of our labor for nothing.

Are you still there? What is it about getting something down on paper that helps one clear the mind?
Stay tuned. The Garden Life’s next post is about plants. Gasp. Up next: My favorite native shrubs for the Ohio garden.



New Places and Old Familiar Faces

Traveling is a great joy in my life. I enjoy experiencing new places, gardens, people and foods. But I also enjoy the comfort and familiarity of returning to a favorite destination.

Sunday’s trek was the best type of trip for it took us to a new place as well as an old familiar town. The Maple Creek Artisan Center in Neville, Ohio was our destination for the day. Even though the fall color was not as intense as in years past, it was still a beautiful drive. With the Ohio River on our right, a rolling, winding road (the best kind to drive), the crunch of leaves and a bright blue sky above, we were enjoying our Sunday excursion. After touring the Artisan Center, chatting with a few artists and listening to the band play a blend of Bluegrass and Country music we were ready for lunch.

I was not ready to call it a day when my friend suggested we head to Augusta, Kentucky for lunch. It was a splendid idea. I have been visiting Augusta for over 15 years and think of it as an old friend. Known by many as the home of Rosemary Clooney, Augusta is an historic colonial town on the Ohio River sans the flood wall. The best way to experience Augusta is to start on the Ohio side of the river. The Jenny Ann, a ferry boat, will shuttle you across the river for a few dollars.

Augusta is located in what was part of a Revolutionary War grant given to Capt. Phillip Buckner who settled the area in 1796 with 40 Virginian families. Touring the town is a short, casual stroll. Here the theme is relax, let go and breathe. Take in the views of the river from one of the countless benches overlooking the banks. Dive into a bowl of ice-cream as you watch the other tourists stroll by or enjoy a quiet moment in the garden overlooking the river.

Augusta may not be a garden destination, but if you enjoy a Sunday trip, good food and peace and true quiet, Augusta will not fail you. And there are even a few gardens to enjoy.


What makes a garden historic?

Before we can explore and discuss historic gardens, we should take some time to think about what makes a garden historic. I posed this question to some fellow garden enthusiasts. While we have not arrived at a conclusive answer, we did come to a general consensus. And, in the process, we raised even more questions, questions we are still discussing. I have my ideas of what would constitute an historic garden, but I do not want to influence you.

Ask yourself this:
Is a garden historic once it reaches a certain age, let's say 50 years of age? Does the garden have to have been designed by a famous, or well respected garden or landscape designer? If a garden was designed by someone who influenced garden design, but the garden has been altered, is it still historic? Can a garden be historic if it is 50 years old, maintained as the designer intended but that designer is ‘unknown?’

Shhhh. It's Wednesday


The Historic Midwest Garden

Introducing a new department, The Historic Midwest Garden. Currently, The Historic Midwest Garden has its own blog and face book page. Let’s just say I was having a bit too much fun making blogs.

So, to make things easier at my end and to merge two exciting groups of garden enthusiasts, I am merging the two blogs with The Garden Life becoming the main blog site. The Historic Midwest Garden will still have its own face book page. Now that the logistics are covered, let’s talk about historic Midwest gardens!

I hope you join me as I explore historic Midwest gardens and parks and discuss gardeners, landscape designers, authors, explores and heirloom plants. I also envision this as a repository for news and events from historic gardens across the Midwest. If you are associated with such a garden, or want me to consider a garden for this site, please contact me.


A Very Short Garden Jaunt

I love a garden road trip. Collecting and reading books on my destination, closely checking the map for potential side trips and scouring the internet for those little known gems not yet written about in books is quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, I cannot travel as often as I like. So, I decided to take a garden rip a tad closer home.

Introducing, The Very Short Garden Jaunt. Only one rule on this trip, I must go on foot.

The neighborhood where I live is filled with beautiful gardens, large and small. I see them all the time running errands and going on my infrequent (working on that) morning runs. But what I never did was take my time and treat Hyde Park like I would any other garden destination. Silly, isn’t it?
Right off the bat I saw, and took the time to appreciate, a garden a few blocks from my house that is worthy of any garden magazine. Imagine what I will find the next time I step out?