Spring in the Park

I do not know if it was my imagination but the gardens were enveloped in a wonderful scent. Was it the magnolia flowers and the warming earth? It was intoxicating. I breathed deeper and deeper, trying to inhale the warmth and richness of spring deep into my body to cast out the beige feeling that had taken over. A Year in the Park...


Clubbing it, Garden Style!

This landless gardener knows how to get down. When I want to hang with my peeps, see what’s fresh and what’s fly I go clubbing!

Get down? The jig is up. I may be a bit behind the times with some things, but one thing this cool cat is on top of is hitting the garden club scene. All gardeners know the garden club circuit is a must and heck of a lot of fun. It is the most logical way for us to socialize without having to shelve our garden life for a night out. We are expected to chat about gardens and plants. It’s a gardener’s dream; mandatory garden conversation.


Spring in Bloom

Yes, it's another post of spring in bloom. Can you blame me? After months of cold and grey, it is so nice to see color. Before we know it, spring will leap right into the hot, humid days of summer, at least it will here in Cincinnati. So I relish in these early spring days when the ground smells rich and moist, when the birds are singing their hearts out and everything is flush with color.

And the color of spring thus far seems to be yellow.

I always make my way down the street to this water garden. I love it for two reasons. It is so close that I can walk there in a minute from my backdoor. Isn't that a treat? Also, what you cannot tell from these pictures is the garden is on the side yard, facing the street. The beautiful house, a Hyde Park beauty, sits atop a hill and I am pretty sure the owners cannot see the water feature from their house. It would appear they built this garden for the love of water gardens and to create a bit of beauty for us to enjoy as we pass by.

This is a favorite destination for Jack, my three-year old nephew, when he visits grandma and grandpa who live across the street from me.

The skies were turning grey and rumbles of thunder were intensifying. A sane person would head home but I just had to see what was around the corner. So glad I did! Magnolias in bloom- what could be better? After taking a few pictures common sense kicked in and I decided to make my way back home.

The gardens surrounding the condos where I live are beautifully planted and maintained by a resident. This nodding beauty is just outside my door on the way to the courtyard garden.


A Very Short Garden Jaunt

With the sun on my back, a warm breeze on my face and spring bulbs adding color to the landscape, I knew the end of winter was in sight and that it’s time to bring back the column, A Very Short Garden Jaunt.
What we need to do is look back at these pictures in the fall to remind us why we add one more task to the garden to-do list. I remember how the end of summer left me a bit worn out, and by the time fall made its entrance I wanted to get things tidied up and in order before the snow began to fly. But it only takes one daffodil, one crocus or snowdrop peaking up from the snow to remind us that planting spring bulbs in the fall will reward us ten-fold next spring.

Spring is not quite here, officially that is. I am sure we will have another week of cold and snow. Eager to get out in the gardens we will wonder if spring will ever arrive. Spring bulbs are bright, colorful reminders that while Mother Nature may have a few last tastes of late winter for us, spring is just a moment away! 


Still a Few Secret Gardens Left

I love that in a smaller city like Cincinnati I can still find new gardens- gardens that are still relatively unknown by others in town. When I tell my friends about my discoveries it is like sharing a garden secret. One such place is Rowe Arboretum in the Village of Indian Hill.

Rowe Arboretum was started by Stanley M. Rowe, Sr. and his wife Dorothy in 1926. With many acres resting atop a ridge line, the Rowes, particularly Dorothy, saw an opportunity to transform the landscape by planting trees. Over the years, the ridge that was once grazing and farmland, took on a new life.

Their first planting consisted of a few thousand seedlings from the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Forestry. Red Oaks, the European Larch, White Pines, and Scotch Pines were among the first trees to call the Rowe’s ridge home. I read that the Rowes accumulated four to five thousand different types of trees and shrubs.

Today, the arboretum is about 9 acres and the collection focuses on conifers. Here you see just a sampling of the collection. To give you a true feeling of what the arboretum has to offer I will return many times and share my visits, here, with you.


Must Read! Far Out Flora

You know what it is like to try to get everything just right in your garden. With digging, planting, planning, weeding, mulching, dividing, propagating—whew, gardening can be a lot of work. But more than that, and the reason why we were tempted to put trowel to earth in the first place, gardening is just plain fun!

There is not a doubt in my mind that Megan and Matti, authors of Far Out Flora, made having fun a priority with their gardens. Browse through their posts and you will know what I mean. Their humor and excitement about their plants and the garden trips they take simply ooze fun in the garden.

Don’t think for a second that their humor and lighthearted nature translates to simple or inexperienced garden writing and photography. On the contrary, this gardening duo has mastered the ability to create a garden blog that showcases their spectacular garden and plant collection while engaging and inspiring their readers. No small accomplishment.

Transplants from Wisconsin, Megan and Matti now call San Francisco home. These self-described plant nerds have created a garden oasis in their small yard. An amazing collection of succulents, bromeliads, carnivores and other “weirdo” plants (their word, not mine!) call their backyard home. I simply love the way they transformed what was a cookie-cutter space into something truly lovely with countless pots, creative containers and an obvious inability to stop collecting (we have all been there!).

As if their backyard does not give us enough to feast our eyes on and get our creative juices flowing, Far Out Flora takes us on trips to wonderful places such as Annie’s Annuals, Huntington Botanical Gardens and some off-the-beaten-path adventures only locals would know about, such as Albany Bulb. If their past trips are any indication of how much fun they have, sign me up for all future trips!
See more Best Gardening Blogs 2011 winners at Horticulture: The Art and Science of Smart Gardening. 


This Teasing has to Stop

Friday morning greeted Cincinnati with frozen roads, many accidents and snow covering our lawns and gardens. If it were December or January I would have loved the sight of the fresh, white snow. But it is March and Mother Nature has been teasing us with the promise of spring for long enough.

A few warmer days with clear skies had us feeling fresh and alive. And just as we were ready to plant our pansies and clean out last season's garden pots, the clouds rolled in, the winds kicked up and the snow was falling. Our dream of spring was dashed.

Walking around the park, my neighborhood and Spring Grove I noticed how the trees, especially the Magnolias, are heavy with flower buds. Daffodils are emerging, swollen with yellow flowers. The spring landscape is ready to make its entrance, patiently waiting for Mother Nature to drop the curtain on winter.

Today I am feeling more hopeful that spring will grace the stage; the first act of the new garden season. The sky was rather clear and bright during my morning run, the grass was greening up nicely and even the song of the Robins seemed cheerier. Joggers said hello and morning with a smile and there was a general feeling of promise that today was the beginning of spring.


When all else fails, head inside.

We are very fortunate here in Cincinnati. When the weather is cold, rainy and just blahhh (AKA beige) outside we can escape to the Krohn Conservatory and the Cincinnati Art Museum for free. Sometimes I forget about this luxury, being able to pop into the museum to see a new exhibit, browse through few galleries and then lunch in the cafe with a view of the courtyard garden. My only splurge is the lunch.

When I travel, more often than not there is a fee for the museums and conservatories, which I am happy to pay. I always come home with a renewed appreciation of the little perks of the Queen City.

I wanted to share these photos from the Krohn Conservatory earlier. Note the snow. Unfortunately I downloaded the images to the wrong folder and just now found them.


My Next Pick for Horticulture Magazine's Best Gardening Blogs 2011

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have never grown vegetables. I am waiting for the review committee to revoke my Master Gardener standing because of this. In my mind I had pictures of ugly rows of crops, little visual interest and a lot of hard work. I learned to garden in the shade, so my education and research went in a direction far from vegetables. But things started to change when I stumbled upon Skippy’s Vegetable Garden blog.

I don’t know if it was seeing photographs of the tender new shoots or reading some of the recipes on the blog, but either way, I was hooked! As I was impatiently waiting for signs of spring, Skippy’s Vegetable Garden was delivering lovely posts and photos about this season’s young plants and successes in the garden from years past.

Kathy Martin, the author of Skippy’s Vegetable Garden, shares the garden with her Portuguese water dog, Skippy. Her way of looking at a vegetable garden is already changing my view. She writes,

“I have to admit that I garden mostly because I think vegetable gardens are beautiful. I love rows of seedlings, patchworks of greens, baskets of bright vegetables. I love the way gardens change with the seasons. My camera is my most important gardening tool.”

Kathy does not have the luxury of space, which will surprise you when you see the variety of crops she grows and her breadth of knowledge. In her small 250-square-foot home garden and recently acquired community garden plot, she learned the art and science of vegetable gardening and inspiring others, all while making healthy, yummy treats with her own produce.

This garden blog will inspire a novice to dig in and start a vegetable garden, knowing a small one can produce much rewards. Kathy’s wealth of experience provides valuable advice and insights sure to benefit the most experienced grower, too.

Many gardeners will agree that we learn the most by our own experiences and the experiences of others. Kathy’s garden reviews beginning January 2, 2011 read like a gardener’s record journal and are critical looks at what worked, what didn’t work and plans for this year.

After reading Skippy’s Vegetable Garden, I am thinking a plot in a community garden is in my future!