Friday, July 31, 2009

Check It Out: Dakroub Garden

Dakroub GardenThe Dakroubs of Dearborn, MI, have been recognized for their garden by the Detroit News as winners of the Garden Photo Contest. This picture was taken by a City Photographer and will be in Dearborn's calendar next year. They live in a historic Edsel Ford colonial community near Ford World Headquarters. Their house, across from The TPC Golfcourse has an English Cottage garden with a pond, bridge, pergola and a flagstone path. Nadia and Hassan take pride in gardening and love to share the garden with friends and family.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Check It Out: Winning Tomato

Winning TomatoTOMATOMANIA, the world's largest tomato seedling sale, hosted its second annual Tomato Derby.

In the running were Scorospelka, a red Russian heirloom, a stout plant loaded with small to medium-sized fruit; Champion, the largest fruit of the group; Early, a newer hybrid with an oval shape like Roma; 4th of July with lots of perfect small red orbs; Jenny, a hybrid orange cherry that is tall and full of fruit; Matina, a red potato-leafed heirloom variety with small ping pong-sized fruit; Stupice, a smaller red heirloom (from Czeckoslavakia) that produces in clusters all season long, Golden Mama, a yellow Roma-style hybrid; Sprite, a teardrop-shaped red cherry borne on a small wispy plant; and Gardener’s Delight, a large red cherry carried on a large, beefy and very healthy looking plant.

This year’s group of ten gathered at the starting line in Ojai, CA (Zone 10, elevation 1550 ft.), and were put in the dirt in mid-April. All were planted in 18-gallon pulp pots in a blend of planting mix and potting soil, and all watering, feeding and care were provided as consistently as possible.

“After months of bland-tasting, store-bought tomatoes, everyone’s eager for the first home-grown crop of the season,” says Scott Daigre, producer of TOMATOMANIA. “And if you love tomatoes, you want to know which ones are fast growing and great tasting, which is what the annual derby is all about.”

The winner of the Tomato Derby? Stupice (shown in front in the yellow bowl). This Czech variety, which was a top-three finisher in TOMATOMANIA’s 2008 East Coast Derby, is always mentioned in lists of early varieties. Beyond its speed, this heirloom favorite is as reliable in high heat areas as it is in more temperate northern or coastal microclimates. Bearing its fruit in clusters, these round red tomatoes taste great and continue to produce throughout the season on sturdy potato-leafed plants.

Do It: Garden of Eden Ball

With the opening of new gardens and facilities at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, what better theme for the 2009 Garden of Eden Ball than “Sunrise: A New Day Dawns at the Garden.”

The 28th annual event, the Garden’s largest benefit, will be held Saturday evening, September 26 on the Great Lawn in a large tented ballroom surrounded by several gigantic bronze sculptures by British artist Henry Moore on display in the current exhibition, Moore in America. Event designers Kathy Rainer and Tricky Wolfes of Parties To Die For will transform the tent into a blaze of orange, yellow and pink evoking a brilliant Atlanta sunrise.

In announcing the ball’s theme, event chairs Jim and Susan Spratt said the choice salutes the Garden’s expansion, the first phase of which opened this spring with the new Hardin Visitor Center, SAGE Parking Facility and Southern Seasons Garden. The expansion is funded by a New Seasons Capital Campaign that has raised more than $45 million under the leadership of Jane and Dameron Black, this year’s honorary ball chairs.

The event kicks off at 7 p.m. with cocktails in the Levy Parterre, followed by a three-course dinner under the tent presented by A Legendary Event and dancing to the melodies of Rupert’s Orchestra.

Drawing more than 450 guests annually, the Garden of Eden Ball supports the Garden’s mission to develop and maintain plant collections for display, education, conservation and enjoyment. For ticket information, contact Jennifer Wyrick at 404-591-1575 or

Do It: Phipp's Farmer's Market

Phipp's Farmer's MarketNow through October 28th, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is pleased to present its first-ever farmers market, held every Wednesday from 2:30-6:30 pm, through October 28th. Located on Phipps' historic lawn, Farmers at Phipps will feature 20 vendors of local, certified organic and Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) products. The farmers will sell a variety of products including vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, bread, seedlings, honey, cut flowers, soap and perennials.

In conjunction with PASA's (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" program, an initiative that encourages the purchase of local produce, Phipps wants to inspire people to bring more natural, organic items into their homes. "PASA proudly supports regional farmers' markets, such as Phipps'. These community markets are where farmers and consumers can connect and discuss the most important of all 'green' issues: local food," says PASA's Western Regional Director, Greg Boulos.

Phipps' proximity to local universities and businesses, easy access to downtown and plentiful parking offer patrons a convenient opportunity to buy fresh, local, organic and Certified Naturally Grown farm products. Phipps' inaugral farmers market includes, among many others, representatives from Northwest Pennsylvania Growers Co-op, Clarion River Organics, Mildred's Daughters Urban Farm, Blackberry Meadows Farm and Wolf Lake Farms for a fair that will provide a wholesome shopping experience.

Do It: San Diego Orchid Fair

OrchidThe splendidly colorful and intriguing San Diego International Orchid Fair will again be hosted by Quail Botanical Gardens amidst the natural horticultural setting October 2, 3 and 4, 2009. Visitors can expect to see thousands of species and hybrids, exhibits, sales, as well as lectures and official American Orchid Society (AOS) judging and ribbon judging. This is the once-a-year orchid event held in Southern California with a focus on international vendors such as those from Japan, Brazil, and other countries. General admission fees apply and are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and active military and $6 for children ages 3-12. Children age 2 and under are free. Membership admission cost is free. $2 discount coupons are available at the Quail Botanical Gardens web site.

Photo by: Loren Batchman

Do It: Chile Pepper Fiesta

Chile Pepper FiestaNew York City’s spiciest autumn event returns to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, celebrating the chile pepper and its uses in cultures around the world with performances and culinary activities for the whole family to enjoy! On Saturday, October 3, 2009, from noon to 6 p.m., the Garden presents a diverse homage to the chile pepper featuring the joyful African pop mix of Nepo Soteri & Asante; the infectious blend of North Indian Bhangra and brass funk by Red Baraat; and the return of Lost Bayou Ramblers, vanguards of the Cajun musical tradition who have thrilled thousands with their repertoire of early accordion dancehall tunes, Cajun swing, and original numbers. Throughout the day, MCs Robbins & Ringold fire up audiences with fire eating, fire juggling, and other daring deeds of flame.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kid Stuff: Book Award Winners

Book Award WinnersThree children's books received the 2009 "Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children's Literature Award" from Junior Master Gardeners on July 24 at a ceremony held during the American Horticultural Society's 2009 National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, hosted by the Cleveland Botanical Garden in Ohio. This award program recognizes children's books that effectively promote an appreciation for gardening, plants, and the environment.

This year's winners, selected from books published in 2008, are:

The Apple-Pip Princes by Jane Ray (Candlewick Press)
Big Yellow Sunflower by Frances Barry (Candlewick Press)
Flip, Float, Fly – Seeds on the Move by JoAnne Early Macken and illustrated by Pam Paparone (Holiday House)

“This collection of plant-themed picture books are wonderfully engaging, novel and will draw in a wide audience of young readers,” says Randy Seagraves, national curriculum coordinator for the National Junior Master Gardeners Program, which jointly administers the award program with the American Horticultural Society. “From unfolding a larger-than-life sunflower, to following seeds' travels in poetry, to becoming lost in a barren kingdom while it is transformed by the gift of a single precious seed, these diverse titles exemplify excellence in children's literature,” he adds.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Check It Out: The Late Show

Ken DruseThe Late Show Gardens, a 3-day festival in Sonoma, CA, kicks off its first annual event on September 18th. Top Bay Area garden designers will create garden vignettes, and speakers like Ken Druse (at left) will take on the full range of garden topics. Ken's talk, "Garden Art May be the Best Revenge", takes place Sunday, September 20, at 1 p.m. On the whole, the show will address climate change and drought more directly than a garden show has done before. What's more, this open-air festival blows the walls off convention center doldrums, as The Late Show Gardens will be held at Cornerstone.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On The Road: Burpee

BurpeeFrom Jenny Andrews at OFA: "The Burpee display of veggies had a great variety, and now many of them come in biodegradable containers—Ball and Burpee have been working diligently for years to find alternative materials for nursery pots since the plastic ones typically wind up in the landfill. And now they have two types, one that can be planted straight into the ground and disappear as the plant roots grow; the other is for containing the plant during transportation, but is equally degradable."

On The Road: Ball Horticulture Company

Chocolate Splash’ From Jenny Andrews at OFA: "On hand to give me the grand tour of Ball Horticultural Company’s display were Jessie Atchison and Layci Gragnani. Some of my favorite finds were coleus ‘Chocolate Splash’ [far left], ‘Redhead’ and ‘Henna’ (the last twGomphrena+Fireworkso of which have been amazing in my own garden), a spectacular ornamental millet called ‘Jade Princess’, two petunias which combine mauvy pink and lime green named ‘Sophistica Lime Bicolor’ and ‘Sophistica Antique Shades’, a line of coleus called Versa that go from sun to shade, Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ [left], and Euphorbia ‘Breathless Blush’. I just planted some of the euphorbia in my home garden a month or so ago and I’m in love with it (thank you Ball for the trial plants!)."

On The Road: more from Proven Winners

towering papyrus called King TutFrom Jenny Andrews at OFA: "There were also hot new colors of Intensia phlox, Superbells callibrachoa, lobelias, Superbena verbenas, dwarf butterfly bush and pink Hydrangea arborescens‘Oh So Easy’ roses, plus Diascia ‘Flirtation Orange’, Nierembergia ‘Augusta Blue Skies’, and a towering papyrus called ‘King Tut’ [far left] which also proved itself useful for flower arranging.

Another plant of note was the first pink Hydrangea arborescens, called ‘Invincibelle Spirit’, the sales of which will support breast cancer awareness. And a new program called Pop, Drop & Grow [above], hailed as “the 30-second planter,” offering gardeners ready-made plant combos to slip easily into containers for instant gratification (and the liners are biodegradable)."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Check It Out: Wine Country Gardens

Wine Country GardensWriter Marguerite Thomas recently sent me some photos of winery gardens she visited in Monterey, CA. She explored Chateau Julien, which is known particularly for its rose garden.
Joyce Vineyards has a tiny tasting room in the center of Carmel Valley Village, with a relaxing patio filled with fountains and container plants. Bernardus is a beautiful and lavishly landscaped estate with diverse plants including roses.

Speaking of roses, Marguerite writes: "'Days of wine and roses' is more than just a poetic refrain. Generations of winemakers across the globe--from M├ędoc to Monterey, from Sicily to Sonoma—have planted rose bushes at the head of rows of vines. Why? Although the result can be stunning, beauty actually has little to do with it. Instead, since roses and vines are susceptible to the same diseases, the roses serve as the floral equivalent to the canary in the mine: if they show signs of trouble vineyard workers are alerted to the possibility mildew or other problems in the vines."

On The Road: Proven Winners

Lobularia Snow PrincessJenny Andrews reports from the OFA Short Course in Dayton, Ohio: "Danielle Ernest, John Gados and Jane Beggs-Joles walked Petunia Pretty Much Picassome through the newest creations from Proven Winners, including Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’, a super-vigorous alyssum that forms a cloud of tiny white blooms which John calls their big “ta-daah” plant for this year [see photo at far left], and the dramatic Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ [near left] with deep pink centers and bright green edges. The petunia coloring is a dramatic first, and it makes an amazing mound of mid-sized flowers. Both the alyssum and petunia were filling their containers and spilling over the edges in a spectacular display. There was a constant buzz of activity around these plants."

On The Road: Columbus, Ohio

Jenny AndrewsJenny Andrews reporting from Ohio: "My annual sojourn to Columbus, Ohio, to stalk the aisles of the trade show at the Ohio Floriculture Association’s Short Course once again was a plant geek’s dream, and a chance to catch up with friends in the business of producing amazing garden plants. I made the rounds with senior advertising manager of Garden Design Meshele Conley and coming up over the next few days are just a few of the many highlights."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Check It Out: Winning Containers

Winning ContainersOn Saturday, June 27th Longhouse Reserve in East Hampton, NY, welcomed garden lovers to view Planters: ON & OFF the Ground - An Invitational Garden Container Exhibition. Top landscape designers, artists, designers and garden professionals participated in the exhibition by creating a unique garden container which was judged and then displayed at LongHouse. P. Allen Smith, award-winning garden designer and one of America’s most recognized and respected garden experts graciously agreed to weigh in with his critique and award blue ribbons. See the entries including the winners here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Check It Out: National Parks on T.V.

THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEAYou love gardens. Aaaaaaand you love parks. Can't love one without the other. We are therefore pleased to announce that PBS will debut the new Ken Burns documentary series, THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA, Sunday, September 27-Friday, October 2, 2009.

The 12-hour, six-part documentary series, directed by Burns and co-produced with his longtime colleague, Dayton Duncan, who also wrote the script, is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. As such, it follows in the tradition of Burns’s exploration of other American inventions, such as baseball and jazz.

Filmed over the course of more than six years in some of nature’s most spectacular locales — from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska — the documentary is nonetheless a story of people from every conceivable background: rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so, reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Read It! Fragrant Designs

Fragrant Designs BookBrooklyn Botanic Garden announces the release of its newest All-Region Guide, Fragrant Designs, edited by Beth Hanson. The book is available here. The sense of smell is a powerful force that triggers memories and emotions in a flash. In the plant world, scent plays a crucial role as it facilitates interactions between flowers and their pollinators and protects plants against attacks from predators. Fragrant Designs captures the power of scent in the garden, showing how gardeners can harness fragrance to create a healthy, beautiful garden environment that’s a sensory delight for human visitors and a great place for insect pollinators like butterflies and bees.

What’s Inside
• Designs for seven gorgeous scented gardens, with illustrations and planning guides
• Portraits of more than 100 fragrant annuals, perennials, vines, and shrubs
• An exploration of the science of scent and the connections between flowers and their pollinators
• Great ideas for handsome aromatic containers
• Practical tips for planning, planting, and cultivating

Issue Preview: Green Awards

fragile Sonoran desert landscapeA Southwestern garden by Steve Martino is featured among the residential award winners in our Sept/Oct 2009 issue. "This project addresses the difficult conflict of contemporary expectations in an environment whose foundation is the fragile Sonoran desert landscape," says Martino. "Rather than denying the desert, the garden strives to celebrate it. The use of native plants has created a habitat that directly links the garden to the ecological processes of the region. Non-native trees, plants and lawn have been removed and replaced with natives. A row of salvaged desert trees were located between the house and the street which have transformed the house from being an object to becoming a place. The project benefits from rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, regional and native plant material use, as well as porous paving. Most importantly, in an area where perfectly fine homes are torn down and replaced with large new homes, these owners chose to 'recycle' and remodel their existing house. The project illustrates that the new design can be artful as well as healing and nurturing to the environment."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Check It Out: Amazing Photo Archive

Amazing Photo Archive Fall in love with post-war gardens all over again. Go to the Huntington's web site and discover--or rediscover--the garden photos of Maynard L. Parker a Los Angeles–based architectural and garden photographer who shot for many of the nation’s premiere home design publications, becoming famous for his contributions to House Beautiful. At left is a photo of the Hillsborough, CA, outdoor living space at the Michaelson residence designed by Thomas Church. The archive is loaded with images you'll want to spedn hours poring through.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

On The Road With Jenny and Jon

On The Road With Jenny and JonOur features editor Jenny Andrews and staff photographer Jon Whittle have finally wrapped up their seemingly endless Toronto trip. Parting words from Jenny: "We went to the top of the CN Tower--a landmark in Toronto that you can see for miles (we've been using it as a directional tool too--when in doubt of how to get back to the hotel, head for the tower!). From there Jon was able to shoot Ht0 Park from overhead, and we were able to see several other public spaces that we've been enjoying at ground level, including the Music Garden. When in Toronto, going up the CN Tower to get a view of the city is a MUST."

On The Road: Shim-Sutcliffe Garden

Shim-Sutcliffe GardenFrom Jenny Andres on the road in Toronto: "We also shot a garden by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, which continued the next morning. A series of terraces with seating and dining transitions to a pool and a water feature, then downhill through a grove of trees underplanted with swaths of a wide variety of plants. At the base of the hill is another pool and a guesthouse. The next morning this was such a peaceful place to walk and explore and shoot."

On The Road: Rosenberg Garden

Rosenberg GardenFrom Jenny Andrews, on the road in Toronto: "We drove to Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto, in the wee hours of the morning to photograph a very modern garden designed by landscape architect Janet Rosenberg, who also designed Ht0 Park on the lakefront that we visited earlier in the week. The garden begins at the front of the house, then continues in the back, where the outdoor living spaces stairstep down a hill toward a wilderness area (while we were there, bullfrogs bellowed from the stream below, a blue heron flew overhead, and a rabbit hopped across the middle of the garden, briefly interrupting the shoot). Tres chic furniture in pale aqua and white, an infinity edge pool, and a lively mix of plants."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Check It Out: Documentation of Oudolf/van der Kloet Design

New York Botanical Garden The new Seasonal Walk Chronicles website is an online first. The project is designed to track a conceptual landscape design as it matures and evolves over a full growing season. It revolves around a naturalistic, four-season garden design at the New York Botanical Garden by renowned Dutch designers Piet Oudolf and Jacqueline van der Kloet. Their new landscaping of The Garden's high-profile Seasonal Walk features sophisticated plant mixes and artistic interplay of form and color. Many are referring to the design as “pure genius.” The website is a destination and a teaching tool, featuring how-to sections detailing the designers' innovative planting techniques and their stellar plant combinations. It is designed for repeat viewing, with new chronicles and images added approximately every two weeks. Documenting the site are award-winning gardening professionals, writer Tovah Martin and photographer Rob Cardillo. Martin captures the plant and design interplay via evocative on-the-scene reports. Her chronicles also incorporate design observations from the two designers and hands-on notes from the New York Botanical Garden’s expert company of gardeners. Cardillo contributes lush images that visually documents the sophisticated design as it unfolds, including occasional unexpected contributions from Mother Nature.

On The Road: Harris Garden

Harris GardenFrom Jenny Andrews on the road in Toronto: "We photographed the garden of writer/editor/gardener extraordinaire Marjorie Harris. I was in plant geek heaven! On a very narrow city lot she has packed hundreds, maybe even thousands of cool plant specimens, deftly weaving together colors and textures. An addition designed by PLANT Architects for the Victorian home gives Marjorie a perfect spot for viewing the garden. An indoor dining area converts into an open-air space by pulling back a huge picture window and creating a screened-in porch; with the touch of a button even the screen rolls up and out of the way. On Friday evening Marjorie used this space to treat us to a fabulous,
organic curry dinner. Joining us were several of her gardening friends, including furniture designer Tom Deacon, whose garden out in the nearby countryside we also have our eye on. And neighbors Geoffrey and Susan Dyer, who were leaving the next day to visit Hidcote in England."
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