Huntington Gardens at Schiller Park in German Village
By Teresa Woodard
Looking for a (safe) escape this Labor Day weekend? Consider a trip to historic German Village just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio to tour Huntington Gardens of Schiller Park. The tree-lined brick promenade is filled with three 100-foot perennial beds now in late-summer glory! And don’t forget to look up . . . the park is host to the “Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature and Culture, ” an exhibit of 19 high-wire sculptures by artist Jerry Jotka Kedziora.
According to Kedziora, “Art must get out of museums and reach the people.” Born in 1947, Kedziora is a sculptor, painter, designer and teacher from Poland. He has installed his gravity-defying sculptures in public spaces around the world including Abu Dhabi, Miami, Krakow and Vienna. Check out this video of his work.
While the 23-acre Schiller Park was founded in the late 1800s, the Huntington Gardens were only added in 1993 as part of a park revitalization. The promenade leads from the park’s west entrance to the base of the statue of German poet Frederick Von Schiller. The statue was a gift to the park and the citizens of Columbus in 1891 from German-born residents of the neighborhood. Granite stones inscribed with quotes from Schiller’s literacy works line the walkway.
Today, the gardens are maintained by a dedicated team of volunteers and feature a wonderful selection of perennials.
So often you hear books are a thing of the past, but there is no sign of that in my home. Winter – quiescent garden, staying indoors, wearing soft sweaters – sparks the need to settle into a good book while holding a cup of tea.
Books are not only for the gathering of information. They open a window into someone else’s life and passion. I find that I am drawn to those books that not only tell me about a subject, but also introduce me to or reacquaint me with a friend who happens to be the author.
What I am reading, perusing and enjoying this week:
Orchid Modern: Living and Designing with the World’s Most Elegant Houseplants by Marc Hachadourian offers a broad, yet concise overview of the addictive world of orchids. Beginner to intermediate orchid enthusiasts will find what they need to grow and create an orchid collection. The orchid calendar is the best synopsis I have seen for what needs to happen when with your orchids. The Orchid Projects chapter was a pleasant surprise. It made me think about what I could create with my orchids and the materials I have on hand. Soon I will have an orchid kokedama – the Japanese art of growing plants in moss covered balls – in my living room. Finally, there is a short encyclopedia of species and hybrids that are available and tend to be easier to grow which is followed by a resource list.
I have been growing orchids since 1980. Can’t call myself an expert – there are about 25,000 orchid species and countless hybrids and cultivars, but I’ve grown a few hundred of these beautiful plants. If someone asked me for a book recommendation on orchids, this book is in the top three for accessibility, attractiveness and personality.
Wild about Weeds: Garden Design with Rebel Plants by Jack Wallington proposes a different way to look at the plants that some consider to be weeds or too aggressive to allow into the well-mannered garden. Wallington’s explanation of why plants can become weeds is on target. Plants that have been transplanted to new places may not have the competition that keeps them in check, and then there is that great garden soil that the gardener has worked so hard to improve. Wallington stresses that what may be weedy in one location can be invasive in another, so check local noxious weed and invasive plant lists before you bring a potential problem into your garden. Most of the book is taken up with plant descriptions and where each species works best within a design framework: sunny gardens, dry and poor soils; shade, containers and more.
Overall this is an attractive book and it does make you consider that one person’s weed may be another person’s favorite plant. I have grown many of the plants listed, but there is one that I could never recommend to anyone, anywhere. (There is always one, isn’t there?). Even with all of the cautions in the book, giant hogweed – Heracleum mantegazzianum – should be avoided. It’s not worth finding out that you are indeed sensitive to the furanocoumarins contained in the plant.
Succulents: choosing, growing and caring for cactuses and other succulents by John Bagnasco and Bob Reidmuller. Succulents have been hot for years and their allure shows no sign of diminishing. When I first started caring for these architectural plants, most references were primarily monographs on different genera or books with mostly black and white pictures – we are very spoiled with the access we now have to good pictures. The introduction covers the usual cultural information – liberally salted with beautiful pictures – that we have been trained to expect in our plant books. I did find a cool tip for watering: check out page 83 for a low-tech hack for determining soil moisture.
The plant encyclopedia portion covers a wide variety of succulents and the plant information is concise for growing inside, and occasionally, for outside. John Bagnasco lives in San Diego and can grow many of these succulents outside. Please ignore the note of envy you may have picked up there. My only small complaint is that one of my favorite genera – Gasteria – was left out. But I’m sure that the authors had a tough time trying to decide what to leave out of the book.
Now I need to stop writing and continue reading in preparation for my next post of winter reading.
This year I resolve to give up vegetable gardening.
Too often I’ve been victimized by foolish, optimistic voices (usually the loudest and most persistent is in my head). But no more.
This chorus promises that growing your own food is rewarding. You can: try varieties unavailable at the supermarket, harvest at peak flavor, save money, share with friends, take pride in doing it yourself, and preserve the surplus to savor summer in bleak January.
While I have had success in one and sometimes all these areas, it’s only because the plants grew to harvest stage. Hardly a given.
Misconceptions about the ease of productivity are fueled in part by our quest to become more proficient gardeners. We turn to books, fact sheets, websites and articles. As with other how-to manuals and user guides, the ideal world of the information rarely matches the messy reality of withering foliage and moldy spots. “What caused this?” we cry, but to no avail.
That’s because gardening sources usually divide various aspects of our delightful addiction into specific sections: Water, Light, Temperature, Weeds, Pests, Pruning, and so forth. Such broad topics are further divided into specific issues, topped with bold-type subheads: Prune for More Bloom, Fertilizing Containers, … . Peppered throughout are bits of jargon such as bones, texture and evenly moist.
We learn about a host of insect, animal, bacterial, fungicidal and even alien pests in tidy, bulleted lists under subheads in smaller bold type.
It’s as if all these things are independent agents acting alone.
Nature behaves differently. Nature conspires against us with diverse enemies acting in concert, not neatly defined issues treated rationally in a book or article. How else to explain those withering leaves and moldy spots when you followed the bulleted how-to list to a T?
I have ignored this conspiracy theory for the last time.
On August 20, 2019, I tallied a range of woes and a couple successes:
No leaves on the sweet potatoes; tomatoes eaten off, one plant pushed over; fresh sowings of basil, kale, cosmos failed to sprout due to heat and drought.
Garlic, a runaway success, unlike 2018 when monsoons rains dissolved most heads, leaving barely enough “seed” for a new crop.
Brussels sprouts have lacy foliage due to countless generations of cabbage worms.
The asparagus died out.
Turnip greens riddled with flea beetle holes and leathery due to scorching weather.
The last straw — the groundhog ate off the zinnias, leaving nearly leafless stumps.
Unlike Scarlett O’Hara, who confronted a similar scene of dismal ruin, I headed to the farmers market for fresh, local produce and hoped for better things to come.
That’s because Ohio gardening sources say cooler and moister weather usually returns in September. It didn’t turn cooler and moister for weeks. The parched brussels sprouts became bonsais, complete with miniature cabbage heads.
Remarkably leaves emerged for the second (or third?) time on the sweet potatoes, sufficient to produce a few fist-sized tubers. Some were pocked by a combo of subhead issues concerning pests and soil.
Two of the scraggly tomato plants (worthy of Charlie Brown’s garden) were imbued with survival instincts rivaling cockroaches. These managed to produce a handful of cherry tomatoes before frost. Scant inspiration for planting toms again.
Cooler-moister arrived just in time to induce planting of the choicest garlic cloves for harvest next summer, and jump-start the turnips into lush, spot-free top growth. By then frost had forced the flea beetles to scurry for winter digs.
Come mid-February, when days grow longer, the leaves should resume growth, assuming my paltry efforts to protect with floating row cover shields them from harsh winds and rapid temperature swings. (I don’t think rollercoaster temperatures are found under any chapter subheads, but it’s a fact of Midwest gardening life.)
Some will argue that turnip greens and garlic make me a vegetable gardener in 2020, thus breaking my resolution. Technically though, these were planted in 2019, well ahead of the resolution-making season.
OK! I’m waffling as usual. Tomatoes have been grown by my family for generations. Can I halt such a tradition for a silly snit on a blazing August afternoon?
Special trees, like dogwoods, take root in your heart
By Michael Leach
The affair started with the first glance and continues almost a half century later. As with similar affairs, it’s unrequited love. The object of my affection couldn’t care less and never deigns to notice me. Yet enchantment grows and reaches fever pitch for about a fortnight each spring.
My aloof horticultural love in this case is the pink dogwood tree, Cornus florida f. rubra. I encountered pink dogwoods when taking a shortcut to church through an old cemetery near my apartment in the small southern Ohio city of Portsmouth. This was during my cub reporter days. Jaw-dropping clouds of cotton candy tethered daintily to slender black trunks were scattered across the sward of Irish green grass.
had to have one. I eventually bought two — as Mother’s Day gifts that I planted
at the home place in suburban Columbus. Mother, who had planted two white ones
in the yard, was delighted.
journalistic career took me from Portsmouth to Kentucky, Florida and finally
back to Columbus 30 years ago. I moved into the home place. Every spring since
then, I’ve had my own little pink cloud to look at. Sitting in an old wicker
rocker on the sunporch makes a comfortable, all-weather viewing spot.
of the pinks was cut down almost four years ago, new growth couldn’t keep up
with the dying branches. The second tree was stingy with flowers this spring,
after being a small cloud of pink in previous seasons. Perhaps this is only a
hiccup. Mother’s little white trees slowly declined and were cut down about 20
years ago. This is not great territory for dogwoods.
Portsmouth’s Greenlawn Cemetery launched a memorial pink dogwood plan in the
1990s. Even in that much friendlier clime, they aren’t known for
longevity. However, the ones that do live decades become spectacles. At the
base of many trees are small white marble markers with the names of special
people. Their horticultural legacy is a tree with burgundy foliage in fall, a
silhouette worthy of a Japanese print in winter, and those pink clouds every
recent years of semi-retirement there’s been time to head south to Portsmouth
for a view of the dogwoods. Along U.S. 23 are what could pass for tufts of
clouds that got too close to the branches of the chartreuse wooded hills. They
are groves of dainty white dogwoods, often accented with redbuds. It’s a 3-D
The allure and excitement never dims. Each spring I thank God for granting me another view of pink clouds. And each time I pass the little tree at the end of the sidewalk, I remember Mother.
Buds are nature’s promise that spring is coming — eventually. Pussy willow catkins and plump star magnolia buds practically shout spring long before they bloom.
Butif you’re like me, waiting for spring seems interminable. Instead of mopingabout gloomy winter, take matters into your own hands and create a glimpse ofearly spring in the comfort of home. Sometimes I have forsythia andold-fashioned flowering quince from the garden to grace my table well beforethe Super Bowl.
How?A big greenhouse? Magic? Nope. I “force” the buds into opening. Besides the liftsuch eye candy provides, snipping a few branches is an excuse to get into thegarden and do something.
Forcing is a simple process. For quickest results, let nature do some of the work. The later in winter you make cuts, the shorter the wait. I’m so impatient, the first cuts come just after New Year’s Day, preferably when temperatures are in the 40s or better 50s. This gets the juices going a bit. Depending what part of the Midwest you call home and local weather conditions, you may already have the earliest of flowering shrubs blooming their heads off. In that case, experiment with some of those that open later in spring.
Bringthe stems indoors, dip the cut ends into powdered alum to enhance water uptake,place them in a suitably sized container, and fill it with water. I leave mycuttings in the cool, dimly lit cellar for a couple of weeks until buds swelland hints of color appear. (I’ve also had success simply putting the cut stemsin a coolish bedroom.) This transition reduces chances of buds blasting intoshabby blobs, not blooms.
Thenit’s off to the living quarters for the grand opening. Blossoms can last for aweek or so, depending on the type of plant. Star magnolias are the day liliesof woodies, but quince sometimes goes nearly two weeks. Such stems look fine ina container by themselves, or they’ll ad’d an artisan touch to one of thosebargain-priced clusters of florist flowers or pots of forced spring bulbs.
Isuppose later flowering beauties, such as lilac and crabapple, can be forced.But I never have time to try. Long before getting around to these, nature providesbunches of daffodils, sprigs of hyacinths and of course forsythia and quince inthe garden. By then the grass is green, and occasionally a balmy south windwhispers of even better things to come. Such diversions — not to mention thelong gardening to-do list — keep me from expanding my forcing horizons.
Perhapsyou’ve tried tried some of the later flowers and want to share yourexperiences. Please do.
We often look back on a person’s career and think we see the pivotal career-moment: “Ah, this is where it happened”. But Nick McCullough is not new to the world of landscape and garden design, and the Philadelphia Garden Show is his next – giant – step.
Nick has been building his skills for close to 20 years.
First as a student of art history and horticulture and, then with training in
design in England, Nick positioned himself to blend art, plants and a creative
eye to create contemporary gardens.
Teresa and I had a sneak preview of Nick’s talent when he
submitted a design for the Perennial Plant Association Landscape Design Award
program. The shade garden design was a
subtle interplay of green, gold, silver and white perennials and shrubs. It was
His design for the Philadelphia Flower Show is the polar opposite of a calm, enfolding shade garden. Think sun, mirrors, colors exploding, and immersion in nature. For a more detailed description of his design, visit his Thinking Outside the Boxwood blogwhere Nick explains his inspirations and the execution of his design.
We wish Nick success as he presents his garden to the public,
and we look forward to his future ventures.
Choosing a favorite flower to share for Valentine’s Day is a difficult task. Dozens could be given with a list of reasons for each. But we’re trying to keep this simple. Perhaps it’s best to say we’re offering our first among equals as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a holiday of love and flowers. Perhaps you have a favorite. Please tell us what it is and why.
Michael’s Pick: White Lily Tulip
The white lily flower tulip lacks fragrance, repeat bloom, multiplication, long flowering and longevity. However, this tulip with its simply elegant flower, excels at symbolizing my favorite time of year — spring. It blooms about the time crabapples and the pink dogwood are making spectacles of themselves. The spice bush is adding wispy charm and tantalizing fragrance, and common lilac perfumes the air. Foliage on sugar maples and other woody plants is emerging into a chartreuse haze, making the scene so lovely it almost hurts to gaze upon it. This type of tulip graces gardens far and near. While walking the grounds of the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul many years ago, I noticed a lily flower tulip bas relief on the metal plate of a small fountain. That’s one way to add elegance year round.
Debra’s Pick: Organic Purple Roses
In the language of flowers the rose is recognized as the
classic expression of love: white for pure love or sympathy, pale pink for
innocent or young love, yellow for friendship or jealous love, and red for desire
and deep, sensual love.
The fragrance of roses takes me back to my childhood. My Nana was a rose grower and many of my earliest garden memories are of running around her garden being surrounded by the heady scent of roses. I remember Peace and Mister Lincoln and grew them in my early gardening life. I eventually let these two roses go as I was not willing to spray and fertilize these finicky hybrid teas, like my Nana did, to keep them looking “perfect”.
Several years ago I found organic roses for sale on the internet and I bought lavender roses for Valentine’s Day. Their fragrance took me back to the beginning of my passion for plants and gardens. And this is appropriate: lavender roses symbolize enchantment and love at first sight.
Teresa’s Pick: Daffodils
In the depth of winter’s cold and snow, I dream of daffodils. While I may not go as far as dancing with daffodils like poet William Wordsworth, I do get a little scissor-happy cutting lots of bouquets to bring indoors or share with friends. It’s no wonder the American Cancer Society adopted these cheery yellow blooms as the “flowers of hope” for the annual Daffodil Cancer Awareness Days. I first planted daffodils 20 years ago when we moved to the country. Since then I’ve planted dozens more especially after learning they were undesirable to hungry deer and immune to Ohio’s late spring snows and frosts.
Writing assignments about daffodil collectors – including Michael Leach — gave me further inspiration to plant more. I’m grateful these collectors shared valuable growing tips and pass along a few here: 1) plant them in the fall in clusters of six to eight, 2) avoid planting them in wet or irrigated places, 3) salvage flopping double daffodils by cutting short bundles and placing them in canning jars for support, 4) camouflage daffodils’ fading foliage by planting them near hostas or daylilies and 5) underplant taller daffodils with muscari.
Pick up a pot or bundle of daffodils at your favorite florist or even grocery store and share some hope with your Valentine for spring days ahead.
Had enough Midwest winter with its brown, black, gray and glum? Beginning to think your garden is dead, not merely dormant? Are glittering icicles over head a bit too disconcerting and sparkling snow drifts too annoying?
Then head for the tropics if schedule and budget allow — or a reasonable facsimile should you, like me, be lacking in the time and money departments. Instead of Florida or someplace even closer to the Equator, I took a short drive to a warm, lush place — Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus.
It was a double treat. Not only were the waterfalls cascading and giant palm fronds overhanging the paths as usual, but the annual orchid show had recently opened. There are scores of exotic blossoms throughout this gift from foresighted civic leaders, which has been expanded and lovingly tended since its debut in 1895.
Other Midwest metro areas boast of Victorian and newer conservatories. However, a tropical experience on a more intimate scale is possible in towns where some garden centers have greenhouses filled with light, warmth and life. Think of this as green therapy.
Among the Midwest public gardens featuring orchid shows during the seemingly endless wait until spring are:
The possession a person values most varies as widely as personal tastes. Cars, boats, houses, antiques, islands and jewels certainly rate as most valued for some. Not me.
Like many people across the ages and continents, I
value something that seems commonplace but uniquely expresses its owner.
While I certainly like a smooth-riding car and
comfortable home, my treasure offers so much more than dust-collecting
furniture. When calm and isolation are required, I needn’t board a jet (private
or commercial) to flit to a distant tropic isle in an azure sea. As for jewels,
few pirate chests contain more splendor.
Where else does music, art, history, family
tradition, science and sustenance meld in a single creation? Truly this is
a many splendored thing.
Those of us who have such a possession give our
treasure a unique twist, for the basic elements can be infinitely arranged,
timed and colored, Constant, though imperceptible, change is a given and
usually welcomed. Time eventually changes everything, but not always for
the better. Cars rust. Paint fades. Roofs leak. We, however, plan for a future
that will probably be radically different from where we start.
Each season, actually each moment, brings changes in
hue, shape and content. Over the years, only photographs will bear witness to
what it was “back then” and what it is now. Due to the fragility of our
most-valued possession, such graphic evidence is all that remains after we
leave it behind, as inevitably we will.
Depending on its design and scope, our possession
may enfold us in seclusion or put us centerstage in a dazzling show. Some of us
have possessions that do both. Broad smiles, sighs of pleasure and occasional
gasps of delight are usually heard when we share our possession with others.
Our treasure may exude a fragrance no perfume maker can duplicate. It may
produce songs Mozart could never compose or colors to make Monet jealous.
No matter its size or cost, we are stewards of an
incredibly complex operating system that consists of countless life forms.
Can’t say that about a car or diamond ring.
We hold life itself when seeds spill from a little
paper packet into our cupped hand. From such tiny, insignificant
things, we can produce a living mosaic of seedlings, giants towering a 100
feet, and a host of all sizes in between.
We invite birds, butterflies, bees and toads to
share the treasure. Few mansion owners want that kind of company on their
Our treasure is a garden, whether potted plants by
the window, manicured acres or postage stamp plots. My garden around the family
home place includes sugar maples over a century old ,planted by great-uncles,
flowers passed down from almost every side of the family, gifts from gardening
friends, and a few new introductions. Some are native plants, others from China
or Europe. The Madonna lilies from Grandpa Leach’s garden have been
cultivated since ancient times.
Money is an essential for creating and maintaining a
garden; some say it is the best manure. But the most important ingredient is
passion. Ours is a labor of love. We dig, water, prune and fertilize with our
hearts. Working with nature, the forever owner of our treasure, we cultivate a
vision in three dimensions and a span of time.
We are called gardeners. Is that because our most
valuable possession possesses us?
Repost from Dec. 25, 2014: Pipe Down to Hear What a Garden Has to Say
By Michael Leach
A dozen piping pipers could be fine in some gardens, but for most of us, wind chimes and fountains are the only tolerable decibels.
Unless bluejays squawk about a lack of peanuts, the wind roars through frantic tree tops, or a riding mower pretends to be a biker-gang Harley, sound rarely breaks into our consciousness in a garden. That’s largely due to gardens being places traditionally sought for their quiet. Yet a garden can be “noisy.”
The garden’s gentle, subtle tongue speaks in the rustle of leaves. It whispers with the warm breath of breezes caressing our skin. It hums startlingly when a hummingbird whirs past in zigzag swoops.
The garden talks, too, in the silence of fireflies dancing in twilight.
I take for granted some of this “chatter” or worse, block it with a mind too concerned about weeding, watering and countless other chores. We may even ignore our gardens’ soothing comments because we are too busy listing their deficiencies.
A garden blesses all our senses. It wants to be our personal spa and use invisible “hands” to restore our beings as surely as a masseuse eases physical aches. For the garden to heal us, we must let go; then listen to and follow nature’s command.
The garden’s message comes from the Creator who made the first garden, the one we keep trying to recreate. Ours will never be the perfection of Eden, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the story of paradise. Gardens still speak that same language.