Sunday, February 28, 2010

Virtual Tour: Hudson Vally Gardens - Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst, a grand historic Gothic Revival estate, and an outstanding example of 19th-century landscape design. The Rose Garden includes 100 varieties of roses designed in a circular pattern, while the Fern Garden is bordered by a rock garden. An 1870 conservatory greenhouse remains on site with outdoor plants, one of the largest private greenhouses in the world at the time.

(This virtual tour will definitely be revisited in the summer months after a real visit because there were not enough photographs of the grounds available - 67 acres and I'm afraid these were the only pictures I could find:)

Lyndhurst is located on Route 9 in the village of Tarrytown with spectacular Hudson River views. It is a historic site of the National Trust and is one of the great domestic landmarks of America. A visit to the house and its 67-acre park is a must for all who are interested in 19th-century architecture, decorative arts, and landscape design.

Lyndhurst is Open
Mid-April to October

Daily (Closed Mondays, except holidays)
10am - 5pm; last admission at 4:15pm
November to Mid-April

Weekends only: 10am - 4pm
Last Tour at 3:30pm

I was a little disappointed with the photos available on the Lyndhurst website - don't they know a picture's worth a thousand words? I did find some visitor photos and there a re certainly plenty of "weddings at Lydhurst" photos.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Virtual Tour: Hudson Valley Gardens - Kykuit

Our winter virtual tours continue. Hopefully this will inspire a real trip because it is so close. Hard to think about while the snow is still coming down? That's what daydreams and the internet are for.

"Kykuit (pronounced cake-eight), home to four generations of the Rockefeller dynasty, offers magnificent views of the Hudson River from the palatial estate. The remarkable beaux-arts landscape was created by William Welles Bosworth between 1907 and 1913. Formal gardens include the Rose Garden, Morning and Brook gardens, Italian garden, Adam and Eve Fountain area, and several terraced areas featuring sculptures by Henry Moore, Gaston Lachaise, Aristide Maillol, Alexander Calder, and others.

An elegant, neo-classical mansion sited high above the Hudson River, you enter Boscobel through the apple orchard to the formal rose garden with its central fountain. There are over 140 varieties of roses and 600 separate plants on display in the garden. The one-mile Woodland Trail winds through 29 acres of wooded landscape with rustic structures, and features spectacular vistas of the river."

-prepared by Hudson Valley Tourism

For many more images click here - a visitor (and good photographer!) captured over a hundred images featuring the sculptures and gardens of Kykuit.

Kykuit is reached from the Visitor's Center at Philipsburg Manor, located on Route 9 in the village of Sleepy Hollow.

Kykuit is Open
May 9 to Nov. 1, Nov. 6-8

Visitor Center opens at 9am

Daily except Tuesdays: Various Tours

For More Information
Call 914.631.8200 Monday through Friday or 914.631.3992 on weekends

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Virtual Tour: (with Jane Austin) Chatsworth Estate, Darbyshire, England

Jane Austen’s description of Pemberley in the novel Pride and Prejudice is said to have been based on The Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire (pictured above). So we continue our our series of world-wide virtual tours with a visit to the peak district in northern England.

I found a special fare for only $808 round trip, but it leaves from Newark to Manchester and you'll fly back to JFK. (Maybe you have nice friend who will drop you off and pick up from the different airports).

Where will you stay? How about on the estate itself? Chatsworth has holiday cottages (7 nights for 4 people for as little as £474.00 -for the week) so you can roam the property and reread P&P.

As Lizzy says about falling in love with Mr. Darcy...

"It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley."

If you plan your trip for summer (and for your viewing pleasure) this is a wonderful slide show on flickr from a visitor who captured the grandeur of the house and some great shots of the lupines and blue poppies.

And here are some more quotes about Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice:

"Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it."

"They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!"

But even visiting in the winter, the grounds are beautiful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peat Eliminator: Help Save The World!

Perhaps the biggest contribution of peat bogs to a healthy environment is as “global coolers,” helping to fight climate change. As the mosses grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, which is locked up within the plant structure as the plants turn to peat. Scientists think these bogs contain more carbon than all the world’s tropical rain forests. But when the bogs are drained for peat extraction or otherwise disturbed, the peat starts to decompose and the carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere, where it acts as a potent greenhouse gas.

In the U.K., the National Trust estimates that country’s bogs store carbon equivalent to about 20 years’ worth of national industrial emissions. Fearful that two centuries of damage is causing the bogs to dry out, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere, the Trust is urging the government to conserve and protect the country’s declining number of peat bogs as a way of curbing climate change. And, in fact, peat extraction is legislated to cease there by 2012.

Not only is recolonization by the native flora and fauna probably not going to happen, the complex water tables in adjacent undrained areas are also put under threat.

Peat sold for the purpose of gardening is not a renewable resource and is destroying internationally vital plants and wildlife sites that have taken more than 10,000 years to develop.

So what is the alternative to help the composition of your soil AND help save the world?
Yes, finely shredded coconut shells offer all the benefits of peat, but coconuts are a renewable resource and a cash crop for emerging third-world nations like Philippines, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Thailand, and Vietnam.

One new coconut product is called Peat Eliminator and it comes in a small light-weight brick. You wet it down the same way you would Peat Moss and this small brick absorbs water and fills an entire wheelbarrow! Then you add it to your garden when you are planting or anytime to improve your soil.

  • Each bag expands to 2.3cu.ft.
  • Guaranteed better and is longer lasting than peat moss - only needs replacement every two years instead of every year
  • pH neutral
  • Absorbs water every time and retains more water
  • Provides excellent aeration and drainage
  • Coir-based, which is a fiber found in the hulls of coconuts
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic.

    Currently available in 8.25 lb bag.

Please email us if you are interested in this peat eliminator product:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Virtual Tour: Hudson Valley - Innisfree Garden

Our previous post was a virtual garden tour in Kyoto, Japan. As a note, I mentioned there are Japanese Gardens to visit right here in New York, but alas, it's February (sigh).

So here is a virtual tour of Innisfree in Millbrook, NY. If you haven't visited there in person, you must! Visit in the spring when the primula are blooming (smack-dab in the middle of a flowing stream - the tag is not exaggerating when it says they like wet conditions!) and when the fountains that shoot water thirty feet in the air are surrounded by daffodils. And then visit again in the summer to see the wall of peonies in full bloom.

(note: the tree in the center of this photo is a standardized dappled willow - one of our favorite trees!)

"Innisfree Garden lies in the hollow which surrounds Tyrrel Lake; low wooded hills give the site enclosure. Innisfree embraces the Eastern design concept of asymmetric balance that combines rhythm, pattern, space and form in a harmony independent of formal symmetry. In Western gardens little is hidden. The garden, like a stage set, is there in its entirety; its overall design revealed at a glance. The traditional Eastern garden hides this complete view. Visitors walk into a series of episodes or pictures and can enter the sequence of pictures wherever they choose. The rugged topography of the Innisfree site invariably enframes these pictures called cup gardens. A garden picture may be composed of several small cup gardens within the larger one. "

The walk around the lake is an easy two mile loop, although dogs are not allowed. Admission to visit the garden is $5 for anyone older than 4 years old.

For more Innisfree Garden photos visit their website.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Virtual Garden Visit: Kyoto, Japan

Two of our most popular posts last winter were the virtual garden tours of the Montreal Gardens' Topiary and the Famous Gardens of the World.

So even as we drag ourselves through the freezing days of February, we can daydream of gardens to visit. Our virtual tour today takes us to Kyoto, Japan.

I found a flight from Newark airport to Osaka International via San Fransico and a six night stay at Hotel Sugichio for $1,332 for one person. (You could leave on Monday!)

(Pictured above: Jonengu shrine - Besides the gardens I list below, there are many attractions in Kyoto including ancient shrines, modern museums, and great restaurants. If you really do go, here's a little help from The New York Times Travel Section.)

After 24 hours of travel time (almost 19 hours in the air) you will arrive, crash at the previously mentioned three star hotel, and then the garden tours can begin. Six days, six local gardens.

We'll start at the Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace Garden.

"The palace and garden are within the old palace enclosure but were built during the Edo period (c 1855). The style is loosely based on the Heian shinden-zukuri style, with large gravel courtyards and a small pond garden. Courtyards of this type were used for festivities but typically had a stream flowing under the building and through the courtyard. Lakes were larger and were used for boating parties."

Then we travel to Mirei Shigemori Garden.

"The Shigemori Resodence is a traditional town house dating from the middle Edo period (1789) with an adjoining garden and tea ceremony pavilions (Muji-an, 1953 and Koukoku-an, 1969). Both garden and pavilions were designed by Mirei Shigemori, seminal 20th century architect of Japanese garden, author of the Hojo Garden, Tofukuji Temple (1939) amongst over ninety religious and domestic gardens. The house belonged to the Shinto order, "Suzuka", of nearby Yoshida Shrine and was acquired from the order by Shigemori for his family in 1943.

The main garden consists of four rock configurations symbolizing the Elysian islands: Hojo, Eiju, Horai (central island) and Koryo placed on the sand garden. Horai island consists of a crane style rock composite and Hojo, a tortoise style rock composite. The stones known as "blue rock" in the Awa region of Japan are mainly from Shikoku island. The garden is overlooked by a veranda and a sparse main room with shoji screens, tatami mats and a hanging paper light conceived specially by Isamu Noguchi*(see end of post). The tea cermony pavilion is a rich hybrid of traditional and modern design. In contrast to the shrines and temples of the city, the house is domestic in scale and is connected to the rhythms of everyday life."

Shugaku-in Imperial Villa Garden:

"This villa complex in the foothills of Mount Hiei was made as a country retreat for occasional visits by the retired Emperor Gomizunoo. It has three residential buildings with gardens for members of the imperial party. They are set in the 45 ha of pine forest and linked by paths. It is a stroll garden with a boating lake. The Cloud Touching Arbour (Rinun-tei pavilion) in the Upper Garden has a fine view of Kyoto and is an exceptional instance of a 'borrowed landscape'. Never before had the idea been used on such a large scale. As in English gardens made 150 years later, views were planned like landscape paintings with foreground, middle-ground and background. The design is said to have been planned as a clay model (which remains the best way of planning large-scale compositions of landscape with architecture)."

Nanzen-ji Zen Temple Garden:

"Nanzen-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It began as a detached palace in 1264 but was repeatedly destroyed by fire and most of the old garden was lost. A new Zen garden, called the Leaping Tiger Garden, was made after 1611 and is a good example of the karesansui (dry garden) style. . It has a large sand rectangle enclosed by a buildings on two sides and a sloping bank on another side. The bank has rock compositions at its foot which can be seen as tiger cubs or as a turtle and a crane (animals associated with the Isles of the Immortals). Nanzenji is now the headquarters of the Nanzen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen."

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Garden):

"The garden was designed as a country house for the Shogun Yosimasa and then became a temple garden. It is approached by a narrow walk lined with bamboo. The space then opens to show a large treasure pond which has two islands. The roof of the pavilion was intended to be covered with silver leaf. A low mound has white quartz, raked to symbolise waves and designed to be viewed by moonlight. The garden has a sho-in (scholar's seat) belonging to the Muromachi Period (1333 - 1573)."

Sento Gosho Palace Garden:

"Sento' means retirement and this palace garden, near Katsura and designed at the same time, was made for a retired emperor (Gomizunoo). It is a stroll garden with three sections. The long narrow lake has a tortoise island, an arched bridge and a beach with carefully positioned Odaware stones. There was also a model farm, made to teach the emperor's children about agricultural life."

*If you can't travel to Japan, you can get a taste for Japanese Gardens at the Isamu Noguchi museum in Queens or The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden in Westchester, NY. or even at Innisfree Gardens, which has a Japanese "cup design" in Millbrook, NY.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Add Structure (And Interest) To your Winter Garden With Lighting

Despite all my searching, I couldn't find good pictures of lighting in winter gardens, except for Christmas decorations. So if any of you have photos of lighting in your winter gardens, send them to us - We'd love to post them.

When the days are so short, a little outdoor lighting can be very helpful I think that is why holiday lights are so popular - they bring cheer to dark days. People even automate their Christmas lights with computer programs and set the whole thing to music - click here for a fun example.

Before you start you may need to ask yourself "What are my gardening needs and what am I trying to achieve with bringing lighting into my garden?"

As most decent garden lighting requires some sort of electrical cabling it would be wise to keep these away from areas that you will be digging a lot. For example, areas where you are likely to maintain annuals or bulbs etc.

When it comes to choosing the lighting that you want in your garden, think about what you are trying to achieve. Do you want the tree in the middle to stand out? Do you want some spindly plant silhouetted in the background? Do you want it lit from above, below, behind or in front?

  • Lighting for Water Features - there are so many options to have lighting in your ponds, waterfeatures, waterfalls etc and many are easy to install and only run on 12 volts.
  • Uplighting - this is achieved by placing lighting at the base of a plant, tree or architectural feature and can be very artistic.
  • Shadow Lighting placing lights at angles in front of a feature or plant to allow a shadow to be cast upon a wall can be very dramatic.
  • Silhouetted Lighting - this is the opposite of shadow lighting which is achieved from behind a plant or landscape feature to silhouette the item as you look toward it.
  • Illuminated Lighting - there is still a need for illumination in the garden so that people can find paths, navigate steps and stairs and also walk freely without falling victim to a hazardous toy left by your 3 year old.
There are as many options as there are ideas. Why not turn your garden into something you don't have to enjoy only in the daylight?

I also found this video interesting.