Eight Must-Haves From Chanticleer

Chanticleer, just outside of Philadelphia, bills itself as “A Pleasure Garden” and I think that title pretty much nails it.  This garden celebrates plants, design, and craftsmanship more than any other I’ve been to. 

Now, there are various kinds of pleasure to be had from various kinds of gardens — kings’ gardens (Versailles), cooks’ gardens (potagers), botanists’ gardens (arboreta), etc.   But with stunning plant combinations at every turn and public restrooms that are nicer than the place you got married, Chanticleer is truly a gardener’s garden

Here are some of the things I’ve decided I must have after visiting this glorious garden:

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Putting the Garden Back in Sculpture Garden

Since we’re on the subject of art, check out what DC’s  Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden used to look like:

No wonder they shut it down in 1979 for a major redesign.  Can you imagine what it would have felt like to be down in that place in the middle of July surrounded by all that paving, baking in the Washington summer sun?  Plus, remember that the garden is sunken, so whatever moist and tepid “breezes” might have oozed off of the Anacostia wouldn’t even have reached this garden.

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Will We Grow Nostalgic for Strip Malls?

Yesterday I came across this article  about a competition at the University of Alberta called “Strip-Appeal” in which architects and other designers submitted proposals for re-purposing abandoned strip malls.   As big box stores and online retailers like Amazon claim more and more business, strip malls have started going empty.

Photo credit: Sten Odenwald

I had a look at some of the submitted designs and I couldn’t help but feel a little weary.  Design proposals included:

1. several variations of a park/greenspace/community garden (Yaaaaawn.)

2. turning the strip mall into a mixed-use town-center-y kinda thing with underground parking.  (zzzzzzzzz.)

3. a plan where people could just come in and use the building materials from the old strip mall to build whatever they wanted because there would be no zoning regulations for the new space.  (Sounds like anarchy but at least it’s different.)

4. a gathering place for mobile “pop-up” retailers.  (In other words, one week a space would be occupied by Dahn Yoga, the next by Haagen Daaz?  Is this feasible?) Continue reading

Crispy Fried Water Gardens

Yesterday my sister and I visited the beautiful  Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in northeast DC for a photo class.  Even though we got there at 6:45am to get the best light, the air still felt like a wet diaper. 

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High Art and Italian Sausages at Philly

This groovy wave thing was at the center of a million square feet of contrived awesomeness! http://www.uwishunu.com

Susan Cohan’s recent post about the difference between “Flower Shows” and “Home and Garden Shows” started some rusty gears turning in my brain.  Apparently, some folks argue that the Philadelphia Flower Show is too artificial for their taste, that the floral displays are outrageously impractical, self-consciously artsy, mere theater. 

The heck you say???

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Mary’s Garden Story in ‘Washington Gardener’!!!

Okay, Washingtonians, the latest issue of Washington Gardener is hot off the presses and wouldn’t it be delightful to open your mailbox and spy its colorful, glossy pages ready for your reading enjoyment?  If only you were a subscriber!!!

You should really subscribe because the magazine is tailor made for us, gardeners who live in our specific EPA Eco-region.  In case you weren’t sure, our eco-region is classified by the EPA as  Chesapeake Rolling Plain Variable Winters Humid Ass Summers Worthless Clay Soil, so Washington Gardener won’t frustrate you with articles like “Ten Fantastic New Lupine Cultivars!” that will only fill you with envy and remorse.  All of the articles are geared toward our climate, our soil, our local horticultural attractions.  Everything is relevant!

The other reason you should subscribe is because in this issue you can read about a fascinating Washington-area gardener named Mary Gray in the “My Garden Story” column of the magazine.  That’s right, you can read the intriguing story of how I, personally, became a gardener (hint: it wasn’t at my grandmother’s knee.)

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Horticultural Distance Learning From Mt. Cuba!

Update: I received an email from Mt. Cuba today and they want ya’ll to know that they are open to the public far more often than they used to be.  Here’s what Jeannette Zipf, Mt. Cuba’s Communications Coordinator, told me:

“We are open for public garden tours in spring, summer and fall. Spring tours, which begin on April 12, 2012,  are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10AM, and Saturday and Sunday at 1PM. Summer Twilight tours, Wednesdays and Thursdays, are at 5:30 pm, starting on May 30, 2012. All tours are just $5 per person – isn’t that a bargain? We do recommend reservations as we strive to have enough docents on hand to keep the tour groups small and personal.”

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