Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gardens of the World - Introduction

Portland Oregon Japanese Gadens
Photo: Alison Hawkins 2010
In these dreary Winter months a gardener longs for the warmer Spring that are just around the corner. I love the time leading up to and including the Holidays, I think Christmas light become my substitute for plants, but once the decorations come down, its a long cold haul until Spring. To pass a little of the time, I started watching the series Downton Abbey. I don't know how many of you have seen it, but if you haven't, run do not walk to PBS and catch up! The series is filmed on a gorgeous estate in England. I recently ran across an article about the gardens on the estate. This got me thinking about gardening traditions around the world.

I thought what better way to spend the cold months of winter than taking a tour of the garden traditions around the world and exploring how they influenced our gardens of today, why the did what they did and more...

Portland Oregon Japanese Gardens
Photo: Alison Hawkins 2010 

I'm planning on exploring
* Colonial American
* Formal English
* Japanese
* French
* Mediterranean
* Middle Eastern
* Traditional Chinese

I hope you'll enjoy this tour of the Gardens of the World and that it'll help us get through until Spring.

I will start with Traditional Chinese Gardens this weekend.....

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year...New Resolution.... New Move....

Well 2013 snuck up like a thief in the night... the holidays flew by in a blink of an eye.  I decided for my new years resolution to give something new a try. I hate to admit this, but this Oregonian is not so environmentally friendly when it comes to paper towels. Between cooking and cats, I have been known to go through a roll in two days. Not only is this just awful for the environment, but it is also super expensive.  $3.99 for two rolls of the cheap stuff.

I decided to give dishcloths a try. Target sells 6 packs of dishcloths for about $3.50. I bought a basket to place near the washing machine and my goal is to reduce my use of paper towels significantly. I do have cats and dogs, so I am not quite ready to give them up completely. But I'm excited to see how this works.

2013 also brought this Urban Gardener another change in location. In March I'll be leaving my current town home (my landlord wants it back) for most likely an apartment. I hate to leave a yard for a balcony, but it must be done at this point. I'm hoping soon to find myself in North Carolina and on several acres, but for now, it is going to be a balcony. I am really not sure how I'm going to fit all of my plants on a balcony. It is going to take some unique out of the box thinking.

I hope everyone had a great Holiday season and wonderful New Year!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fresh Salad in a Hurricane...

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get some lettuce starts while at school (thank you Horticulture degree, I don't remember getting free plants in engineering school) and I put them in containers in my cold frame to see how they would do (Lettuce in a Cold Frame).

Turns out they're doing great!! Who would have thought! I decided to harvest some before Sandy came to town and I'm treating myself to a fresh salad for dinner tonight.

Lettuce & Cabbage seem to be loving the cold frame

I'm topping the fresh lettuce with very little, some goat cheese crumbles and a homemade salad dressing. During my recent trip to California I picked up some garlic olive oil and honey balsamic vinegar that together with some fresh cracked black pepper that just makes an amazing dressing! 

As you can see from the mostly empty bottle...I'm finding the honey balsamic hard to resist! 

How do you like to dress your salads??  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Prep ...

Just wanted to wish everyone in the path of Sandy good luck!  I've battened down the hatches here in the Norfolk/Tidewater region of VA. Brought in all of my plants and have them safely tucked away! Here's to hoping power wont be out for too long

Stay Safe everyone!

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mushrooms in London's Underground....

Wow! This is so cool!!  The city of London had a competition to design a green-space similar to the High Line in New York City (A public park in NYC that runs along its west side on old elevated train tracks)

The winning design is was designed by a Landscape Architectural firm called Fletcher Priest Architect and called "Pop Down" They designed a mushroom farm in the old "mail rails" that the postmen would use to move parcels around the busy city without having to fight the crowds.

The design includes a pedestrian walkway, the possibility of some "fungi" inspired eateries at the entrances and daylight would enter the tunnels through fiberglass sculplted mushrooms that would light the tunnel from street level and provide light down to the fungi.

I hope this becomes a reality and I can't wait to go see it! I love the idea of repurposing old structures into new and wonderful green spaces!

Winning Design from Fletcher Priest Architect (image source:

Runner Up from Y/N Design (image source: