There is a very neat bit of history in the nearby area of Morristown, New Jersey. Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment of December 1779, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record. The Wick House (built in the 1740s) served as officers quarters during each of the Continental Army’s encampments in Morristown.
My favorite part of the park is the Wick House Kitchen Garden – the garden is set up to recreate a kitchen garden during the American Revolution. The plants are labeled with what their traditional use would have been, with notes on some letting you know they aren’t actually effective.
Wick House…built in the 1740s
This is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages and I’m so glad I did! This project is so simple and fun, but looks fancy and complicated. If you’re not into flower crowns this can easily double as a floral wreath. Only a few supplies are needed:
- Floral tape
- Floral paddle wire
- Wire cutters
- Flowers of your choice
Either you immediately know what this is or you’ve never heard of it before (but you may have heard my rambling explanation).
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is that you pay a local farm directly for a weekly boxed share of their produce during the growing season, which you can pick up at the farm or another local spot.
shinrin-yoku | “forest bathing”
A short, leisurely trip into a forest or natural space to experience the restorative effects of spending time in the stillness of nature.
I came across this term while researching the Portland Japanese Garden, and understood the meaning immediately. To me it’s that moment when you breathe in the fresh woodsy air, and can’t see houses or hear cars on the road anymore. I’ve experienced this as nearby as the hike & bike trail in my town (once you pass the part next to the highway of course), and as that first step out of the car after a road trip out of the city/suburbs.
I had an expectation of Portland as a ‘hippie-paradise’, but it was a lot more a standard city, in my opinion. (Not that I didn’t appreciate the convenience of Whole Foods & Starbucks as many of the quirky chain stores were closed for the holiday weekend.) If you’re looking for hippie-paradise, by the way, just travel south of Portland a few hours to the city of Eugene.
A short and inexpensive ride on the light rail brings you directly from the city center to the perfect forest-bathing spot – Washington Park. Washington Park encompasses many attractions – the Portland Zoo, the Portland Children’s Museum, and the Hoyt Arboretum among them. Being a garden junkie, I opted for the Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden. (I did make a brief stop at the zoo to check out an adorable baby polar bear named Nora.)
The first day of summer is nearly here (also known as Midsummer, Summer Solstice, or St. John’s Day, alternatively), so I thought it would be a good time to do a garden check-in. Planting a spring garden (aka planting cool-tolerant crops that will be ready before the main summer veggies) wasn’t in the cards for me this year, but those that did should be reaping the reward of lettuces, carrots, radishes, cabbages & more.
A little background – my garden is an allotment in a community garden. It’s my first year at this community garden, so my garden plot was randomly picked, sight unseen, and I had no idea what condition or set-up I would be inheriting. This was the first time I got to check it out, back in February:
February 2017 – ‘Yikes’ moment
I did have a ‘Yikes’ moment, but it didn’t turn out to be so bad…
I recently went on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest – to the super green state of Oregon! I’m a wildflower addict, so it was amazing to see the different species out there – in meadows, roadsides, and forests. I couldn’t help but photograph as many as I could to make my own little ‘field guide’. I’ve tried to identify them as best I could with my own knowledge, some helpful placards, and an actual (and awesome) field guide by the National Wildlife Federation. Without further ado –
Large-Leaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) – along the Columbia River Gorge.
I knew lupines were a common wildflower out west, but they seemed about as common as dandelions are in my neighborhood in the North East. They come in all sorts of colors, but I thought this bluish purple was very striking against the green.
My first exposure to community gardens was as someone growing up in a city, and later as a suburban apartment-dweller that refused to accept I wouldn’t be able to garden. You might think of community gardens as a recent invention brought about by more people living in cities, but the concept of community gardening dates way farther back! From local cities battling the effects of economic depression, to the government encouraging gardening as a patriotic act during wartime, to modern urban activism, community gardening has brought people together for the good of the community and farther afield.
Way Back When:
The first community gardens began in the 1890s, in Detroit. ‘The Panic of 1893’ brought about an economic depression that lasted about 4 years, and inspired the mayor of Detroit to turn vacant lots into gardens where unemployed workers could grow and sell food.
Smithsonian Gardens – ‘Community of Gardens’ exhibit
How much I’ve packed so far for a house move in 1 week..there will be lots more
There is nothing that makes you take stock of everything you own so much as moving house. I have been moving every couple of years, and it does help immensely reduce the amount of clutter I own. I remember during my last move, I made the rookie mistake of leaving the kitchen for absolute last. I figure it would only take a few trips up and down the 3.5 flights of stairs to get everything out. WRONG. Already exhausted by moving everything else, I just didn’t have it in me to make that many trips. A fair amount of baking tins, dishes and more were left behind, and I wonder if they are still in use today by the proceeding tenants..
There are minimalist social media ‘celebrities’ out there, because of course there are. There is a trend among them of doing a show-and-tell style video showcasing the absurdly few amount of possessions they have (“Everything I Own – 30 Things”). As someone who considers herself a minimalist, I find this ridiculous on several levels.
I’d like to preface this post by mentioning that Plant Lady is moving on up! (…in planting terms). For the past 4 years I’ve lived in a little townhouse that has the most frustratingly shady patio as the only outside space. The first spring I was there, I had super high hopes about what I would be able to grow, but I was quickly disappointed by the (maybe) 3 or 4 hours of late afternoon sun that I would get on that patio. It did teach me to adapt – I learned about shade tolerant plants & flowers, grew lettuces that I could pick as baby leaves, and it’s even what got me into community gardening.
But this spring, however, I’ll be moving into a new condo with a super sizeable & sunny south-facing patio! Barring a major deer problem (it is New Jersey so you never know), I should be able to grow all kinds of interesting things out back. I will still be participating in a local community garden, to plant larger crops & also to get involved in the wonderful foundation that runs the garden. So I will have lots of exciting things to share! I plan to get a small grow light system to start seeds indoors, and I’ll be trying out lots of different heirloom varieties of plants. I’m also taking a horticulture class at a local college, so I’ll even be getting some formal education in plant propagation.
Juicer’s Garden at the museum’s Edible Garden. I spot beets, kale, parsley, carrots & more.
Exposition Park is a huge cultural center, with museums and acres of gardens, right in the middle of urban Los Angeles. One of the most stunning features is the Rose Garden, featuring thousands of rose plants of hundreds of different varieties. At one point there were plans to tear down the garden and replace it with a parking garage, but luckily it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in time!