Flat Tire Decor Review
May 30, 2011
Flat Tire Decor is a Milwaukee (West Allis) based company that recycles/reuses old tires by turning them into footwear and other products. Milwaukee company and keeping tires out of landfills, how great is that? I received their largest basket, the ‘Newport’, a two handled trug-type shape that’s about 8″high with an 8″ base and 12″ top opening. (Milwaukee folks – you can get these at any of the 4 Elliott’s Ace Hardware stores)
Kiddo suggested I use the Newport to chill drinks. This is a great use. We like serving food buffet style, and are always looking for different ways to present guests with self serve options for many different beers, wines or soda. I know, I have one smart Kiddo, thanks for noticing. He earned a pack of his fav Sprecher Cream Soda as a reward for coming up with the idea.
My other favorite use was on the back of my bike. The stiff nature of the tires, allowed the sides to hold up to the bungee cords. The open top allowed me to safely carry plants and other farmer’s market finds which could get damaged in the pannier or messenger bags.
San Antonio Botanic Garden
April 17, 2011
I’m a huge fan of garden touring, be it private gardens, urban gardens or official Botanic gardens. I work this into my travels whenever and wherever possible. On my late March trip to San Antonio, I spent the afternoon at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. When I left Milwaukee we still had snow on the ground, so spending a few hours wandering around plants with flowers and trees with leaves was a much needed tonic for my soul.
The Botanical Garden is laid out on 38 acres with the most formal areas closest to the entrance. You enter through a carriage house, which includes an interesting looking restaurant and a nice gift shop. Restrooms are in the carriage house and in locations around the gardens.
Looking at the garden map, I decided on a clockwise circle around the garden, allowing me to explore all areas. Immediately on entering I was wowed by a stand of poppies in full bloom. I am a huge fan of poppies, but have never been successful in establishing them or growing them from seed in the masses I saw here.
Just past the formal garden was an area called the Watersaver Lane. An exhibit of 6 small “houses” each landscaped in a theme with notes about water and fertilizer required to maintain these. I loved the concept, but wish the wording on the waste of water and chemical need of a typical American lawn was spelled out even stronger.
Continuing around the path were more wild, natural areas planted in natives designed to mimic the East Texas piney woods and the South Texas hill country. Once past this area was the Childrens Vegetable Garden. This was one impressive teaching garden.
Next up was the fountain area and the Japanese Garden. I smiled at the rubber duckies in the fountain, but was told by an employee there were only there for spring break. In fact, she was removing them while I was there.
I like shiny, pretty things….or Chihuly at the Fredrick Meijer Gardens
October 29, 2010
I regularly travel to Grand Rapids, MI on business. Of the cities in my usual travel rotation, it is one of my favorites. Pedestrian friendly downtown, good restaurants, nice hotel….not to mention productive business meetings (which after all are kinda the point of my being there). My first few trips I explored the downtown area in the evening, even doing this little photo essay. On a cab ride from the airport, I’d noticed a billboard for the Fredrick Meijer Sculpture Gardens. Hmmm, told myself that some trip I’ll need to work in a visit. What finally spurred me to action was this post from Garden Faerie about a Chihuly exhibit at the Meijer Garden.
I have been a fan of Chihuly for years. Made it to several exhibits – from indoors at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum to outdoors at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and several visits to the installation at the Missouri Botanic Garden. The “someday I need to try and work in a visit”, turned to “I *must* work in a visit”. Was glad to discover they were open late on Tuesday evenings, and could take advantage of the long sunlight hours in June for my first visit. Took hundreds of pictures, added that trip to my mental list of future blog topics…but never quite got around to putting up a post.
But it was the Chihuly sculptures I had come to see. His traditional glass, the neon he’s been doing the last few years, and the newer polyvitro forms:
Seeing not only the Chihuly but the entire gardens in two seasons was a treat. Often an entirely different look to the art because of the surrounding, the change in light. And in nearly every case, found the fall colors, fall foliage enhanced the art.
Visiting a botanic garden across the seasons is a lesson I learned while living in St. Louis. A very wise horticulturist suggested visiting Mobot (Missouri Botanic Garden….or as I wrote it up “The Garden”) monthly to help the home garden develop a full season, year round landscape. I made a point of doing this then. And suggest if you live near a public garden to do the same….break out of the habit of only visiting in the mid-summer flower power glory. See what you can see in the other seasons. It may surprise you!
Rocky Mountain High, part 2….taking time to smell the flowers
September 30, 2010
The Saturday departure date of my recent trip to Denver allowed me to sneak in a little garden time amid all the beer, breweries and Great American Beer festival. Part one of this trip report focused on all that, this part is all about the Denver Botanic Garden.
I’ve followed (and purchased) the books by Lauren Springer for some time – beginning with The Undaunted Garden. (And find it fitting that she married another one of my favorite garden authors, Scott Ogden, and together have a company called Plant Driven Design). The interest in Lauren’s writing introduced me to the Denver Botanic Garden, which has held a spot on my must visit list for far too long.
Really far too long. What a delightful and inspiring garden. The current special exhibit is an installation of Henry Moore sculptures placed throughout the space. (Click on any of these images to bring them up in a larger format)
Shortly after entering the garden, I was wow-ed by the long double perennial/mixed border allee. Just stunned.
I could have spent hours in just this area, which made even more special by the sound of music flowing from the private event (looked and sounded like an Indian wedding) in the formal garden just past this area.
This wasn’t the only spot within the gardens set up for a private event. The South African Plaza was set with chairs, and had signs warning it would be closed later in the day. Tho’ it was the containers that caught my eye here.
Growing up in *the* Garden
July 29, 2009
In my grand mental list of possible Blog topics, I have “write about the Missouri Botanic Garden”, and “tell people about the great plant database MOBOT provides”. However, as I looked through pictures last evening, I realized that I had a photo essay of my son growing up within The Garden.
The Garden, with emphasis upon “the”, is how I always thought of the botanic garden. I was a member, frequently took classes, and made a point of trying to visit in all seasons each year for inspiration. A gem in the city center of St Louis, MO. The Missouri Botanic Garden or MOBOT, along with the zoo, Forest Park/The Muny, the City Museum and a few garden centers/nurseries are the things I miss about living in greater St. Louis. While I frequently say it is not a place I want to live again, these are places I will go back to visit again and again over the years.
However, the real beauty and value of MOBOT is the draw for the both the gardener and non-gardener alike, young or old. Visit any June weekend, and you will see bridal party after bridal party doing photo shoots around the grounds; families walking the grounds, photographers looking for the perfect shot, couples strolling arm in arm oblivious to their surroundings. A hodge podge of people there for a hodge podge of reasons.
We first visited when my son was not quite two, and moved to Milwaukee when he was 8. Over our many visits, he developed some favorite areas of the garden. The Kemper Center was a first favorite. This area with it’s test garden, urban gardens, expanse of perennials is the spot within The Garden to bring the grandeur and splendor of the whole botanic garden down to the scale of the typical home landscape. It provides a help desk for both the homeowner frustrated with lawn care or the avid gardener with tomato blight. But for a child it also provides some great interactive fountains to captivate the young ones and draw them into the garden.
The grouping of stone sheep became a favorite photo stop on our visits. Funny how in the first visit, he is on the small sheep, but on the New Years Day visit with his big sis, had progressed to the full size version.
As he grew, other areas of the garden began to draw my son. The Victorian maze was a must visit spot.
The koi in the Japanese garden with their giant mouths brought smiles to both of us. And a requirement that I came prepared with quarters for the fish food machine!
The advantage to me was I never had to beg him to visit the garden. If I needed a bit of inspiration, a dose of beauty, or just a calming walk through this familiar place, at any age, my son jumped at the chance to accompany me. And this was before they built the actual “children’s garden”. A little bit of icing on the cake.
Finding this photo journey of my son’s growth while we lived in St Louis has been great. Even better this reminder of him with his beloved “Papa”, my Dad, who died from prostate cancer in December 2006, 5 months to the day after this photo was taken. One of the last days together before we knew how sick he was. How appropriate the day was spent in one of our favorite places!