Mt. Usher

Mount Usher Gardens were created by four generations of the Walpole family over a period of 112 years from 1868. The garden comprises of 22 acres with the Vartry River running through it and contain many champion trees of Ireland and the UK, as well as some 4,500 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants. Edward Walpole, the garden’s founder, passed the property to his three sons.

Mt. Stewart

Mount Stewart is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland. The house and its contents reflect the history of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, who played a leading role in British and Irish social and political life. After the house’s interior, the Marchioness redesigned the gardens in the most lavish way possible. One bed shows the Red Hand of Ulster rendered in red flowers. It’s a rather morbid story about someone associated with this manor, who cut off his hand and tossed it over a ship’s bow to be the first one to touch this land. These gardens were, like most of the gardens in Ireland and Northern Ireland were beautifully designed and expertly maintained.

Loughkey Forest

Loughkey Forest in Ireland is a tranquil piece of land and estate. It has many broadleaf and conifer trees growing along the paths, as well as many wildflowers and mammals. The forest looked almost magical, as if something out of a story book.  I love that all over Ireland, you can find full castles and even castles that have been left behind. Its all so beautiful. 

Lough Rynn Estate

Located on an isthmus between the lakes of Lough Rynn and Lough Erril, the Lough Rynn Estate was the home to many wealthy families in Ireland. Opening in 2006 as a hotel, the estate got much more attention for the renovation that had occurred. It’s now used as a wedding venue, and the gardens are well known in this area. We were told we “must go” by a woman we met on a forest stroll, who announced briskly “Off you go” and sent us on our way. We ran into some wayward cows on the road to Lough Rynn.

Lisadell House

The terraced oceanfront walled garden was breathtaking on this property. It was raining, and a long walk through an open field, but it was so amazing!! The house was built between 1830 and 1835, and Lisadell House is a historic house Ireland. Lisadell was the first country house in Ireland to have an independent gas supply piped into the property. This house is interesting and we toured the kitchens and some other rooms. This house is still occupied by a family and is only open a few days a year. We were lucky to be able to see it. It sure wasn’t easy to find!!  The walled garden was amazing. Incredible variety of plants, a stone garden, the caretakers quarters and spectacular views of the water.

Kylemore Abbey

Founded by Lady Mary Percy in 1598, this monastery has a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. The purpose of Kylemore Abbey was to provide an education and religious community for Irish women during times of persecution in Ireland. This place was spectacular, with massive terraced garden rooms, one after the next, all lovingly maintained.

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle is located in the middle of Glenveagh National Park in Ireland. Built between 1870 and 1873 by Captain John George Adair, it was left to the Irish Nation in 1981. It was used by Hollywood movie stars as a vacation home– such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin. We toured the greenhouses and grounds on a rainy day and were entertained by traditional musicians.

Garinish Island

Garinish Island is located in Southwestern Ireland. The entire island is an Italianate garden built by a man for his beloved. It is known for the exotic plants that grow there in an unlikely climate. The gardens that are nestled in the woodlands there, combined with the effects of the Gulf Stream and unique makeup of the harbor nearby creates a micro-climate that allows exotic plants to flourish. There are structures in the garden all over the island, including towers, temples, and a tea house.

Dunmore House

The Dunmore House was my favorite “Secret Garden” in the world. Our innkeeper sent us “across the street” to the most spectacular walled gardens. We walked through them in awe. All the plants were by deep green leaves and shrubbery. The colors of everything just seemed so exaggerated it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The gardener told us he wasn’t sure of the name of a plant, as he had only been “working these gardens for 60 years”. His uncle before him had worked the gardens previously. The distant manor house must have been spectacular, but this place was unforgettable.

Botanical Garden-Dublin

The Botanical Garden in Dublin, was a beautiful place to be. Originally created in 1790 by the Parliament for agriculture, it was taken over for primarily botanical purposes in the 1830’s. The new visitor center was opened in 2000, and has become a public space of beauty. There are hundreds of flowers and plants within. The greenhouse was really fantastic. The dahlias were in full bloom, and there were interesting sculpture pieces throughout.

Bantry House

We visited the Bantry House while in southwest Ireland. The estate has been around since the 1700’s and has been a part of Irish history. During the Irish Civil War it was used as a hospital for 5 years and also during the second world war, the second squadron of the Irish army occupied the house and stables. In 1987 the estate was also turned into a bed and breakfast. It was amazing to view these spectacular grounds and the house as well. I LOVED the anemones around the grounds.

Bamboo Park

The Bamboo Park in Glengariff Ireland was created in 1999. It has many varieties of plants, not just bamboo. Other notable plants included a lot of hydrangeas, ferns and palms. Although a lot of the palms were badly hurt by a tough winter the previous year. This garden was a very tranquil place. Look how beautiful and bright the Hydrangeas were! The color was magnificent! 


When we visited Ireland, we went to the town of Adare. Adare is a small village that still has it’s old buildings and cottages that have lasted for hundreds of years. We got the chance to walk around, and the village itself is super beautiful. Look at the amazing church, that looked like a castle! We also walked around some gardens, all the flowers and shrubs were so pretty and were in perfect peak bloom.


Here are photos of when we visited Holland and went to Keukenhoff to see the tulips. It was breathtaking with all the beautiful colors and the meticulous gardening. The sheer numbers of tulips was overwhelming (in a good way!) It is definitely a sight to see! I think one of my favorite parts of all the floral displays, was the rivers of mini grape hyacinths flowing amongst all the tulips. The royal purple was so beautiful. 

Holland from the Train and Bus

Being on foot and looking at Holland is beautiful, but get into a car or plane and the view elevates. Being able to get a bird’s eye view of the fields and landscape gives a feeling that can’t be described. It was magical to be in the trains rushing past the tulip fields. I still can’t get over the copies amounts of tulips and all the different colors that were being grown. 

Castle in Holland

We also visited a castle in Holland. The medieval architecture of the estate was amazing. The castle looked straight out of a storybook! There was even a drawbridge with a moat. It felt like being moved back in time. The atmosphere was stoic and fabulous. All the surrounding grounds were carefully taken care of, and there was even animals roaming around in the fields. 

Botanical Garden – Amsterdam

While in Amsterdam, we visited the botanical garden. They had an amazing variety of plant life. Many of it was encased in glass to keep it safe from the outside world. We loved the display cases and the massive tropical plants. The last photo was my favorite plant inside the botanical garden. It was this beautiful tree, that just looked like it was dripping purple flowers. 


When we visited Amsterdam, it was an unforgettable experience. All the buildings were artfully built, and the city just screamed beauty. We passed a street vendor who was selling tulips. All the different choices were mind boggling. Really, all the flowers being sold (not just tulips) had many, many different color choices. We also walked past a small garden that had giant lizard statues running along it- how creative! 


Aalsmeer is the largest flower auction held in Holland. The town that the auction is held in, is referred to as the Flower Capital of the World. All the flowers that were being auctioned off were magnificent and so vibrant with color. The vastness of this place and the amazing volume of flowers in motion were unbelievable.

Fort Myers, FL

While in Fort Myers, Florida we visited many beaches and the land that surrounded our hotel. It was such a tranquil area to visit. All the animal and plant life was interesting and new to this Long Islander. I loved all the different tropical birds. I also loved the large white trees by our hotel, that looked like string hanging down from the branches. They were so cool. They looked like they were just melting. 

Duke Estate, NJ

The Doris Duke Estate was begun in 1903, with plans to build a new mansion were put into place by J.B. Duke. He also had plans to build other mansions in New York and North Carolina. After the foundation was laid in 1911, construction abruptly stopped. It is claimed to be from the staggering drop in tobacco sales (the business J.B. Duke was involved in.) Today, the remnants of this building project may be seen at the Old Foundation site, which overlooks the Great Meadow, a centerpiece of the habitat regeneration efforts at Duke Farms. The Orchid Range is one of the first buildings that was erected on the property. The Orchid Range is a large greenhouse that is home to many tropical plants and fruits that grow year round.

Central Park, NYC

We took a visit into Manhattan this month. It was so nice being able to walk around Central Park. We visited the Central Park Zoo while we were there as well. It is so amazing, that there is such a large space of just greenery right in the center of busting New York. This park is so beautiful, it is definitely one of those things that have to be on everybody’s bucket list. 


I visited my Dad in San Clemente CA, and went with my stepmom Annie to a Garden near their home. We saw lovely tropical plants there including a large variety of bamboo and other flowering plants like cactus. All the tropical and warm weather plants were giant and magnificent. I love that we were able to get a shot of a hummingbird on a feeder! He just sat there and let us take a photo! 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, AZ

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona, is an interesting place. It is not like the traditional arboretums we are familiar seeing here in New York, where there is a ton of greenery. This was a more dry, and arid place for plants to grow. Therefore making all the plants, things that could absorb and hold water for a very long time (like cactuses!) They have guided tours, nature trails, and really interesting plants!

Tempe AZ Garden

I took these photos when I was visiting my sister in her home in Arizona. I had such a lovely visit with her. I couldn’t resist taking photos of her garden! This is the garden she has at her house. There was a lot of greenery, amongst all the dry landscape of Arizona. There was small wooden insects placed around the garden, that gave the effect of insects sitting in the garden. 

Biltmore Estate, Ashville, NC

The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina has a lot of beauty behind the walls of the estate. The gardens on the property are magnificent and definitely worth seeing. There was one plant that caught my attention during our visit. It was the Rose Grape (Medinilla Magnifica.) The bright pink color, and large green leaves had such a contrast against each other that was super pleasing to the eye. 


Bermuda Botanical Garden

We took a cruise to Bermuda for our 10th wedding anniversary. The island is such a vibrant and tropical place with plant life unlike any other. It was such a memorable experience going to the botanical gardens located on the island. All of the tropical flora was beautiful, I wish we could grow tropical plants like these year round on Long Island! 

Bayard Dahlias, Great River

The Bayard Arboretum in Great River has many beautiful flower beds. Here are some photos from the dahlia garden. This garden is planted each year, and maintained by the members of the Long Island Dahlia Society. It’s really magnificent this time of year. All of the flowers are vibrant, and boisterous. Look at the bee that stood still for a photograph on one of the dahlias! 

Bike Ride to the Phoenix Zoo

While in Arizona, I had the chance to take a bike ride to the Phoenix Zoo.  There were so many different animals. There was monkeys, flamingos, turtles, tigers, many different birds and various other mammals. All the animals there were so amazing. The monkeys were super cute, and were just running from tree to tree. The one animal in particular I liked the most was the tiger. 

Bayard Arboretum, NY

The Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY is a great place to visit. They have a garden strictly for dahlias which is lovely. You can see more of that here. It is about 600 acres of natural beauty, full of well maintained paths. It is such a scenic place that is great for taking photographs. The water was at high tide when these photos were taken. 

Chiluly Exhibit at Phoenix Botanical Garden

We visited this Chiluly exhibit which filled the Phoenix Botanical Garden. All the glass sculptures were made to represent the plants growing. There was glass sculptures of rocks, cactuses, trees and flowers. We went during the day, and then came back at night to see the glass sculptures all lit up. Daytime photos of each glass sculpture are followed by night images of the same exhibit. It was really spectacular. 

What to do in March

It’s March already, and many things are upon us. Daylight Savings, St. Patrick’s Day, and yes–more gardening chores. Here are some helpful hints of what should be done in your garden.

1. Time to start cutting back on the ornamental grasses and remnant’s of last year’s perennials. Houseplants should also being replanted into pots that are 1 to 2 inches larger, you can even give them a little bit of organic fertilizer like seaweed!

2. By the second week of the month, it is necessary to start the seeds of annuals indoors. You can also plant cool-season crops like lettuce and spinach outdoors.

3. It’s the third week of March, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To celebrate you can buy a potted Oxalis regnellii Shamrock Plant. Or you can sow broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower indoors. In the vegetable garden, if the soil isn’t too moist you can incorporate lime and compost into the soil, then cover with plastic mulch to warm the soil.

4. Now is the time to remove broken stems from lilacs and rhododendrons, but DO NOT prune intact ones with buds on them. You can also start the seeds of peppers, tomatoes and eggplants indoors.

5. In the last few days of March, you should rake your beds and clear out any debris. No matter how well you did this in autumn, there is likely more to do now.

Keep in mind, that Daylight Saving’s begins March 8th, and it is illegal in Suffolk and Nassau County to fertilize your lawn before April 1st. Also, Spring officially begins at 6:45 PM on March 20th, rejoice for the warm weather!

What to do in February

February has rolled around again, time for Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day. But also an important time to perform certain task’s in your garden. Here is a list of helpful tips to follow.

1. In the first week of the month, you should check on stored tubers and bulbs, mist those that re drying out and get rid of the rotten ones. Lavender should also be started along with thyme indoors on a sunny windowsill. It may not seem like it but the compost pile should be turned, it is still cooking out there!

2. In the second week you should prune summer blooming trees and shrubs to tame size and shape. Also remove dead branches and those that crisscross. Orchids should be replanted that are outgrowing their pots.

3. It’s the third week, if you haven’t properly cleaned seed-starting supplies yet, wash the one part bleach to 10 parts water and rinse well. Bring an early spring indoors by force-blooming flowering shrubs like crab-apple, forsythia and quince. Cut branches and place into vases of water indoors.

4. The last week of February is just as important as the beginning of the month. Start pruning deciduous trees (those that lose leaves in the fall) except “bleeders” like maple, beech, dogwood, elm, and sycamore. Wait until those leaf out. When house plants begin to show signs of active growth, give them a boost with a shot of water-soluble fertilizer. Finally, you should start celery, leeks, onions, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower indoors; it is way too early for anything else.

Just a helpful hint about roses. If you are planning on buying them for Valentine’s Day, remember the colors! Red signifies  romance, Pink means affection, Yellow is for friendship, and White is for purity.


What to do in January

What to do in January

With January, comes the new year, new weather and new things to do in your garden.

1. In the first week of January, wrap recently planted evergreens with burlap to avoid wind and snow damage. Also, don’t forget to rotate houseplants and keep away from heat sources!

2. Once you take down your Christmas tree, don’t throw it all away! Trim branches and use as mulch over your precious garden beds! But don’t forget, avoid walking on frozen turf outside or you will shatter grass blades causing noticeable damage in the spring.

3. Once the temperature is above 40 degrees, spray your broad leaf evergreens with an anti-desiccant to protect from the harsh winter damage.

4. By the fourth week of January you should start parsley, onions, and leeks indoors in a dark location. Once they begin to sprout, move them into a bright spot! Also begin to prune dormant fruit trees but make sure to complete the task before the end of March.

5. In the last week of January, there is a bit of maintenance that should be done. Firstly, you should cut branches of forsythia, dogwood, honeysuckle, lilac, quince, and redbud, and place them in vases to force early blooming indoors. Secondly, you should begin the slow grow of annuals like ageratum, nicotiana, snapdragons, and verbena indoors. Thirdly, African violets and other flowering houseplants should be deadheaded. And last but not least, hold a steaming pot of water over frozen ponds to melt an opening in the surface that will release trapped gases that can poison fish (also those fish need to get some air too!)

Just a tip, avoid using salt to melt snow, its toxic to most plants. Instead you should try using sawdust, sand, cat litter, or even good old fashioned elbow grease!


September 27, 2013

Here in our garden, during late September, we have many plants blooming including Mexican Sunflower (tithonia), Watermelon, Peanuts, Japanese Anemones, Thai Dragon Peppers, Cleomes, Cannas, Strawflower, Purple Aster, Blue Mink Ageratum, Porcelain Berry, Beauty Berry, Pineapple (because why not?), Zinnas and Marigolds. Everything is growing so nicely. All the different colors are so pleasing to the eye.

September 13, 2013

Early September brings many flowers into bloom. Some flowers in our yard include Beauty Berry, Ageratum, Turtlehead, Autumn Joy and Dark Red Sedums, Love Lies Bleeding  (Amaranth), Guara, Anemones, Perennial Fuschia, Osteospermum (African Daisies), tuberose and a fun mystery plant from Purple Nancy.

UPDATE: The mystery plant is called Talinum. Thanks to Margie Potash for identifying this plant for me! This particular variety is called: Talinum paniculatum ‘Limon’



August 30, 2013

Late August brings bright and beautiful flowers. Some of the flowers in bloom include Hydrangea, Russian Sage, Ruby Glow Sedum, White Rose of Sharon, Lavender Chiffon Rose of Sharon, Japanese Anemones and Pink Anemones, and also Red Sunflowers. Everything is growing so great, I like that most of the flowers are in shades of pink! 

August 19, 2013

Mid-August brings beautiful flowers, vegetables and fruit. Plants in bloom include Kousa Dogwood, Double Purple Datura, Limelight Hydrangeas, Fuschia, Purple Hyacinth Bean Vine, Blueberries, Cucumbers, Cherry and Grape Tomatoes, Watermelon, Cannas and Gaillardia Razzle Dazzle. Look at this wonderful picture we got of the bee on our flowers as well- such a great moment to capture! 

Hoya Plant

This is our wonderful Hoya plant, also known as “Wax Vine.” After 25 years of blooming, I was finally able to capture the blooming process all in one day. The flowers are a pale pink color that drip a sweet honey-smelling liquid. It is very strong, but it is worth every second. The flowers are so beautiful and its amazing watching them bloom every year. 

August 2, 2013

The beginning of August brings in many plants. Some that are blooming for us including Shrimp Plant, Purple Coneflowers, Rudbeckia, Perennial Fuschia, Limelight Hydrangea (a tree form), Lavender Chiffon Rose of Sharon, Blueberries, Angel Earrings Fuschia, Dwarf Butterfly Bush, Cleomes, Portulaca, Daisies, Cannas, Geraniums, and Gerber Daisies. All the colors are so bright and beautiful! 

July 12, 2013

There are many flowers in bloom in mid-June in our yard. They include Angel Wing Begonia, Snake Plant, Meyer Lemon, Giant Yellow Daylilies, White Echinacea, Threadleaf Coreopsis in sunbeam and moonbeam varieties, Saint John’s Wort, Sedum blooms, Dwarf Hosta, Giant Yucca, Red Magic Daylily, Purple Balloon flowers, Fuschia Ricartonii (perennial!!), Hens and Chicks, Creeping Sedums, Larkspur, Strawflowers, Geranium, Cleome, Celosia, Gaillardia Razzle Dazzle, Gazanias, and Pink Petunias, Purple Passion and Lobelia in Hanging Baskets on the front porch.


All of the hostas are in full bloom right now. Some of our favorites include the Island Charm Dwarf Hosta, Another dwarf hosta (that we don’t know the name of) with big white splashes, Blue Kross Regal which is at least 4 feet across, Bright Yellow, Small Yellow, Massive Blue Ridged, Sum and Substance, Small Round Blue and Narrow Leaf Dark Green. 


June 28, 2013

Late June brings in a lot of blooms. Here are photos of some of the lovely flowers growing in our yard at the moment. They include Geranium Splish Splash, Dwarf White Astilbe, Pink Astilbe, Deep Pink Asiatic Lilies, Shasta Daisies, White Coneflower Echinacea, Pale Orange Asiatic Lilies, Bright White Lilies, Korean Hydrangea, Pink and Blue Hydrangea, Nikko Blue Hydrangeas, Bright Red Asiatic Lilies, Evening Primrose, Creeping Sedum, Stella Doro Daylilies, Honeysuckle, Threadleaf Coreopsis, Stewartia, Hostas and Forget Me Nots.

June 19, 2013

Mid-June has many flowers blooming our garden. Some of the flowers include Asiatic Lilies, Stella Doro Dayilies, Shasta Daisies, Creeping Jenny, Hinoki Cyprus, Evening Primrose, Everlasting Sweet Pea, Lemon Yellow Coreopsis, Pink Dianthus, Dwarf Iris, Thyme, Lavender, Amelanchier (serviceberry tree), Dwarf Euonymous, Loyalist Hosta, Viburnum Kilimanjaro, Stiletto Dwarf Hosta, Brilliant Red Caladium, Geranium, Blueberries, Daffodils, Blue Hydrangea, Jackmanii Clematis, Houttuynia Cordata (chameleon plant), Plum Tomatoes, Rose Campion, and Brown Eyed Susans.

Garage Sale Finds

Some of the best items can be found at garage sales, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Can you believe it was less than $30 for all of this stuff! Some of our great finds include a small wrought iron pig, a foot stool that I refurbished by covering it in a fabric to match our chair, A mirror that had farm animals on it and a cool metal mannequin used to hold flower pots! 

June 14, 2013

Many flowers are currently in bloom in our garden. Some of our favorites that are growing at the moment include Asiatic Lilies, Thyme, Strawberry Parfait Dianthus, Purple Coneflower, Lance Leaf Coreopsis, Clematis, Silvestri Anemone, Bleeding Hearts, Kiwi, Lettuce, Strawberries, and Knockout Rose. All the greenery is so beautiful, everything is so lush and lovely! 


June 10, 2013

Start of the deep summer blooms are beginning to show up. Some of the flowers growing are Bridal Veil Spiraea, Mock Orange Tree, Double Mock Orange Tree, Aztec Sunset Zinnia, White Snapdragon, Lavender, Hyacinth, Hosta, Volunteer Snapdragons, Crabapple Ruby Tears, Rose Campion blooms, Cannas, Gazania, Portulaca, Allysum, Lobelia, Geraniums, Rosemary, Tuberose Blubs, Ranunculus, and Kousa Dogwood.