Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Smiley Park Children's Garden - Second Season

Master Gardeners and Community Volunteers cleaned and tucked away the Children's Garden for another successful season. Painting, pruning, trimming and needed repairs were completed for another year. There were many visitors and the Growing For The Hungry project was a success.

Three years ago Jim Clay approached Sue Heppeard and I suggesting the garden needed to extend its season. He and his family wanted to light up the garden for the Christmas Season. Everyone loves Christmas, so they set about outfitting the garden to look like a Christmas Fairy Land. This was all new to us, so we had no idea what to expect. A few other supportive community people got on board. DeShia furnished hot chocolate and cookies. There was Santa and Mrs Claus and of course there were Carolers to add to the festivities.

The magic hour for the opening was the eve before Thanksgiving at 6:30pm. By 6pm people were lined up at least a block long. Now what do we do? We had to call local law enforcement to direct traffic and help with the parking. Needless to say the hot chocolate and cookies did not last long. This was way beyond our expectations. It was estimated at least 1000 people turned out for the opening.  People were thrilled and so were we. The park was lighted every night until New Years.  Santa was there most evenings until he had to do his deliveries on Christmas Eve.

Year two, and with the previous success, we were better prepared. As this community is well noted for giving support, they contributed funds and gifts to come to Santa's aid. The Girl Scouts were well prepared with hot chocolate and cookies. This year was even bigger than the year before.The Clay Family spent a lot of time preparing for this event. A new tradition has been born.

The Clays started preparing the Christmas Garden in October this year. Keep this on your calender to start your Christmas Season. Several new things have been added and more lights have decked out the gardens, if that's even possible! The lights are scheduled to be turned on November 26th at 6:30pm. If you are in the area join us as the Children's Garden is transformed for it's second season as the Children's Christmas Garden.

Sue & Louise

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The End Is Near

First Snow
Can you believe we received our first snow on October 31st, so does this mean we will have 31 snows this winter? Now I am a lover of winter and snow, but I might just tire of it after number 24. What I do like about northwest Ohio, is the four season change. I don't like grey days and extreme heat, but I can adjust to what ever it is because one thing for sure it will change.

We have been preparing our gardens for winter over the last three weeks. We have been cutting plants back and deciding what ones we will prune next spring. Some summer bulbs need dug, like cannas and bring in planters that won't survive our harsh winters.

The fall color has been magnificent this year. Temperatures  have been just right to give us the big show. We do a lot of hand raking of the leaves, but we also mulch with the good old John Deere. We don't compost with them and I know we should. I do amend my soil in the spring with composted manure. For fertilizer this year I totally used Annie Havens Moo Poo Tea. My gardens have never been more beautiful.

Fallen Leaves

Today our Weeping Mulberry dropped its leaves in one mass drop. It made it easy to clean up. I would guess the snow and the drop of temperatures stepped up the process. Our Cleveland Pear hasn't had its color change. It is one of the last to loose its leaves. Now I really don't want to mislead you , but I do have this wonderful lawn boy (Fred) that takes care of cleaning up the lawn. I take care of the flowers, because he can be a little aggressive and some things may be gone forever. We each have passions, his is a beautiful lawn and it is a perfect frame for my gardens. There is a science of having a beautiful lawn. Properly attended grass will overcome weeds. Love walking barefoot. It is soft and feels so cool to your feet. He fertilizes the last time around the first of November.

Weeping Mulberry

Artistic Form
We have been cleaning our tools and equipment to put into storage. The garden art that needs to get out of the freezing temperatures is put away. We have drained the garden hoses and have had the irrigation system blown out. The snow blower has been put in position for quick access.

It has been a wonderful summer. We seemed to get rains just when we needed them. Not the case for some of you gardeners. Our farmers are harvesting a bumper crop. God is good. As we wrap up another year let us count our blessings. Looking forward to a rest, but will be looking for the first signs of spring before we can blink an eye.

That's a Wrap
Sue and Louise

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween....Van Wert Style

Halloween! A holiday that is celebrated in many ways. In Van Wert, we have our way, it's an all day affair. Before I go too far, I have to thank my co-blogger for taking pictures for this blog since I was a  little busy with one of the days events.

The day begins with trick or treat on Main. Downtown is invaded by Judy Geary's Creatures. Many adorned in costumes go from business to business's for a little treat and visit local shops.

Now, the day is just beginning! Late morning, the Commercial Building at the County Fairgrounds is your next stop. As I mentioned earlier I was a little busy! The 22nd Annual Fall Fright Festival, a free and safe event for the kids of our community. Free goody bags, cake walk, games with prizes, costume judging, cider and donuts, food stand, you name it it's all in one location. Then of course the traditional trick or treat concluded the day!

Happy Halloween from Van Wert!

Louise and Sue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall Foliage Tour

 Last week Fred and I joined a bus tour from our local YWCA for some leaf peeping across New York and Vermont. We chose the perfect time. The natives said it was a week early and the best color in twenty years. How lucky can you get.

Early Morning Sunrise

On Our Way

The color change is determined by less sunlight and cooler temperatures. This is a brief explanation. We had wonderful weather and only experiencing rain on our last day on the road.

Day one we visited Holden Arboretum at Kirkland. Ohio. This a great place to come face to face with nature. We were given a guided tour by a naturalist.

We had a lunch stop, then journeyed on to Buffalo, NY for our nights stay. A lovely dinner had been planned for our first night out. It was a great evening and only got better. Many of you might remember Carol Eggress. She and her husband, Regg live in Buffalo and were able to join us for dinner. I grew up on the farm owned by her father, now our family farm. We spent time together in our youth. She was a classmate of Ron Bagley who was also traveling with us. So good to catch up with each other.

On day two we visited the Yaddo Estate in Saratoga NY, a working artists' community.

We watched the movie SOUND OF MUSIC on the bus to set the mood for our arrival at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.  It was lovely, giving the feeling of being in Austria. I am sure this was why they chose this spot in Vermont. This was home for two nights. One of the Von Trapp children is still involved with the lodge. Baby Jonas is 75. The family plot is on the grounds where the family is buried. Maria, one of the children, lived to be 100.

Von Trapp Family Lodge

Day three was a full day. We picked up a local guide for the next 3 days. Oh my, what a pick up. She was one ball of fire. She was 75 pounds of perpetual motion.

Our Ball of Fire

We visited a Maple Sugar Farm, Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, a tour of the State Capitol, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, and Cabot Cheese. There are many dairies in Vermont. We had Sugar on Snow at the Maple Sugar Farm and told the process of tapping the trees and making the syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. We had lunch in the Capitol. There are no McDonalds in the capitol city. They don't allow large corporations in and by doing this there are no empty store fronts. Something to think about.

Sugar on Snow

Vermont State Capital

Art Across from the Capital
 Now for the home of Ben and Jerry's. Who doesn't love Ice Cream? We all had our favorite flavor.  We sampled cheese at the Cabot Cheese Factory and were given pieces of granite from the Rock Of Ages.

We visited the majestic Mount Mansfield in the Adirondacks where we rode a Gondola ride to the top. It was foggy at the top, but was a great view on the way down. A great picture opt.



Day four was the gilded age of the Vanderbilt's at there Shelburne Farms. There are three thousand acres along Lake Champlain. For that time, they had the largest barn in America that housed 300 horses. The barns roof was made of all copper.

Copper Roof Barn
We toured the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. They build a quality bear that is guaranteed for life.

We had lunch at Bob Newhart's Stratford Inn. If you are old enough to remember, it was the home of "The Bob Newhart Show". From there we walked off our lunch on The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail. Along the trail were some of his poems posted, like "The Road Not Taken".

The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

We arrived at The Summit Ski Lodge for the next two nights. Two giant St Bernards met us on our arrival along with a French Bulldog. Here they had a wonderful chef, so needless to say the food was excellent.

Bales of Straw
Day five we visited the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, followed by visiting Woodstock, "coined the prettiest small town in America". Next it was a tour of Billing's Farm that displayed Vermont's history, then on to Quechee Gorge. The Grand Canyon of Vermont.

Billing's Farm

Quechee Gorge
Day six we visited "Hildene", Robert Lincolns Family Home. The home served the Lincolns for 70 years. Robert was the only surviving son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. Being a gardener I loved their well attended gardens. There were two horticulturists, young women, attending the gardens. It was here I purchased Peony seeds from their garden. For $10 I received seven seeds. I hope I live long enough to see peonies.

Lincoln Family Home

We shopped at the renowned "Vermont Country Store". They have a little bit of everything. Our last night we stayed at a lovely Marriott in Rochester, NY and enjoyed a lovely dinner at a quaint little restaurant.

Day seven we headed home. We experienced our first rain. Being we were traveling along Lake Erie, and the grape growing, wine producing country, we stopped at The Woodbury Winery. A little Sicilian woman, owner, explained the whole process, followed by wine tasting. Then it was time to shop for wine. From here it was time for lunch. We were in the Chautauqua area of New York. It was here that we had lunch at the beautiful White Inn.

This was a week of the best color that God had to display, the food could not have been better and our accommodations were lovely. Friendships were formed and expectations of the fall foliage were more than met.

TV's Adam's Family Home
 Lastly, without our Tour Guide, Janet Mohr and our driver Pauline Averesh, this trip would not have been the wonderful trip that it was. They are a great team and took care of all of us. Thanks to both of you. Love to both of you. I guess I should mention Flippity Jibbit. Only to have her energy. Thank you Cherif.