Category Archives: Articles from our Gardeners

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, HOT

By Ellen Azotea

It’s a gorgeous summer day, and the garden is calling. Perhaps the lawn mower and hedge trimmers are chiming in too. In my garden, I tend to jump right in without planning for what my body might need—my plants take top priority after all! But as the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so let’s review some warm-weather gardening safety: 

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The Hum of the Hummingbird

By Carly Hatfield

The beloved Ruby-Throated Hummingbird will be back very soon to capture our attention for  yet another season. This small bird is a wonderful guest in any garden. Migrating to the south from October through April to escape the harsh winters, this bird is always a sign that favorable weather is on its way. One can provide a reliable food source and shelter for these small wonders with just a few steps.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

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My First Peeks at the Woodland Garden

By Karen Fraizer

This winter I was assigned the task of taking care of the Woodland Garden here at Kingwood Center. We had a long-time gardener retire, that had been taking care of the Woodland Garden for many years. This gardener left me with a plant inventory, garden maps, and very detailed notes for this garden (Thanks Glenna). This winter and early spring, with everything covered in snow, it was difficult to get a vision of the garden. With spring slowly emerging I am surprised everyday by something new. First, it was just the outline of the walkways and the beds. Second, it was the benches and the stepping stones throughout the beds. Now, with spring officially here (fingers crossed), it has been so exciting to watch the spring bulbs popping up. The daffodils that are scattered throughout the garden mix well with the blooms of the hellebores.

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Fruit Tree Guild: Companion Planting

By Carly Hatfield

A Guild is a type of companion planting, taken from the techniques often used in permaculture gardening and utilized specifically in fruit tree production. These ideas and practices can be used to attract beneficial insects and pollinators, improve the soil profile, increase the fertile nutrients available to surrounding plants, and deter pests and disease issues. A customized guild can be implemented in every garden no matter the focus of harvest; whether it be fruits, vegetables or just a stunning colorful display garden.

Our Carriage House garden utilizes a fruit tree guild since we feature many fruit tree varieties that act as the focal point or anchor of our gardens such as Apple, Cherry, and Pear. Also a few varieties of fruiting bushes such as Blueberries and Raspberries and even a few varieties of Hazelnuts are featured in the carriage house garden. These specimens are as beautiful as they are functional and require some thoughtful observation to get the most out of them and their harvest.

Carriage House Garden

Carriage House Garden

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Karen Fraizer

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Did you know that when you throw away an aluminum can it will still be there 500 years from now?! And, did you know that there is no limit to the amount of times aluminum can be recycled? Or that when you throw out a glass bottle it will take 4000 years or more, to decompose?! And, that the energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours? With all the statistics available, you should be scared into recycling.

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Gardening for the Birds

By Ellen Azotea

Providing for the needs of our feathered friends while improving our gardens is a wonderful way to combine two favorite hobbies: gardening and bird watching. A garden, ideally, should provide food, water, shelter (cover) and a place to raise young, but adding even just one of these elements will attract more birds to your yard.

A female house finch in the author’s garden

A female house finch in the author’s garden

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Have you ever wondered how Ducks and Peafowl survive the winter?

By Shawn McClain

Have you ever wondered how ducks and peafowl survive the winter? Maybe you have asked about Kingwood’s ducks and peafowl. You probably have heard us say “they are quite hearty to this climate and we assist them with shelter and high protein food through the winter months.” The heartiness of these interesting birds came to light this past winter when an old Kingwood newsletter surfaced.  In this newsletter, the birds were mentioned and explained how their arteries and body temperature aid them in cold weather.

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Houseplants in Winter

By Carly Hatfield

Albert Camus said, “In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Ohio winters seem to challenge my usually sunny disposition as well as the health of my houseplants. I am determined however to fight the cold Ohio winter until spring arrives. I like to pass the time by caring for my many houseplants. For every window in my house, there is a plant, or two or three.

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Wintertime in the Greenhouse

By Holly VanKeuren

As wintertime surrounds us, it is a wonderful time of year to be in the greenhouse.  Entering this world on a frozen, snowy day brings relief, if only briefly, from the tundra that chills us outside.  A deep breath within the welcoming doors brings the smell of humidity, soil, and the delicate perfumes of the plant life held here, safe under a layer of glass from the arctic blast outside.  This is the time of year for reflection upon the world outside, from the safe comfort of our inside worlds.  At this time of year I can look upon my wins or fails of my garden, and begin to dream again about the new life that will come with the spring.  Here in the greenhouse we are busy with the cultivation of this new life.  Here is where tiny seedlings are coaxed and fussed over, where new life is bursting forth one tiny leaf at a time.

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In the Holiday Spirit

By Glenna W. Sheaffer

Botanicals used in alcoholic spirits have been around since probably prehistory.  Beers, wines, aperitifs, digestifs, bitters, liquors, and liqueurs were one way to get people in the old days to drink medicinal bitter aids to the digestive system and get important vitamins and minerals in the body.  Aperitifs were often dry vermouth, gin or dry white wine with herbals added to aid digestion and stimulate an appetite.  The herbs commonly used were gentian root, barberry, angelica and seeds of cardamom and fennel.  Aperitifs are low in sugars and dryer with a more bitter flavor.  Digestifs are like a tonic to aid after dinner digestion and include brandy, port, sherry and liqueurs.  Port is a dark red wine from Portugal is made from specific small, dense, grapes with concentrated flavors.  Sherry is a white wine from Spain from their indigenous grapes.  Brandies and liqueurs are from grapes and other fruits.  Bitters are added to cocktails for their healthful flavoring often from bitter or sweet oranges, rhubarb, mint, thyme, and marjoram.

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