Gardening While Intoxicated Episode 2: Top 5 Holiday Plants
26 November 2019 | 9:11 pm

Here is the second in the video series I'm doing with Johanna Dominguez. These are common holiday plants, but there are a few hacks in here you may not have considered. Check it out!

A classic conservatory
21 November 2019 | 9:09 pm

Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a seamless, almost flawless operation. Everything that one would expect to see at this time of year (moving into the holidays) in an American botanical gardens is in place. The mum show is waning, but the poinsettia show is waxing.  Its large garden railroad runs through miniature farms with interactive watermills, tractors, even herds of goats. Small groups of Chihulys pop up throughout the glasshouses. The winter light show starts in a couple weeks. Santa is on his way.

If that were all, Phipps would not interest me too much. Model trains can only fleetingly hold my interest, I dislike mums and (for the most part) poinsettias, and—heresy!—I am not a big Chihuly fan. The glass objects are very pretty placed among flowers and foliage, I grant you.

But that’s not all. What does impress me is the superb care of a magnificent plant collection that’s often displayed in its proper contexts. Orchids are embedded in a dense, lush display, well-labeled, and including a rare collection of Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids). A tropical forest area has a Cuba theme; a veil of heat and humidity descends as air-tight doors close
behind you. Having experienced random drafts and fluctuating heat/humidity levels at conservatories in the past, it is all the more impressive that this greenhouse is not just perfectly maintained—it’s also energy efficient. In fact, Phipps has LEED Platinum certification.

There are also gorgeous fern, palm, and cacti collections. I fell in love with a massive Agave americana ‘Marginata,’ which, while maybe not the rarest plant there, was thoroughly dominating its space (above).

I saw an interesting question posed in a Facebook group for growing professionals. “What do y’all (sic) think are the top dangers to public gardens as establishments?”

The answers were equally interesting; here are a few:
“Being turned into amusement parks for the sake of wooing visitors.”
“Lack of adequate funding for maintenance and infrastructure.”
“Being seen as irrelevant, out of touch and elitist to younger generations.”

I don’t think the Phipps is in danger of any of this. It looks well-funded and it takes plants very seriously. But I didn’t come there for the railroad.

Gardening While Intoxicated is off the wagon!
31 October 2019 | 5:30 pm

Likely, I'll be transferring this blog to another provider, like Wordpress or one of those hip new web builders these kids today use. For now, I am back posting here. It will mainly be videos, like this one, produced by my video partner Johanna Dominguez. It's a primer on bulb hacks, including planting in big pots and forcing. Enjoy!

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