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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Not So Secret Garden

In my post on our travel blog about the huge 178,000 square foot Biltmore Mansion that we visited in Asheville, North Carolina, I mentioned that it was built upon an 8,000 acre estate. The grounds of the estate were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead who also designed Central Park.

The grounds are amazing and if I lived in the area I might buy a membership to the Biltmore Mansion to visit the gardens during different parts of the year as there are plants that grow and bloom throughout the year giving a different experience each time.

There are several different gardens that you can walk through on the estate with paths that meander through. I was impressed by the variety and the beauty of the grounds.

My favorite part was the huge greenhouse that houses several different types of plants.

There were a bunch of different orchids....

and cacti......

and a bunch of tropical plants.

I actually liked the Biltmore Gardens even more than I liked the house even though I think the house is more famous. If you get a chance, visit the Biltmore  Gardens in Asheville. They were amazing.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Weeding gadgets

Tasks that can be done by hand are fine and dandy, but ones that justify the purchase of tools? Even better! 

Leave it to my dad to have not one, but three, gadgets designed for weeding with minimal knee- or back-bending effort. 

This black one (without a brand name) has spikes at the end of the pole. Position it over the center of a weed and press down on the bottom platform with your foot. This action fans out the spikes slightly. When you pull the tool out of the ground the spikes close in around the weed root and extract it. The final move is to push on the knob and pop the weed from the tool. Set up a bucket for target practice and you're on your way to enticing the kiddos into the weeding chore game. This tool concept ranges $20-30 and is available under different makers at most big box stores or online. My dad loves this tool for weeding without damaging existing plantings. He says it is best suited for smaller weeds.

Next are two red ones are made by Garden Weasel in their Weedpopper line. First is the Step and Twist, which has two blades beneath a stepping platform. Like the black tool you place it on the center of a weed and press down with your foot. The difference is you twist the pole. It has two handlebars (a T joint) on top for easy twisting (not shown in my photos). It also has a plunger for popping weeds out. My dad chooses this one for weeds bigger than the black tool can handle -- but it also leaves a deeper hole.  It costs around $25.

The second by Garden Weasel is the Weedpopper Pro.  It has spikes at the end of a hinged metal box. Insert tool just off center of the weed and press on the box with your foot to thrust the spikes upward. It works rather like a mini, foot-activated pitchfork. It can work on all sizes of weeds, Dad says, but bigger weeds may need attack on multiple sides. My dad also likes this one for clearing grass in flower and garden beds.  It is the most expensive of the bunch at $45 online. Whereas the other two tools shown here grasp the weeds allowing you to collect them without bending to the ground, this gadget leaves them in the dirt. But the kids have young backs, right?

What are your favorite gardening gadgets? My dad's birthday is coming up and I need ideas!