Wednesday, October 16, 2019

BfloGirlExplores: The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence

I love fall – the colors, the patterns, the textures, the smells, the apples (sorry, no pumpkin spice here!)…decorating moves back into the house (yes, I do decorate with pumpkins – just don’t like eating or drinking them) and I find myself saying “where did the year go?” (especially this year!)

There are so many cool things to do in the Buffalo area at this time of year, but I’ve never taken the time to actually do any of them. Well, call it a new perspective after the events of this summer, but I finally (FINALLY!) made it to The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence – for the first time in my 46 years (sometimes I’m slow…).

Now, I went on a Tuesday – no crazy pumpkin tosses or BBQ contests going on, no hayrides or carnival rides, and not  lot of people – that last part was pretty nice. It’s also free admission during the week if you’re just looking for a place to go and see some fall. There are plenty of mums, pumpkins and gourds available for purchase, as well as a gift shop, bakery, and a bar and café that opens at noon during the week and 11 a.m. on the weekends.

The Great Pumpkin Farm, located at 11199 Main St., opens daily at 10 a.m. – find out more about the events on the rest of this year’s schedule – running through Oct. 31 – at the link above.

all photos: paulathompsonfreelance

Friday, September 13, 2019

BfloGirlGeek/BfloGirlGarden: Khaleesi’s Garden

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Ok, not really…

circa 2014 - the originals
It was about 10-12 years ago, and it happened in this quaint little suburb of Buffalo.

circa 2015 - the move to bigger and better gardens
My “geek garden,” which has grown into “Khaleesi’s Garden,” started with just a couple of plants: a daylily called Jedi Free Spirit and a dahlia called Dark Angel Star Wars (which just totally reminds me of Mustafar). It became something of a game to look for new plants each year, and eventually it grew beyond Star Wars.

circa 2018 - overlooking Mustafar
Some annuals have changed over the years (where did my Hedwig and Black Widow coleus go, Rosy Dawn?), and many perennials have been added (finally got a Midnight Marvel Hibiscus to grow!), but I always find joy in a new discovery, and sometimes I even grasp at straws (I planted Veronica in the garden because Veronica is the code name for the Hulk-buster armor in Avengers: Age of Ultron!).

2019 garden
Along the way, I picked up a few sculptures – three dragons (hence Khaleesi), a baby dragon (so cute!) and a unicorn/Pegasus combo (which I know doesn’t exist, but Peter’s steed in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was a unicorn and Valkerie rode a pretty sweet Pegasus in “Endgame,” so I can’t dismantle it now!) – plus a couple of “sun and stars” pieces (odes to Khal Drogo). I also picked up a cute Baby Groot planter that I proceeded to fill with “Mint Marvel” sempervivum.

2019 succulent collection
Every winter, while I’m worrying about the next snowfall and how much sleep I’m going to get, I find the bright side of things when I go searching for next year’s new additions.

2019 garden
all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Monday, August 26, 2019

BfloGirlWorld: And just like that, summer’s at its end…

So that was the summer that got away…

Actually, it started with spring, which was cool and rainy and not conducive to doing a darn thing – especially gardening…

Then it got warm…and continued to rain (at least the plants liked it)…

Then Dad had health issues…then I had health issues…

Then, suddenly, it’s the week before Labor Day…WHAT?!?!?!

I’m actually ready – like, REALLY ready – for fall, because this summer has been abysmal – although my gardens do look pretty good, so I guess that’s something.

I’m ready for cooler nights, hot cocoa, plaid everything and boots. I’m ready for apple cider, sunflowers, mums and fall décor. I will not join you all on the pumpkin spice train, however – I just don’t get it, sorry.

Bring on health, bring on fall, bring on new beginnings.

all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Monday, April 29, 2019

BfloGirlGeek: The Art of the Brick

Yes, I finally made it…

With a week left, I made it to the Buffalo Museum of Science for “The Art of the Brick,” the amazing Nathan Sawaya Lego exhibit that I have wanted to see for years - and I was not disappointed.

I may have walked around the exhibit three times…

I may have wondered – out loud – how did he come up with these things?!?! (good thing my mom was with me…)

I may be in love with Legos again…(my inner 12 year old is happy about that)

(actually, that happened when I put together this ‘67 Mustang…

…or maybe this Avengers Quinjet…)

Closing for the exhibit at the Buffalo Museum of Science is THIS WEEKEND, and the Museum is pulling an all-nighter, open from Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. straight through to Sunday, May 5 at 4 p.m. – find out more about it here.

all photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Find more photos on my Facebook page

Friday, March 29, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Proven Harvest Edibles from Proven Winners

Last year, as part of the Proven Winners trial program, I was able to sample three new edibles that the company was releasing in 2019 under the Proven Harvest banner. The plants were Amazel Basil, Berried Treasure Strawberries and Garden Gem Tomatoes, and overall, I was very impressed.

Amazel Basil

First off, what a beautiful plant! I grew this in a large (10” diameter) ceramic floral-decorated planter, and it looked great – it would make a great filler plant in a larger container recipe.

Second, Amazel Basil is a sterile plant, so it will continue to produce new growth even if it flowers, and a little bit of flowering shouldn’t affect the taste. It is also Downy Mildew resistant.

Finally, I’m going to have to try it again, because I didn’t get to use it as much as I would’ve liked to. It was my first time growing basil, so I felt like I spent too much time looking for recipes and not enough time making them!

Berried Treasure Strawberries

I was most excited about this, because I LOOOOOVE strawberries! These were great to eat picked right off the plant, which leads to my only complaint: the berries were on the small side. They were tasty, however, and as an ever-bearing plant, quite prolific.

This plant still looks good: in September, I transplanted this from a container into a section of my veggie garden that I had pulled some old strawberry plants from (June-bearers) – then I ordered another one, and after that I ordered a Berried Treasure Flower Pillow from PW (I believe that will be 4-5 more plants for the garden next fall).

Garden Gem Tomatoes

Garden Gem is a smaller, Roma-shaped tomato (a larger, round tomato – Garden Treasure – will also be available in 2019) that, even I will admit, had good flavor. In general, I’m not a fan of tomatoes – I’ll eat them sliced thin on pizza, diced in pasta or salad, or as a sauce, but I’m not a fan of their usual pulpy texture. These weren’t pulpy – they were meaty. I was impressed, so I ordered another one for this year, as well as a Garden Treasure to try out.

I planted this – as well as the basil and strawberry plants – in containers so I could keep a better eye on them, and was impressed with the haul (about two pounds).

If you are in the Buffalo area and are interested in the Proven Harvest collection, Badding Brothers Farm Market, located at 10820 Transit Rd. in East Amherst, will be hosting a Launch Party on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, featuring demonstrations, taste tests, raffles and more.

all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Monday, March 25, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Plantasia in Paradise 2019

I’m not sure why this year felt different than others (perhaps it was the 19 straight days I worked in late January thanks to the weather…), but I am sooooo ready for spring…like, right now!

This weekend I took a stroll through this year’s edition of Plantasia – “Plantasia in Paradise” – at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, and it gave me just enough of the good feels to make it through to “real spring!”

“Paradise” included putting greens, outdoor kitchens, water features, lighting ideas and, of course, plenty of plants. There were also plenty of vendors (maybe a few too many for my taste) and lots of people (who were probably just like me – looking for spring inspo!).

A few things I noticed:
  • Garden art is still a thing (here in WNY at least!): like this guy, who would look great in Khaleesi’s Garden… 
  • “Funky geraniums” were everywhere: whether because they were available or because they’re cool (I vote for the last!), the fancy-leaf geraniums that I’ve adored for the last few years were all over the place. The multi-colored foliage looked great against the dark mulch backgrounds, but I’ve always enjoyed them in containers (because they overwinter well in my basement! #bonusplantsforthewin).
  • I need an elderberry shrub: I first saw elderberry outside of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, and fell in love with it because it looks like a Japanese maple. I found out later that it’s less expensive and more durable than Japanese maples – that sounds like a winner to me!
  • There were many different versions of “paradise” on display: for golfers, the putting green; for cooks and entertainers, the outdoor kitchen and specialty lighting. Unfortunately, I didn’t think there was enough on display for garden DIYers like me – containers, raised beds, garden art, garden-to-table growing. Hopefully soon, I’ll get to play in my own version of “paradise!”

all photos: PaulaThompsonFreelance

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

BfloGirlGarden: Five things I’ve learned from the Proven Winners trial plant program

A few years ago, when I was writing for Examiner and covering Buffalo Gardening, I was contacted by Proven Winners to be part of their trial plant program (score!). I already loved PW products and used a number of their annuals every year, so this seemed like a great way to try out some plants I might not have thought to purchase. Here are a few things I’ve learned from PW going into the 2019 gardening season (I have faith that it IS coming!!).

Experimenting with plants is fun! I would often experiment with color, but this way I learned to use different plants and had to make sure they “meshed” well  (light needs, water needs, etc.).

I really like hydrangeas. I was never really a shrub person, but I’ve really enjoyed watching these grow (I have three now). It’s also inspired me to redo the garden they’re in to give them some more room.

Clematis are crazy. I’ve had Pink Mink Clematis for four years, and I’m on my third trellis, each one larger than the last, because these things grow like mad.

Sometimes it’s good to stick with the classics. Petunias, calibrachoas and coleus just make me happy, and PW has amazing specimens of each.

Being able to give a “sneak peak” of new plants makes me feel rock-star-like. When a neighbor walks over and says “What is that?!?!” and you say “Oh, Proven Winners sent me that – it’s available next year…” #plantrockstar

After more than 100 inches of snow, I’m yearning for spring and garden season even more! Thank you Proven Winners for letting me participate in this program!

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