George’s Talks and Trips
When I don’t have my nose in a computer or compost pile, you’ll find me out and about doing gardening talks and leading garden-themed trips. Below is a list of what’s still on tap for 2015… plus a new winter trip that’ll take you to see great gardens of central Florida as well as backstage at Disney’s Epcot Center hydroponics.
If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you my current list of 22 programs.
If you like to ogle gardens, the remaining 2015 crop of trips includes a 3-day trip to Penn State’s new Childhood’s Gate children’s garden, the new Pittsburgh Botanic Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and day trips to New York’s Wave Hill and New York Botanic Garden and a “Christmas with the du Ponts” trip to Hagley Museum, Winterthur and Longwood Gardens. Scroll down more to see details on the Feb. 2-9, 2016, trip to Florida gardens.
Stauffers of Kissel Hill Garden Centers is again sponsoring the 2015 trips, which are planned and operated by Lowee’s Group Tours of Harrisburg. Stauffer’s is kicking in $25 gift cards to several lucky winners on each of the trips.
Details on all the trips and talks…
2015 TALKS BY GEORGE
The rest of my talks for 2015 are all “in-house” ones for garden clubs and Master Gardener groups. This is the right place, though, to check for my upcoming open-to-the-public talks. I’ll post them as they’re ready.
2015 TRIPS BY GEORGE
Wave Hill and New York Botanical Garden
Friday, Aug. 28, 2015
Wave Hill is a beautifully designed public garden with a collection of themed beds overlooking the Hudson River. The New York Botanical Garden is one of the world’s best, covering 250 acres and featuring trees, shrubs, herbs, perennials, and vegetables, plus an elaborate children’s garden and a conservatory rivaling Longwood’s.
Cost is $139, including lunch. More information and booking is available by calling Lowee’s Group Tours at 717-657-9658 or toll-free 1-888-345-6933 or by emailing CKelly@Lowees.com. Pickups are at both East Shore and West Shore locations. See the full itinerary on Lowee’s website.
New PSU Children’s Garden, Pittsburgh Botanical Garden and Fallingwater
Thursday, Oct. 15 to Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015
We’ll spend the first day seeing the new 1-acre Childhood’s Gate children’s garden at the Penn State Arboretum (plus the rest of the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens there), followed by the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Day 2 will feature a tour of the new Pittsburgh Botanical Garden (just opened in fall 2014), an evening tour of Pittsburgh’s century-old Phipps Conservatory and butterfly house, a ride up the Duquesne Incline and a cruise on the Gateway Clipper.
Day 3 is a morning stop at Trax Farms, one of the biggest and best garden centers in the Pittsburgh area, followed by a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house with its iconic waterfall and natural landscaping.
Cost is $525 per person double, including six meals, two nights lodging and admissions. More information and booking is available by calling Lowee’s Group Tours at 717-657-9658 or toll-free 1-888-345-6933 or by emailing CKelly@Lowees.com. Pickups are at both East Shore and West Shore locations.
See the full itinerary on Lowee’s website.
Christmas with the du Ponts
Friday, Dec. 4, 2015
We’ll have a du Pont-filled day, starting with the family’s first American home, now the Hagley Museum, where we’ll see the house and grounds where the du Pont legacy began.
Then we’ll head to Winterthur, the home of garden-loving Henry Francis du Pont, who also amassed a huge collection of American decorative arts. This estate is decorated elegantly for the holidays.
The last stop is Pierre du Pont’s Longwood Gardens to see its elaborately adorned conservatory, its humongous outdoor light display and its fountain show set to lights and holiday music. We stay after dark to enjoy the lights.
Cost is $135, including lunch at Winterthur. More information and booking is available by calling Lowee’s Group Tours at 717-657-9658 or toll-free 1-888-345-6933 or by emailing CKelly@Lowees.com. Pickups are at both East Shore and West Shore locations.
See the full itinerary on Lowee’s website.
Mickey’s Plants and Gardens of Central Florida
Tuesday, Feb. 2, to Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016
Shave a week off of winter cold, and see plants blooming in February as we head to central Florida for an 8-day, 7-night gardener’s winter get-away.
Yes, much is blooming in Florida even while we’re freezing our buds off in a central-Pennsylvania winter. See 24 photos I took on a previous trip if you don’t believe it.
Disney World’s doorstep will be our home base for a trip that includes six superb Florida gardens, a behind-the-scenes tour of Epcot’s Land Pavilion, a day trip and boat cruise to see Florida native plants and wildlife, and the best strawberry sundaes you’ve ever had.
The trip starts with a flight to Orlando and a first-afternoon tour of Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens with its beautiful palms, camellias and roses. I’d have to rank this one second or third on my list of favorite gardens anywhere in Florida.
We’ll then check into the Comfort Suites Maingate East, located just minutes from the Disney theme parks and in the midst of some 60 shops and restaurants. We’re staying there all 7 nights.
Day 2 features a “behind-the-seeds” tour of Epcot Center’s Land Pavilion where we’ll take a tour into the four greenhouses and fish farm that most visitors see only from boats. After the greenhouse tour, we’ll have the rest of the day to explore Epcot or any Disney theme park with our two-day Park Hopper passes that are included with the trip.
Day 3 is a visit to my favorite Florida garden – Sarasota’s Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Selby has an amazing collection of palms and tropical trees, including “walking” strangler figs and the Moreton Bay figs with their gigantic panel-like roots as seen in the film Jurassic Park.
Also on Day 3, we’ll stop at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Station to see schools of manatees and hit one of those hidden gems that’s a favorite of snowbirds – the Parkesdale Farm Market. This roadside market has world-class strawberry sundaes and shakes, featuring berries grown and picked fresh from the neighboring farm. Strawberries are in season in early February in central Florida.
Day 4 is a free day to visit Disney parks or one of the area’s many other fun attractions or just to relax by the hotel pool. Our hotel offers a free shuttle to the Disney parks, and then your Park Hopper pass lets you use free Disney transportation to go from one park to another.
Day 5 is a trip to two superb Florida East-Coast gardens – the 18-acre “jungle garden” of McKee Botanical Gardens (founded by a Penn Stater) and Fort Pierce’s Heathcote Botanical Gardens.
McKee was once 80 acres and one of Florida’s premier tourist attractions – drawing 100,000 visitors a year – before Disney came along. Strolling paths wind you through all sorts of tropical vistas, most of them featuring bridges and water.
The best part of Heathcote is its tropical bonsai garden. The crafted tropicals are set on ornate pedestals in beds of stone. Heathcote also has an excellent Japanese garden with waterfall.
Day 6 is off to Lakeland, where we’ll see the city-operated Hollis Gardens, a formally designed garden with terraced waterfalls, tropical blooms, and an edible-landscape display. This is one of the nicest municipal-run gardens I’ve ever seen. It’s very colorful and well maintained.
Then it’s over to Lake Wales to tour the 50-acre Bok Towers Gardens with its 205-foot-tall granite “singing tower” with carillon organ. We’re timing it to be there on a day and time when a carillon concert is scheduled.
Bok Towers is the winter estate of Philadelphian Edward Bok, once the editor of Ladies Home Journal. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. designed the grounds, which are primarily Florida woodland.
This stop includes the 8-acre landscaped “El Retiro” estate of Bethlehem Steel’s C. Austin Buck with its allee of kumquat trees in the front yard.
Day 7 is nature oriented to get a flavor of the native plants and wildlife of Florida. We’ll take a 2-hour cruise on the Banana River Lagoon to see its mangrove swamps, tidal flats, rich marine life and maybe even some manatees, dolphins, turtles and alligators, then visit the Merritt Island National Refuge and its quarter-mile bird trail in the afternoon.
Day 8 we head home with a camera full of great photos and a February tan.
The cost is $1,995 per person double, including airfare, lodging, transportation, luggage-handling, admissions and 13 meals. More information and booking is available by calling Lowee’s Group Tours at 717-657-9658 or toll-free 1-888-345-6933 or by emailing CKelly@Lowees.com.
See the full itinerary on Lowee’s website.
Spotlight on Paris
Monday, Sept. 19, to Mon., Sept. 26, 2016
We’ll be heading to Paris and beyond to see such world-famous French gardens as Monet’s Giverny and the Palace Versailles formal gardens in this 8-day trip put together by Collette Vacations and Lowee’s Group Tours.
The lineup also includes visits to the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and France’s Champagne country as well as dinner in the Eiffel Tower, an evening cruise on the Seine River, and the choice of a free day in Paris or a day trip to the stunning gardens at the Chateau de Villandry.
The trip leaves Sept. 19, 2016, from Philadelphia (with local transportation there) and returns Sept. 26, 2016, from Paris. We’re staying the entire time at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.
The trip cost, including hotel, airfare, admissions, guides and nine meals, is $4,324 per person double. The Villandry day trip is $151 extra ($90 per person if 35 or more people go). Fontainebleu is $100 extra.
Here’s a rundown:
Tue., Sept. 20, 2016: See Luxembourg Gardens, a 60-acre park and gardens that’s home to France’s Senate and the model for our Statue of Liberty. Then visit the Jardin des Plantes, a city botanical garden that dates to 1635 and is part of the French National Museum of Natural History.
Wed., Sept. 21, 2016: Tour Bois Richeux, one of the oldest farms in France and now sporting a medieval garden and classic French-style potager beds. Then spend the afternoon touring impressionist artist Claude Monet’s famous Giverny garden with its 2-acre painterly flower beds and iconic wisteria-adorned bridge across Giverny’s water garden. You’ll recognize the gardens from Monet’s paintings.
Then it’s back to Paris for dinner under the Eiffel Tower and an evening cruise on the Seine River.
Thur., Sept. 22, 2016: Some of Paris’s best known attractions are the focus this day, including the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Champs-Elysees, the Place de la Concorde and the Place Vendome. The highlight will be a visit to the Louvre, arguably the world’s best museum that houses masterpieces including Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. Dinner at one of the city’s fine restaurants is on the menu for this evening.
Fri., Sept. 23, 2016: This is an optional day. Those who like some free time can spend the day seeing Paris on their own terms, while others have a choice between the Fontainebleau Royal Residence or a trip to the Loire Valley to see two superb private gardens.
Fontainebleu is an ornate chateau and palace with art galleries and gardens that was home to French royalty for seven centuries, including Napoleon. This option includes a stop on the way back at Barbizon, the “village of painters,” where you’ll feel like you’re walking through an impressionist painting.
The other day-trip option features Plessis Sasnieres – a 4-acre private garden filled with unusual plants and an excellent kitchen garden – followed by an afternoon at the Chateau de Villandry – the last great Renaissance chateau, castle and what’s been called the “world’s most beautiful vegetable garden.” I think it rivals Versailles’ gardens.
Sat., Sept. 24, 2016: We’re off to Champagne country, including a stop in ancient Reims where early French kings were crowned, a stop in the village of Epernay, and leisurely time sampling various Champagnes, some of them made in cellars dating to the 4th century.
Sun., Sept. 25, 2016: Our last touring day features a visit to the region’s crowning attraction, the Palace of Versailles. This was the seat of French royalty from 1682 until the French revolution and houses the Hall of Mirrors (still used for important government affairs), five chapels, the Museum of the History of France, and some of the most elaborate, impressive gardens and water features the world has ever seen.
We’ll have a farewell dinner with wine, Champagne and a cabaret show at the Paradis Latin to cap off this day before flying home early the next afternoon.