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, two day tours of five interesting Harrisburg-area gardens I’ve seen (plus lunch and wine-tasting at Armstrong Valley Winery), 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 $20 gift cards to several lucky winners on each of the trips.
Details on all the trips and talks…
2015 TALKS BY GEORGE
Fri., Aug. 7, 2015: Ames True Temper Community Gardens
I’ll be doing a kind of “bug walk” and informal talk on the assorted troubles that can happen in real-world vegetable gardens at the Ames True Temper Community Garden, 465 Railroad Ave., Hampden Twp. (next to the railroad tracks in Shiremanstown).
The talk is free, and reservations aren’t required. Just come on out.
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.