Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mr. Jones

I forgot to mention a crucial item in my last blog post about what I did over break.

I have seen Mr. Jones a few times over the past month at the school, and we have talked a lot about my WISE project.  Mr. Jones is not only an avid reader of my blog ( :) !!!), but he is also a landscaper!!

Thursday of last week, right before my composting class I met up with Mr. Jones.  He is doing a landscaping project for one of the residents in Fall Creek.  She has a small area of land right in front of her home that has a few existing plants, but needs a new design.  And thats where Mr. Jones comes in!

He talked to me about his plan for the space, but he also gave me a few general landscaping tips. First, the LMNOT of gardening...
These are some important factors to keep in mind before doing a landscaping project.

Another really cool thing that Mr.Jones taught me was the vantage points of a space.  Most people when landscaping, garden right up against their house.  This is a great way for people walking by to see the landscape.  But what about the residents? They are not able to enjoy what they have created! So Mr. Jones says that before he does a project, he looks at the space from many different vantage points and designs accordingly.  I love this idea! I have never thought about it like this before.  It is something that I would like to do when designing the Music Garden.

Lastly, Mr.Jones sent me a link to Michigan State University's 4-H Children's Garden. They have a music garden too, and I could get some ideas from it!

So finally I would like to say- THANK YOU MR.JONES!!! I have learned a lot from you and I plan to keep tagging along to learn more! Its also cool to know that someone is regularly reading my blog! You rock! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Wise Break

When Mrs.Gergely told us in class this week that we would not be required to blog over break, I was super excited.  Over break I didn't even unzip my book bag.  Surprisingly though, I did a lot of WISE work without even realizing it.  Let me tell you about it:
The first few days of the break were spend celebrating my birthday, and visiting colleges.  PS: I have decided on a college.  Thanks for the 41,000 dollars IC- you win :)

By Thursday, I got down to business with my WISE work.
Thursday morning I got up early and went on another (more intimate) tour of Tetra Tech.  Trish, one of the managers there, gave me a lot of information about the company.  First, the unique thing about Tetra Tech is that is houses all of the necessary specialists in order to completely carry out an architecture project.  They have electricians, plumbers, architects, civil engineers, landscape architects, construction workers, and more.  This way, the work can be done more efficiently all inside one firm.
The most interesting part of the tour, for me, was when I brought up the topic of landscape architects vs. landscaper designers.  Now, there is no official difference.  But most cases these two titles mean different things.  Architects have more experience with the civil engineering portion of the project.  They usually  work more with the sewage lines, and water pipes, etc.  They really don't work with plant species.  A landscape designer knows more about plant names, and the characteristics of each plant.
I heard a few of the employees at Cayuga Landscape joke around once, saying how they can never trust a Landscape Architect because they don't take into consideration the type of plant and its needs.

The next thing I did marked a SIGNIFICANT part of my WISE journey.  I meet with Leigh at CCE.  She is the main manager of the Ithaca Children's Garden.  She has a project for me!!!!!! This is so great, because I always have felt funny telling people about my WISE project.  I would say...oh, I'm learning about Landscape Design.  But now I can say, well I have been doing a lot of research on Landscaping and I'm designing a garden for the Ithaca Children's Garden.  It sounds much more put together.  More like a project.  I'm super excited.

This project will be a huge task though.  It is a lot more difficult than just designing a regular old garden.  It is a themed garden.  And the theme has already been chosen by the Ithaca Children's Garden.  I will be  re-designing their Music Garden.  The Music Garden was put in two years ago by some Cornell Students, I believe.  It has not been maintained since, and now it really needs a lot of attention.  I have to continue with the musical theme while re-designing.  And the list of restrictions is quite long.
These are the things I am required to do with the garden:
-All the plants have to have musical names, or make music, or can be harvested to make an instrument
-Because it is a children's garden, the plants must not be prickly or poisonous
-The plants must be deer proof
-The plants must be tolerant of our zone (more info to come on this subject later)
-The garden will be in the direct sunlight, and therefore I need to pick plants that can handle this weather
-Leigh also wants me to design it in a way that is inviting for the kids to explore and get right in with the flowers
So, now, I have to go over to the garden and take a survey of the land.  Then, I will do research on what items I can include in the garden.  Next, I will make a design sketch and present it in front of a committee.   If they like it, I will  be able to go ahead and get started on the planting!  I will most likely make a big deal and advertise the planting day and make a community build day out of the project.

Now, this is a huuuuuge task.  It will take a lot of work and preparation.  But honestly, I am very excited to get started and see what I can create.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gardening Galore

        There is nothing like spending an afternoon planting pansies on the commons.  Really.  My first day of Beautification Brigade was yesterday, and I couldn't be more excited!!! We were filling the flower beds on State Street with pansies.  Unfortunately, the flower beds we somewhat destroyed.  The wood is deteriorating, and the soil is matted with roots from the tree center piece.  Most of our work consisted of digging up and churning the soil that was in flower bed until it was acceptable for the new flowers.  The pansies that we planted were not yet bloomed, so right now it looks like a bunch of leaves in the flower beds.  Very soon they will be bloomed and colorful though!  One of the best parts of Beautification Brigade is working with other community members that are passionate about gardening and beautifyng the city.  I had some great conversations with the other volunteers.  Also, people walking by always comment on our work and that makes it very rewarding.  The comments usually span from thank you so much, this is great! to what organization is this for?  But I would have to say that my favorite comment of the night was when a guy walked by, looked at me, and said: daayyuummmm girl, you too pretty to be digging in dat dirt.  Highlight of my night right there.  Honestly though Beautification Brigade is a really fun volunteer opportunity for me where I can learn about gardening and plants and also be outside. 

      Today was my internship.  First, Mr.Fernandez asked me to do some research on strawberries.  I had to look up a few different kinds: Wendy, Honeoyo, Hecker and Allstar.  One interesting fact I learned about strawberries is that there are two main types.  June bearing and day neutral.  As far as I know, June bearing types produce one large crop, while day nuetral continues to produce fruit continually through out the season.  Then I helped Mr.Fernandez sort out his old landscaping catalogs.  Not too exciting, but I am grateful for the experience!

     After school there was an NHS meeting.  The group wants to do some sort of a community project.  With not much input, I was elected to spear head the project. Yikes!! But thats okay, the more gardening the merrier.  Ideally, the group would like to get a space approved by the Mr.Mills and plant a garden on school grounds.  So right now I will be looking into getting that worked out.  If all else fails, but I get a space with the Ithaca Childrens Garden, then I can have them help me plant.  We will see!

Other things to look forward to: College visit this weekend to Boston University! woo  My birthday is on Tuesday!! wooo Shadowing Trish from Tetra Tech on next Thursday!! woooo Compost class tomorrow!! wooo
I'm so tired.  When will life slow down?!?!

Monday, April 11, 2011

One way out of the rut

In class today we read our class mates journals and responded to them.  I found this helpful, because I could see what others are doing.  I realized that I have A LOT of community outreach, and that needs to be balanced with other things.  My project has consisted of interning at Cayuga Landscaping, going to Composting class, and touring and e-mailing other community contacts about my project.  But I want something more.  I want to do something different and refreshing.  I will have to brainstorm...
Today we received a handout titled "Out of the Rut" Journal Activity.  It lists some prompts that can be helpful when wondering what to journal about.  Once you pick between planning, recording, and reflecting, you take five minutes to make a list! I decided to do the list about Planning:

-7 things I want to accomplish in the next week: Set up an interview with Tetra Tech landscape architect, confirm a meeting with the Ithaca Childrens garden director, plant some flowers with the beautification brigade, brainstorm what I could do instead of e-mailing and community contacting so much, meet with Ms.Gergely about what I could do differently to refresh my project, make a sketch of a landscape layout for the quad at the high school, learn a new plant name at Cayuga Landscaping on Wednesday.
-5 people I should talk to about my project: Ms. Gergely, Mr.Creagan, Leigh from the Children's Garden, Susan from Tetra Tech, David Fernandez from Cayuga Landscaping
-Supplies I need to get: hmmmm not sure if I need any supplies.  Maybe I could talk to David about what I could use to sketch a layout for the quad?
-3 things I should talk to my mentor about: What I could do differently with my routine, how I could sketch a layout for the quad, my progress so far/what he has noticed in my progress
-7 things I want or need to know more about: do you know if you have a good soil? Fertilizers...what exactly are they used for and do you actually need them?  What materials do I need to sketch a layout design?  Other than the Beautification Brigade...where can I volunteer to just plant things?  What kind of landscapes are most prevalent in the Ithaca community?  When is Pat going to get back to me about Master there going to be a program this year? What kind of project is the Children's Garden going to provide me with/what will I need to learn before then?

 Rhododendrons are woody plants with showy flowers.  There are about 1000 species and they can be either evergreen or deciduous.  Mr.Creagan mentioned this flower today, so I wanted to see what it looked like!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


It finally feels like spring! This weekend has been consistently warm, and its hard to think that spring isn't just around the corner.  This month is filled with college tours for me.  This past Friday I visited Hofstra University.  At first, I had no interest in this school.  But after visiting- I really got a good impression of it.  What I liked most, surprisingly, was the campus.  It is located in Hempstead, New York.  Naturally, I pictured a dirty city.  The campus was an oasis though.  It was full of trees, flowers and beautiful green quads.  In fact, the campus is a registered arboretum.  Although the surrounding city wasn't the nicest, it wasn't that bad either.  And the city is only forty minutes away (Jones beach only five!!) so overall I was impressed. 
While walking through campus I was thrilled to identify a flower! In an earlier post I showed a picture of a daffodil.  And then walking on campus I put my knowledge to use and identified the numerous daffodils all over campus.  I also recognized the not yet bloomed tulips!  This may seem like an unexciting thing for most, but I found it really cool to be able to identify the flowers.  The campus had a few forsythias.  My mom pointed them out to me.  I really don't like the look of forsythias, but I guess its good to know how to identify them!
Forsythia are flowering plants part of the olive family.There are 11 species of this plant, and they are native mostly to Asia.  This deciduous shrub grows 1-3 meters.  The flowers of the plant produce Lactose. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The future of our quad...

At 5:45 I woke up today.  I woke up before the sun did.  Leaving at 6:45, I drove for an hour picking up Green Team members and driving out on 79 to get to the tree farm.  We found our tree almost instantly, it was so beautiful.  When we looked at the tag, we saw that it was a Autumn Blaze Maple tree:
The qualities mixed by the autumn blaze maple tree are brilliant orange-red color in the fall, dense and healthy branching, and enhanced growth that protects from insects and disease. They are known for their excelled speed of growth. The autumn blaze maple tree can also live in a variety of climates, ranging from the frigid cold of zone three, to the humid south of zone eight.  It will grow to fifty or sixty feet, and it had the ability to grow in a variety of soils.  This maple is recently the most requested tree in the United States.

Soon everyone will be able to see this tree in the quad, we plan to plant over spring break!

Tonight is composting class. Leigh from the Ithaca Children's Garden is having some child problems.  I'm just being silly, but she did have to cancel our meeting tonight because her son is sick.  Next Thursday we will meet.  I also got an e-mail back from Tetra Tech.  I need to give them my available hours and then one day I can do shadow one of their landscape architects! YES!

Lastly, yesterday I had my internship at Cayuga Landscaping.  David and I talked a bunch about which trees to look for to put in the quad.  But then I joined Melissa at the garden center and we potted perennials! Busy work, but still enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


My pick for today is the elm tree
The Elm tree is a decidious tree found most commonly in North American and Europe. 
The reason I am researching trees is because tomorrow we are going at 6:30 (yikes!) to pick out a tree for the quad.  I have a lot to do tonight, and an early morning tomorrow. So tomorrow I will update you on my internship and the tree picking process!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flower overload?

So, I think it's really good that I am posting everyday.  It keeps me in tune with my project and my work requirements.  But I feel like all that I'm really doing is posting pictures of flowers!! Maybe what I can do is each week make a post with a few different types of flowers and plants...and identify them?  I'm still weighing my options, but I don't want everyone out there to get sick of my flowery posts! Today I will do a shrub...

 A conifer is a plant which bears its seeds in cones. Some examples would be the pines, spruces and hemlocks. Almost all of the conifers have needles which they keep for at least one year.  This picture is a good example of some dwarf conifers.  Now, I haven't confirmed this with research, but Mr.Fernandez says that these dwarf shrubs are just genetic 'accidents'.  A tree will develop this genetic trait and now these shrubs are very common landscaping plants.  There are so many names for all of these shrubs.  And they are all long and complicated....yikes!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm no pansy

But this flower sure is! This is a picture of a pansy.  The pansy is a hybrid flower derived from the Viola species.  Pansies come in a variety of colors.  The great thing about pansies is that they can survive the cold weather! Their life span is usually about two years.  
Speaking of pansies, tomorrow if you go to the commons at five (and if it isn't raining) you will see me and the Beautification Brigade planting pansies!! Tomorrow is the first day of Beautification planting, and it will start on the commons! 
More updates: The Ithaca Children's Garden e-mailed me back.  I hope to meet with Leigh on Thursday to discuss some more plans.  This could be my final gardening project!  Chesna's mom from LACS e-mailed me too! She told me they are planning to plant a garden at their school and I am welcome to come in to one of their meetings any time.  Lastly, I e-mailed Susan from Tetra Tech and asked to shadow a landscape architect for a day.  I hope it works!

WISE class today...we did more show and tell.  I showed the garden planner design that I made.  As the weather gets nicer, it makes me want to go outside and plant! That's what I will do tomorrow! Wednesday is Cayuga internship, like usual.  Thursday is Children's Garden meeting.  Busy WISE week. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Daffodils are spring blooming flowers, they usually reappear every spring without re-planting. 
That is my flower of the day :)

So, I tried using Sketchup today and I found it pretty difficult.  I went on Gardener Planner Online instead and made a design plan.  The design I made is for no particular space, it was just a trail run to see all of the features and figure out how to work the program.  It took me a good couple of hours just to do one trial run. phew! Here is the layout:
It's a little blurry... but here it is! The bigger bush-like looking things in the top left corner are trees.  There is a half circle patio with sofas on it.  The square in the right hand corner is a gazebo.  The rectangles on the right are raised flower beds.  There is a pond and some stepping stones as well.  Nothing special, just playing around with the features!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


 This is a Daylily. I think that these are very common because Mr. Fernandez talks about them a lot.  From what I learned online, they have a wide variety of colors and shapes.  This makes me think that they are pretty difficult to identify... Also, I learned that these flowers open at sunrise and wither at sunset, and repeat that process daily.  Lastly, they are perennials.

So, I guess I will talk a little bit more about my week rather than just blog about flowers! Mr.C and I only had a brief meeting this week.  We talked about how next week the Green Team is going to take a field trip the Cayuga Landscape's tree farm.  There we will pick a tree for the quad!!! We are leaning towards a honey locust, for its high branching and sweet smelling blossom.  But we will also do some looking around once we get there.
Thursday night was composting class, and I had to give a presentation! I talked to the class about stealth composting.  This is a topic that I only recently heard about.  Its a simple indoor composting system that only requires two bins, wood chips and saw dust!
The wood chips go in the bottom of the larger container to absorb any liquid.  The inside bin has holes in it for aeration (lots of oxygen encourages aerobic decomposition, which doesn't have a smell).  Then you layer the bottom of the smaller bin with a few wood chips and some saw dust.  Each time you add food scraps to the inner bin, you must cover it with sawdust to help control smell.  A lid must have holes or be ajar in order for air flow.  Once the bin is filled, it can be set outside, open to the elements, and it should sit to cure for about 2-3 months.  Then you should have compost!

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Friday, Friday...

Trillium has 40-50 species, and is a spring woodland perennial native to North American and Asia.  The flower has three petals and three leaves.  The petals typically turn pink as the age.  The seeds of the trillium are spread by ants. Cool!