Pawpaws are a nutritious fruit grown on trees native to Kentucky. Their flavor is a tropical-tasting blend of banana, mango, avocado and pineapple. They bear an unusual dark maroon spring flower.
Kentucky State University in Frankfort is a world leader in pawpaw research. In September 2009, a new cultivar, the KSU- Atwood, was introduced. The name honors Rufus Ballard Atwood, the university's president from 1929 to 1962.
Developed by Kirk Pomper and co-investigators Sheri Crabtree and Jeremy Lowe, it is licensed to be sold through Nolin River Nut Tree Nursery in Upton; Northwoods Nursery Inc. in Molalla, Ore.; and Hartmann's Plant Co. in Lacota, Mich.
KSU President Mary Evans Sias says of the cultivar: "This is an exciting new venture for Kentucky State University. The release and sale of KSU-Atwood shows that KSU researchers are leaders in their fields. They are working diligently to offer growers alternatives so they can remain competitive at farmers markets."
Go to www.pawpaw.kysu.edu to learn more.
Touring the Finger Lakes
I recently returned from a trip to Upstate New York's Finger Lakes region.
Views of sparkling blue lakes, herds of Holstein cows near picture-perfect red dairy barns where artisanal cheeses are cultured, and 100-foot-high waterfalls sculpted by glaciers set this region apart. Taughannock Falls, on Cayuga Lake's west shore, drops 215 feet, 33 feet more than Niagara Falls, making it one of the largest single-drop waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains. Summer and fall are the best seasons to visit.
Outside of Ithaca, a city at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake, are other towns with Greek and Roman names: Homer; Ulysses; Ovid; Seneca Falls; and Aurora, population about 900, which is home to the MacKenzie-Childs studio, shop, farmhouse and complex of lovely perennial garden borders.
MacKenzie-Childs is an over-the-top line of fantastical, rainbow-colored, flower or checkerboard-splashed pottery and home décor by artists Victoria MacKenzie and Richard Childs, who have since moved on to new endeavors in nearby Kings Ferry.
The merchandise includes a low, glass-top table base made up of a ring of figural white rabbits a la Alice in Wonderland. The surrounding estate grounds, which are landscaped around a mansard-roofed Georgian farmhouse and barnyard, include an enormous willow pond overlooking the lake, and perennial borders bright with seasonal arrays of lilies, hydrangea, roses and hosta.
It's the sort of place, inside and out, where you'll constantly be saying, "Look at this!"
The charm continues if you stop for a lakeside lunch at nearby Aurora Inn, restored to its 1833 Federal-style grace.
Back in Ithaca, stroll through Robison York State Herb Garden at Cornell University's Plantation complex. It's alive with bees, butterflies and birds, and you're sure to reap some new ideas for your garden.
See many more photos of this beautiful place on my blog, Inside/Out & About, at www.gardening.bloginky.com.
■ Cornell Plantations Botanical Garden, www.cornellplantations.org/our-gardens/botanical
■ Aurora Inn, www.aurora-inn.com
■ MacKenzie-Childs, www.mackenzie-childs.com
■ Taughannock Falls, www.taughannock.com.
Michler's "Green Wall"
People are growing green on rooftops and in yards and gardens. Now, imagine an entire building wall covered with living plants.
Plantsman John Michler is experimenting with an innovative project that just might add a new dimension to your gardening experience. His living "Green Wall" laboratory is taking shape as a method for plantings that cover an upright surface, using plant pockets and a closed irrigation and nutrient-supply system.
Structures can be built for indoor or outdoor use, using variations in light sources and plant hardiness. Take a look at Michler's Florist & Greenhouses, 417 East Maxwell Street.
Vote for All-America
Since 1932, at All-America Selections trial gardens around the country, gardeners have planted seeds and cultivated plants to determine which are outstanding choices for home gardeners.
This year, among others, winners include a sizzling raspberry-colored echinacea called PowWow Wild Berry and a soft peachy double-petal snapdragon called Twinny Peach that tolerates some heat.
You can find them all, and locations of the trial gardens, at www.all-americaselections.org.
You can have a say in choosing a favorite, too. Until Aug. 31, you may vote online for your favorite American Garden Award flower. Go to www.americangardenaward.com. Then link to the organization's Facebook page for more gardening information.