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photos courtesy Karen Hanford, Sycamore Hill Gardens
Explore Sycamore Hill Farm & Gardens in Marcellus through The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program on September 18th, 2011

COLD SPRING, NY: On Sunday, September 18th, explore Sycamore Hill Farm & Gardens, 2130 Old Seneca Turnpike, Marcellus, open to the public for one day only through The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the garden is $5; children 12 and under are free. Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Call 1-888-842-2442, or visit www.opendaysprogram.org for more information. A portion of the proceeds from this Open Day will be shared with the Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus.
Sycamore Hill Farm & Gardens covers thirty acres of former hillside cropland and is located sixteen miles west of Syracuse in New York State’s Finger Lakes Region. At an elevation of 900 feet with recorded low temperatures in the minus twenties, 120-plus inches of annual snowfall, and strong winter winds, the gardens are a solid Zone 5. The garden has spread from the environs of the house and barn to former cow pastures, hay fields, and cropland. The goal of the owners is to create sustainable, low-maintenance plantings through thoughtful selection and experienced placement specific to Zone 5 and the microclimates of the garden. Sycamore Hill has more than 500 varieties of trees and one million spring and summer flowering bulbs, 200-plus varieties of flowering shrubs, and thousands of perennials. The mission for this event is to have Central New York residents and guests tour the grounds, eat picnic lunches, feed the koi, enjoy a garden experience with family and friends, and benefit The Garden Conservancy in the process. With two miles of gravel road the gardens are accessible to everyone. There is ample parking for more than 100 vehicles including buses with a circular drive to allow “drop-offs” for those needing assistance. A seven-passenger golf cart tours the garden every twenty minutes leaving from a pleasant seating area at the entrance. All guests receive a garden map and plants are labeled for identification. Rest rooms are also available and accessible.
Open Days gardens are featured in the 2011 Open Days Directory; a soft-cover book that includes detailed driving directions and vivid descriptions written by their owners. The directory includes garden listings in eighteen states and costs $21.95 including shipping. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call the Garden Conservancy toll-free at 1-888-842-2442 to order with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express, or send a check or money order to: the Garden Conservancy, P.O. Box 219, Cold Spring, NY 10516. Discount admission tickets are available as well through advanced mail order.
The 2011 Open Days program is generously sponsored by Fine Gardening magazine as its National Media Sponsor. Fine Gardening magazine brings you breathtaking design ideas, helpful techniques, and the know-how to get great results in your own garden.
The Garden Conservancy introduced the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program, and is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers nationwide. Visit the Garden Conservancy and its Open Days program online at www.opendaysprogram.org.
Baltimore Woods Nature Center is located at 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus, NY 13108
Hours: Interpretive Center is open M-F 9am-4pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, closed Sundays.
The hiking trails and parking are free and open every day from dawn to dusk.

Baltimore Woods Nature in the City brings authentic natural science learning to K-6 grade urban school children. Supported by the Syracuse City School District and corporate sponsors, tied to the Syracuse City School District curriculum and New York State Science Standards, lesson content supports teachers while directly impacting students. Holding programs in parks and neighborhood green spaces as well as the classroom, students’ earliest learning experiences in the sciences are relevant, meaningful and fun.
Visit www.baltimorewoods.org for more information

Thea Reidy
Baltimore Woods Nature Center
4007 Bishop Hill Road, P.O. Box 133
Marcellus, NY 13108
315 673-1350 office; 315 247-7904 cell
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Posted: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm by Curt
Filed under: Blog Skaneateles
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Mid-Lakes Canal Cruises Offer Idyllic Way to Explore Upstate New York

Summertime, and the living is easy.

That’s particularly true if you’re cruising the New York State Canal System at about 7 mph on the Emita II.

Mid-Lakes Navigation offers all-day, two- and three-day cruises aboard the Emita II, a double-decked tour boat that accommodates up to 42 passengers. Tours depart from Syracuse, Oswego, Amsterdam, Buffalo and Macedon.

Doug Wilson, of Macedon, recently took the daylong cruise from Syracuse to Oswego along the Oswego Canal, which runs 23.7 miles and connects Oswego to the Erie Canal at Three Rivers, where the Seneca, Oneida and Oswego rivers converge. The cruise passes through seven locks and includes a side trip to the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego.

Wilson started taking Mid-Lakes Navigation canal cruises in 1994, and found them so relaxing that he has taken close to a dozen since. His original goal was to traverse all four canals—the Eastern Erie Canal, the Western Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Once he did that, he began to retake the cruises in reverse.

“The different sections of the canal system offer very different experiences,” he says, noting that the eastern section, which runs along the Mohawk River, is his favorite.

“Along the eastern section, the river gets wider the further east you go, so there are massive dam structures at each lock,” he says. “The central section passes through some small towns and undeveloped areas—the edges of the canal there are often irregular. The western section, which is man-made, is uniform in width. It passes through 11 canal towns and has a 60-mile stretch with no locks, but 15 lift bridges that must be raised to allow boats to pass.

“If you haven’t done them all, you haven’t gotten the full experience.”

The Emita’s captain is Dan Wiles, now in his 31st year at the helm. Wiles notes that almost 30 percent of his passengers have sailed previously with Mid-Lakes.

“With the wide-open spaces, the wildlife and the scale of the canal system, these cruises are a lot more picturesque than first-time passengers expect,” he says. “It keeps them coming back for more.

“The biggest charge I get is from hearing passengers say this was the best vacation of their life, and so much more than they expected.”

Mid-Lakes Navigation was founded in 1968 by Dan’s father, Peter Wiles Sr., and remains a family business. In addition to the one- to three-day canal cruises, Mid-Lakes offers self-skippered canalboat charters, and sightseeing, dinner, jazz, brunch and lunch cruises on both the Erie Canal and Skaneateles Lake.

For more information on Mid-Lakes Navigation cruises, which run through early October, go to http://www.midlakesnav.com or call 315-685-8500 or 1-800-545-4318.

Posted: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 @ 11:33 am by Curt
Filed under: Blog Skaneateles
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