Welcome to the HighspireGardens Blog!

Here you can find my Garden Journal, follow my Animal Adventures and view my other items of interest.

Also Visit HighspireGardens.com featuring "Highspire" -- an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian Private Home and Gardens -- Photos, Videos, History, Articles and Area Attractions.

May 30, 2010

Garden Journal - Miss Lua In Charge!

Miss Lua is hoping that I won't disturb her afternoon perch on the Courtyard chaise at Highspire!

May 29, 2010

Garden Journal - Succulent Closeup!

I just can't resist this closeup of the Partierre succulent planters! The edges of the leaves are actually fuzzy and soft!

May 28, 2010

Garden Journal - Succulent Planters

The concrete succulent planters in the Partierre at Highspire have never looked better!

May 26, 2010

Garden Journal - Purple Iris!

In the Partierre at Highspire, this dark purple iris has an intense scent that you can smell all the way up at the Summerhouse!

May 24, 2010

Garden Journal - Lightning Bugs!

The first lightning bug arrived at Highspire this evening! He landed right on my hand...but hurried on his way to light up the night!

Garden Journal - Butterfly!

This beautiful butterfly is resting in the North Bed near the Partierre this morning!

May 22, 2010

Garden Journal - Yorkie Statue

This (concrete) Yorkie welcomes visitors on the Courtyard at Highspire!

May 20, 2010

Garden Journal - Rugosa Roses

The rugosa rose bushes in the North Bed are already two feet taller than my head!

May 19, 2010

Morgan County Flag Contest!

Here is my design submission for the Morgan County flag design contest! The winning flag will hang outside of the new Courthouse!

May 18, 2010

My Brother Todd featured in the Frederick News-Post!

Shoelaces, blisters not a problem for barefoot runner
Originally published May 16, 2010 - Frederick News-Post

Todd Byers didn't have to worry about his shoes coming unlaced May 2 (2010) at the Frederick Marathon. The Long Beach, Calif., runner ran the course barefoot, as he has run 84 other marathons since 2004.

Byers, 46, did not go barefoot as a result of Christopher McDougall's bestselling book "Born to Run," about a group of people in a remote section of Mexico who run hundreds of miles either barefoot or with simple sandals strapped to their feet.

He did not do it as a result of the wave of runners who are sampling what has become a running trend.

Rather, Byers has been running barefoot since 2004. He runs barefoot because a friend and fellow runner, Ken Thackston, suggested he try it. "I never had problems," Byers said. "I like it better, as opposed to having to do it."

Byers also likes running the Frederick Marathon. He's a running coach who grew up in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. His twin sister, Tina, suggested he do it a few years ago, and he found he liked it. "It's what I consider my hometown marathon," he said. "It's an excellent event, and I decided to keep coming back."

Byers runs one or two marathons a month. Among his 266 marathons are marathons run in the three-hour range, but he mostly prefers to enjoy his marathons. He ran the Frederick Marathon in six hours. "Frederick is a very beautiful course," he said. "I even heard other people comment on that."

Byers approaches barefoot running with the same laid-back attitude. "I like it better," he said. "It's a choice, because I think it's better for me."

He says it's more important for runners to focus on their form. "I teach people how to run properly," he said. "Once you have the basics, if you choose to wear shoes, it's up to you."

Byers encourages a style of running similar to chi running (pronounced chee). "I've worked with Danny Dreyer," he said, referring to the author of "Chi Running," which suggests runners use their stronger core muscles to do most of the work in running.

"It is a method of pose running," he said. "It's all about trying to run based on how your body was designed."

The body may have been designed to run using the core, but it's not intuitive, he said. "You're designed for it, but you just have to use the tools."

Running barefoot doesn't mean you'll immediately get the right form, he said. "Using proper form with or without shoes is what makes it less tiring," he said. He advocates a pelvic tilt forward, along with a gravitational lean, similar to that in chi running.

"One of my pet peeves is hearing scuffing late in a marathon," he said. That can happen whether a runner is barefoot or not, only the barefoot runner will feel it a little more. Still, that late-race shuffle happens because a runner is not using his or her core, and is letting the legs and feet drag.

For those who want to learn how to run without shoes, Byers said it takes a change in attitude. "You have immediate feedback," he said. Barefoot runners do not keep their feet on the ground long enough to feel stones, glass or other impediments. "If you scuff your foot running, you have immediate feedback," he said. "You know you did something wrong. I move quickly to avoid any sort of injury." Yoga is usually done without shoes, and that's to properly balance the body, he said.

Byers also does trail running without shoes. But in Hawaii, where he volunteered at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, he did not go shoeless across the lava fields. "We all have our limitations," he said. "I'm not out to prove a point. Shoes are tools."

His feet are not like leather. "You start to become more sensitive," he said. "You also learn to touch the ground lightly."

Socks and minimalist shoes, including the new Vibram Five Fingers that are selling rapidly, are like security blankets, he said. That's not a bad thing, he added.

"What's the first thing you do at the end of a marathon?" he asked. Take your shoes off, he is often told. "Even my feet will be tender at the end of a marathon. What I don't have is blisters." There's nothing for his feet to rub against.

He runs barefoot through California winters and has run barefoot in snow, but not in extreme cold. He said feet eventually warm up.

Barefoot running means no callouses. Runners who run in shoes should be proud of their callouses, but without shoes to rub against, the callouses disappear.

Byers said his feet are tough, but not rough. Even at airports, Byers said his feet are noticed. "I've had the TSA people say you have good looking feet," he said with a laugh.

In barefoot-friendly Southern California, he doesn't wear shoes often. If shoes are required, he'll wear them. "I try and respect the custom," he said. "In other cultures, it's a sign of respect to take your shoes off."

Byers plans to return to Frederick next year. In addition to his twin sister, he brings other friends who run the 5K and the half-marathon. "It's an excellent, well-run event," he said.

May 17, 2010

Garden Journal - Blue Iris

Check out this intense blue and white iris in the Upper Bed at Highspire! It's new this season!

May 16, 2010

Garden Journal - First 2010 "Open Garden Day"!

Today is the first Highspire Gardens "Open Garden Day" for 2010! The rhododendron looks terrific near the Main Fountain! See the entire 2010 "Open Garden Day" schedule on the home page at http://www.HighspireGardens.com

May 15, 2010

Lucy at the "Mutt Strut"!

Lovely Lucy attended the "Mutt Strut" this morning! It is a benefit for the Humane Society of Morgan County (West Virginia). Lucy rolled to victory as the "Smallest Dog" (2.2 pounds) and raised $50.00 for the Humane Society!

May 14, 2010

Garden Journal - New Arrival!

Who is this pretty kitty visiting Highspire today? I don't know ... but she is very friendly and very soft!

May 12, 2010

Garden Journal - Wild Rose

This beautiful pink wild rose shines in the Upper Bed at Highspire!

May 10, 2010

Garden Journal - Queen In Calico Iris!

Queen In Calico Iris is looking gorgeous today at Highspire!

May 8, 2010

Garden Journal - Last Day of Master Gardeners' Garden Tour

Yesterday 53 people viewed Highspire Gardens during the first day of the Master Gardeners' Tour!

Today, despite winds occasionally in the 40+mph range, 37 folks visited. To be fair, I didn't count "repeat visitors" -- but it is always a thrill when folks who visited yesterday come back ... with their friends and families in tow!

In celebration of the event, "Mary Rose" near the Main Fountain is in her full glory!

May 7, 2010

Garden Journal - Master Gardeners' Garden Tour

It is the first day of the Master Gardeners' Garden Tour! I'm ready to greet guests on the Courtyard.

Thanks to Toddy for all of his help getting Highspire Gardens ready for this event!

Highspire Gardens is "Stop#1" for this event!

May 3, 2010

Garden Journal - Purple Pansies!

Purple pansies outside of the Courtyard at Highspire -- Toddy's Favorite!

May 2, 2010

Todd Runs His 266th Marathon!!

Toddy prepares to run his 266th Marathon!

Toddy crosses the Finish Line at the Frederick Marathon!

Afterwards, outside of the Summerhouse, Todd proudly wears his Finisher's medal!

May 1, 2010

Frederick 5K!

Again this year, Todd starting his morning by running the Winchester Apple Blossom 10K and finishes his evening running the Frederick 5K! See Todd in the blue shorts? (front and center) Just "a little warm-up" before tomorrow's Frederick Marathon!

Below, Todd and Tina celebrate post-race in the infield of the Frederick Fairgrounds.

April 26, 2010

Lucy's Today Show Video!

Lucy is entered in the "Today Show Top Dog Contest"! See Lucy roll through the Town Park and all over downtown Berkeley Springs in her video contest entry!

April 24, 2010

Lucy and Tina attend the "Bark for Life"

This morning Lucy and I attended the American Cancer Society "Bark for Life" - a benefit for cancer research. Rain held off until the very end of the event, so a good time was had by all. Lucy walked (rolled!) a total of 1/4 of the loop course all by herself!

April 22, 2010

Private Weber

On my way to Martinsburg early this foggy morning, I stopped to visit Private Weber.

April 13, 2010

Sleepy Phoebe!

I couldn't resist this tiny photo from my Blackberry! On my lap is a very Sleeeeeeepy Phoebe!

March 20, 2010

Lucy & Tina at the Chantilly Super Pet Expo!

Today Lucy and I attended the Super Pet Expo at Chantilly, Virginia! Lucy was very busy spreading the Good News of Rescue!

March 19, 2010

Lucy Welcomes Spring at Highspire!

Little Lucy checks out the first Spring Crocus at Highspire!

September 2, 2009

Courthouse - The Clock Tower's First Night!

Just like during the last night for the old clock tower, the new Courthouse clock tower bathed in a full moon tonight!

The night after the fire - August 8, 2006

The tower's last night - August 9, 2006. It was removed the following day.

Courthouse Clock Tower Raising!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Courthouse - 9-2-2009

June 21, 2009

Garden Journal - In Front of Highspire

The roses along the stone wall in front of Highspire continue to look fabulous as the first real heat of summer begins! Miss Lua is certainly keeping a wary eye on something -- what could it be??

Ah yes ... The Streetscape construction in front of Highspire (at least the Department of Highways portion of it) is now underway in earnest. DOH is moving drainage grates, installing the "on street"
side of the curbs and repaving once the curbs are in place. Here DOH has replaced a pipe across Wilkes Street at the corner of Independence Street. I'm saving lots of money on alarm clock batteries since the DOH jackhammers start promptly each morning at 7:15 am.

June 20, 2009

Happy West Virginia Day!

Happy 146th Birthday, West Virginia!!

Animal Transport - Huntington WV to Hagerstown MD

What more appropriate way to celebrate West Virginia's Birthday than by driving the whole way across West Virginia and back in one day!

Today I left Berkeley Springs (in the Eastern Panhandle) in the early morning to drive a Special Medical Transport from Hunti
ngton, West Virginia (on the western side of WV at the Kentucky & Ohio border) back east to Hagerstown, Maryland.

My passenger is a quadriplegic Yorkie puppy named "Gizzmoe". He is 7 months old and was paralyzed by spinal injury suffered after jumping off a bed. Gizzmoe weighs less than 4 pounds and is a very sick fellow; however, despite his serious condition, Gizzmoe gave me some kisses!! Gizzmoe will be hospitalized in Pennsylvania to see if the doctors can help him. If Gizzmoe's condition can be stablized and he can have a good quality of life, I will adopt Gizzmoe and he will join the Yorkies of Highspire!

After I transferred Gizzmoe to his hospital driver and I was preparing to leave, another northbound dog transport pulled into the parking lot. That driver recognized me from other transports and we ended up walking her dogs together before they continued northward to their overnight. This coonhound puppy is headed to Rescue in New England!

June 19, 2009

Garden Journal - Fairy Roses!

The Fairy Roses are in full bloom in the North Bed at Highspire!

June 16, 2009

Muffin -- Mommie's Little (Office) Helper!

Little Muffin is feeling good and came to the office to "help" me again today! He is holding down C.C.'s pillow very, very well!

At the end of his exhausting day, Muffin was ready to go home!
Can you see him?? Look re-e-eally closely at the bottom of the doorway! :) Note: In most browsers, if you "left click" on the photo for a closeup, you can see Muffin's totally impatient "hurry up already!" grumpy face -- it's adorable!

June 15, 2009

Courthouse - 2nd Floor Steel

Look at all the steel the workmen put up on the sides of the 2nd floor this past week!

June 13, 2009

A "PupLuck Picnic"!

Today Gabby, Liah, Muffin (at left) and I drove to New Jersey to attend a "PupLuck Picnic" for Rescue Me! Yorkie Rescue! The invitees included folks who have adopted Yorkies from Rescue Me! and their Yorkies (of course!) Approximately 70 people and 90 Yorkies were in attendance! The furkids were exhausted from all the excitement of the day and slept the entire ride home.

June 12, 2009

Garden Journal - Tiger Lilies!

The first of Mommy's tiger lilies are now in bloom at Highspire!

June 11, 2009

Garden Journal - Clear Spring Garden Club

The members of the Clear Spring Garden Club of Clear Spring, Maryland visited Highspire Gardens this evening! Being true gardeners, they didn't allow a little rain to get in their way!

June 10, 2009

Garden Journal - North End Garden Club

This afternoon the North End Garden Club from southern Pennsylvania toured Highspire Gardens! The rainy weather of this past week let up long enough to let the sun shine!

June 8, 2009

Garden Journal - Hyperion Daylily

The Hyperion Daylilies are blooming in the North Bed at Highspire!

June 7, 2009

Garden Journal - Front Wall Roses!

Across the front stone wall at Highspire, the clustering Zephirine Drouhin and baby pink New Dawn roses are gorgeous!

June 6, 2009

Garden Journal - Lightning Bugs!

This evening the first lightning bugs were flickering around Highspire! I love when they land on my hand and then walk up my fingertip to take off!

June 5, 2009

Courthouse - Walls & Insulation

Most of the construction on the Courthouse last month was not readily visible from outside, but this week the exterior walls began to take shape on the Ground Floor. You can see the outline of some of the front first floor windows now. Also, some gray insulation was blown onto the raw steel beams on the Ground Floor.

June 4, 2009

Garden Journal - First Tomato!

The big containers on the Courtyard at Highspire have produced the first cherry tomato of the season! I took this photo after dark ... because I couldn't wait until morning to eat this juicy little guy!