Wednesday, June 30, 2010


How could any hydrangea admirer walk past this new variety without pausing?  Two pots came home with me and I'm going back for the third!  I confess to being partial to the lacecap and of course the brilliant blue, but this is not a common color in my garden theme and I am interested in seeing how it fares.  It is not zoned for my part of the world, but I think that good placement and protective 'cages' will see it through a NYS winter.
We had beets last night!
This is a deeply satisfying crop because the entire plant is consumed.  I prepared the greens last night and they were amazing!  
 Would you even consider discarding such handsome greens?  This early in the season they are virtually bug bite free and vigorous.  We like them as well as the swiss chard which is making its way to maturity.
I made a trip to LFS.  I had to stock up on my favorite Kona cotton, "snow" and, as is always the case, several fabrics found their way into my heart.
I love this batik so much that I can hardly stand it.  Isn't the Amy Butler print a perfect twin?  I have no idea where these two are going, but I'm pretty sure that it will be together, hand in hand.
And yes, I AM considering signing up for a summer class - I need to get out more.  If I don't impose limitations upon myself, I am in the garden from sun up to sun set - ALL SUMMER LONG!  Remember, I have an academic year position and in less than a week I am FREE for 10 weeks!  Gardening is good.  Complete isolation is bad.
sssshhhh - this is a present for Pauline.  I plan to hand-deliver it when she moves to New Hampshire this fall.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Around here "pitchin' a fit" is a good thing.  It means that someone GOT BUSY!  As in, he pitched a fit in that potting shed!  Or, she's out there pitchin' a fit in the border!  Both Scott and I assigned ourselves to yard duty this weekend, despite the heat and humidity.  Since I've been spending so much time in the vegetable garden, all of the other gardens have suffered my neglect, but none more than the long border.  It's a jungle out there with the plume poppy standing well over 15 feet.  I was hacking pruning the poppy when Scott wandered over and shouted for me to retreat!    We stood staring at this most magnificent and private creature that my pruning had revealed:
I didn't even see him/her, but luckily, Scott has better eye sight than I do.  Its wings serve as perfect camouflage.  I could not believe how beautiful this moth is - does anyone know what kind it is?
It's body must have been at least three inches or longer.  Nature's perfection.  This moth reminded me of another garden mascot that I haven't seen in many years - the praying mantis.  There is so much herbicidal spraying done in the surrounding orchards that we never see them. (I wish the same was true of the japanese beetle)  I miss them.  (the mantis, NOT the beetles!)
This is what was left of the poppy when I finished my fit ...
It's a bad idea to neglect all other gardens in favor of the vegetables.  I have my hands full with this long border- it's embarrassing to realize what a MESS it has become in my absence.   Look at this sweet little veggie garden, all tucked in and planted - I think that it might have been worth it.
The birds are enjoying these gardens - my "downtown" girls are back ... I cannot figure out how pigeons arrive at my rural setting ... to me, they are and always have been a city bird!  But no!  
The lacecap hydrangeas are very beautiful this season - this one came all the way from Chatham on Cape Cod to live in my New York State garden.  I scattered some sand around its perimeters so that it wouldn't miss its Cape home!
There was some sewing.  Sadly, no knitting.
More bathmats - one for me, one for Hilary who is painting her upstairs bath a pretty salmon and cream combo.  I have been trying to finish the 4th of July flag as well as a fabric banner.  I LOVE the banners for all occasions.  This one is simple to make.
8" squares, right sides together - mark the halfway and cut off the corners -
Sew a scant 1/4 seam around three sides, trim corners and turn -
I then topstitched mine - you don't have to, but I think that they hang better.  I purchased bias tape (gasp!) because I am a lazy girl sometimes, and you simply sandwich them between double fold, double wide bias and sew -
When I run out of this package of tape I plan to use a royal blue, and then a white, and then back to red ... a real patriotic banner for the 4th!
It's a special banner - one that I will look forward to pulling out in July.  I'm planning to make birthday banners for the children - and, - get this - I'm going to do paper-pieced alphabets spelling out their names .. woo-hoo!  Don't I wish that I had this kind of energy and TIME when my adult children were small?  Many regrets - single parenthood, not a good time!  SO!  We do what we can with what we have today.  It has to count for something, yes?  Grandbabies.  NEED. THEM.

Friday, June 25, 2010


After watering the garden this morning I took a few quick shots.  I brought my camera to work and loaded them into a different program than what I use on my Mac at home, but they retrieved nicely.  How about that beautiful broccoli?

A long shot of the tomatos and the only patch of unplanted soil which I will remedy tonight and tomorrow.  Black bush beans.
Beet foliage, tiny arugula sprouts (that melt in your mouth with a peppery little pop) and nasturtium.
The first zucchini!  You know how THIS story ends - with your friends and neighbors avoiding you ...
Is there anything as pretty as a cabbage?  Maybe an entire row of them ... 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I have been working on small projects - portable or movable pieces that I can take to the office where all is relatively calm.  Some of my coworkers read, but I knit or quilt or bead.  This is a placemat that I am making for mom.
This image seems really fuzzy, sorry about that.  Maybe it's this infernal heat which is bearing down on the eastern seaboard - we are choking in the high 90's.  Even the dogs have no real interest in staying outdoors when there is central a/c inside!
I've got the buntings out for the fourth of July - and I'm still trying to finish up my quilted flag (progress is grim!)
The coreopsis LOVES this heat and humidity - it's cousin 'moonbeam' did not reemerge ... I'm wondering what that is all about and missing the soft yellow glow.  We had a particularly hard winter and I'm noticing that many perennials did not make it through.
Of course, NOTHING can discourage the grasses - they really pack a punch in a long border.  NEED.  MORE.
The lilies are getting ready for their debut with a hydrangea backdrop.  How I love June as seen in the garden.  Everything is fresh and vigorous.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The window boxes are planted.  In years past I would combine heliotrope and sweet potato vine as well as artemesia and begonia, but this year is an ordinary theme of impatiens and coleus because -
This season has seen the steady advance of the hydrangeas - they've grown at such an astonishing rate that their heads nearly block the boxes from view!  It's strange and beautiful, this alchemy that exists beyond the house.  The plants have a secret life to which we gardeners are not privy.  
The blueberries are starting to ripen, but will we enjoy them?  Not a one.  The critters make short work of stripping the fruit at peak - it usually occurs in the space of an afternoon. 
Alone with my thoughts this humid Father's Day - in my mother's south garden.  I'd volunteered to do cleanup when I realized how shaky and unsteady she has become.  Her excellent health has always been a mainstay - something to depend upon.  But the events of this past year have taken their toll and nowhere is this more evident than in her neglected gardens.  It's painful to see and hear my mother struggling with emptiness and sorrow. I try not to lift the curtain on her daily existence - the long solitary hours, the meals taken at the table alone - the silence that penetrates each action, each moment.  I want to be more.  I want to be a better daughter.  And I always fall short of this goal.

And then it was time to go to the nursing home where my father lies waiting for his heart or some other organ to fail.  He has been in this place for over a year now, and I cannot, for the life of me, understand how it is so.  There are no road maps for these territories - no guides or sages to lead the way.  I sit beside his bed and struggle to find words that will engage him.  He has his high clear moments which evaporate or shape shift into scenes I am not privy to.  The cat in the window, the dog in the yard.

Driving home I am overtaken by grief.  

Saturday, June 19, 2010


LOOK!  My cousin found her.  Isn't she beautiful?  She wants to come and live at Cloudwalk.  She has white walls!  White.  Walls.  I think that she is just about perfect.  I made a block in her honor ...
My BFF has a dream trailer too.  She sent this image to me today after reading the blog.  I think that she should go ahead and order one and then we can hit the road, find like-minded women, circle the wagons and CREATE!
Geez Patty, aren't you glad that we have those big gas-guzzler SUV's of ours?  I always KNEW that they'd come in handy for things other than hauling yarn!  We could take them to Sheep & Wool next fall, and when we got tired, we could catch a nap and then hit the tents again!!!   

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Ours is a large house comprised of many badly configured rooms.  I'd relish a chat one day with the designer.  Perhaps in the safety of the hereafter, he or she will reveal the motivation behind the design.  Nooks and crannies, impossibly small bathrooms and ceilings that pitch in the wrong direction ... just gettin' started.

I wandered into the man cave barn the other night and suddenly realized something essential, something that had been alluding me.  Part of the attraction that Scott has for his barn lies in its very distance from the house!  duuuhhh.  When he walks away from the main house and crosses the drive, he effectively enters a different zone.  It's important to me to understand why he would rather sit in the barn at 5:30am to drink his coffee and ponder the day than remain in the house with the dogs and me. (smoke 'em if you got 'em?!!)  Damn cigarettes.

Everyone needs a room of one's own.  A separate place - a sacred spot in which to escape from the rough and tumble cruelty of this world.  Someone said, and I echo - in these mean times we need to build an altar on every corner.  Amen to that.

So I went looking for something that was separate from the house.  In doing so I have discovered, well, YOU be the judge.

(deep sigh)  I am in love.  But it doesn't stop there ... my addictions rarely skim the surface of anything!  No, for me, it's always full speed ahead, damn those torpedos!  Fixation - a regular dog with a bone!  I cannot stop thinking about these little teardrops.
Think of it - a few hundred feet from the house - it might as well be a million!  One could get lost and stay lost for hours and hours ... reading a book, sewing a fine seam, knitting a lace shawl...

I'd have mine fitted with a feather bed for long dreamy naps.  White eyelet curtains and everything 50's ...

And there is always that OTHER feature - the one and most obvious of all - the quick get-away that these little gems can provide.  Hitch it up and GO!  

Hi honey!  I'm somewhere in New Mexico!  And to think, this all started with the loss of another apple tree.  Connections.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Commonly known as the 'Katsura' , and the first tree that we planted on this property perhaps eight years ago.  It is a lovely shade tree which emits a fragrance in the fall that I can only describe as the aroma of cookies baking.  The leaves turn a soft yellow before dropping.  This tree can grow to the colossal height of 40 - 60 feet, believe it - in these few years it has gained at least 10 to 15 feet!  I have been thinking about trees as we continue to lose the ancient apples at an alarming rate.  I miss the old country properties with their signature tall black walnut and copper beech trees - majestic trees, trees that you could hang a swing from.  Today's "mac-mansions' cannot afford the space that a copper beech requires - the competition of septic fields and requisite hot tubs, not to mention the eerily-colored swimming pools and tennis courts makes this tree obsolete in a contemporary landscape.  Call me old fashioned, but the neighborhood is changing.  And not for the better, in my opinion.

I think that when you live on a piece of land, when you steward it faithfully and long, it is like entering into a relationship.  You promise to be faithful and supportive; you put your best foot forward.  You suffer the same highs and lows - the joys and disappointments of any covenant.  You get real.  You roll up your sleeves and pull down your ballcap and wade into the wild raspberry canes, swearing vowing to turn them into a long border of hyperion day lilies.  Your eyes squint in the face of the 95 degree days and yet you plod forward, creating an herb garden where once stood a dilapidated above-ground pool. (The one that HAD to go.  The one that almost broke the deal when the original owner refused to move it before papers were signed).  You had a vision.  Sometimes you left the truck running beside the border so that you could escape the insufferable heat - treating yourself to a 3 minute hiatus of A/C relief.  But. You. Went. Forward.  

So, we've lost another apple tree and that brings the count to three this year.
What do you think about a chicken coop in its place?  Something vintage, something really radical?  (stay tuned)

The question for this day was - what will be left of the garden when I get home?   Marauding ground-hogs - pathetic stumps where once stood maturing broccoli, mass destruction ...
nope - it's all good.  Dodged another bullet, but I cannot promise the same for the ground-pigs.
The grapes are beginning the long ascent to the top of the pergola.  The yellow plum tree is producing some promising fruit and the day lily border, thanks to my helper Merilee, is looking beautiful.  
First man up - Stella d'oro, the superman of all day lilies!