Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ruin Garden at Chanticleer

After years of talking about it, my neighbor Ray and I finally made the 100-mile trip to Chanticleer yesterday.  The garden as a whole is wildly creative, as I knew it would be based on everything that I'd read about it, but I kept coming back to how generous it was, how open and playful the whole collection of gardens is.  I could blog about it for a week (and I might) but I wouldn't be able to capture the endless sense of surprise and satisfaction of visiting.

I was looking forward to the Ruin Garden, and wasn't disappointed.  A purpose-built stone house in 'ruins', it's moody and mysterious and fun all at once.  Above is the side view as we walked around to the entry.

The walk leading up to the entry.  Oak saplings of various heights are in the front bed of the patio, lending a feeling of desolation and abandon.

The main feature of the ruin is this massive water feature, part pool, part table.  It must be 18-20 feet long.

The mantelpiece over the fireplace.

Detail of the mantelpiece.

One of the rooms.  The plants are pruned and tended to bring a feeling of abandon, of nature regaining control.  Large woody material is planted too close to the walls, as if self-seeded there.

This group of ilex felt like the family of spirits that inhabits the space.

Fireplaces and pockets in the walls are busting with plants.

The attention to detail, and the humor, is wonderful.

Conveyer belt of succulents.

A more formal planting on what would be the back patio of the house.

Weeping Norway spruces haunt the exterior like large dark spirits.

Haunted souls float in the fountain.

Creepy and satisfying.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Almost Too Hot to Blog Edition

Back from a week at the beach we find it's too hot to do damn near anything in the garden, but hey, that young crepe myrtle looks so nice backlit by the morning sun...and I love those white orbs of the rattlesnake master floating on the right.

Before I retreated to the (relative) coolness of the house, I unwrapped the last three hypertufa containers that I made 4 or 5 weeks ago.  They are the darker ones in front in the above photo.

If it doesn't cool off I'll be researching 'dwarf tropicals' to plant in them!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What the What?

 Last weekend I spent hours dragging the hoses around the garden, slowly providing what Mother Nature had not.  The plants were on the ropes from too many days in the upper 90's with unrelenting sun.  Fast forward a week and the rain gauge has 4" from the last few days, with more falling as I type and even more predicted today and tomorrow.  

As gardeners we learn to adapt to the feast or famine cycle.  I'm so grateful to not be lugging hoses this weekend.  

The path past the garage is reaching its late summer overgrown best.  Each wet plant that escapes its stake and teeters into the pathway soaks my pants legs as I walk through, but I don't care.

The bed just behind the house has good things going on: perennial sunflowers, grasses, eupatorium, solidago, and monarda, but you wouldn't know it, as I never had the heart to pull the self-sown sunflowers at the front of the bed.  I hope the goldfinches appreciate them.  

I'm sure we'll be back to hot, dry summer soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sometimes I Make Things Other Than Troughs

I made this little wall shelf during the winter.  When it's too snowy and cold to be on my bike, in the garden, or casting troughs, I need an outlet for my busy hands.  The shelf is about 14" wide and 6" high, perfect for working on at the table while I drink coffee watch it snow outside.

The shelf started with a wooden armature, a few layers of 2" blue foam board (not visible), and Apoxy, a two-part epoxy clay (the gray part in the photos).  I form the detail by hand over a few hours.  The Apoxy is hard enough to carve, file or sand after it cures for 24 hours.  

Once I was happy with the final form, I painted it with a light tan acrylic paint, then glazed it with burnt umber and mica dust, which gives it depth and sparkle.

I've always admired the basket-weave form of early Christian capitals.  Above and below are photos from The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval museum in the Bronx.

I like these two a lot.  Maybe next winter...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Random Summer Bits

Like the bees on the magnolia flowers, we've been busy.

I took the kids to the Cloisters in upper Manhattan.  It was their first visit (I know, what took me so long?) and I was excited to show them my favorite museum.  Plants and medieval art and architecture...what could be better? Maybe tacos....?

We took a few days vacation and drove up to see friends in Vermont.  Above is photo from the top of Mount Greylock in North Adams, MA.  We drove to the top to show the kids the (imaginary) location of the American version of Hogwarts.  We spent the day at MassMOCA, another great museum.

Quarry near Dorset, VT.  

I stopped by the side of the road while I was cycling near Pawlet, VT for this photo.  This Iowa boy was so happy to see and smell cows again.

One of eight pizzas I made for dinner with our friends.  This one is local Vermont cheese, tomatoes, garlic scape pesto, grilled new onions, bacon and an egg.  

My garden at work survived nearly three weeks without substantial rain.  There's no water nearby so whatever lives, I plant more of the next year.

This opuntia at work could care less about being dry.

Our front yard is doing its English Border Thing.  I went for interesting color and texture in choosing the plants for the flower boxes this year and kind of regret that they're not more showy right now.  Lablab beans will soon cover the trellis by the door. Yes, I planted the hellstrip too.  Couldn't stand mowing ANYTHING out front.

I have lots of empty troughs for sale for the first time in awhile..

...even curvy ones.

And it's cherry season!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Everlasting Purple

I planted clematis 'Roguchi' a couple years ago at the foot of a Koreanspice viburnum.  It's been a 'subtle' pleasure, one that you had to look for, until this year, when it shot to about 8' feet and covered itself with purple, frilly bells.

OK, so it's still kind of subtle, but it's gorgeous...and at eye level finally.  It goes on for most of the summer.

Above is campanula lasiocarpa, grown from seed by a member of my rock garden club (thanks Susan!).  It's the Energizer Bunny of plants.  It's got a cloud of purple bellflowers dangling in the breeze.  It always reminds me of a swarm of purple bees.

This shot from above shows the extent of the purple haze.  The plant grows out of the lower left corner of the trough.  

In other random news, I unwrapped these two troughs this morning.  It's always rewarding to see them again after a month of being wrapped up for curing.

Finally, my 8-year old son gave me this beautiful monster with a bloodshot eye for Father's Day.  He definitely takes after me.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Random Early Summer Moments

It's officially summer, even though the calendar doesn't agree, as the Asian tiger mosquitos are out in the garden.  They're a real drag from now until first frost.  The garden is looking great though, with tons of roses and peonies blooming through the rainstorms.  My friend used to call this period 'the second spring' in the garden. 

Above is dracocephalum argunense Fuji 'Blue'.  

This sedum cauticola has self-seeded into the texture of the hypertufa trough; there's no hole for those little guys low down on the wall.

dianthus pontederae 'Rachel'

This variegated yucca is imitating a goose prior to blooming.

The trough-bound dwarf golden threadbranch cypress is making cones.  How cute!