Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

Hidcote_Manor_Garden_02

Hidcote Manor Garden

Is good fortune a kind of grace, a gift of an inherently generous universe? I’d like to think so. But it may just be the luck of the draw.

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Recollection

April 27, 2015

Autumn light

The failed septic system in my garden represents the contingency we all live with, raising the question, in my case, of how to get the garden back. So it’s time to pause, look away from the present mess, and recollect the garden’s past–a long Flickr set of photos through the year.

Click on the photo. (When Flickr loads, the diagonal arrows, upper right, will fill your screen.)

 

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Rot, decay, more life

April 20, 2015

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Behind the house, a very old Japanese weeping cherry has reached the end of its life. Flowering has declined dramatically over the past few years and limbs have begun to rot and fall.

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Where not to put a garden

April 15, 2015

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The best I can say is that it happened in the early spring. The plants aren’t up yet, and though a great deal of damage has been done, and much more may come, I can at least imagine the damage can be repaired. But in time?

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First salamander

April 12, 2015

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One of the guys here to do some tree work last Thursday told me he had seen the largest salamander he’d ever set eyes on in my small reflecting pool. This is a spotted salamander, apparently common, but rarely seen, throughout the eastern US. When I found it the next day, it dove under water, then surfaced in the middle of the pool and just floated motionless. It’s about seven inches long.

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One of the few disadvantages of a prairie-style garden is the mostly vacant stare it gives you until June.

I have a garden visitor coming in early May, when the garden has barely begun to turn green and most of the high summer’s 12-foot behemoths are only 6 to 10 inches high. It certainly won’t be in character, won’t have the sheer mass, the atmosphere, none of the magic of the big garden of summer. I looked through photos I took of the garden on May 8 of last year, just to remind myself what to expect. (And, yes, to set expectations.)

One can hope for a mysterious atmosphere, but the setting sun and cloudy sky are hard to deliver on cue.

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Federal Twist in Elle Decor – Redux

March 14, 2015

Thanks to Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry, my garden makes a brief appearance in the April issue of Elle Decor.  I know Nancy and Susan from their recent book, Gardens of the Garden State, where they featured Federal Twist among the astonishing variety of gardens in New Jersey. Only one small caveat; I don’t agree with Elle Decor’s […]

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An artist

February 26, 2015

I recently saw an exhibit of the work of Judith Scott at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibit runs through March 29. Some of the work is beautiful. Some is deeply emotional, especially once you know her story.

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Paley Park

February 2, 2015

I stopped by Paley Park after visiting the Museum of Modern Art a couple of weeks ago. This is one of my favorite places in Manhattan. Probably one of the most tranquil places in Manhattan too, especially when it’s empty in early evening.

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MOMA Garden (yes, on iPhone)

January 28, 2015

Went to see Matisse cutout exhibition. Of course, I stopped to visit the garden.

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The Circle: Finished

January 26, 2015

We finished the stone circle last Friday, the day of my self-imposed deadline. Fortunate, because about five inches of snow fell Friday night.

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The Circle: Progress

January 21, 2015

One more day of work and it will be finished, just before a possible snow storm this weekend.

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In praise of weather (again)

January 7, 2015

I look at photos of Dutch and British gardens and am a little envious to see how long and gentle their autumns seem to be.  Our climate in the Northeast US is vastly different; our foul and stormy weather often comes much sooner. The garden was decimated by snow and freezing rain Thanksgiving week, two months earlier than last year. […]

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Stone circles

December 23, 2014

I’d been thinking about making more open space in my garden for a long time … a significant feature, somewhere in the middle. Then Carrie Preston visited from The Netherlands last summer and said, “Why don’t you use more stone. You have so much. Use what you have.” Or something to that effect. I eventually would […]

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Flaxmere

December 21, 2014

Flaxmere, a garden near Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, is a quiet beauty. We visited in February 2014, in the height of summer there. The country has such extraordinary growing conditions, some New Zealand gardens

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Weather traces … funny moods

December 1, 2014

First snow, November 13, one-half inch, but heavy and wet. Though the snow flattened much of the garden, it recovered in a day.

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Apocynum cannabinum – Dogbane

November 30, 2014

From Wikipedia Apocynum cannabinum (Dogbane, Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Prairie Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton) is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows throughout much of North America – in the southern half of Canada and throughout the United States. It is a poisonous plant: Apocynum means “poisonous to dogs”. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested. The cannabinum in the […]

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Atmosphere in the dying garden

November 20, 2014

Last photos, taken November 13, before a small snow and plunging temperatures. Winter arrives in another month, but the last few days have felt like February. I’ve been reading about atmosphere and mood, but I’m not sure it’s possible to put a name to what I feel in the garden. Perhaps it’s too personal, perhaps it […]

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Finland

November 15, 2014

My friend Marc has been in Finland the past few weeks. It was very cold and rainy. These photos have a magical atmosphere that almost makes me want to go there. He traveled alone.

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Light in Autumn

October 22, 2014

Low and warm, the autumnal light sculpts the landscape of plants into a deep, three-dimensional screen. Backlit grasses and foliage glow, and sparks of light reflected through long irregular interstices give the garden a power lost almost totally when the day turns glum and cloudy.

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New Book: Gardens of the Garden State

October 20, 2014

You might question why anyone would make a book on the gardens of New Jersey. In fact, that’s a question the authors asked themselves before they started the research for this book.

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“Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic”

October 16, 2014

Well, that’s what Noel said. It seemed to ring true. Everyone was lively and happy and interested.

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Hillside Garden of Rooms

October 12, 2014

It was proof, yet again, that looking at photographs is an entirely different experience from actually seeing a garden. Michael Gordon’s garden in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is one I’ve admired for years in photographs but experienced for the first time only last August at the Garden Conservancy Open Days. The astonishing composition of textures, shapes, and colors above is a […]

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Garden Conservancy Open Days – Oct. 18 – Please Come

October 2, 2014

Click photo for information and directions. Featuring a plant sale by Broken Arrow nursery.

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Federal Twist in Sept./Oct. issue of Horticulture

September 15, 2014
Thumbnail image for Federal Twist in Sept./Oct. issue of Horticulture

Tovah Martin wrote a superb on-point article on my garden for the September/October issue of Horticulture magazine. Rob Cardillo took great photos. You can read Tovah’s words in the most recent issue of Horticulture (I’m not so sure you can easily read her text in the scans in this post). Rob’s photos were extraordinary, but printing on […]

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