Monday, April 29, 2013

Fight. Love Live.

That's what Filoli means - in abbreviated form.  One of the last preserved estates from the age of wide open spaces (if you weren't living in a NY tenement, like some of my ancestors), it's in Woodside and well worth a visit.  Or several; it changes thru the seasons.  I'll drive.
The volunteers are known as the Crumbs of the Upper Crust.  The tulips, underplanted with forget-me-nots or pansies are stunning.  

The wheelbarrow on the path adds humility - this didn't happen without a whole lot of human help.
The symmetry...
the children, their eyes wide with wonder.

and the friends who will go to any fabulous garden (or garden shop!) at any time.  
I am a most fortunate person.  I adore you all.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hit or Miss


The canna 'Tropicana' I bought, dormant, in winter - it was just a bare muddy pot, very heavy, with a few desiccated shreds hanging put of the mud.  In summer it is a mass of huge tropical-looking  leaves striped orange and red and green.  One leaf makes a flower arrangement.  Three leaves make a statement.  The whole pot full of leaves, hard by the back door - it'a a party.  And as colse as I'm going to come this year to a tropical vacation.

The Daffodils from florists' pots, set outside after their bloom is over and they are turning tan and floppy and look frightful on the breakfast table. I  pulled apart the roots like tangled hair, and planted them with a good handful of fertilizer and room to spread.  Now they carpet the hill under the oak, and wave yellow wands at the cars passing by.  And at the gardener.  That would be me.

The forget-me-nots that carpet the shade, from seeds given me by Najat.  No bare earth, that's my motto.  Theirs too.  Thank you Najat.


The rose by the front door.  Selected in deep sorrow the day our Jack Russell, Cricket, died.  In an urgency to plant something, to do something alive on the day of her death we chose a climbing rose from the October dregs at the nursery.  It is moldy and badly behaved, refusing to climb, flinging its powder-coated canes over the lawn and its neighbors, and refusing to go up the wires I have painstakingly tried to tie it to (and painfully, for it is an especially thorny rose).  Plant in haste, repent in leisure.  I plan to prune with my shovel.  Soon.

And this one should properly be called a near miss, for I garden under it every day - the tree that sent huge limbs crashing down.  It missed the house, the grapevines, the horse statue (the dog, the gardener, the grandson, and a million other precious things).  But not by much.

Lying in bed, awakened by the crash, at first we thought the compost tumbler had collapsed.  Then we thought a raccoon had falled out of a tree.  That made us smile; there have been many nights the raccoons have kept us awake (and the dog in a tizzy) with their shrill arguments.  Raccoons need anger management.

Smiling over the bouncing raccoon with the sore butt we fell back asleep.  The next morning the light was different - Storm coming?  Nope, oak fall.  Oops.

One big limb fell and took out three more on the way down.  One branch, as thick as my waist, is completely hollow - just an inch shell of wood, a tube, and the remnants of some woodpecker nests - soft feathers and dried grass.

The massive branches blocked the path to the bottom garden.  The path the mower takes each week.  And the gardener.  Took.  Past tense.  Not this day.

Wally saw me out there with my bow saw, the one with 4 teeth per inch, the one that took a chunk out of my hand a few years ago when I wasn't paying attention.  He said "Why don't you wait for the tree guys?"  Well, because they won't be here for two weeks, and I want to get to the bottom garden.

I sawed.  I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, and the sawdust that was stuck in the sweat, and rested until my arms stopped aching, and I sawed some more.  I wasn't looking for perfect firewood length, just lengths I could move without a crane.  Or a hernia.

It took all day, but I cleared the path.  When the tree guys came to cut and stack, and to do weight reduction on the tree, they shook their heads.  At my strength, not my stubbornness I hope.  Me?  I headed for the bottom lawn with a good book and a cup of tea.  And I think I might be able to raise my arms again soon.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

You Say It's Your Birthday...

My friend Sylvia had a significant birthday - I won't tell you which one, but I'll give you a hint:  she's over forty.  Not that she looks over forty; not a wrinkle, she is beautiful and elegant and warm and funny, and her party - in her garden - was just like her.  I was honored to be included.

A few days before her birthday, Alice and I made a mad pre-dawn dash to the Flower Market - and by pre-dawn I mean not long after midnight, when all sensible people (including husbands) are in REM sleep, we were swigging strong hot tea from plastic sippy cups and remarking on the lack of traffic as we breezed into the city.

I'm not sure how long it took to get in - I was too sleepy to raise my arm and look at my watch - and i was driving - but I know we got home in 35 minutes.  Alice told me.

At the Flower Market I usually head straight for Torchio, then make a beeline for the espresso bar and high-tail it home.  But Alice knows who has the best Galax leaves, the cheapest broccoli hydrangeas, the mossiest orchids.  I didn't even know what a galax leaf was before I met Alice - bet you don't either.    So we ducked in and out of tiny shops, one selling only tropical leaves, one only bare branches.  One was just gladiolus, one carnations in colors not known in nature.  And they all knew her by name.

We were finished and back on the road before first light - Leslie says the magic is over when the sun comes up, and she is right.

Sylvia's daughter and daughter-in-law planned the party and made it warm and wonderful.  I had the privilege of doing the flowers for the birthday party.   Tiffany at Rosecrest Events put the party together.  And she sent me the most beautiful photo of my flowers...

It was a magical day.    

Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's a shoe in

Looking for a sparkly sandal to illustrate a future post late at night - I was seduced.

So many pretty shoes - 
dressy and not-so- much - 
and my favorite Moroccan style - for jeans, with a loose black shift dress, for day, for evening, for anything.  Summer can't come too soon.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tea Party

"What's blooming?"my friend Aileen from New York asked.  So I went to look.

Ally and Wally were sleeping in, the sun had not yet peeked above the roof, and the garden was fresh from last night's rain.

The crab apples are snowing, the ground under them is carpeted in white.

How can something so bright in bud open so pale?

The quince, the edible one, is covered in shell pink teacups:

The dogwood has pale green saucers:

There is a tea party going on in my garden!

I stood underneath the dogwood, admiring the branches against the fresh blue of the sky, until a breeze came by and I was drenched with unshed raindrops.  I shook like a dog.

The bluebells Sylvia gave me years ago, for a garden long ago sold, have spread next to the lime coral bells (heuchera 'Key lime pie' in case you want to try this at home) and are just starting to open... the last of the daffodils are finishing.

Carol gave me seeds from the columbine that carpeted her garden in spring.  She has been gone more than fifteen years, yet her sweet spirit lives on in my garden.

Oddly, columbines got their name from the same root word as Columbarium.  It's the same Latin root that lends its name to dove in so many languages (not ours, tho).  We (humans) used to place our dead in the bases of stone towers, doves nested in the tops.  If you pick a columbine and turn it upside-down you will see a ring of doves, bill-to-bill.  Kissing, the little girls in our neighborhood say.  Pecking, say the boys.


...and redbud, Wally's favorite.  It seeds all over with its beany pods.  I spend the spring prying its seedlings out from among the iris, the get the idea.  But we made a deal when we bought this big garden and built a house in it - Wally need never lift a finger in the garden...and the redbud would stay.

I am picking lilacs, their sweet smell fills the kitchen.

The garden is moody in the morning light,

the steps are covered with campanula and fairy dust...

...and raindrops.  Watch your step!