Here's an appreciation of gardens that abound with local character. The first-pictured above- an easygoing colorful garden with bric a brac and a cat napping in a rattan chair. The next- a garden only of dahlias and a ship in the front yard. A jumble of tubs, pots and hanging baskets on a wharf continues the waterfront theme. Finally a front yard only of vegetables allowed to grow and bloom freely -and it works, the tomatoes, unsupported ramble over metal sculptures, the cabbages create architectural shapes, the flowers of the kale and artichokes providing adequate color. Its a hit with the tourists who are intrigued by this bold design and hover outside it with cameras in hand.
Over here- another local attraction but a little more moody and poetic.
This a serious omission - Asters. There aren't any in the beds at Mamaroneck. Maybe I needed to be inspired by these images of lush color and substantial shape and mass at this time of year. I particularly liked the shade of purple of the ones pictured above and these white ones looked perfect against the bleached white driftwood and rustic fence. If it looks familiar to you its because I photographed it earlier in the summer when it featured a stand of Rose Campion.
One of my most favorite things is to find as in the photo above, a combination of plants, their colors and textures almost perfectly chosen to co habit together except of course in this case chosen randomly by nature itself. The combination of orange hued fruit hips with purple tinted leaves, the blue green leaves of some kind of wild spurge accented with bright yellow flowers of what looked like a dwarf golden rod- another view here-was all in a natural border on the road side along route 6A. All set against a crisp september sky. My textile designer head immediately extracted all those colors and wove an imagined richly colored madras. Another fall palette here.
The Days' Cottages along the road between Provincetown and Truro are an iconic image of the Cape Cod landscape-an oft captured one by artists and photographers (see cottage art on the link above). Something about their symmetry and juxtaposition aginst the open landscape with glimpses of the sea between each cottage is visually compelling. I wondered as I rode past on my bike, knowing how popular a subject it is, if I might ever use or interpret it when I happened to glance at the name signs on each cottage. They were all the names of flowers. There was the answer to my question- the image of 'Dahlia" (Violet and Cosmos are the other two I remember) here is the perfect establishing shot for my series of posts from Provincetown, as I vacation here for a week. Here's what else I saw on my bike ride.
The herbs on the kitchen window sill have been doing really well so for my last home meal in NYC before leaving for the Cape I chopped up a whole bunch of them for a tomato salad that I like to make-particularly when I've been eating a lot of fresh tomatoes. The reason being that this involves scalding the tomatoes to remove their skins- it's just for a brief 30 seconds until the skin comes away, but it also shifts the flavor of the tomato slightly. I then dip the tomato in oil and vinegar and then roll in chopped herbs and slice. The original recipe, can't remember where I got it from, maybe Delia Smith, has a specific blend of herbs-basil, chives, mint, chervil, parsley but I just do it with whatever herbs I have on hand. Today it was parsley, mint and basil. The tomato was the last Big Boy I had which was perhaps a little too big for the best aesthetic result -it was a little sloppy- but it certainly tasted good.
This nest of hen and chicks is something that needs to be expanded on. I love how this looks, Heidi- the garden owner loves how this looks -there needs to be more of this. There were all these great concrete/stone like tubs at Wave Hill filled with alpines and succulents-more succulents in the greenhouse for inspiration so its on my list of things to do.
By Wednesday. I'm leaving town on Thurs so I thought I'd do an inventory of the contents of my refrigerator. This is from the the fresh from the garden department. I also have a cabbage (what was I thinking),a bunch of assorted herbs some kefir and some lamb. The large tomato is destined for a herb crusted salad- more details to follow and the rest is going into one big pot - details to be decided.
The vivid orange background is a freebie shirt I got and have never worn- I finally found a use for it.Check back for more creative use of items from my wardrobe that have rarely been worn.
What a reliable plant this is- Sedum Autumn Joy, every year without fail it shows up to do its work of bringing color and shape to the fall garden. I'm not quite sure how this happened but we actually have four of them - one in each bed- here is one forming a nice trio with the Wiegela and fuschia. A couple of things I don't like about it is that it gets a little awkward when the flowers really start to color . It gets top heavy and loses the tight shape that it had and starts to tumble over. The other is that it attracts a serious contingent of bees- a little worrisome when you have a little French Bulldog shadowing you while gardening only because I've seen so many reports of their bad reactions to bee stings. I like them as cut flowers because they are so architectural- see the photo above where they cast all kinds of interesting shadows in the morning light.
The Sweet Autumn Clematis that seeded itself in the vegetable garden is in full flower curled like a wave, tumbling and crashing over the low stone wall, a swirl of white blossom. Last year I let it grow up the teepee reserved for pole beans that we didn't get, but this year there are tomatoes there so I pushed it towards the stone wall to see what it would do.
I have a strange sense of deja vu looking at this. A few years ago I made a painting called Autumn Shift, an abstract (encaustic and mixed media) where I imagined the shift from Summer to Autumn not as a blaze of fall color but as a cool white chill that swirls into our existence. And here it is a Sweet Autumn Wave.
So we had some Big Boys and a Brandywine, a Roma Plum and some cherry tomatoes to work with for our weekend reunion of old friends up in Mamaroneck. The tomatoes in our salads and our pasta on Friday night were fresh from the garden, we savored them on a dining table outdoors by tiki torch and candlelight. The next day a neighbour leaves a bag of heirloom tomatoes from her garden. Shortly after I take their picture above we have some for lunch. I come home with a nice collection of them yesterday. Tomatoes for dinner -plain sliced and lunch today - with tofu and spicy peanut dressing. I'm not complaining.
On Saturday I was set the task along with good friend Kelly to figure out the flowers that were to go on dinner tables for our good friend Jim's big birthday bash later that night. Here's our final solution. We bought three bouquets of mixed flowers from Costco- separated everything into piles favoring the lime green and blue-ish ones that we liked and added some Japanese Anemones and Clematis from the garden. Then we lined glass vases with lime green potato vine leaves-also from the garden and voila table flowers for fifteen tables.
Its September already- its been so long since I went on vacation to Provincetown-in June. I took a peek at my photos and realized I had quite a few that didn't make it to the blog - especially a series of images of slightly unkempt gardens and unfussy porches which I took because I actually loved looking at them. Something about their wildness and lack of order and pretense seemed almost perfectly in tune with being on vacation. Combined here with the well tended gardens captures the total visual experience of being there a little better. But the title of the album from which the soundtrack- Been So Long by Vetiver comes from- To Find Me Gone - is prophetic. Thats where you'll find me in a few weeks as I'll be returning to enjoy another short vacation there.
And I especially love it with green. My poor Purpleheart that I treat so badly-its underwatered, unfed - but still it thrives and even the gangly awkward pieces that I trim off adjust beautifully to their new home in a flea market vase. There's also something quite lovely going on here with this combination of Purple flowered Nicotiana and the purple tinged leaves of the Berberis Thunbergii 'Rose Glow'. More green and purpleness over here.
There is a vibrant corner in the North West bed with this combination of lime green potato vine and a bright coleus- but there's something not quite right. First of all I planted the coleus a little too far apart and the gap between them kind of bothered me -until now. The potato vine took forever to get going and now there's almost too much of it. So there's a space time dimension thing that didn't work here- next year I'll do the same but with one or two more things in the mix and a little more fine tuning.
I saw some great August/September flowering plants at Wave Hill that also had an interesting additional dimension. First this orange colored Milkweed. Love the orange and it was also swarming with honey bees. In fact the whole of the flower garden was just alive with all kinds of butterflies and bees which seemed to add an energy to the garden that was palpable. Then there were these Dahlias. Love the color and love that they were really tall- those rich magenta/maroon orbs brought dabs of color up really high. Noted.
There was the almost a bowl of cherry tomatoes and then there was this motley crew of six string beans- count em, a bunch of chives, and some assorted tomatoes in varying degrees of greenness apart from one. That one reddish tomato ripened in a day or so and was eaten sliced, no fuss. The six beans along with two green tomatoes joined some green lentils, lamb and peas to make a curry - the green tomatoes worked well with tamarind to make a sourish South Indian style curry. I left the cherry tomatoes out on the counter and snacked on them one by one- as they turned color. The chives ended up on some braised pork- there's more that will go in a noodle dish tomorrow. Its a little difficult finding any enthusiasm for that last green tomato especially after seeing this- but I thoroughly enjoyed my first crop.