When I was at the rose garden at Brookly Botanic last, I looked to see if there was one rose there that I would consider getting. There's a spot in the North West bed in Mamaroneck that needs a largish shrub or clump of perennials. A climbing rose would actually work quite well, balancing the honeysuckle that's in the North East bed. Rosarium Uetersen was the clear winner, it was the most gorgeous shade of pink. I see decriptions of this color as varied as dark coral pink, orange red, deep pink, medium pink but this is the one I think suits it best- deep rose.
On a slight tangent, I was messing around with the image and then realized that I had unconciously abstracted it to the point where it looked quite similar to an abstract study I had done before. Is this a previous life thing, a blurred fragment of memory? Do I know this rose? I should follow this trail.
So here we are deep in the dregs of winter. The weather forecast is bleak. What's good, I ask myself in a happy voice- what are you enjoying, here in this interior winter life? Well I am quite happy with my Spinach Tree. I bought it in June and its been a happy camper. Everytime I look out the window, it's leaves look vaguely tropical to me and somehow distracts from the cold temperate goings on outside. And then there's apples. Love them. I get a huge bag every week at the farmers market. Usually its Braeburns, they are my absolute favorite but I've been adding a new one called Winter Banana with an interesting flavor. This week neither were available so what you see in the picture are a combination of Mutsu, Fuji and SunCrisp. I'd not had SunCrisp before and was a little excited about the information on the crate that said that it was related to Cox's Pippin but it was dissapointing. The Fuji's were really good.
Vertical gardens have been a frequent subject of late in the gardening press, I noted this one back in June that credits French botanist Patrick Blank for popularizing this. I also saw this contraption at the NY Botanic Garden, which looked interesting and I wondered how it could perhaps be reimagined for a spot near in my apartment. Turns out its, despite its simple construction, it has quite a bit more going on.
But verticality as illustrated by the above image taken at the Brookln Botanical Garden also has old school expressions and there is no better reference source for that than Getrude Jekyll's Wall and Water Gardens which I am adding today to my vintage book collection. Saxifragas and Iberis are couple of the many ideas she has in there for plants suited to growing in a vertical wall. I think the blue flowering plants in my photo are in fact very aptly named wallflowers or Erisimum.
I was up again in Mamaroneck yesterday. The snow was thick and it was freezing cold. Pretty as it was, I just wasn't inclined to go outside so my interests turned to what what I could photograph from indoors. Looking out, the hydrangeas looked sort of funny with huge cones of snow on thier seedheads. They looked like mounds of shaved ice ready for a trickle of syrup. Then indoors there was a mustard jug with Hydrangeas that I had put in at the end of fall. I was surprised how blue some of them still were. That image in particular was great material to work with, I'm getting particularly inspired, working in this square format, for some reason it really lends itself to the processing techniques that I've been working with and I was very happy with the moody blue piece I ended up with.
Working on my last post, the Hydrangeas in snow, I realized that snow really cleans up the background making it much easier to isolate the subject and do all kinds of manipulations with it. So, with a nice snowfall from the last few days, I set off for Central Park, to gather more material. I did in fact get some great images to work with, interesting stark shapes against white backgrounds but focussed as I was in finding more monochromatic subjects it was with some surprise and joy to find this clump of pink berries. You know I love pink berries, these were plumper. I have no idea what the shrub is, it does have a trailing habit that reminded me of a cottoneaster. An essential part of that moment unfortunately I have to leave out, they were growing just under a bridge and while looking at those pink globs, there was a delicious soundtrack of rushing water.
No one transcribes the winter American landscape better than Andrew Wyeth, turning bleak winter days into beautiful, haunting visions of isolation. News of his passing today was sad to learn. I've always been fascinated by his palette. It isn't really true, winter days have more gray and blue tones. His have an eerie yellow light. It always makes me think of what someone said to me once about how the light is so much more yellow just before it snows. Tweaking this image of Hydrangeas on a snowy day in Mamroneck to emulate this palette had me ramping up the yellows and scratching out some of the color. I took a look again at one of my favorite painting of his, Trodden Weed. My homage lacks the richness of detail in that painting - all those blades of grass and also the range of contrast- that black coat.
Li Edelkoort, an influential trend forecaster publishes Bloom, an inspiration magazine (there's also a book) with a horticultural bent. The latest issue is titled Enchanted and is full of images and ideas on this theme, including secret gardens and fairies. The first thing thing I thought of when I asked myself what that word conjured up, was this photo I took at Brooklyn Botanical garden. I vaguely remembered this dreamy scene with a mass of roses but when I actually pulled it up to look at it again, I realized there were a couple of other things that enhanced this.
The first is the overhang of rambling roses which creates the idea of looking through something, to another place, it heightens the idea of a vista or something special beyond. There's also this sense of wildness, always important in a garden to evoke that element of chaos. Then there is just the exuberance of the mass of roses and the color is just wow.
This morning I took some photos of the oak outside my bedroom window featuring two somewhat unusual occurences this winter. On the right, iced branches, nothing compared to some of the images I've seen of ice storms that have swept through parts of the North East. It is however a rarer sight here in the city where the temperatures retained by all that urban concrete tends to melt any evidence of an icy cold night by late morning. The other image is of a nest and quite a large one. It's abandoned now I think, I don't see any activity, just a mound of snow. Its been the first thing I notice every time I come out of the subway station and look across the street, its pale material and dome of snow floating in gray branches and dark brick.
At the end of last summer I took Anne Ravers advice and pulled up one of the tomato plants in its entirety and, still tied to its bamboo stake, hung the whole thing upside down, leaves, roots and all in the potting shed. I took a step back to take a look and thought, how interestingly decorative it looked. Did they ripen, did they taste good? I asked Heidi. Yes they did.
In the new West Elm catalogue, I found the image to the left along with a few others of great bunches of tied fruiting branches looking beautifully decorative in interiors that suggested primitive rooms where they still practised the drying of produce. Food for thought for next summer and maybe food beyond summer. Rather than harvest, I might just pull up and tie bunches of chilli plants to store for later. Maybe some chamomile and some medicinal plants and of course there's garlic and onions. What else? Obviously not pomegranates and olives like the catalogue. I'll have to do some homework.
Sometime in late December I realized I had forgotten to tell Heidi to pull up the remaining carrots which I should have harvested back in November. Oh well I thought, too late. On New Year's day I went up to Mamaroneck, a delayed Hoilday visit since I couldn't make it for Christmas. "Did you pull up the carrots?" I asked, I forgot to tell you to. They did. Good. I stayed overnight and the next morning ventured out to see what was going on in the garden, more about that later, but I spied in the vegetable beds some carrot greens in the snow, albeit collapsed. There were about eight carrots of various sizes that had missed being harvested. Last week I find a five dollar note walking in Central Park, now this. I re lived the same broad grinned thrill for my second windfall. I had gone to the market after finding my five dollars, so potatoes from there and these carrots went into a lamb stew. I savored my delicious good luck and am very open to the concept of things happening in threes.
A prediction- 2009 will be the year of the Sedum (and we'll throw in Sempervivums in there too). Not only is it metaphorically a plant for our times, resilient,and able to thrive in the most austere conditions it seems to jive with all the hot gardening buzzwords like green roofs and alternative lawns. If you're looking for a thrifty idea for a sunbaked windowsill or thinking about a green screen for an urban window then Sedums will most probably be part of that enterprise. And how beautiful is that Sedum wreath in the photo above? Its minimal soil needs allow for artistic manipulations too. The image is from a new book I got the chance to look at this past weekend-Gardens Private & Personal the photographer, Mick Hales will be at a Wave hill event on january 21 to talk about his work. The image on the left I took at Wave Hill- I've been taking a lot of photographs of Sedums because I have a personal Sedum project coming up- there's a small bed in Mamroneck that is destined to be devoted to this plant - a small quarter moon bed -stay tuned for this.