N.B. Shape, Color, Direction

Sometimes you see things and they sink a little deeper, they make the formidable leap from that's nice and how beautiful to I must remember this or I must do this. Here are three such things from the visit to BBG the other day. First, there were these sculptural shapes for plant support like half finished woven baskets. Genius. I must start collecting miscellaneous, twigs, branches, vines to have a go at this. Then at the children's vegetable garden I saw the massive heaped vegetable beds and the soil was just so incredibly black and rich looking. I already know this, the plans to grow cycles of vegetables in Mamaroneck including under the cold frame for extended periods is going to require more than the casual amounts of compost we add every year. This year composting needs to be s.e.r.i.o.u.s - this picture of heaps of rich fertile soil will now be my aspirational ideal. Lastly, I nodded my head, admiring all the uniform plant labels, I think they were paint stirrers ( I like that they were larger). They even went to the trouble of making it clearer to read by writing vertically. Duly noted. All those random ones written with different colored sharpies I've been sticking into the vegetable beds are history.

Under the Cherry Blossom

Hanami, as witnessed yesterday at Brooklyn Botanical garden, is not just confined to Japan. The Cherry Esplanade was packed by early afternoon with people enjoying this custom. It actually looked a little odd to see so many people not on the lawn but jammed under the pink cloud of flowers - usually in the earlier days of warm weather, most people prefer to sit or lie directly in the sun. Some were engaged in conversation or absorbed in a book. Some were lost in in a private world of their own thoughts and daydreams. The modern variation were the cellphones and laptops and digital cameras. All were under the ancient spell of the the cherry blossoms.

+ GreenKraft:Earthships

Dandelion Thinking

I read this interesting article a while ago called Think like a Dandelion. It explored the similarities of Dandelions and creatives in this new age of the internet and urged them to blow your works into the net like a dandelion clock on the breeze and allow the winds of the Internet to toss your works to every corner of the globe. This is clearly provocative thinking as it goes against the grain of anyone creating anything- the natural instinct is to protect and limit the ability of anyone to copy or plagiarize the work. But there's also something persuausive about the concept when you realize the vastness of the competition for attention.

I immediately thought back on this idea recently while pondering on all this twitter frenzy - yet another clearly effective way to create, distribute and promote content. But I really only enjoy small talk in small amounts- hence the lack of comments here-so the idea of 'regular updates' doesn't really appeal. And then I realized it doesn't need to be talk- it could be pictures. I have too many sometimes and they languish in folders on my hardrive doing nothing because I have nothing to say about them. Sometimes I don't know what the subject is and I never find an answer and they have the same fate. Thanks to twitpic, I can now scatter those photos into the internet breeze, who knows what interest they might seed. And if you know what unknown median wildflower #1 and #2 or any other botanic mysteries I might be posting on there- let me know @ogardener

+ OccasionalOasis:Wabi Sabi in Milan

Snowflakes in Spring

I keep seeing these and never quite get round to finding out what they are. I saw them first at Jefferson Market Garden a couple of years ago. Then a few weeks ago at BBG they looked stunning set against a moody gray wall. A few days ago I saw them again, in Central Park growing with Virginia Blubells, like white snowdrops but with a green dot on each petal. I've finally tracked it down- its Leucojum Aestivum related to the snowdrop, also known as Summer or Spring snowflake

New Digs

It wasn't until the end of last summer that the potting shed was completed with the counter and double sink recycled from the kitchen renovation. So, this is the first gardening year that it's being put to use. This past weekend I was in there a lot, watering all the trays, planting new seeds, sorting out labels and generally pottering in and out of there. After some trimming and pruning, I decided to plop some shorter trimmings of spirea flowers into a small container to decorate my new digs and I realized right then and there the joys of a potting shed.

It's not so much a home from home, more like a satellite station, a little island of a space dedicated to the pursuit of gardening. I love the functionality of it, the big counter space, things are in one place, I can wash my hands, stick things in water and then of course, there's the new ability to start seeds and be able to manage that more easily.

Outside, the cold frame was installed, so I planted beets, carrots and lettuce. Even though it was little later than planned it still gives us 3 weeks or so before the frost free date and an advantage on the growing season. It's amazing to think what we are potentially going to be able to grow in there over the year. Looking at Mayzie peer into one of her preferred spots for bone burying, I realized this was going to help avoid some trampling and maybe other critters from getting in there and devouring the new shoots.

+ OGMedia:Rosarium


It was a glorious weekend with temperatures in the high 60's (maybe into the early 70's). Most of the seed trays had sprouted, and quite a few of the pots. The sight of all these sprouts first elicited joy, then a slight pang of fear - please make it through the next phase without dying and damping off. The warm weather literally pushed some of them up - I stayed overnight and the next day one tray had new sprouts and I spied 2 pea shoots coming through outside in the vegetable beds. I discovered that I could water the trays by just sitting them in the sink filled with water and then finishing them off with a few squirts from a spray bottle. I seeded one last non wooden tray with the seeds I forgot to bring the last few weeks. We're off to fine start.

+ OGMedia:Flora

Spring Blues

I discovered the Virginia Bluebells in the North West of Central Park a few years ago walking Eti in those woods and it became a tradition for us to mark the beginning of Spring with him posing beside them. It meant the beginning of good weather and many more regular walks in the woods. This photo was the last one, he passed away later that year. I couldn't bring myself to go see them last year. Knowing they were in bloom reminded me more than anything of my much missed companion as it did this year, but this year I decided I would go take a look.

It helped that there were some squills just before the path that enters the woods. Not quite sure why, just that it was something new that I hadn't noticed before. Maybe if every year, there was something new to notice it will ease the spring blues that the bluebells bring.

Oak Rings

Last summer walking through the North woods of Central Park, I came across a fallen oak that had crashed into and damaged the rustic bridge that crosses the stream there. I think there was a big storm the night before. Yesterday I noticed that the bridge had been fixed, and the trunks had been sawn into smaller sections. Conicidentally a couple of nights ago I had come across the work of Bryan Nash Gill who makes prints directly from the cross sections of trees using "relief printing and a laborious rubbing technique". I thought his work was beautiful (more of it here- check out the copper plated bark) and prompted me to take some photos of the cross sections which could be interesting to use as a texture for some graphic work- I'll update when I get around to doing it.

+ OGMedia:In the Woods

Daffodil Prelude

Someone confessed to me once that she had a hard time with birthday parties when she was little. She could not deal with them ending, would start to become depressed about it midway through the party and invariably had to be carried home in tears. I think I feel a little like this about spring. The wait seems too long, and the season too rushed before it erupts in to a frenzy of flowers.

I'm sure it's not like this now but a couple of weeks ago, the Daffodils on Daffodil Hill,BBG were an example of how I would prefer things to be. Spring is also about green and I enjoyed the amount of young green leaves here, the warmer tone of the light and flowers but not so many that it feels like the party is almost over.

Soundtrack: Prelude in C# minor from Between two worlds by Maya Filipič

+ OGMedia:Narcissus

+ OccasionalOasis:Sopheap Pich

Adding Orange

I'm adding some more orange to the Mamaroneck garden this year. I hope so anyway. There are no guarantees, I have seeds for Califonia Poppies and the Orange Milkweed that need to be sown in situ and then it's fingers crossed. As an extra precaution, I've planted some of the milkweed seed in a pot so that I can recognize what the plant looks like as it emerges. Besides the flower color, both of which are quite lovely, I also like the feathery foliage of the poppy and the fine cut look of the milkweeds leaves. I was thrilled to find the seed for the latter at BBG, having seen this plant at Wave Hill last year. I loved the color or more accurately how this bright color was broken up - it's not just orange - there's yellow too and the flowers are in clusters so it's not quite so concentrated. Also it was crawling with bees which, means if it does show up, in concert with the sedum and the bee balm, things should be humming this summer.

+ OGMedia:Hive Minding

Inside Out Spring

Inside the dogwood branches continue to flourish, remember them from last week? Outside the gingko is covered in fat green buds ready to burst. The radiator still splutters as the temperatures remain cool. This morning it poured and I can still hear the squelch of wheels on soaked streets outside. A work deadline due early next week demands a working weekend at home although I procrastinate and am pretty sure if it's the slightest bit nice tomorrow I might want to take a look at what's going on in the park, the woods should be full of violets and bluebells.

+ OccasionalOasis:Big Bambú

Crown of Thorns

How appropriate for a (almost) Good Friday post. This Euphorbia Milii aka Crown of Thorns was in the desert room at the BBG. It's a much bigger version of the one I own, also with yellow flowers. There is a bit of a back story to this. I saw this plant at an indoor gardeners meeting and got a cutting which I actually managed to root and pot. And then I neglectfully killed it. I didn't quite understand why I was drawn to this plant in the first place but then realized it was probably because I saw quite a few of them as a child growing up in the tropics. I think it was a staple of potted plants that usually graced the front steps of houses, another was begonias.

So I discovered I had a very positive association with this plant which was at odds with my bias and avoidance of thorny plants because of their negative symbolism. In feng shui, thorns are generally viewed as negative energy although there is some grey area like in the case of roses where there is another component. I can't tell you how conflicted I was about this, agonizing about this for weeks before I gave in and bought one in flower at the farmer's market. It was the flower that did it, with the added rationale - it's not negative, its protection. Every time I look at it sitting on the windowsill there's a flurry of images in my head that conjures up my altar boy past, my childhood, my guilt at killing the cutting that the nice lady had made a special effort to give me. I must re pot it soon.

Potted Notes

I just uploaded an album of photos in OGMedia called Potted. This is to put into one place some great ideas that I've seen for potted plants - the photos were taken at Wave Hill and BBG. I'm going to be both repotting some house plants soon and also adding some pots around the vegetable beds in Mamaroneck as the recent renovation has created a direct view of these beds. So some inspiration is called for. In the picture above, I particularly like the varied assortment of shape and color- and it's all foliage. I also like the pairing of the right pot with certain plants- love the shallower pots with the Bromeliads. There's also this great mood with the ferns and the shadows they cast on the tiled floor- like a tropical courtyard.

+ OGMedia:Potted

+ OccasionalOasis:Vegetal Chair

Window Dressing

These images are of the beautiful stained glass at the Mamaroneck house. In keeping with the arts and craft period of the house, the designs are organic, inspired by nature's shapes and colors. They are a stand in for the fact that I have no pictures to show for my time up there this weekend. I did a lot, weeding, tidying up, planted peas and potatoes in the vegetable bed, started another batch of seeds - mainly flowers, Cosmos, Clarkia, Allyssum. I planted sweet peas directly in the flower beds. Meanwhile Jim worked on the cold frame, putting in the hinged window and fitting it to the bed. Lots of things were emerging, in the seed boxes - the basil seeds had sprouted. The weather however was cold damp and gray and nothing looked the least bit inspiring despite all this going on.

Brooklyn Spring

I definitely had a moment at Brookly Botanical the other day. It had everything to do with timing. I've been here before in spring, but earlier when the magnolia buds are swollen or later when the lilacs or cherries are in mad gaudy bloom. This time, I enjoyed something new - softer, lighter. Just a few Magnolia trees were in flower, as I walked around them I enjoyed their fragrance which I found surprisingly delicate. In the distance, I see one tree in bloom, I have to walk to find another. It's always such a mad rush it seems in spring, this felt slower, sweeter - spring landing softly in Brooklyn.

Buttercup Winterhazel

Corylopsis Pauciflora. This is an utterly gorgeous shrub. Everything about it is just sensational. The color - rich buttery yellow flowers with a faint green tint at its base. The shape - darling little bell shaped flowers on bare arching branches. I appreciate how early the Hamamelis/Witch hazels flower. I take a million photos of them when I see them but I get home and I never really like them. There's something a little alien about their spidery shapes and something a little showy about their color. I'm convinced that a little later and a lot prettier is the way to go with this more early spring than winter flowering Japanese Winterhazel. It needs room though, wider than it is tall. It looked spectacular casting shadows against a wall and arched over a bed of dark green Ivy at BBG. Must.Have.

All Posts: