Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston

Over the last week we've been on summer vacation, traveling to beaches from Amagansett, NY, down to Avalon, NJ. It has been a fabulous week of visiting with family and friends, swims in the ocean, and much needed down-time. Back in May my friend Erin passed on to me this copy of Richard Preston's The Wild Trees as part of my amazing birthday package. I was ecstatic. Richard Preston had written a few pieces for the New Yorker years ago about tree climbing that I loved. The tattered copy of one sits readily available in my file cabinet at work, the same copy I lent to Erin two years ago. He went into detail describing the men and women who choose to climb giant redwood trees on the west coast and their discoveries. Finding out that he had finally written an entire book on the subject my eyes grew with eager anticipation. This morning I finally finished The Wild Trees and I must say that if you love trees and tree climbing, this book is totally up your alley. The passages rope you right in (pun intended?) and take you to a whole different world of exploration and wonder.

I admit I am not much of a recreational reader, but I would highly recommend this book to almost anyone. As a result I've completely gotten re-fascinated with tree climbing. We weren't back but a couple hours from our last surf venture and I was writing a friend and mentor to see if he still had a climbing saddle to get rid of as he mentioned some years previous. It was a total shot in the dark but I figured what the heck. The entire length of New Jersey I spent staring into the roadside canopy. I got hooked looking at every tree and its structure, silently contemplating whether one could climb it. Luckily for me my old teacher was spending his Saturday writing up a tree inventory as part of his consultation business and replied quickly. He acknowledged by geeky arboreal tendencies with a cyber grin, telling me in return about a consult he had done recently that allowed him a fun climb. "Frankly the tree didn't need to be climbed", he concluded, "but it was such a nice tree". I could relate all too well, and grinned myself.

The last time I climbed a tree it was a glorious old oak. The date was October 21, 2006.
I swore to myself that day that I would never abandon my love of trees, or the conscientious skill of proper tree climbing. I guess it took me a little longer than expected to amass my own climbing set-up, but with a saddle and flipline in a garage in Jersey and some internet "retail therapy" as I like to call it, I'm successfully getting back on track. And it feels great. Better late than never I suppose.

Time to practice my knots. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Bambusa vulgaris 'Vittata' photographed down at the American Orchid Society in Delray, FL, in January of 2008. Photo credit: aef08

Recently I was approached via my flickr account by an individual writing a piece on bamboo and the significance of their flowers in India. They liked the above photograph that I took in January and asked if I would add it to a slideshow attached to her article. I agreed, as have many other photographers, and the slideshow is pretty great looking. Always interested in the subject of ethnobotany, while knowing very little about the subject as it relates to India, I found Nahai's article to be very interesting and insightful. Therefore I thought I would add a link so you can check it out. The title alone might draw you in - A flower that bears seeds of doom? Oooh ah!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Magnolia Gallery

I have been doing a lot of talking about magnolias recently with clients and coworkers and friends. I'm not entirely sure why as they are spring bloomers and often get forgotten about by this point in the season. But they are spectacular flowering trees so I'm always happy they get the attention. So this got me thinking about some of my favorite types of magnolias this morning and I was compelled to do some digging through my files. Here are a few pretty pics of pretty trees to help you start out your Sunday morning. Speaking of trees, my love and I are talking about a Sunday afternoon social below the lindens at the Beer Garden this afternoon. If interested, give a ring.

Ok, back to the magnolias.... Above and below is Magnolia 'Elizabeth', taken in late April, 2005

Then there is this Magnolia sieboldii from Massachusetts, photographed in early June of 2006. I don't know about you but these blossoms look like something right out of a Dr. Seuss book to me. These flowers were not as big as other magnolias you've seen, but still so striking.

In particular I was talking about Magnolia stellata recently, commonly called a star magnolia. This one is rather young, found at NYBG in mid-April of 2005. The question I was posed with was about how to prune them into more of a tree-form, but personally I like their round to oval habit the way it is.
Certainly not a young tree, this is the largest Magnolia kobus I have ever seen. Talk about a beautiful growth habit and shape. Thanks especially to my expert tree models, Erika, David, and Alicia. Stunning, kids, just stunning!

I can never remember which magnolia this is. It's the one up at Wave Hill on the edge of the opening where the massive copper beech is. I love how those big buds unfurl in spring. Caroline, if you see this perhaps you can shed some light on the situation.

And then, lastly for today, Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'. It is a cross between Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata originally bred by Max Lobner in Germany just before World War I, hence the common name Loebner magnolia. This chance hybrid, 'Leonard Messel', was the work of Colonel Messel himself at his gardens in Sussex, England. Without a doubt this is a major fave within the magnolia genus. The petals are long and delicate like the star magnolia but the tree can get to be a beautiful, full 30' at maturity with a habit more like the Kobus magnolia. Supposedly they are easy to propagate from soft wood cuttings, according to Dirr, but I have yet to try myself. This one was photographed on April, 14, 2005.

Monday, July 7, 2008

my hand and her new pedicure

...I don't know, I just liked how the combination looked as we settled into the couch with our evening cocktails and caught up on the day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Indian Wells on Saturday

It was gray but we didn't care. We were at the ocean and that's all that mattered.
Tide was going out and it was small but glassy.
There's something about the hugeness of the ocean that makes it so entrancing. How can you grasp and articulate something so vast? Words don't really begin to do it justice. I stand and stare.

Friday, July 4, 2008

shopping for Friday dinner

I'm going to take this loaf of bread, and oh, maybe one of your beautiful tarts....
I was hoping for one with raspberries, but ok, we'll take this one.
The bread and the tart, anything else?
No, that'll be it, thank you.
That'll be $55.
(heart attack)

Really? You must be kidding? Honestly, what has become of my hometown?!?

...of course, I must admit, it was delicious, and we ate every penny!

Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

driving east Thursday night

When we head out to my hometown I'm usually so antsy that we blow right through Manorville before getting on Montauk Highway. This trip, however, a coffee sounded much too necessary to pass up. Picked the 12-ounce, let's not get too crazy, pilgrim, it's getting late. Marveled at the "new" flavors of non-dairy creamer. I might have winced. Then, something I had never seen before. "Caffeine Shots", the hand-printed label read - all caps.


I took one back to the car with me to show Krissy and make sure I wasn't hallucinating. I wasn't. This thing is real. Whoa. I'm not putting that in my body, thanks.

I think it might have been the warning label that I thought most genius. For those of you that don't feel like turning your computer upside down, it reads "Not for those under 18, pregnant, or caffeine sensitive".

Laugh amongst yourselves.

garden pics posted to Flickr

So, I am thrilled to report that I finally have internet at home again after two weeks of living sans cyber-space thanks to the glorious bafoons at Time Warner Fable. This also means that I was finally able to upload and title most of the pics from our amazing long weekend up in Massachusetts visiting the Garden in the Woods. Included are a ton of fabulous natives you might not necessarily know about like the yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) above which is great to come across in the forest and the rose pogonia (Pogonia ophioglossoides), a native terrestrial orchid indigeneous to sphagnum bogs in the northeast. To check out all of my pics from our recent trip, check out my flickr account and look for the set titled "Massachusetts June 2008". Enjoy. We're off to my folks place in East Hampton for the holiday weekend in a few hours, if people are going to be out there, track us down. Happy Fourth of July!