Monday, December 28, 2009

December ocean

Before heading back home from my folks house post-holiday we swung by Wiborg's for a quick walk. Cold, very cold, but beautiful as always.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the desk of arborboy! May your day be filled with much coffee, good tunes, sunshine, life, and booty! Ah, yes, the booty!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas tree creativity

In our small Queens apartment with three cats it is pretty safe to say that a standard Christmas tree with all the trimmings would certainly come crashing to an untimely death, or we would have to spend the month de-resining the cats, or some such undesired outcome. So this year I decided to get creative. Enter Dracaena marginata, the Madagascar dragon tree. You know this as a wonderfully reliable house plant for bright to low light conditions. As a member of the Agave family (Agavaceae) Dracaenas are tolerant of dry city apartments, hence this guy has been happy with us for a few years now. Well, we decided to reinvent the Christmas tree this year and this is what I came up with - no saws, arboricide, or sappy kitties!
And isn't it funny that for all the hundreds of dollars we spend on gifts for people during this time of the year it's the silly $7 purchase at the local dollar store that spawns the funniest looks and laughter and instant entertainment. Ah, what a world we live in. Happy very merry everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

morning icicles

On the way to work people rush and bundle and curse under their breath. They cut each other off for a seat on the subway, or to be the first to cross the street. These people are rushing to then spend the majority of their day inside, most likely seated, idle. It's 20-something degrees outside and I am going to be in it all day. I walk slow and take photographs to try and keep myself separate from the rat race. Harlem tunnel sunrise, complete with icicles.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


My brother Gian Carlo is always on the lookout for unusual musical devices to add to his recordings. Insert the Beltone, a recent aquistion.

Do you remember in grade school when you would have to have different physical exams? In my little country grade school we would go down to an office at the front of the school for an assortment of funny little exercises. One was the hearing test. You would sit in the quiet room with a woman seated at this funny looking machine with a pair of headphones attached. (insert Beltone). You would be told to raise your hand when you heard a sound come through the headphones. The next couple minutes would be followed by listening to different frequencies at different degrees of loudness, the silent and still room only disturbed by a small uniform-clad arm being raised every once and a while. Eventually the woman would tell you that it was over and you'd return to your classroom.

When Gian showed this to me on Thanksgiving at their place and reminded me what the machine was used for we shared these stories and a laugh. I guess it's no wonder we all got into odd experimental music as we got older. Too funny, all these odd memories from growing up that we remember.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with peaceful relaxation and maybe even a little gluttonous behavior, like this unbelievable baked french toast that Krissy whipped up from the Operation Scarlet cookbook.
May we all be thankful for a warm home and healthy family.
And may we take a moment to slow down and appreciate the adventure of life, you know, the good things, like baby toes and flip flops.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving from the desk of arborboy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

cute Ea pics of the day

my little niece is just over 21 months old now and cracking us up more and more every day. these are a few quick shots from our pre-Thanksgiving turkey din in Bushwick.

we love that both of our nieces first recognize us as a single entity and not necessarily as two separate people. Janaya for a long time simply referred to us as "Krissyalex". "Where's Krissyalex?" "C'mon Krissyalex, living room!" and now Ea has formed her own version Alexkrissy. She keeps telling Gian and Jen "I miss Alexkrissy". We obviously have to get them over here for play date soon. As those of you know, they grow up so fast!
note: baby bottle and string of pearls. ...oh, what a character.

audio geeky genius

My brother told me about this. "We Are All Connected" by the Symphony of Science, yet another youtube gem. Geeky, trippy, and totally entertaining. As Gian says, "my mind is once again blown!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Korean chrysanthemums, 2009

The Korean chrysanthemum is a beautiful old fashioned mum that naturally flowers this time of year. Even though a perfectly winter hardy perennial here in the northeast, the Conservatory Garden in Central Park plants 2000 of these plants fresh each spring in the northern French garden. Grown all summer in organic-rich soil with good drainage and under full sun these plants get to be a few feet tall and wide and explode late October into November.
As you can see the mix of Korean mums is astounding and the wide array of colors is sensational.
These mums are quite different than the ones you find at your local florist, what I call the "pin cushion" mums, Chrysanthemum x grandiflorum and related cultivars. These are much larger and more open daisy-like flowers.
Though members of the Aster family, Asteraceae, these are most definitely chrysanthemums. Their fragrance is another great characteristic of these fall bloomers.

Such fabulous color and character every where you look. Hard to take a bad picture when you are surrounded by such beauty.

Each flower is such a character.

See these mums for yourself every fall up at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park at 105th and 5th Ave (in the French garden) from the end of October until mid-November when they get pulled so that 20,000 tulips can be planted for the following spring. Yup, that's what I said, 20,000!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Coming Soon: Korean chrysanthemums, 2009 edition

On view at the Conservatory Garden, Central Park, 105th and 5th Ave, New York, NY, 8am-5pm daily from now until the morning of November 12th.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween...

from arborboy
and felis femina
they actually lasted through the night, amazing! And on the way to work at dawn the next morning I found this relic at one of the local intersections. Love how it seems to be looking back at you. While we are on the subject, feliz Dia de los Muertos senores y senoras.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Tough Betty

As we all know, this time of year the focus switches to fall color, that sensational last show taking over the northeast before we close down for the winter. But I have to interject here to show off a rose that is one tough cookie. I admit roses are not as special to me as they are to many people, but when one is so reliable and relatively so easy it obviously deserves attention.

Lynden Miller is a internationally known public garden designer and I am lucky to say a good friend. A week ago or so she was giving a presentation of her new book, Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape at the Museum of the City of New York. She has transformed so many urban landscapes into precious and appreciated parts of our lives, necessary parts of our lives, and her guts and determination are brilliantly inspiring. She was showing pictures of gardens she has overseen the rescue and renovation of, including the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, certainly one of my most favorite spots in Manhattan. Lynden shared images of the garden when she began her work with the Central Park Conservancy in the early 1980's. Many of the flower beds were overgrown with weeds and you couldn't make sense of the original design, or even what was left of it. The images showed the neglect and decline over the years. And then amazingly enough, one photograph of the Burnett Fountain showed these roses. Rosa 'Betty Prior' is a modern floribunda rose, and amidst the messy green hodge-podge they lit up the bleak landscape with their perky pink single blossoms. Today the same roses are easily 30 years old or so and with regular pruning in the spring and deadheading through the summer they keep producing these amazing carmine-pink flowers until frost. That's what I call one tough Betty!

Keep in full sun in rich soil with clean surroundings and prune back hard to 10"-18" in spring. As always prune your roses above the nodes with 45-degree angled cuts so that emerging buds are all facing outward from the center of the plant. Prune anything less than pencil thickness and focus on getting as much sun into the central crown of the plant for best growth and flower.

Tree ID: Cornus florida

This is my neighbor's flowering dogwood tree, Cornus florida, photographed back in early May. Native to the northeastern US, I love these small ornamental trees in pretty much every season. The white-to-pink spring flower is pretty sensational, the "petals" of which are actually bracts. In a sheltered spot with full sun to light shade and in organic and nutrient-rich soil these trees will do well. Reference books list plenty of pest and disease issues like anthracnose can target these old beauties, but in the right spot with the right cultural care and little extra fuss I have found they can be pretty trouble free. They max out about 25'-30' tall and wide, and ultimately I think they are beautiful. Flowering dogwoods have a unique bark, alligator-like, which proves to be a helpful ID characteristic in winter. This is a specimen from my time in Massachusetts in 2006. Because of their wide range, in terms of space and hardiness, be sure to buy as local as you can for the best results.
They have a nice medium-sized leaf texture in summer and a proportionally pleasing framework to look at through winter. It's fall color comes early compared to the rest of the trees out there. Here are a couple shots of my neighbors tree again, these from mid-October.