Sunday, June 28, 2009

sign of a good day

thanks to Rory for grabbing us and being our guide for a killer surf session out in MTK

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dahlia gallery

For all the annuals that we enjoy in our summer gardens I find that people always gravitate towards dahlias. Here are a few recent shots to show some of the fabulous variation of flower, leaf, and habit. Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'

Dahlia 'Karma Fuschiana'

Dahlia 'Fascination'

Dahlia 'Karma Prospero'

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff"

Dahlia 'Bishop of York'

Dahlia 'Onesta'

I turn to Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia (Timber Press, 2003) for some factoids:

-named after Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl (1751-1789)
-member of the aster family (Asteraceae)
-native from Mexico down to Columbia
-pinnate to tripinnate foliage, hollow cane-like stems
-wild species usually have single flowers, newer hybrids come in wide range of size, color, petal count

-grow in full sun to some part shade for best flower and growth
-grow in rich soil and water and fertilize freely
-an annual for us here in New York, but often the tubers can be overwintered successfully

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Talented, troubled, may his soul rest in peace.

On the turntable: Thriller by Michael Jackson (Epic, 1982)

nice combo

Earlier in the day the light was hitting the pink Astilbe in such a way that it really glowed. By this point in the day the Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' was taking more of the attention with its fabulous yellow sprawl. The fine foliage to the left is an annual, Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist', a new one to me this year. I suppose cosmos could work too, as well as some other fine leaved options in the 2' range. The evergreen backdrop is hedged Ilex crenata. I liked this little vista today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dahlias, apparently bee pollinated

A fellow horticulturist named Fred recently wrote me asking what bee populations I had seen around the city this spring and summer. He was concerned their numbers were down drastically this year as he hadn't seen too many in the gardens of his private clients. Apparently they are present though, and loving the annual dahlias planted around the city. ...granted, he is concerned about honey bees and not necessarily bumble bees like this one, but either way, I thought the shots were pretty. And I love capturing the romance between the plant and the pollinator. Makes me think of watching the David Attenborough series The Private Life of Plants in horticulture school. There was one episode entitled "Flowering" that dealt with the topic of pollination, and the footage was mindblowing as a developing horticulturist. Who wouldn't love to be an explorer traveling around the world to make such discoveries. Hmm, I should get my hands on that series. Talk about some killer botanical photography and video, complete with Attenborough's thick accent and safari garb. Yup, priceless.
Full dahlia gallery to be posted soon, once I finish IDing the bizillion cultivars I have on my camera!

belated bloom pics: Epimedium

This is an Epimedium I photographed back in mid-April. I am still trying to decipher the species. I think it is either Epimedium x versicolor or Epimedium x youngianum.
Either way, Epimedium...
-commonly called barrenwort or bishop's hat
-a genus of 44+ species from Asia and portions of the Mediterranean
-clump forming to slightly running
-typically perennial in USDA Zones 5-9
-deciduous and evergreen species present within the genus

The young foliage emerges with great contrast of light green with red or bronze edges. The plant does best in rich soil and cool woodland shade and makes a great edging plant or low groundcover. The flower comes and goes early in spring but the interesting foliage makes it a great perennial through the summer. Not to mention some species and newer cultivars have amazing fall color to boot.
This is what Epimedium looks like these days, (taken 6/19/09).

As always click images to enlarge and please don't reproduce without asking. Thanks.

Saturday tunes while battling the inboxes

This is Pavement, another favorite band from my musical upbringing. "Major Leagues" is off the album Terror Twilight (Matador, 1999).

Shout outs to Mark Schwartz for first mentioning Pavement during our senior year One Act Plays at the NEO theatre and Bob Pokorney for his musical collection in college and beyond.

Friday, June 19, 2009

two accidents too many for one short walk home

This evening on the way home from work I was witness to two terrible accidents. Off the subway a few blocks a man was impatiently making a left turn when the light changed and struck an elderly woman crossing in the middle of the block. People began to swarm and I didn't actually see the details of the accident so I continued home. All along the way impatient people cut corners and made illegal moves, nearly causing scores of more accidents. Home safe, or so I thought. We had just sat on the couch and heard a wild series of bangs, louder and louder. Three cars collided at the nearest intersection to our home. One went right off the road and took out a light post and two mailboxes before stopping due to the impact with the wrought iron fence. My neighbors ran to help any way they could, others dialed 911. People held up began honking, and we began screaming back at them. "Don't you see there is an accident! Relax already!!" Even now, hours later people still honk and swerve and nearly kill each other because they have to get to where they're going right away! Funny, no one says, "I want to get to my death, right away!"

In this age of technology and a million distractions remember the importance of finding patience. It's stating the obvious, but remember, time takes time, and sometimes there is no point in rushing things because it doesn't make a difference. Obviously we have found in this instance that rushing time means you are actually/potentially throwing time away, throwing life away, carelessly and foolishly, like a lost life due to a car accident.

This is a live clip of Stereolab, one of my favorite bands of all time. "Cybele's Reverie" is off of Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Elektra, 1996). The band includes: Morgane Lhote (keyboards), Time Gan (guitar), Andy Ramsay (drums), Duncan Brown (bass), Mary Hansen and Laetitia Sadier (vocals).

RIP Mary Hansen (killed on her bicycle by a car, London, 2002)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

belated bloom pics: Magnolia

Magnolia x soulangiana is commonly known as a saucer magnolia.

...and this is what it looks like this week, well after bloom and leaf-out. Big oval to obovate leaves give magnolias a good amount of texture in the summer garden.

Magnolia stellata 'Centennial' is commonly known as a Centennial star magnolia.

The tremendous amount of rain recently and a busy schedule have not helped photo taking but luckily I still have plenty of pics to sort through from the previous few months. Newer bloom pics to come soon, I hope, once we have a few dry days. These magnolias were in bloom back in mid-April. I wrote a few words about them in an old blog post, click here and look down towards the end of the post.

Here is that same star magnolia this week (taken 6/19/09).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday drivers (PA edition)

This weekend we had yet another reunion adventure, this time to PA. My love drove so I got to shoot pics out the window as we cruised along. Here are just a few that came out halfway decent. Some of the cloud formations were great and the rolling hills of Pennsylvania are just so damn picturesque.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Travel notes: Mountain School Reunion, Vershire, VT

This past weekend we took three days and enjoyed an adventure up to Vermont. The Mountain School is an intensive and independent program that offers juniors in high school an opportunity to live and work on a farm in rural Vershire, VT. Each semester 45 kids from around the country pile into this magical little destination for learning and experience and their lives are changed. I was one such kid, so it was fabulous to go back and celebrate my 15-year reunion.
A perfect excuse to use our new tent, the orange light in which we found to be very comforting. The first crop of hay was almost to harvest height.

Thankfully they mowed a patch atop Garden Hill before we got there so we were able to score the perfect camping spot, amidst the apple orchard.

We ate so well, as did the chickens that got to feast on our scraps.

So funny to think how I suffered with Tree ID when I was a student all those years ago. This time around I was having a ball revisiting all the species in their natural surroundings, the birch (above) and all the rest.
Wood crew was one of the best workjobs because along with the sugar crew you really learned how to manage a forest. There is something so therapeutic about chopping wood. Simple things like this woodpile made me miss country life.
Eventually we did hop on the road out to the sugar shack and took ourselves a little hike.
The landscape behind the classroom building still breathtaking. For a few months I would have to come out here first thing in the morning and feed the four new calves we had at the time. The hay I had to wheel up in a rusty old wheelbarrow from the barns down near Miles dorm. I enjoyed that chore.

And then going in to the big round dining hall for breakfast and morning meeting. Because we all know that "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch".
...a bit corny.

The maples were towering overhead. I decided at the last minute that bringing my climbing gear was silly and unnecessary. If we had been able to stay longer I would have loved to have gotten up in some of those old beauties.
Most of the farm was much the same as when I was there in spring of 1994.

But this time I was much better at identifying the flowering trees and shrubs around like this lilac (Syringa).
Above there to the right is the new hay barn - the most recent addition to campus.
The hoop houses I remember cleaning snow off of in January had started tomatoes and other veggies that looked amazing and well on their way.

Many more piglets this time. When our semester was there it was only Annie the pig, but trust me she was no lady to take lightly.
Might be June but if you think about it Thanksgiving will be right around the corner. I cared for the baby turkeys one summer doing farm crew with Martha and Greg and Becky before moving to Hanover, NH, for the summer with fellow alums from Loomis Chaffee. That was some time ago.
The new hay barn was great looking inside with the sun pouring in. Pretty sci-fi, no?

Jack Kruse quality signage still in full effect.

The chicken coop on the way up to Garden Hill.

The gazebo atop Garden Hill and the signs of other alums.
A few of the old fence posts still had the clay masks I remember from the early '90's.

The views still amazing.

and all of us, happily together again.