Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paeonia (peony) gallery

This time of year I know people get all goo-goo gah-gah for roses as they begin to come into bloom and I get it. In our new neighborhood my morning commute is now a fabulous rose parade as I walk by the carefully tended little front yards between here and the R train stop. Roses are some of the most noted flowering shrubs and vines in the world, no doubt, and they too deserve a gallery of their own these days. But overall I tend to find that people gravitate towards the same known plants so I being the horticultural snob like to instead tout the other guys, those genus and species that in my opinion have as much character and merit in the garden. Peonies belong to the genus Paeonia, a group of 30-40 species depending on the reference sited, members of their own plant family, the Paeoniaceae. (yeah, say that five times fast!) They are native throughout the northern hemisphere from here over as far as Asia.
Most peonies that you see in northeast gardens are herbaceous, meaning their stems and branching are all softer green tissue. The other option are what we call tree peonies, and as you might guess their base hardens to be much more woody over time. In both cases these plants are prized for their spectacular flowers which can range in size from your fist to your favorite dinner plate and they are extremely long lived. They hate being transplanted so you want to make sure the placement is spot-on from the start. But if you place it in the right spot in your garden you can enjoy it for years knowing your children will get to enjoy it through their gardening days as well. Good sun, maybe a little shade thrown in, good organic rich soil, a grow-through structure to help keep them upright through our windy springs and you are psyched. There are a million hybrid cultivars out in the trade so you'll have your work cut out for you, but the shopping is fun.
The big bods that form in mid-May are perched atop the fresh green of the springtime garden and the promise and potential is so exciting. Ants you will find will make themselves part of the action and there is no cause for alarm. People have different theories but the bottom line is that the ants are attracted to the sweet nectar of the emerging buds and are neither detrimental or crucial for the forming flower. Let them do their thing, enjoy your flowers, everyone wins.
This is the unfurling of one great cultivar out there, 'Festiva Maxima'.

And this fabulous pink guy I don't know the name of but hopefully I can find out from the archives. All these shots by the way are from the perennial beds in the Conservatory Garden, Central Park.

If I remember correctly this one is 'Krinkled White'. Really fabulous, each one.

Digitalis (foxglove) gallery

In the photo above you are looking at a number of wonderful perennials and woody shrubs that clearly work together sensationally. In the background you have the bluish foliage of the Rosa glauca on one side and the rounded Berberis thunbergii on the other with those fun purple lollipops of ornamental Allium bulbs which get planted in fall for this great spring show. Then the variegated (fancy botanical terms meaning 2-tone, most often referring to leaves that are green and white) Miscanthus and the Hydrangea macrophylla, the rest of the backdrop for the Iris sibirica and those rocketing blossoms, Digitalis purpurea.

Foxglove as they are commonly known, Digitalis purpurea is a biennial, which is a plant that goes through it's entire life cycle in two years. In the first year the plant produces it's roots and a basal rosette of foliage. It is then in the plants second year that it will produce this tall spike of gorgeous bell shaped flowers. After that the flowers will go to seed and the plant will die away, hoping the dropped seed will take and lead to their next reincarnation in the garden. Every year in the Conservatory Garden Curator Diane Schaub likes to incorporate a few dozen foxglove into the perennial beds to give them that extra spring punch.

Here are a few "hort porn" macro shots I shot the other day.
You can see the intricate markings on the flower which guide in their specific pollinators, which I assume to be bees.
This mix, ranging from white to peach to pink to this stronger rosy shade, is sold in the trade under the name 'Excelsior'.

Must Have Album: Laura Stevenson and the Cans "Sit Resist"

One of the best parts of being the younger brother to two brilliant musicians is all the new sounds I get introduced to via birthdays and other gift giving occasions. This year Gian Carlo Feleppa dropped a fabulous stack of new LPs on me and in the mix was Laura Stevenson and the Cans second album "Sit Resist". A phenomenal guitarist and composer in his own right Gian knows he can never go wrong turning me on to these stunning singer/songwriters with their beautiful voices wielding Telecasters loaded with ferociously delicious distortion and melodies. Hopefully you have been paying attention and have treated yourself to such must have albums as St. Vincent's "Actor" from 2009 and Sharon Van Etten's "Epic" from 2010. Well here is a new one that should surely make it's way into your 2011 summer soundtrack. Here is "Master of Art" by Laura Stevenson and the Cans off the album "Sit Resist" (Don Giovanni Records, 2011). ...and remember, support your local artists and local record stores - buy legit, people.

Laura Stevenson and the Cans
"Master of Art", directed by Sara Crow

"Sit Resist" is out on Don Giovanni Records
(released April 26, 2011)
All songs by Laura Stevenson
Recorded by Eric Bennett, Peter Naddeo, and Jeff Rosenstock
Mixed by Eric Bennett at the Hunt Studio
Produced and Arranged by Laura Stevenson and the Cans

and a huge thanks to all the above for your amazing gift of music to us, the happily listening masses! Have a great summer everyone!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Indian Wells, early sunday morning, with coffee

I was home for the weekend helping my folks. Sunday morning I woke up early and headed right down to Indian Wells. It was about 6:30 and I had my board, wetsuit and booties in the car. Arriving at the beach I probably consider home more than any man-made structure the sea was flat. The dog walkers were relishing their pre-crowd freedom, the pups playing wildly. The surflessness of the morning meant I could enjoy staying dry, park for a bit, and have my coffee like the others reading their papers and glimpsing at the ocean from the neighboring spots. I checked in with the world and found out that an amazing matriarch and civic-minded local named Ann Buckhout had passed away after a long bout with cancer. Brian, her son, was letting people know. Thinking of him and his brother Chris, close in age to my older brother Gian Carlo and I, my heart sank. How do you fathom such a thing? The oceans vastness stretched out in front of me, the calm seas and gray skies so apt for such a somber and sobering moment. Beyond Brian's words there was nothing to say:
"Heaven received a very special addition today. Mom- you will always be loved in my heart, and Dad- show her the way..."

On behalf of the entire Feleppa family our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Brian and Chris and the whole Buckhout family. Our thoughts are with you...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Amidst the captivating open landscape of southern Colorado lies the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It's truly unbelievable, driving through the arid landscape, sweeping valleys, past mini mountains all too picturesque, and coming across this visual of square mile after square mile of sand dunes. As a student at Colorado College many years ago we treated our first trip to the sand dunes like a pilgrimage. I did at least. And it was, and the start of a journey that would take four years and change my life forever. My friend Robert S. Pokorney sent me this pic, probably passing through on his way to visit our dear friend Renee (O'brien) Mackey (both fellow CC grads) in little ol' Alamosa, CO. Jealous? oh you bet. It's true, Colorado doesn't have an ocean, and hence I landed back on the east coast, but once you are under the majesty of that big sky, I assure you, you will never forget it.

Thanks, Bob, took me right back!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shuffle is psychic

Tonight while doing dishes I realized I need to be listening to more classic rock. Thank you "shuffle" for your magical psychic abilities....

Sweet with "Fox on the Run"

Friday, May 13, 2011

best. birthday. dinner. ever.

For my 34th birthday my wife decided to treat us to dinner at Morimoto NYC. And basically I am just going to say that it was unquestionably one of the most amazing meals of my life. We have come to consider ourselves foodies and this meal satisfied us so perfectly we were in comfortable awe the whole way home. I recommend the omakase, the chefs special tasting menu, complete with sake pairing. A pretty penny but if you can appreciate it then it is worth every cent.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

the Bedford Oak (it's no joke)

Photo taken by my brilliant horticultural cohort Erika Hanson. For some insight into her universe, you have to be willing to get into Dirty Horticulture!
The Bedford Oak, surely a tree I need to see in person. It's about time for a road trip north. New York State rules.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Narcissus of note: 'Decoy'

Now, I know, there are a million daffodils out there and we all like different ones for different reasons, but c'mon, look at this guy!
Narcissus 'Decoy' is a Division 2, large-cupped daffodil photographed here in late April.
The color is really what made me highlight this spring bulb over many others I've come to know and love this year. White Flower Farm describes the color well by saying that the cup goes from rosy-red to salmon-pink. In real life it looks like it's got a little lipstick on, it's a great little creature to look at.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

good to be home...

...even if only for a minute.
out at the folks house: Springs, East Hampton, Long Island, NY

Friday, May 6, 2011

happy hour

With one of the most stressful weeks of the year done, (having survived my work's largest fundraiser of the year) it was time to celebrate Friday right. The consensus was drinks and tapas type snacks at MexiQ on 30th Avenue in Astoria. For happy hour they offer five dollar margaritas and their menu has lots of delicious options. We've been a few times now and my wife and I would definitely recommend it if you happen to be hanging in Astoria. One night after dinner we chatted with one of the owners for a while and really enjoyed his company and our conversation. Anyway, Happy Friday - we made it!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tulip Gallery, 2011 edition

a few old favorites and a few new loves. taken at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park the last week in April. enjoy.
Tulipa 'Ballerina'
Division 6 - Lily Flowered tulip

Tulipa 'Pink Impression'
Division 4 - Darwin Hybrid (seen above with Muscari 'Valerie Finnis')

Tulipa 'Cream Jewel'
Division 4 - Darwin Hybrid

Tulipa 'Prinses Irene'
Division 3 - Triumph

Tulipa 'Rembrandt's Favorite'
Division 3 - Triumph
Like daffodils (Narcissus), tulips are divided into many different Divisions, based on flower morphology (shape and design), plant size, and bloom time. Here's a decent link that lists the 15 Divisions if you are curious to learn a little more.

...and of course I have to mention the 20,000 tulips blooming in the north (French) garden.
This year a mix:
Tulipa 'Rosalie' (purple)
Tulipa 'Violet Beauty' (violet)
Tulipa 'Negrita' (light pink)
Tulipa 'Moonlight Mist' (yellow)
Tulipa 'Mariette' (hot pink)