Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas All!

Yes... it is still Christmas.

For all of you who think it ends at mid night on Dec 25th, today is the Second Day of Christmas, with tonight being the Third Night of Christmas and the Twelve Days culminating on Epiphany, January 6.

Our Twelve Days began splendidly on Christmas Day with our family here at Sweetside (our home in Amherst) with many gifts exchanged and a feast that included lobster tails and scallops. Mmmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmmm.

Then we had a great Second Night (last night) welcoming about 25 family and friends. We made Christmas Chili, cooked over a bonfire outside and had a toasty fire and an array for food inside as well.

We also welcomed our new grand-dog, Basil (bah zil) from A Place to Bark, of course!! He is an incredible sweetheart and very smart. He loves to play/wrestle with his big sister Lexi, another A Place to Bark pup who joined us last Christmas, and snuggles up for long naps with humans or our cats and elderly beagle, Chloe.


Third Night (tonight) is the annual Brew Party over at Chapin Street and Monday it is over to the Berkshires to see Nana and my siblings.

All great fun!!

Hope you are yours are having a wonderful holiday season!

Pictures include: Firepit scenes; Jess and Lauren in a snow storm getting Basil (formerly Fred) from the transport folks; Baird with Lexi, Basil and Chloe; Aaron handing Basil to Ben (who was a bit in shock for a few minutes, that Jess actually DID get him the puppy for Christmas!); Aaron with Chloe, David with Lexi and Ben with his new baby Basil (nicknamed "Bud"); Lauren napping with Basil.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Off to cut the Christmas tree today.....

I see my blog still has one of the last flowers of the Fall gracing my most recent post. Oh dear!! Well, last night we had our first snow (only about and inch) but that garden does look different. Today we go to get the Christmas tree later, if all goes as planned!! Meanwhile, here is a pic of recent work done at daughter Jet's as well as a picture of some recent leaf raking fun at our house with some of the UMass students from Engineers Without Boarders.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whoa! Where has the month gone??

I am back to teaching at UMass - Commonwealth College - with five courses again this Fall...and..... I have no idea where the past month went!! I do know that this week is mid-term week and my pile of papers "to be graded" grows each day - even tho I grade what can each day the pile doesn't get smaller until late December.

The groggy bees are gathering the last of their pollen. The leaves are turning, the flowers are fading and I unplugged and put away my stream pump today before it gets really cold. I miss the babbling brook already. I'll have to take some pictures of the silenced stream tomorrow! I forgot today.

I know that some time this past month my attic got insulated with icenyne (expanding foam) and that my new gas furnace got installed this past week.

I also seem to recall a trip to NYC for Open House New York! Was that just last week? It was a blast seeing little known places and private homes & studios that you would normally never have the opportunity to view. I just downloaded my 300+ pictures tonight! Here are a few - enjoy!

Pumpkins at a market in the fabulously renovated old Nabisco Bldg in Chelsea. Right near the new Apple store!

"Trailer Park" was one of the many Flux Tour stops we made on Saturday as part of OHNY. It is literally a park in an old trailer, parked in an asphalt "park" in lower Manhattan.

The famous Graffiti Bldg in Queens, just over the river from Brooklyn - an old factory filled with artist studios and covered in spray paint art - "graffiti" which is constantly being worked on.

And a 3 story courtyard garden in a private home/office architectural marvel located in Tribecca.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It is Verbena Time!

John over at Wiseacre Gardens recently posted about his visit to my garden. He pictured one flower that he could not recall the name of ---- Verbena bonariensis! Right now Sweetside abounds in its glory! Both the new ones added this Spring and the ones that re-seeded from last year stand above the 99% spent day lilies at 3' - 4' tall, bobbing in the wind and attracting butterflies like crazy! Wonderful September color and movement!

Also adding color to the Fall garden at Sweetside are the Anemones and the bright orange Canna both located at the head of the stream.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Wiseacre Delivery!

Saturday was a blogger's highlight here at Sweetside as fellow garden blogger John of Wiseacre Gardens came from Upstate NY to Amherst making a special visit and delivery of a fabulous rock for my stream. A detour threw him off and the trip took much longer than he anticipated but he persisted and eventually found his way here. In 4 years of blogging this was the first time I have had the opportunity to meet someone I've "met" thru the blogosphere.

Thank you John!

Once I find the perfect spot for the lovely rock I will post a picture of it in its new home. to Maine for a few days to wrap up a busy but great summer! UMass begins in 12 days and next week is one prep meeting after another. I am hoping for a beautiful Fall to carry me through. I'll be headed out to my favorite local farm stand to buy Fall mums and add their splash to the landscape soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Private Gardens of Stockbridge & Lenox Part 3

Meetings and planning for the fast approaching school year are ramping up so... please forgive the delay since my last post.

Now back to my blog tour of the Private Gardens of Stockbridge & Lenox as seen in the recent Garden Conservancy's Open Days.

The third house & garden we visited was the Garden of 1826 Pease-Lincoln House in Stockbridge. The original gardens here were designed by Daniel Chester French and have been expanded by the current home owners, to extend all the way to the Housatonic River at the back side of the property.

Closer to the house are more formal, traditional gardens and statuary.

As you journey further along into the woodland area and down to the river, the design becomes more causal and whimsical.

Along the river, tucked into the bushes, is a tea house and a row of great birdhouses off all sorts. Multiple paths and loops draw the viewer into various side gardens including a peaceful area with hammock and another with a small firepit. So much to little time. Definitely a delightfully different garden experience.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sweetside Garden in August

I know I'm due for another installment in the "Private Gardens of Stockbridge and Lenox" series I began earlier this week but I want to pause to show you my gardens as they look this week -- New England in early August. This is when my echinachea plants are really showing their stuff. These plants were divisions off my ones at my former home, just two years ago. I was shocked by how huge they were last year and are incredible again this year. They stand about 4' tall and are full of blooms.

Isn't this a sweet picture? I was taking care of my grand-dog, Lexi this week. She really likes the stream, although I think she prefers the mountain stream at her house with its mud bottom where she can splash around and really dig in.

Here's a picture that shows some of my phlox and a bit of the new patio on the south side overlooking the stream.

Since we added the picket fence this year I decided to add some annuals to the outside of the fence, towards the road. The cleome's are surely eye catching.

I also grew 3 morning glory plants along the fence. I know I might regret it as they are rather unruly and reseed so prolifically but I have such fond memories of growing them as a child and with my own kids when they were young. These were propagated by a local nursery and have a rather unusual color I think. Maybe that will be what redeems them. I love how they have manged to weave themselves through the holes in our fence.

As I wrap up tonight, here is a picture of the stream taken from the bottom, near the little pond. The plants have grown so large you can hardly make out the winding 30' stream and cannot see all of it from any one spot... but...that after all was the vision.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Private Gardens of Stockbridge & Lenox - Part II

The second garden we toured as part of the Garden Conservancy's Open Days last Sunday was also in Stockbridge, just down the road a piece from the first one -- Fitzpatrick's Hillhome. This estate was designed in 1918 and the gardens were created from 1933-1935. This location of this garden is stunning! Perched on a hillside with a westerly view of the Berkshire hills, the heavily terraced property has fabulous views and oodles of stonework, to which I am particularly drawn.

As you come down the curvaceous driveway you see the front of the house and hear the lovely sound of water trickling in the fountain across from the front door.

To enter the rest of the property you must pass through a doorway in the brick wall.

Step through this passage and you have enterred a gardner's paradise! To the left there is a long lawn edged on one side with large yews and on the other with a delightful border garden.

An opening in the far hedge with the hint of a brick structure draws one to adventure across this lawn. Upon arriving at the brick covered terrace structure one discovers a lower terrace with a fountain (shown here) and a upper terraced swimming pool (behind & above the covered terrace in this picture)

From the fountain area there is a pea-stone path leading back towards the house, down one terraced level from the main lawn. From here you can view the house up to your right.

As you continue along you come to a fork in the path -- to the left you wind steeply downhill to a lily pond under a willow.

The right path takes you over to the east side of the house where there is a folly resembling an old ruin.

The stones were carried here piece by piece from an old mill that was being dismantled in West Stockbridge.

Exiting the folly one comes back to the terraced lawn just behind the house with comfy chairs for relaxing and taking in the peaceful vista.

Lemonade and cookies were also provided!