Friday, February 29, 2008


Mr. Frog hopes you had a happy Leap Day.
It is snowing here. I comfort myself with the old adage about March-

"If in like a Lion, then, out like a Lamb!"

Good...that means by the end of March, I can hope for lamb like Spring weather. Four more weeks??

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Refuge in the Greenhouses

Lately here we have been experiencing a pattern of snow, rain and sleet ("wintery mix" as they say) with the occasional cold sunny day that hints of spring as the sun's intensity begins to gradually emerge. If I want a "breath of Spring air" with the warm, sweet scent of flowers it will mean a trip to one of the several greenhouses on the neighboring campuses.

I shot these pictures a while back in the phenomenal greenhouse at the NY Botanical Gardens which, unfortunately, is not nearby enough for a casual trip. I do hope to get there again this year though.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lecturing & Trying to Make a Difference

Sorry for the days of "nothing new" on Terra Nova Design. I have been lecturing a lot.... teaching 5 courses at UMass this semester! That and trying to "make a difference" as I set up all the students in 4 of my courses with community organizations, doing community service as part of their course work. I do love it though! The initial weeks of the semester are especially taxing with all the set up. But then, I'll be busy with grading all the papers after that! None-the-less, I will make every effort to post regularly and to document the arrival of Spring at Sweetside Garden. Tomorrow however, it is more snow, I am sorry to report. Hope you are having a good week in your part of the world!

Wasn't the lunar eclipse beautiful last night?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring Fever

I know I am crazy..... it is too early for spring fever in New England but I soothed my longings by spending waaaaay too much time yesterday getting inspiration from the internet world. I spent quite a while reading the step by step summary (with tons of pictures) of the making of this Japanese garden and tea house in the UK. I have always loved tea houses and hope one day to have a tea house tucked in one corner of my backyard.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Where in the World Are You?

Jody over at Blooming Writer has set out a challenge to us garden bloggers to write about where we live. It will great fun to visit her blog and read about where everyone is from and to take peeks at gardens all over the world!

My garden, Sweetside, is located in a small New England town called Amherst Massachusetts, home to the University of Massachusetts' Amherst Campus (pictured here courtesy of ccohen,flickr) as well as to Amherst College. Nearby there are 3 other colleges, Smith, Hampshire and Mt. Holyoke. Hence the region is often referred to as the Five College Area.

The colleges attract a wonderful array of cultural and educational events so there is always a number of things to choose from when one is looking for something to do. Another great thing about being near all these colleges is that some of them have beautiful gardens and greenhouses. The Smith College gardens & greenhouses are among my favorite.

Amherst is also very close to the beautiful Connecticut River which runs from the Canadian border down to the Atlantic Ocean in Connecticut. In the summer the river is wonderful for boating (photo courtesy marc72, flickr)

Nearby are the historic towns of Hadley and Deerfield founded in 1659 and 1677 respectively.

The nearest homes to the east of mine are the homes of poet Emily Dickinson and her brother Austin. Emily's is the yellow one pictured here. They are preserved as museums. There is lots of rich history all around.

I also like living in this area because though it is relatively rural, we are only two hours from Boston, and the ocean and 3 hours from NYC. Montreal Canada isn't all that far, though we don't get up there much.

My garden is in zone 5 but Amherst is in the Valley and my home is in town so the gardens are relatively protected. This Fall I still had roses blooming in November. Sweetside garden is 2 years old as we moved here from 12 miles up in the hills in 2006. There I had huge perennial gardens but it was mostly shade with significantly harsher winters.

Monday, February 11, 2008

On Tour!

I am flattered and already anxious but it is Sweetside garden will be on the Amherst Annual Garden Tour, June 28, to benefit the History Museum. My condition was that is has to be clear in the write up that this is phase one... a 2 year old garden that was designed and installed by the home owner (ie: it is not a well established, mature garden installed by a big award winning landscape designer like some of last year's gardens). I hope the Winter is good to my plants this year! Thankfully I will have some family and friends who will help me get things looking presentable. Here you see it a couple of weeks ago.... and last summer.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


In case you have any doubt... let me assure you... this person IS the one for the US and the World at this precarious time. He is the one who has the vision and the compassion, and the integrity and the over riding capacity to bring this Titanic of a country around before we hit the iceberg straight on. If your state has yet to vote in the primary, please listen to this man. Please drop whatever litmus test you have and just open your heart and mind up to Barak and seriously consider taking that Democratic ballot in your hands and confidently fill in that bubble or mark that "X" next to the name of the one and only, Barak Obama. If you are registered Democrat and cannot vote in the Democratic primary, then go ahead and cast your vote for McCain or Huckabee BUT talk to your Democratic friends about him...and be prepared to cast your vote for him in November.

Yes we CAN!

Monday, February 4, 2008

WooHoo for the Valentines Swap!!!

I came home today to find myArtsy Mama's Valentine's Swap package from Jessica of Funky Finds on the steps with all my wonderful Valentine inspired goodies. Oh my, did she ever make this one a special swap!!! Lots of vintage ribbon, lace and great buttons, watch parts plus many other wonderful items pictured here, all in a beautifully collaged box. These lovelies will keep me going for a long time!! Thank you so much Jessica! I hope your package travels across the county, arrives safely and soon.... and that you enjoy it as much as I do mine.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Obama Rally in Amherst

This wet and cold February morning I joined a crowd just up the road from my house at a rally for Barak Obama. Governor Patrick Deval was here to speak as were our state reps. Super Tuesday, and the primary here in Massachusetts, is in 3 more days. I have never helped at a phone bank before but I will this afternoon. I'll be doing whatever I can to bring out the voters for Barak. I believe he can win and I want to do whatever I can to be sure that the "change" that comes to Washington in 2009 is change brought on by someone who is not only brilliant and a dynamic leader but someone who is "real", an authentic unifier and a person of deep character... someone that I can trust, respect and be proud of on a national and international level. That person is Barak Obama.