Saturday, March 29, 2008

Love's Cool

Last summer I had the good fortune to be selling two old oak library cabinets just when a wonderful young baker from NYC, named Kelli Bernard, was looking for the same, to hold tea at her then "soon to open" new tea house in the City, Amai. Last week when I was hopping about the City I stopped into Amai for my first visit and tested out one of the many the teas as well as several of the wonderful tea infused cookies. I have to say, the tea was great and the cookies were fabulous. The lemon ginger (made with lemon and ginger teas) were my personal favs. I brought home a variety of little 3 packs for the family to try and everyone loved them. Amai has been nominated for Best New Tea House in NYC! And yes, one of the library card catalogs is prominently on display, holding the huge variety of teas, and the humble cabinet from Amherst even got its own mention in a recent New York Times Travel section article on Tea Houses in NYC! This is probaly the closest I will ever come to being in the NYT... Remember, you read it here... lol!

If you have any interest in baking with teas, check out Kelly's blog, "Love's Cool" where you will find links to a variety of blogs featuring such recipes.

Last weekend Kelli did a demo at the Macy's Flower Show on cooking with teas. I am sorry to say I missed it by a couple of days. I am sure it was wonderful!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Macy's Flower Show - NYC Part 2

Last week I was fortunate to be in NYC during the Macy's (in store) Flower Show. I have been to many flower shows but never one integrated into a busy store. It was very crowded but I was able to take a few pictures to show my blog visitors. There were flowers on the top of all the display islands and in large planters all around. The displays ranged from Spring bulbs to tropical paradises. I wish I could have captured the wonderful scent and publish it on my blog, especially for those of you still experiencing snow and cold but anyone who has walked through a greenhouse in bloom can conjure up the beautiful aroma for yourselves. It was quite the sensory feast.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Green is the color of..... LIFE

Angela over at Cottage Magpie had the idea for us all to post about being "green" in celebration of Spring. I was out of town for a couple of days (see my previous post for my first news of my NYC trip) and hence I am a bit late to arrive at this challenge.

As an avid gardner "green" is one of my favorite colors of course, but...really the issue is about being "green" as an environmentally conscious gardener.

There are the obvious things of course: avoiding the use of chemicals, planting gardens that do not require a a lot of water and so on..... but my mind went elsewhere for this blog response.
As you see from my blog post below, I was in NYC this week. One place I went was Eyebeam. The exhibits there were all related to preserving the environment. Check it out for tons more info and links.
Going green is about a lifestyle; it all ties together in one way or another.

One exhibit at Eyebeam was Green Maps Systems which "promotes inclusive participation in sustainable community development around the world, using mapmaking as our medium." Lots of great info and wonderful new icons too!

I also learned more about web based carbon footprint trackers and calculators. Such as this widget to calculate the carbon footprint for your BLOG plus ways to buy carbon credits to offset your blog's footprint. Check it out -
Blog CO2 Footprint Widget

Just Back From NYC


I was down in NYC for a couple of days and returned with lots of pictures and much to tell. Here are a couple shots to wet your appetite. Check back soon; I'll be back later with more to show and tell.
Plus, while I was a way, I was "tagged" by Melanie, of Old Country Gardens so, I have to think about what oddities about me, to share with you all. Hmmmmm.....

For now, here are a couple of pics of Central Park on the First Day of Spring 2008. Hellebores in bloom and one of the many stone bridges, this one in the south eastern section of the park.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Delighted All Around!!

Before I jump right into the latest garden update, let me tell you 2 other things I am delighted about tonight.
I am delighted first about my new newly designed blog. The banner photo is of my pond late last summer. The creative spirit behind the new blog design and banner is my daughter "Jet" who is an artist and an 8th grade science teacher. Two fields that require a tremendous amount of stamina in addition to creativity. She teaches over 100 middle schoolers every day and also hand silk screens and embellishes women's t-shirts and makes furniture from recycled objects. Sound interesting? You can see what I mean at b and j greene".

Thanks Jet!

I am also delighted by Obama's speech today. No matter who you plan to support for President, this speech today is one that is long overdue. The conversation, hard as it may be, needs to be started and our nation needs to find ways to move forward on the issues of race and class. I teach college students who need to understand these complex issues and who need to see my generation leading the way to making progress on these issues. We discuss these matters in my classes. My students mentor children of immigrants right here in our town and partner with highly impoverished people 25 minutes away from bucolic Amherst, in the poorest city in our state and one of the poorest neighborhoods in our country! We must talk and act. Our nation will not be a "white majority" nation for much longer; race and class issues abound. If we do not find a way to walk forward together....then.... divided we will fall.
* Disclaimer: I am fully supportive of Obama's campaign and have been since before he announced he was running. However, I think this matter transcends my support of Obama

Now, on a topic more in keeping with this "design" (mostly garden) blog...
I am delighted that hubby and I raked the leaves off half of my sunny garden beds today and uncovered freshly sprouting perennials. Yeah...Spring really is arriving this week. I am not totally ignoring the forecast for more Wintery mix tonight...Spring still has 2 more days to make her stand!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Purple tips... could it be.... CROCUS?

I went outside with our beagle, Chloe, last evening just before dark and there, alongside my driveway, under one of my large maple trees I spotted some green sprouts with.... could it be???? I stooped for a closer look as the dog pulled me up the driveway... but.... yes... indeed it was true... the sprouts had purple tips! After the dog did her "thing" I grabbed my camera and got this shot. The dusk and flash didn't make for the best shot but I just had to post it and let all my blogging gardening friends know. The first display of 2008 Spring color has arrived in my Western Massachusetts garden.

Earlier that day I had gone with friends to the bulb show at Mt Holyoke College. It was the next to the last day, but there was still much beauty on display. Taking in the fabulous colors and sweet fragrances was enough to carry me over for a couple more weeks.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Turtle Anniversay

Last year around this time, my 3 turtles arrived. The idea was to put them in my water garden for the summer months but since they were so small and the water garden did not end up being completed until late in the season, they have been in an aquarium in my study all this time. They have really grown, but this is how they looked the day they arrived. The 2 little ones were about 1.5" diameter and the "bigger" one was about 3" diameter.

It is raining again with still nothing new to show in my garden (ho hum) but this is Spring Break week at UMass which opens up a couple of days for regional trips. That should provide some fodder for the blog posts in the days to come. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What My Garden is Not Doing

Here pictured are my water garden with an embedded oak leaf and my Spring bulbs. I am working very hard to resist a strong pull towards jealousy as I cruise around the web looking at people's beautiful emerging Spring time gardens. So, I thought I would post some pictures of what my garden is NOT doing and perhaps shame Mother Nature into sending some warm weather my way. At least enough warmth to thaw my stream & water garden or enough to rake some frozen oak leaves that fell onto one part of my garden after the first snow and have been frozen in place ever since. If Mother Nature digs her heels in and continues sending Arctic winds my way, Spring may finally arrive somewhere around May Day. Ugh!

Ah well, truth be known, viewing others lovely Spring blooms does give me hope, even if I am a little green with envy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Embellished Rustic?

Blue Fox made a suggestion to check out the fences at Kim's Creations. Take a look! She has some very creative ideas! I have been surfing around her web site and found some slightly rustic but nicely detailed fences that I think could work out in my back yard under the huge pine trees. This is one example here. I think it might go well with the pine trees & picnic area out back and not be overly rustic.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Great Ideas!!

What a wonderful surprise this morning to wake up to 5 comments and several great suggestions related to yesterday's post (scroll down if you haven't seen my plea for help!).
As Layanee says the wrought iron would be unreasonably pricey for my budget and I admit it is too fancy for the style of my house I think...though the neighboring towns are known for their Connecticut River farms and lots of corn!
I hadn't thought about a formal cut split rail. I grew up with one of those. I'll have to think about that. I like the wooden "picket" fence idea but maybe with the flat tops not the pointy ones? A little less"countryish?" Same with the stockade idea (I am not into the pointy tips). But I think something along those lines may be right on. Hadn't thought of dark green. hmmmm... or maybe staining it a gray that will complement the slightly funky gray blue that the house will be. Off to UMass to teach now but later I will google or flckr for pictures. If anyone has any additional ideas my blog "ears and eyes" are still open!


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fence Conundrum -- What to do?

HELP! My yard needs more privacy. We need fencing...but what exactly do I want? What would be the best choice? I am wrestling with what to do. (pictured here, "corn stalk" fence in garden district of New Orleans, courtesy justanuptowngirl, flickr. I'd love this!!)

Our property is in the town center, set back from the Main Street, just behind a small lovely town park.

My side yard garden (seen here) is separated from the park by a small access road. It is south facing and is highly visible to foot and car traffic. This is where the sunny stream bed and garden are located. This area needs a small fence to give a sense of separateness from the public spaces around us but which does not block the view of this more public aspect of my garden.

On the other hand, the back yard feels like a more private shade garden with a row of huge old pine trees along the back property line and a big maple tree in the center of the area. I have shade gardens here and have planted a dozen or so rhodys and hydrangeas. In this area we have a picnic area, a terraced patio area and a small back deck. It is peaceful, shady and feels secluded...except for one big thing..... just beyond the 100' tall pine trees is a 4 story brick elderly housing complex. Our yard is separated from that building by a 4' chain link fence, owned by the complex. On their side there is a walkway and a small green space. In addition, beyond the trees on the far side, there is a small parking lot. So, although this area feels serene the reality is that dozens of apartments look out and down onto our yard (tho through the pine branches). Additionally, the pine trees do not have branches on the bottom 10-15 feet, so the yard is actually totally exposed to the chain link fence, complex walkway and the first floor apartments. This area needs a fence that provides more substantial privacy. But I don't want it to stand out or make a huge statement of its own.

As you can see........I need help!!

Here are the things I am factoring in:

Style Issues:
The side yard needs to be open and airy feeling while the back yard needs to create privacy and block some sound. The "style" of town center is moderately historic New England. Emily Dickinson's house (museum) practically abuts our property. On the other hand, our house was built in the 1950's and is a one story, mid century house that was "colonialized." We are downplaying the colonial aspects.... ie we removed the eagle above the front door, will soon paint it "November Sky" a slightly funky blue-grey instead of white. Oh, and every other house around us is 1800's Victorian.

The fences need to be fairly durable as there is a lot of pedestrian traffic near the side garden, potential people horsing around and crashing into it as there are many college students around us. The few neighborhood school kids' bus stop is on our corner. Out back, kids sometimes play ball and other games on the walkway so it may get some "abuse" from that.

It needs to be reasonably priced. We are doing many renovations to this house and have other things we want to spend money on. The fence is not the highest priority for expenditures. We have some skill and availability to build and / or install it ourselves so it seems wood is likely to be the material of choice.

Ok..that being said, what ideas, suggestions, pictures do any of you have to throw into the consideration pile?
My blog ears and eyes are all yours!!

Leave your comments/suggestion. Send your garden blog friends over to add theirs!
Remember, my garden is on the annual Tour in June. Yikes!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring is in the Air

We had about 10" of snow again last Friday-Saturday but yesterday the sun was bright and today it is supposed to reach 50 degrees.
Later today we are forecasted to have a 24 hour rain front move through so perhaps...maybe...could it be..... dare I say... is it true...Spring is in the Air?

Let it be true!!

(pictured here: magnolia bud awaiting spring, along with me)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An Improver of Nature

I was leafing through an old hard cover picture book today at a collaging event and found myself reading about Kew Gardens, one of many gardens I long to see one day. The section that caught my eye was about the man made pond dug from the Thames River. To me, water and gardens just belong together. The fact that this garden was designed by an "Improver of Nature" named Capability Brown makes it even more intriguing. (picture courtesy of

Water and garden have impressed me at many of the gardens I have visited.
Ponds are beautiful but I find what has grabbed my attention most is the movement and sound of water in streams and waterfalls.

At the Innisfree Garden just north of NYC I love the impressive "natural" water features that appear over and over as one travels the many paths. They represent partnership between man and nature, as water has been diverted and pumped to cascade over both man made and naturally occurring rock outcroppings. The sensory impact is mesmerizing.

And the waterfall at the Rock Garden in the NY Botanical Gardens is a place where I could easily spend hours.

Moving to a new house in 2006 meant leaving an established garden behind but it provided me with opportunity to try new things. So rather than the 4X6 "pond" I had built before, I decided to build a stream. It took 2 summers to get it to the point of having running water and I still have kinks to work out but, for me the designing and implementation is 3/4 of the "fun."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Squirrel Reduction

Almost 2 years ago we moved from a house 12 miles outside of town, in the woods on a dirt road, to a house in the center of a small New England town. For an in-town house we have a decent size yard including a side yard with a sunny garden spot and a back yard shade garden area. The lot has several large trees and plenty of birds for an in-town property. Now we keep our 4 kitties inside 24/7 because of automobiles, rather than coyote, fox and wild fisher cats.

However, I was noting the other day, how few squirrels there are in our yard these days. When we moved here 20 months ago the yard was seriously over-run with squirrels. They would chase each other through the oak trees in our front yard, LEAP onto our roof, scurry over the top and LEAP into the maple tree just behind. From there they would run and jump, eventually heading into the tall fir trees along the back property line.

Now I like squirrels and most wildlife (OK, I do think the world could do without fisher cats) but these squirrels were pretty much over-running the property- even dragging pizza crusts and partially eaten bagels from the trash cans of a nearby park, into our yard and trees. One day a half nibbled apple was dropped from the top of one of the firs, hitting our picnic table with a loud thud and just missing me.

Now, their numbers have been reduced to just a few rambunctious youth. Why? How? The past 2 autumns a hawk has visited the neighborhood for a few weeks. He (she?) is quite tame and one day sat right in the lower branches of an oak tree watching my husband rake leaves below. Last Fall I sat with my camera one day and watched it hop from branch to branch stalking 2 squirrels until one finally ran for it and the hawk swooped down on top of it, right on the edge of my yard. It was hard to resist the urge to chase the hawk off but there really were way too many squirrels and nature has its design.