Friday, November 26, 2010

Fall's last gasp...

My favorite tree in our neighborhood - this thing is huge and amazing.

My neighbor's callicarpa, 'beautyberry', holds these brilliant purple berries all winter long.  Every time I see it I smile.

Now these red berries remind me Christmas is just around the corner....

Monday, November 22, 2010

More fall scenes from the NYBG and also my garden...

Whoops! I forgot to attach these two photos - see below for my post with descriptions!

Our fall colors have been so intense and bright

Some final fall foliage photos from the New York Botanical Garden and my was 60 today but that first freeze is nipping at our heels...wanted to share these brilliant colors and textures of NY and Connecticut.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The not so welcome hum of all those leaf blowers

One sound I could do without at this time of year is the ever present hum (or roar is more like it) of the leaf blower.  Why do my neighbors (and most folks I know) feel the need to have a spotless, leaf-free lawn in the winter?  I guess they just don't realize that simply running over those mineral rich leaves and leaving them on their grass all winter is the best fertilizer they can give their beloved lawn's roots.  And then maybe they could forgo Home Depot and the annual spring fertilizer run and spend that time just enjoying their green lawn!  I was just reading a twitter post from a fellow Connecticut garden blogger, Garden Junkie at -- check her out for great ideas and advice, and saw a tweet about just this very problem, and it got me disgruntled and thinking.  We still have lots of educating to do before all of our green lawn lovers will be converted to organic principles.  In the meantime, I'll keep snatching those bags of leaves under the cover of darkness for my gardens...I love free fertilizer since my small Long Island Sound side garden is tree free!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An early designer of the garden "room"

I'm trying to write my last paper for my History of Landscape Design class that I am taking at the New York Botanical Garden, and I just came across an intriguing story about an 11th century landscape design featuring the currently fashionable "garden room".

The 11th century Japanese Tale of Genji tells how Prince Genji constructed gardens for his ladies -- one for each season.  Lady Murasaki had a spring garden, the summer garden was for the "Lady from the Village of Falling Flowers," the autumn garden for Lady Akikonomu, and the winter garden of pines and chrysanthemums for Lady Akashi.  (Source:  The Poetics of Gardens by the esteemed architects Charles W. Moore, William J. Mitchell and William Turnbull, Jr.)

Almost every "new" idea we have today had its origin in another time in our garden history past.  I love the idea of having a garden for each season.

Of course, I completely veered from what I should be reading about right now...Gertrude Jekyll's garden design theory and how I can apply it to a house of my choosing that has a design that is out of sync with its architecture.  Ok, I have to get focused!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Graphics project re-do

I got started on my final design project yesterday and was so proud of myself that I had a good start on it by the end of the day...and I had already finished my homework.  Major accomplishment.  But something was bugging me about the scale of my design, and I actually dreamt about it last night and came up with the answer.  Obsessed you say?  Definitely.  I figured out -- as I woke up -- that the reason my design was too big at 1/4" scale was I should have done it at 3/16ths...I only tried it at 1/8ths and 1/4ths, thinking those were my only options.  But in between those two is 3/16ths.  Duh.  So now I have to start over.  Ughhhh. I have to go back to Kinko's to enlarge my survey -- again -- and come home and re-trace the whole thing.  Another two or three hours of my life down the drain.  I know we all learn by making mistakes, but I could have lived just fine without this one.  I was looking forward to a Sunday off and a much needed break from that drafting table.  Maybe even watching my youngest play hockey and getting the last of my allium and daffodil bulbs in the ground before it freezes.  But I sent my son off to hockey with the neighbors and I'm stuck indoors all day again on yet another lovely Connecticut fall day....I know it will all be worth it in the end, but I'm really craving some good time digging in the dirt today.  Ok, I've gotta stop whining and head back to my friendly local Kinko's!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saugatuck River leading out to the Long Island Sound in Westport, Connecticut on Sunday

This past Sunday on the Saugatuck River in Westport just as the sun was going down.  This river leads out to the Long Island Sound.   Westport is a beautiful New England town just next door to Fairfield. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Too much homework and no time for my blog

I have to admit Twitter is so addicting.  I seem to go to Twitter more and more often to see what my gardening buddies around the country, and sometimes the world, are tweeting about.  It's just so freakin' fast and easy to tweet.  I'm neglecting my blog because of the Twitter attraction and because of all my homework!  With my two classes at NYBG right now, I have so much homework.  I'm taking Landscape Design history and also Graphics 1, and I love them both so much.  I am learning more than I ever imagined, but boy, is there a learning curve!  Especially in Graphics.  We are learning to draft landscape plans, along with drawing symbols and lettering and learning how to measure with architect's and engineer's rulers and compasses (when was the last time you used one of those?  for me, it was 10th grade, a few years ago...), none of which have I ever even attempted.  I feel like, with the slightest effort, I will just sink like a rock in that class, never to surface.  It is a gargantuan effort to just survive and get all the work done, and I feel like my work is sub-par at best.  But my teacher says effort is what counts, and boy, can I give him effort.  Thank God for effort.  Every project we take home, and every one in class, takes me probably 3x the time they should take, I'm sure.  Every line has to be measured absolutely correctly, or the whole plan is off, and unlike in my everyday gardening, fudging it a little is not going to fly.  My middle child, the ten year old, wants to go rock climbing and to the pottery place today, and I had to tell him I can't go til I get a huge chunk (probably 3-4 hours at least) of my h/w done.  He said, "mom, why don't you do that stuff during the week when we're in school?"...good point, however, I told him that mommy did 3 hours yesterday and 4 hours on Thursday and h/w still isn't done.  He looked at me like I was nuts.  And then there's history...I love my Landscape Design history class, let's start there.  It is just incredibly fascinating to learn about landscape design theory all the way back to BCE (Before Common Era, something else new I learned, it's no longer PC to say BC -- who knew?).  We've learned about Medieval gardens, Italian, French and English gardens, and Thomas Jefferson (he's my favorite, what a multi-faceted guy),  just to highlight some of what we've covered.  But we have to write four papers -- we've done three so far.  And I love to write, but it's been a long, long time since I have actually researched in the library (and then there's the web of course -- it used to be so much simpler to just hit the library) or written a bibliography.  Another huge learning (or remembering) curve.  Now we have one more paper and then our final.

I sound like a whiner I know.  I'm just venting because I am actually loving my classes.  My teachers are so interesting, knowledgeable and passionate, and I'm meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds and who are all ages, from all over the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area.  I love it!

I just have to get off this blog and go hit the drafting table.  My husband just walked by and saw me on the computer and gave me one of his famous "looks".  I know that "look"...he's wondering what the heck I am doing writing when I should be drafting.  He knows me so so annoying.