Friday, July 31, 2009

People Are Talking

The Best @ Dianne B ( seems to be a huge hit with the well-read An enthusiastic California writer, who goes by the delightful moniker Daffodil Planter, has a terrific blog that finds essence as well as humor in gardening topics:

Gardening 101: Dianne Benson on the Best Garden Tools & Clothes

by the Daffodil Planter

Do you want the best tools to make you a better gardener. Do you want to look chic while digging. Famed garden author and fashion designer Dianne Benson has that nailed. She offers the Ten Garden Essentials for all gardeners. What are the must-have for the beginning gardener, and the specialist tools for the advanced gardener? Find out in this interview with Dianne Benson from her country home in the Hamptons on Long Island. Read more at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Bounty of Summer

If I were in the business of selling plants instead of shovels and tool belts, then foremost among my Ten Best would be those that multiply like crazy: Petasites Asarum europaeum and Tetrapanax - the incredulous Japanese Rice Paper Plant.
My first plant came from the Plant Delights nursery (, though they mysteriously do not seem to sell it any longer, and was touted, i believe, as not being reliably hardy in Zone 7. Well they were dead wrong --not only has it thrived and become a garden boon -- completely filling in where the various iris and spring things have dwindled away. With gorgeous celadon/blue/dusty green fan like leaves, it rises to three feet seemingly from out of nowhere, each leaf pleats open in a unique accordion style. So as i do not have the stamina nor the facility to dig or keep supplies of dirt and labels, nor ship plants, i sadly cannot sell you one. But if you can arrange to be at my garden for a tour, I am known to be very generous with those visitors who really seem passionate. Stay tuned to this blog for the 2010 Garden Conservancy Open Dates or check their web site (

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Impatiens morsei 'Velvetia' -- Amazing......

I do not hate all Impatiens. After so many years of reviling Impatiens -- relegating them to the trash heap of ubiquitous gardening commonality --I have found that there is one that is not only acceptable, it is absolutely gorgeous -- Not only does it have sinuous velvety green ovate leaves with a pronounced pink stripey vein right down the middle, it has an extraordinary spotted flower that bounces from a wiry stem and looks all the world like a provocative lady slipper orchid, only sexier. I bought it in East Hampton at Jason Speilberg's, but it's from the great grower Dennis Schrader of Hot Plants for Cool Climates fame

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Famous Sky

For centuries artists have been lured to East Hampton by the magical quality of the light. Joseph LaPiana came here for some of those reasons and found himslef an idyllic vantage point. These pictures of our breathtaking night sky were taken from his porch/terrace/deck/perch. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Deer Are Driving me Crazy

I have accepted the fact that they devour hosta and the succulent blooms of tulips and lilies. I thought I could stay on top of those things by spraying, but now the greedy, graceful pigs are eating everything: Kitengeshoma buds, Clematis 'Duchess of Edinburgh' just when the buds were to unfurl and Horror of Horrors - my tiered struggling dogwood sapling that was preciously smuggled out of The Cotswold and I have been nursing for three years. If Whitetail Solutions had not come along, I think I might be giving up - so disheartening it is. If you are in or near East Hampton call 631.848.7400 and charming Leslie will come with a potent backpack that nontoxically keeps deer away - our several experiments have worked (photo shows sprayed and not sprayed hosta) and her magic formula does not leave that smudgy white film. it even withstands some rain.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fashion In and Out of the Garden

There is an amazing dress in Bridgehampton made of shells, fiberglass and bronze wire. Though it is a work of art, an indomitable fashion spirit like Ann Piaggi might even venture to wear it. The clearly exceptional and eccentric artist is Brian White who has been shown at the Farnsworth in Maine and other museums. You have the fabulous opportunity to see it right now at the funky wonderful Antique Store at 2466 Main Street - such a singular place that it needs no other name - Bridgehampton is so lucky to still have funky stores.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Astounding Garden Tip

Neverendingly, I try to convince friends to grow jack-in-the-Pulipts, or Arisaema, in all their splendid variety. The tug of hesitation might be spurred by the pricey tags on said fabulous 'Jacks'. In the best catalogues for this sort of thing, and one little plant is usually $20 or more. Then one gets a tiny tuber that is usually not even visible in the little pot, so you just have to pray and mark the spot well with your quintessential plant markers. But I have found a source for an exceptional Arisaema consanguinem at such a fabulous price that I ordered three and they all 'bloomed'. Dare I share this valuable source? in California is a cornucopia of many great plants. This one is all sold out now, but get on the waiting list. The otherworldly ends are divinely called drip tips. Fabulous.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What People Are Saying

Gardening Stylista
by Douglas Harrington

The website is beautifully designed and user friendly. The descriptions are written with Benson's usual wit and style and her choices are, indeed, 10 essentials that should get any novice started and become the coveted tools and accessories of even the most seasoned gardener. Beyond all that, the items are priced right, obviously with the present economy in consideration. "I wanted to zero in on 10 things I truly believed in, they are honest and timeless, not things that are 'in fashion' and you need or want to replace in three months" These are not just gardening essentials, they are old friends that Benson herself truly believes in and that she and her fellow gardeners cannot be without.

In a time of challenging economic and political conditions, many of us are considering what we have, as opposed to what we want. Perhaps reveling in the simpler pleasures of home hearth and garden. If the latter is the case, dig in! However, before you do you may want to find Dianne Benson's book "Dirt" and go to to equip yourself before you get started.

Read the whole article and see new pictures of Dianne and her garden at www.hampton'

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Garden Trick

I raved on in Volume 1 of my newsletter about that special member of the onion family, Allium christophii - Star of Persia - and am now very pleased to augment my enthusiasm. Having tried them before in vases without great luck and continual complaints from the household about how putrid the smell, I've found that in an elegant metal vase they don't seem to stink and have lasted for weeks! Maybe the leeching of the metal? And as they fade they just get silverier.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Genus Envy

The Real Thing:

Every page of the new issue of Hampton's Cottages & Gardens (www.hg& is as explosive as the 4th of July. My column "dirt", called A Rose is a Rosa is not about roses, fireworks or barbeques, but about the exhilarating subject of Gardener's Latin.
Sometimes the best lines go the way of an edit, so here is the first paragraph as written:

The mysteries of gardening are myriad. From a popular British blogger suggesting the only way to really rid your garden of slugs is to eat them ( just like escargot) to a Russian who had such kinship with the natural world that a 3" tall fir tree grew in his lung --- in our 21st century world any, even the most absurd thing, goes. Why, then, does a little dose of Gardening Latin make some shrug, others cringe but most everyone else look at you with genus-envy?

I wholeheartedly attribute the conjuring of 'genus-envy' to Lys Marigold's virtuoso imagination and add that mushrooms have the most graphic and provocative of Latin names. Those effervescent orange stick-like ones that come up under old trees (especially beech) at the end of summer are Mutinus elegans . Take that! And by far , the most titillating moniker goes to Phallus impudicus - with the nasty common name of stinkhorn - it looks exactly like it sounds. Whether or not it is impudent is anybody's guess, but of course it is a delicacy in France when picked au moment.