Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sweet Things to Do For Your Valentine

---or just for someone you really like and want to let them know... A friendly old book, The MacMillan Wild Flower Book, came to me in a beautiful gesture - unexpectedly from a great educator named Irene Tully who supports some of the same causes as I do, someone I'm happy to know but wouldn't necessarily think to bring a present to....but she thought of me. So, dig around in your heart - be as gestural , loving or corporate as you like...and think who you would like to bring a smile to on this Valentine's Day. Of course, the fabulous Dianne B Garden Gift Bag has been artfully repackaged as the perfect Valentine's Day SweetHeart gift....complete with a last-forever red red rose, and you comes with lots of LOVE.

The DB Yard Bag

Well, Christmas has brought with it a second coming for the great DB Yard Bag. The clever Matko Tomicic (of LongHouse fame) decided to give four Yard Bags as presents and happily reported a big grateful success for The Bag of a Thousand Uses
So, No need to be literal or punctilious about your Yard Bag: Itg looks empty and pristine now, but it is at its best when filled with everything from used Christmas wrapping to kindling and firewood, and it's especiallyhandyfor bringing old coats and extra bounties of groceries for your local food pantry.... The possibilities are endless and after all, spring and its endless clean-up are right around the corner...
and that;s when you really need it for gathering all those leaves, and wind-blown twigs and dried-up stalks...a home for your garden detritus

Who Is Joseph Lemper?

And how did he create this remarkable whiter than white Hellebore....I can't seem to uncover a thing about how he took this most rarified group of plants and came up with such a singular new one. I bought my first two years ago simply as an indoor Holiday flower around Thanksgiving, but when it started to shrivel along with everything else, I had a small inspiration: Oh it is supposed to be a hellebore after all - let's not toss this into the apr├Ęs-Christmas heap. So, I shoved it into the cold old ground right outside the kitchen door. A barren spot taken over by a stand of old lilacs where I can get nothing much to thrive. This year, at Thanksgiving, these profuse whiter-than-white flowers starting popping up non-stop in stark contrast to the cold dry earth around them. Well... as you might imagine I hied myself right back to Lynch's in Southampton and acquired a few more. They perked up the indoor holiday looks and now they too are in the cold cold ground, right in the same unhospitable spot (why mess with a good thing). Should these also thrive, having been tossed into ice-bound ground, then we will know next year that Mr. Lemper has stumbled upon a miracle.

Another Reason To Love Moss

Now just look at this charming creature. It is properly called a tardigrade, but also known as a slow-walker or a water-bear and guess where they have the extremely good sense to live... in mosses and lichens. I can't wait to pull out my gardening magnifying glass (well, I guess any ole magnifying glass will do, but a gardening one sounds better. Maybe The Best @ Dianne B. should come up with one) Or maybe it would be better to turn this cuddly thing into the next toy phenomena....seems so irresistible

Something Profoundly Special

Absolutely heart-stopping , totally unique and utterly romantic - look at this beyond charming birdbath.It only looks fairyland fragile, but the faux bois is actually concrete reinforced with steel - so it is meant to last in your copse forever. Don't you love the tentacle-splayed lattice that overhangs the bath on which the birds can perch? And for ease of exterior decorating, you can move it around because the round base allows it to your garden centerpiece can shift along with the season or even more importantly, your latest whim...Because it is one-of-a-kind and was created by master gardener and prolific (I am so envious) author Ken Druse, it is rightfully a little pricey. Do look on his website to see other great objects of his imagination or contact him directly,, to make the Sweetest Heart in Your Life also the garden happiest with one of his singular creations.

Another Buying Tip

Order soon for summer flowering bulbs. Most all of the bulb catalogues have a deal if you order early...(Van Bourgondien Nursery is even offering 50$ off till February 18, Brent and Becky 10% off with paid order by March 1) Shopping for summer flowering bulbs is much less harrowing than the vast assortment of spring flowering bulbs. And there's the extra bonus of planting them as the weather is warming up and the evenings are growing longer, instead of fending off 40 degrees with frost-bitten fingers and the dark hovering. And though there are many fewer delectables to choose from, and not all are exactly what you would call garden classics, there are some beauties. Do consult the blog for a big run-down on what I consider can't-live-withouts and others you should strictly avoid, like Asiatic lilies...

The Itch

The dirge of winter is beginning to press in and all those qualities that you like to discourage start mounting: itchiness, impatience, fresh air starvation... the very notion of renewal is yet nowhere to be seen. Not a snow drop in my yard.But in my mailbox, a most extraordinary Snowdrops catalogue, or rather a little pamphlet printed on quality paper, the kind Glenn Horowitz (the great rare book dealer) might use to catalogue the handwritten poems of Vita Sackville-West or sell manuscripts from the typewriter of Cormac McCarthy. Not only was the envelope hand-addressed in a flourish with real ink, but the photo on the front is even "tipped in." How can I resist couture snowdrops? I cannot.
I might have to settle for just a few 'named ones' and a few ordinaries because the prices are, well, extraordinary. From Van Engelen you can get 50 Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' for $28.75 --- as bulbs delivered in autumn to be planted then and bloom in spring. From The Temple Nursery, a Galanthus specialist extraordinaire, you will get 3 for $18; but your bulbs will arrive 'in the green' this spring freshly dug and in full-growth.I am used to shelling out $20 or $30 for one desired Jack-in-the-Pulpit, but $10, $30 - even $50 for one snowdrop is totally beyond my ken. I have found one described as eccentric for $7 each and I'll go for a few of those and maybe one or two things more. Really, I can't resist.The descriptions and the language of the 'How to Grow' part are ...really...priceless.
Niether phone nor email address, just the good old way, please send $3 for catalogueThe Temple NurseryBox 591Trumansburg, NY 14886

The Embrace of Foot Prints

Duck feet. Bird feet. Several sorts of paws and of course, doggie feet - all quite distinguishable and welcome in my garden....but what did I spy out of the corner of my little eye - oh no! The unmistakable pattern of deer hooves ....those cloven feet trotting right across the snowy expanse impossible to miss as they beelined right up to my most succulent and alluring special green tidbit, the beautiful Italian, not climbing but upright ivy --- Hedera 'Congesta' or 'Erecta' from Jim Grimes, it was in full and sumptuous leaf and now it is bedraggled and half-eaten. Which brings us to the sorry conclusion that the deer wire fence is not yet The Great Wall - there is one more expanse to conquer - so conquer we must because they only need to get in one time when those spring babies start pushing up and poof... there will be nothing for the Garden Conservancy tourers to delight in on May 1and I will be driven to tears, or worse... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ But fortunately, a mood change can be quickly accomplished by following the webbed feet...and rejoicing in the divine Duck Pond of East Hampton. Imagine living next door to this... So, because of our proximity, and as stalwart members of the LVIS (that is, the great and steadfast Ladies Village Improvement Society, keeping East Hampton beautiful and pure since 1895) Nature Trail Committee, we are committed especially on every foul weather day to feed the ever-proliferating ducks, the extremely possessive and territorial swans and our few geese....and various weasely and muskraty creatures get in on the act too... Photo by Fellow Duck Lover Mary Damask
They multiply...they vie for crumbs...they splish and splash. They are divine. I am always rooting for the black sheepish ones who are a little different, the little mini white ones (are they just young or midgets, I can't tell)...and of course, the shy ones who never seem to get close enough to the food before swoosh - in comes a big strapper. Our white Pekin ducks are the exact models for The famous (at least on Long Island) ...Big Duck of Flanders
And life is reduced to one great chorus of Feed MeFeed MeFeed Medown at the Pond.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Flowers Everywhere

There was a too quick mention of the extraordinary show, The Language of Flowers, in Dirtier: my NewsLetter. It is now on view until Februry 20th at CRG Gallery, a beautiful 2nd floor space in 535 West 22nd Street. One might jump to the conclusion that 'Flowers' seems too easy a theme for an art exhibition in Chelsea in 2010, but the depth of this show on the symbolic nature of the flower is a boon for we flower lovers who like to be engaged in other ways than knee deep in our gardens.

Different artists have incorporated the flower into their work in various forms that range from Karl Blossfeldt's early erotic flower images (long before Robert Mapplethorpe, though his titillating Calla Lily is there too) to a fantastic assemblage by Petah Coyne that incorporates everything from pearl-headed hatpins and a taxidermy bird into a soaring rose wall-hanging made up of the most absolutely poignant black-red end of the color spectrum.

Find out more about this show at And while you are there in Chelsea --- visit The HIghLine in winter. Without the often subtle but still distracting array of the growing season, the architecture and the brilliant idea of The HighLine emerges more fully.

You will have a wonderful day.