Monday, February 28, 2011

Next Sunday Dianne's Lecture in Bridgehampton

SAVE  THE  DATE

Sunday,  March 6th
  One  PM —  Lecture
Reception follows
Bridge Garden Trust
Dianne Benson Guest Speaker

This Winter Lecture Series in The Hamptons is a collaboration between The Madoo Conservancy,
Bridge Gardens and the Peconic Land Trust
and I hope that if you are anywhere near the East End of Long Island on that day
that you will come to hear me talk.  The Series this year has focused on
Objects in the Garden, and so I will be talking on a favorite topic:

Bulbs, Tubers and Tropicals:
  Objects of the Summer Garden
Winter Lecture Series at Bridge Gardens
Bridge Gardens, 36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Please join us for our fifth lecture in our six-part series in cooperation with
Madoo Conservancy.

This week's lecture will feature former fashion diva and all-around
garden enthusiast, Dianne Benson.
In keeping with our theme of art in the garden, Ms. Benson's presentation is entitled,
"Objects in the Summer Garden: Tubers, Tropicals and Bulbs." Dianne Benson authors her monthly newsletter: "Dirtier" and her website: www.diannebbest.com, where she has
whittled all the gardening accoutrements in the world down to Twelve Garden Greats -
a garden shoppers dream come true.
Currently co-President of LongHouse Reserve and a Director of the Water Mill Center, Ms. Benson's indulgence in the arts and gardening on the East End are central to her life.
She is currently working on a sequel to her cult classic,
"DIRT: Dirtier: The Continuing Story of a Passionate Gardener."

Lectures are $15/person, or free to members of either Bridge
Gardens or Madoo Conservancy.

Refreshments will be provided following the program.
For reservations, please contact Robin Harris at the Peconic Land Trust at 631-283-3195
or by email to events@peconiclandtrust.org.

I sure do hope you all will come…there will be lots of scintillating images to drool over…and a delightful reception following…….

Thursday, February 24, 2011

February Days....

February Words to the Wise

Serious attention must now be paid to the catalogs crowding your kitchen. 
Start ordering now for spring planting, summer tubers and bulbs.

Check on your stored bulbs and tubers--get rid of anything withered or
mildewy before it infects the others--you can divide your canna tubers
now if you are itching for something to do. 
Each piece you sever should have an unmistakably strong growing point.

Pay attention to everything growing indoors--water, fertiize, and don't
forget to continuously rotate the pots so the sun reaches all parts evenly.

By now, it is definitely time to start feeding the birds again.

Excerpted from DIRT: The Lowdown on Growing a Garden with Style
by Dianne Benson.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Travel to Egypt


If you REALLY want to support the new Free Egypt--go visit it!
Scroll down to the lower right of Alex City Travel for the Best Deal
from the BEST GUIDE EVER!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Big Cheerful Valentine Hello


A  Big Cheerful Valentine  Hello
There is so much cheery decor at Holidaytime that I am now extremely happy that my intended-for-Christmas flashy red and white amaryllis waited until Valentine’s Day to bloom.  They are just perfect for right this minute...

These nice fat Amaryllis bulbs were from Van Engelen and have the ever-charming names of ‘Cocktail’ --- the single bloom with the red and white center and ‘Rock ‘N Roll’ — the big frilly double.
I didn’t even order them until December 13th and then they couldn’t ship because it was too cold…this accounts for the generous Valentine’s bloom…so it wasn’t a blooper after all.  But they take about six weeks, so it takes some very worthwhile planning ahead.

ANOTHER  WINTER  TREAT 

The Black Jewel Orchid is a fabulous plant even when it does not bloom, as the highly veined glossy black leaves that tumble over one another like the most graceful of the Wandering Jews (the plant, that is)  are plenty to sustain even the most discerning houseplant eye.The bloom, and even the nice plumping up of the buds leading up to the flowering  is fabulous.  It stays that way  a long time, is easy to grow and actually reblooms most of the time.  I’ve had the one in these photographs for 4, maybe 5 years and there was only one year with no bloom and it was still very nice because of the fabulous black leaves. 
Your best nursery should have these for sale, but if
not - try the ever-wonderful
Logee’s Greenhouse, they have a few kinds,
but the one you want is Ludisia discolor.

SAVE  THE  DATE
Sunday,  March 6th
  One  PM —  Lecture
Reception follows
Bridge Garden Trust

The Winter Lecture Series is a collaboration between The Madoo Conservancy, Bridge Gardens and the Peconic Land Trust… and I hope that if you are anywhere near the East End of Long Island on that day that you will come to hear me talk.  The Winter Lecture Series this year has focused on Objects in the Garden, and so I will be talking on a favorite topic:  
 Bulbs, Tubers and Tropicals as Objects in the Summer Garden

Winter Lecture Series at Bridge Gardens
Bridge Gardens, 36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Please join us for our fifth lecture in our six-part series in cooperation with Madoo Conservancy.
This week's lecture will feature former fashion diva and all-around garden enthusiast, Dianne Benson.
In keeping with our theme of art in the garden, Ms. Benson's presentation is entitled, "Objects in the Summer Garden: Tubers, Tropicals and Bulbs." Dianne Benson authors her monthly newsletter: "Dirtier" and her website: www.diannebbest.com, where she has whittled all the gardening accoutrements in the world down to Twelve Garden Greats - a garden shoppers dream come true.
Currently co-President of LongHouse Reserve and a Director of the Water Mill Center, Ms. Benson's indulgence in the arts and gardening on the EAst End are central to her life. She is currently working on a sequel to her cult classic, "DIRT: Dirtier: The Continuing Story of a Passionate Gardener."
Lectures are $15/person, or free to members of either Bridge Gardens or Madoo Conservancy.
Refreshments will be provided following the program. For reservations, please contact Robin Harris at the Peconic Land Trust at 631-283-3195 or by email to events@peconiclandtrust.org.


I sure do hope you all will come…there will be lots of scintillating images to drool over…and a delightful reception following…….



 

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Gardener's Travelogue Part III


Aleppo (Syria)
    Because this city is rife in Shakespeare (remember Othello’s last speech )...
…I have always imagined it to be the utmost in exoticism and, in fact, that is exactly what it turned out to be.    Bristling with life and a kind of societal intermingling unknown to us…we were fascinated.  It is an old old city and we couldn’t begin to explore it – but have vowed to return……the bizarre and labyrinthine  Grand Bazaar was the soukiest of all the souks I have ever seen in the world – the real thing – the cow’s head seller didn’t really intrigue me, but we had just scratched the surface. Shopping dreams might have been dashed but cultural awareness was in high gear.


A taste of Aleppo:






I couldn’t quite capture the Iphone of this young woman, but the new tech and the old customs coexisted seamlessly .  The various outfits came in a staggering array of burkhas, abayas and some like long skinny fashion coats that you might find in 60’s London …..some of the headcoverings so dense that it was impossible to detect  how they saw anything at all…..
The Syrians have fantastic taste and a particular knack for my very favorite color scheme of black and white




The Citadel dates back to the third century before Christ!  Its throne room has just been gloriously restored


Starbuck’s is no match for this man traveling about with the
beautiful coffee pot on his back….

Limassol, Cyprus
We sailed into this port to see the remains of situated-on-the-sea Graeco-Roman  Kourion which is awash with still incredibly vibrant
mosaics, the first picture is a wonderfully mannered representation of tulips
 
And much of the other mosaics are various representations
of a private Christian house




A graceful Greek theater facing the sea and a beautiful temple
with simple columns influenced by the Nabateans nestled
among old trees that suited the old stones

  
But otherwise, Limassol itself was not so great except for
one stunning Greek Orthodox Church and if we had to choose
one port to skip — this would have been it

Antalya in Southern Turkey
But this place was totally-unexpected- fantastic.
We had both been to this part of Turkey before and so didn’t expect to find  that Antalya has experienced a boom, has grown to over a million people  and is vibrant and welcoming — the climate affords one to be able to ski on a mountain and bathe in the sea all in the same day.  Of course, we weren’t there for the modern trappings of the revitalized Turkish coast…and we sped right to the ancient Roman trading town of Aspendos with a remarkably significant and enormous theatre while no longer being used for chariots and sacrifices  is incredibly vital as a classical and rock music venue.  Fantastic.  It had its own special patina on the stone and its own carved personality.

 

Lys says I shouldn’t show my lack of knowledge of the ancient world…but our next stop was a blockbuster if there is such a thing when it comes to ancient ruins.  Well, this one I had never even heard of ….  Perge?  (That’s PEAR- gay, did you ever hear of it?)  Well, everyone should hear of it because it has so much character that it’s hard to believe that nothing goes on there anymore…  the colonnaded streets still, somehow, have a tinge of bustle about them.   They lead to the stores, the banks and the incredibly still- intact bathing rooms (oh those Roman baths!) with a room for derobing followed by big baths (like small swimming pools) of varying temperatures:  the coldest  called convincingly a frigidarium, the hot a caldararium and the luke warm, of course, a tepidarium.

 

And talk about thick walls……..no wonder all of
these wonders are still standing…

 
And the never-heard-of Archaeological Museum of Antalya, I promise you, is better than the famous new Acropolis Museum in Athens or any fashionable photo shoot that I have seen in a long time.  Forget here today and gone tomorrow…when these great ancient people wanted to capture something…they did it is stone and it was worth keeping.  Look at these clothes!


What great style and what fastidiousness.  The amazing attention to detail, the tradition, the craft, and the pride in what was built…and the celebration of what is beautiful.  Each culture so definitive…
Look at these amazing sarcophagi


And look at this little one of the dog………so sweet

Last Stop – Athens
Well, I don’t want to be an antiquities snob, but what can I say?  After seeing so many world wonders, the ever-famous Acropolis looked sort of puny and unprepossessing,  A tad sad actually.
The contents of the new Acropolis Museum – handsome as it might be architecturally — really don’t hold a candle to little museums clustered around many of the ancient sites so rich in statuary, friezes, reliefs and artifacts.  The wonderful part of the trip to Athens is that we did get to see my sister Adele  and brother-in-law and David who flew from Abu Dhabi especially to see us, which was even sweeter than the little dog house.
We arrived on a Sunday just in time for the changing of the Palace Guard…though the dog here was nonplussed, we thought it
the perfect welcome

Well,  finally,  Genuine Alive Acanthus Leaves!  If you are not going to see the real thing in Greece – you’ll never see them anywhere.  I had come to expect all sorts of exotic ones (because Tony Avent has pictured great ones in his article about Crete on the Plant Delights web site), but all we saw were these plain green ones surrounding a statue of the actress turned politician and very effective Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri.
We never got to the esteemed Athens Archaeological Museum because it was closed due to the aforementioned fermenting-of-a-riot.



So we walked around the perimeters of the also closed parks and wondered what came first?  The tree or the fence………….



I’ll end this travel sojourn with a little motto of mine:
Nothing is more important than the power of language…everything is exchanged with and touched by words…it’s so important that we choose them carefully, uphold them and keep them alive…  




And one last reminder…
Everyone loves a diva…or several divas as the case may be







Monday, February 7, 2011

A Gardener's Travelogue: Part II



Baalbek  (Lebanon)
As you have noticed, what we did not see — there in the desert — were gardens, often days without a tree save one of those dusty old date palms…nary a squirting cucumber or any horticultural  marvel at all.  I couldn’t wait to get to Lebanon to finally see what I hoped-would-be the obvious forests of Cedars of Lebanon gracefully towering, bowing and swaying the way I had come to expect from unforgettable ones at Sezincote in the English Cotswolds

After all — this was Lebanon
arrival in Beirut

But there wasn’t one – not a single Cedar of Lebanon to be had….  They say they’re in the mountains, but we were on our way to the Bekaa Valley to the ancient Roman city Heliopolis (city of the Sun),  the marvelous monumental  Baalbek…..so named for the worship of Baal (Jupiter) and his godmates Venus and Bacchus.  Grandeur galore…fantastical temples…the scale is unbelievably impressive – as in ancient wonder – how, let us ponder, did they get those marble columns at least 10 foot in diameter and 30 feet high from Egypt? 



  
It is clear that the Romans had lots of money to spend, loved beautiful things and liked to have a good time worshipping in their extravagant shrines…



They say this is Cleopatra.  She was defeated in 31 B.C., that is more
than 2000 years ago and the details are fresher than
anything I have seen in a long time, if ever…




There were lots of nut-bearing pignoli pines which have a
certain charm in their standard growing way


And finally high in the mountains (still no Cedars of Lebanon though)
in the hill town of Zahle (where we ate seriously Lebanese mezze)
there were signs of a gardener at work.




But the most predominant aspect of horticulture to emerge in the
ancient world is certainly the absolute veneration of the Acanthus
leaf……  Why it is so beloved by the Greeks,  Romans,  Venetians,
the English from the Elizabethans to the Art Nouveau movement
and William Morris is anybody’s guess.  Well, because it is so esteemed,
also because it is very handsome and in flower it is divine…I have tried to
grow it …I have ordered it from countless nurseries and bought many
plants…I should have used all that money to go find a good stone representation somewhere…







 Palmyra  (Syria)

Citrus trees in stiff garden box-pots in fancy conservatories look great when they are fruiting, it’s true; but vast  fields of citrus trees bearing colossal amounts of oranges and  lemons in a place where you expected to find a
desert is sensational.  Syria —would you ever think of Syria as agricultural;
but in fact it is the Number One source of revenue  (In Egypt it is the
Suez Canal – tourism second and in Lebanon, it is banking, of all things).  Anyway, Syria is loaded with farms and fruit trees and is Very Green so it
made traveling throughout very uplifting


On the way to a stupendous medieval fortress castle called Krak de
Chevaliers we passed through the city of Homs which could have fit
right in on Long Island or Singapore.  In green Syria bushes manage to
grow out of the old rocks

 

 

But this ox drawn cart wending its way in front of the castle stronghold is not a reproduction of an old postcard…I took this picture just last month..so the old ways cohabit with the new ways in a country that surprised us at every turn.   We were highly psyched to visit the ancient city of Palmyra where the powerful and wily Queen Zenobia reigned in the second century A.D.  These ruins sit in an oasis and further illustrated that each set of old stones has  a completely different timbre, mood, color, proportion and style.




Palmyra is pinker than Baalbek…all of one hue where Baalbek was carved
out of many surfaces and kinds of stone and was mainly temples — Palmyra
is sprawlingly huge, a city that covers 58 hectares.  See the Acanthus repeating themselves on the fabulous blue ceiling
  





The kids of Palmyra have developed their own look, especially useful for  postcard and scarf selling…the motorcycle d├ęcor is highly exotic and
the Syrian men are very cute


So were our young scholars

You can see that these ancient sites are hardly connected
by superhighways,
 


so this extraordinary ancient world is still largely uncommercialized
and still being discovered by archaeologists



 digging all over these sites of early civilization.  On the way out of
town we passed the tombs…much later and completely different than
the Egyptians…this type of reclining odalisque was only seen in  tombs or on  top of sarcophagi…nice way to be remembered when you die if you ask me…