Friday, October 21, 2011

DIRTIER Volume 28 Mid Autumn 2011


This evanescent work of art is not any ersatz tree, but a cast resin life-size approximation of a tree from one of my favorite artists, Ugo Rondinone.  In his words, this piece becomes a “memoriam of condensed time.”  The title of the piece, Everything Gets Lighter Everyone is Light, is taken from a poem by John Giorno.
gets  lighter
everyone  gets
everyone  gets  lighter
everyone  is  light

This  is my small homage to Steve Jobs.  Did you know he studied calligraphy and 
that is why the digital world is filled with fonts?

  Just a few months ago  I told you what a wonderful difference it makes for me  propping  my Ipad  around the garden, listening to music while  doing (or dancing through) chores or identifying a leaf …..just one of the myriad diversities he has provided for us. Thanks Steve.  I especially like this snippet from Ross Douthat in last Sunday’s NY Times, “ ....the Apple founder’s eye for grace and style, and his recognition of the deep connection between beauty and civilization.”

This  is  the  Japanese maple that you, my dear readers, helped me identify last autumn when I was at an absolute loss, and so was the owner, of the the divine tree at the height of its burnished fall brilliance.  Well, I made such a fuss over said tree, that my estimable gardening friend Karrie Wright, who was obviously  following DIRTIER and knew I was longing for an Acer  japonicum, especially an aconitifolium, gifted this dazzling one to me for my birthday.  Marders, its source,  planted it here in the garden last month and will tell me nothing more than ‘Rising Sun’.  Now, Vertrees, the absolute authority on Japanese maples, doesn’t list ‘Rising Sun’ at all , nor does it show a picture that looks anything like this gigantic many-fingered leaf….the autumn colors are just beginning to show…I am not sure if we will have the full spectrum this year because of our crazy weather and because it is new to my garden, but watch this space for all beautiful developments.  
And need I say….oh thank you Karrie & Trevor.

May not be so exciting to you but this protruding hair from a Tacca chantrieri has me in a utopian deliria of happiness…. 

 I have talked about this plant before, so there are those of you who may recognize its significance, both romantic and horticultural; but I have always either bought it in flower (when lucky enough to find it) or grew it in a pot, where I have had luck maybe 1 time in 10…but this is a tuber from van Bourgondien that I put in the ground at the beginning 
of summer and sort of forgot about, though I did give it a highly prized not-too shady, 
not-too-sunny protected spot.

Well, right now we are in the midst of some heady Indian Summer days (October 8,9,10) and whether or not it will unfurl before some excruciating frost comes is anybody’s guess, but the sight of that one jutting projectile is enough to keep me euphoric for days…….

You probably think…what…is she crazy to show us this beat-up old bag?
Absolutely not….this is truth in e-commerce, and yes I am extremely hard on my products.  This bag is one of the prototypes and has been in solid use…day and night, snow, sleet and blazing sun for three or four years.  I suppose I will have to retire it soon, but nothing makes me happier than to have my Yard Bags near me when I am knee deep in planting bulbs, dividing groundcovers (a boring but rewarding job) and  endlessly thinning 
and weeding.

But do look closely at the handles, they are as sturdy as can be…not like these crappy ones on the more-expensive English Bosbags…they break every time.

Twas the occasion of the Biennial LongHouse Horticultural Award, this year
presented to the venerable firm of Oehme Van Sweden who introduced the New American Landscape (as it has been so aptly named) with their use of swathes of grasses and masses of billowing perennials.

That charming man with me is Wolfgang van Oehme, to whom we all owe a big debt for opening our garden eyes to new vistas.


LongHouse was graced with a charming autumnal day and it was
great to share it with our botanic frinds from far and wide.

Mulch Mania

It is not just an obsession or a fad and though it does make everything it touches look a million times better, mulch is SOOOO useful.  It is not often you find both of these traits in one fixation.  I bet this tree has had the advantage of some very good mulch.

No matter how good is your mixture of
air+water+minerals+organic matter  =  SOIL
or dirt as I like to call it.   It only gets better with mulch and the better 
the mulch, the better it gets.

All soil is not the same, of course.  There is Clay Soil with not much air in it and 
fine particles, there is SILT (or  LOAM) which is in-between, and then, there is 
SAND with large particles and lots of air.
Sandy soil is dryer and needs to be irrigated.
Clay soil is wetter and heavier – most plants like it
Silt, as I said, is in-between and probably the best.

How do you know what kind you have?  Well, it is quite easy unless you want to 
get overly technical and scientific…but more or less — just take a nice big handful 
of your very own soil and squeeze it – if it holds together in a solid mass then it is 
clay, if it drifts through your fingers it is sandy and if it crumbles…then it is in-between.

Anyway – good old brown Hamptons mulch is great as 
an addition to ANY soil:
It conserves moisture
It keeps the soil cooler
Invaluably, it reduces your antagonizing and never-ending war with weeds..

The very best mulch, to be sure, is from Ray Smith.  Alexandra Monroe 
credits the 
fecundity of her gorgeous garden to it and coined

 the charming cognomen  ‘Holy Shit’ to describe the miracle.

Here are some garden treasures that have greatly benefitted from Ray’s handhewn mulch…and  for you readers who are not in or close enough to the Hamptons to get Ray Smith’s mulch…I bet you have a really good Tree Man like our Ray Smith that also has the best mulch in town.  This is where quality counts.

The epitome of variegation…the green and white Abies koreana against the 
startling green and gold of the Tiger's Eye pine.

The dust from the Cimicifuga racemes settles lovingly on the upturned 
leaf of the Colocasia ‘Mojito’.

Speaking of Colocasia and the other ‘tropical’ bulbs and tubers worth saving…

As well as any other favorites that can’t stand our Northeastern winters, like my beloved Farfugium varieatum (absolutely my favorite "house plant", though I find that a very 
non-glamorous term)

And the elegant Fatsia  (this is one where I bring the best example indoors for the winter, but have had luck leaving others to survive outside).

It IsTime for the gruesome job of digging and storing, or 
bringing those heavy pots in for the winter.  As this is one of 
my least favorite jobs, last year I let it go until the end of 
October and that, my friends, was a big fat mistake.  
So, it is time.


This thriving Nepenthes is too good to lose.  I don’t have perfect 
greenhouse conditions, but if I keep it on a pedestal in the 
heated part of the house with just enough light — will it survive?


We have come up with a delightful Gift Certificate so that you don’t have to make the gruelingly hard choice of What to Give Your Gardening SweetHeart/Friend/Old Aunt or anyone who loves gardening that you really want to please.

Once you go to the web site and click on an amount
(available from $25 to $250.00), follow the simple instructions to 
have your inscriptrion charmingly written by hand
and your adored one can redeem it on-line for any of our wonderful
products at The Best @ Dianne B.

If you want to be high-tech about it, we will electronically send on the gift certificate.  If you wish to be more charmingly old-fashioned, we will send it by snail mail — very nicely wrapped and presented.

Surely, Tricyrtis — more commonly called Toad Lilies though I don’t like that name 
but think this delicate plant got labelled so uncharmingly because the gorgeous 
little-orchid like flowers are spotted?  
But surely, it is the dreamiest of the last-to-flower perennials.

If you are not totally entranced by this plant perhaps it is because
you haven’t got the best species, which is Tricyrtis hirta — the
weeping one.  All Tricyrta have abundant orchid-like flowers,
but most have ramrod-stiff stalks and never looks at home in the 
eschew the species chinensis and latifolia, macropoda too isn't very nice...but get 
that Tricyrtis hirta for sure…

There is one with a variegated leaf that is especially nice.  Look closely at this 
picture and see the bee. 

Robert Wilson’s 70th Birthday was a Super Gala held in the
Magic Room --- a glass penthouse, no less ---
on top of the Dior Building on 57th Street and sponsored by LVMH
Delicious champagne, of course.

Bob Wilson and Kathy Rayner cutting the magnificent cake
which was an exact replica of The Watermill Center.

Bob thinking deep thoughts surrounded by me, Elka, Lys,
Shaikha Paula and Abdullah.

Me and my gal with Charles Fabius.

The party followed the thrilling performance of
The Threepenny Opera
which Bob created for the Berliner Ensemble and
had its American Premiere that same night at BAM.

We even stayed out till 3AM...
how delightful.

This is a blond Mac the Knife...fantastic.


You can look at a garden in a book, you can look and you can look and you can look, even in a lushly pictorial book like Dan Pearson's or a splendid vintage magazine like BLOOM ,  you still can’t really feel it — and rarely
can you even see it…

This is the time to really get down and look at what makes up a garden and of course, to get ready for spring…oh smell that earth as you plant those bulbs…

In the next issue of DIRTIER we will introduce our 
TWO NEW FABULOUS COUTURE GARDEN TOOLS  just in time for Christmas…

But until then…you have never needed good gardening accoutrements more…

The Quintessential Plant Marker to identify the plants you are cutting 
back and the new ones you are planting.

in that dirt better.

The Dianne B Tool Belt is indispensable at this time of year.

The English Garden Twine is just what you need for aligning your specimen trees, tying up your fastgiates to achieve that columnar shape you so desire and the perfect thing for securing the burlap around the tender plants.  It is terrific.

No comments: