And what is there to rhapsodize about now, you ask...
Japanese Ferns proliferating like mad and popping up in the most picturesque places, for one...
Both Magnolia and the monkey have
Vitex --- what is better at the end of summer?
Does anyone know if there's a dwarf version?
Alocasia ‘Teacup’ gets better and better and better
The promising buds of the Formosa Lily
And the charm of my favorite species lily ---
the graceful and discreet Lilium speciosum album
(McClure + Zimmerman)
The total surprise of a persistent Angelica gigas popping up through this sizeable fir tree
And I didn't grow it,
but look at this fantastic totally surreal dragonfly
that landed on our screen
Wings with transparent stripes!
Better than fashion could ever be
SHREDDING & SPREADING
Please do not get roped into a meticulous Fall Clean-Up.
Leave some leaves.
Don’t be too neat/it’s not natural
and there are huge benefits of natural mulch.
THE REAL STORY
For those of you who read HC&G, you might have seen a story in the Labor Day Issue called CRAIGMOOR,
about CRAIG SOCIA’S NEW CASTLE/HOUSE.
The House is divine.
It says that Dianne Benson wrote the story; but actually,
it is not the story that I wrote at all.
For you insiders who read DIRTIER,
and if, of course, you are interested,
this is the story I really wrote:
CRAIG SOCIA HC+G 2013
If you ask me, the starry-eyed saga of Craig Socia’s
gradual ascent from a small ramshackle cottage in 1999 to the
five-building fairytale compound he now calls ‘Craigmoor’ is the
American Dream Come True Hamptons Style.
The story goes: he wanted to flee New York and come to
East Hampton with not much more than a red pick-up truck. With his
exquisite taste and good humor, he attracted Jamie Drake as one of his
very first garden design clients, and you couldn’t ask for better than
There are now many big-time patrons on his roster
(perhaps the redolent rock-hewn undulating fantasyland of Peter Wilson
is my favorite), allowing Socia to afford himself some inimitable luxury
of his own. When he has time to indulge in this luxury is another
story, as his personal touch is much of what has made him such a
Quietly but deftly he acquired three adjoining lots on
Accabonac Road, and soon built a new graciously large house for
himself, stunningly awash in beiges and browns and exceedingly
impressive. The new edifice pictured here is even more than that. It
prompts nothing short of an imagined castle evoking some dream
concoction of The Little Prince, coalesced with the Renaissance pile of
Hamlet’s Elsinore. Forms are solid and colors are subdued to the point
of near nonexistence with a heady, harmonious palette of black, white
and grey punctuated with the zing of metal and the hush of stone. I am
particularly fond that the gray of choice is Dior Gray. Not only because
we chose it for our own Beekman Place bedroom, or its obvious appeal to
those aspiring to the couture- in-life, but Craig says “it is the
richest of all the dark greys ...has the most red in it...which gives a
special warmth at night when the lights are on.”
Practicality rules but you would never know it. Craig
Socia is always thinking ahead whether it is in the imminent proportions
of a garden (a very tricky subject) or the future of his fiefdom. The
main salon is a huge diagonally laid stone-floored space with vast
wooden double doors that give the room a totally Country Gentleman
feel. But, actually, as Craig is considering the notion that perhaps
one day he might be moved to sell Craigmoor as a single estate --- the
now-castle could possibly become the most glamorous garage in the world!
Spanning three stories, the vertigo inducing circular
stair is drama personified, but approached by the Socia spirit, it is
playful rather than daunting. Every opportunity to display treasures
gleaned from the privatest of local tag sales to the soukiest of bazaars
is considered and staged. Enthralling chiaroscuro library wallpaper
came from the decidedly unexotic location of Harbor Springs, Michigan,
but everything feels desirably out-of-this-world here. Niches round and
squared, casements deep and wide hold varied possessions and gems some
pseudo-historical, some strictly classical and others mere
tongue–in-cheek gnomes. Statuary of the ‘Four Seasons’ resides in
window wells that span the ‘family room’ (though the big black TVs that
appear all over the house, somehow, never seem watched) and the working
space. These 3-foot-tall goddesses are eternal, having made their debut
in the Iliad, but seem uniquely suited to the very modern purposes
here. That they personify nature, promote fertility, rally the cosmos
and are just beautiful, seems the spot-on touch for watching over this
arena of Socia magic.
His trademarks are many: walls, portals, gazebos and arches made of
tightly layered horizontal stone, extravagantly comfortable redwood hewn
benches and birdhouses, a sense of timelessness and a
divinely inspired feel for congruent color permeating a landscape.
So, the guy is not only a gifted designer of both inside and exterior spaces,
a builder of twig follies and tranquil Zen inspired
bridges, a horticulturist of the first order; but he is also a brilliant
That is why my favorite feature in the entire house, and
it is really a challenge to choose only one, is the black and white
marble chevron-patterned corridor that points the way to the heartbeat
of his home and his life The Office of Craig James Socia Garden Design.
Beside all of this, he is friendly, cordial and generous. All the
hallmarks of the American Dream.
26 July 2013
The images in HC&G are very nice, but they don’t include my two favorite elements:
the black and white marble chevron floor and the gorgeous chiaroscuro library wallpaper...
So, here are a few more pics:
WHEN THE BEE STINGS
Yes, and very stingy it was, or rather they were: the bees.
Edwina von Gal says they rarely get you in just one
place, but are prone to sting multiple times once they’ve decided you
have disturbed them. I was in a murky corner and must have done just that.
She also explained the plight of the poor bees
(and all creatures that depend on meadows, wildflowers and ground
vegetation). Between the out-of-control deer eating
everything in sight and the toxins that are being spread around like mad
the forest floor is disappearing.
So, the bees and all other ground-nesters are in real trouble.
There are all kinds of bees: honey bees, bumble bees --
I think these might have been buff-tailed bumblebees.
So, on this day of my first bee sting in all these years
--it happened to be the same day as some other unusual behavior.
WHEN THE DOG BITES...
She would never bite us, but Magnolia did attack a perfectly
innocent bird and then stalked it ...
in the most unusual non-lap dog way
I am happy to tell you that somehow the bird escaped her sudden avaricious behavior
(we always wondered what would happen if she actually
caught a bird);
but along with the attack ---
she went crazy digging up my precious moss
This happened in the peaceful realm under the magnolia
tree and it was actually shocking to see her as an aggressor...
KEN DRUSE SURE KNOWS HIS STUFF
Isn’t it great when someone you expect to be really smart and really in-the-know actually is?
Obviously Ken is an expert observer among those who observe the minutiae, as well as the grand plan, of gardening.
With 18 books under his belt, I suspected as much.
But actually witnessing his garden antennae at work sealed the deal.
After showing off my Hydrangea arborescens radiata
(which I had completely lost track of, but of course he knew)
He said, Honey, what you need is Hydrangea ‘Star Burst’ and ‘Little Honey’
Well... ‘Little Honey’ sounded a bit familiar, though I’d completely forgotten I had paid $25 to Broken Arrow
for the very same
thing in 2010
But in my very own garden, he spotted it!
There it is --- struggling to emerge in an overgrown spot
(those little gold leaves under the voodoos and the
Indigofera and the yews)
He picked this 'Little Honey' out with a glance,
which reminded me to take care of it.
I think he also liked this little cluster of white on white
We went to LongHouse too...and his observations were great.
He loved it.
It is gorgeous at this time of year...
PODs + SEEDS + BERRIES + BUDS
Whatever they are, they are endlessly fascinating to me...
This woodlander, Japanese peony, P. obovata subsp. Japonica,
has a fleeting flower but a wicked set of seeds
The surreal seedpod of the ever-glorious Arisaema sikokianum
is great upside down or any way
and look how gorgeous are the leaves, which last all summer
Black Mondo Grass is great over a chartruese ground cover
like the rampant Sedum ‘Acre’, which allows you to see the berries
The buds of the Pineapple lily are great in front of the curled habit of the Abies koreana
And I can’t bear to cut off the seed pods from the Tree peonies.
They are so structural, so fertile
even though it seems the general wisdom is
to cut off seed pods
Any opinions ???
I love the way it is described by two of my very favorite women:
She distinguished herself in 1926 by a life exuberant enough to inspire Virginia Wolfe's Orlando in 1929,
but also her landmark and lengthy (107 pages in this first ed.)poem,
And Patti Smith:
There is no land but the land
There is no sea but the sea
There is no keeper but the key
Except for one who seizes possibilities...
That’s how Patti Smith says it.
We welcomed September by seeing her shake the John Drew theater at Guild Hall like it has never shook before. Fantastic
Which reminds me, If you missed the radiocast of my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Songs on WPPB with Bonnie Grice it is not too late to hear it as it is forever available to you on the podcast...
Patti Smith’s ‘Free Money’ is the 2nd song...I must have foreboded that she was going to be SO GREAT...
Lots of people told me they liked my sort-of weird
compilation and commentary...so if you want to hear Catherine Deneuve
sing a sexy song...or William Burroughs speak in rhyming couplets or the
best version of Summertime ever...
DO order Allium pulchellum along with your surely impending spring fall-planting bulb orders
It is the last allium to bloom - Really Late blooming, like summer – July – about 20” tall and absolutely divine
DON’T feel sympathetic about Slugs marauding boldly over your leaves and in the broad sunlight !
DON’T plant one stinky lily in the middle of nowhere...I just hate the way this looks
DO ask questions
These are seed pods (or berries?) of Arum italicum.
One of my favorite plants in one of its fabulous phases.
It is always good.
DON’T dismiss all yellow flowers like I usually do (except
for daffodils) because these happy daisy-like things popping up from
Ligularia ‘Othello’ are quite mirth-making at summer’s end
DO have patience with moss.
After several years, this little area is starting to respond
And when you get a nice fat multi-stemmed nursery plant
DO divide it before you plant it...it’s like getting three for one
This is a woodlander from the great Jim Glover that I have never
Hemiboea subcapitata...white flowers in September?...we’ll see
Once part of an elaborate and extraordinarily
time-consuming orchid conservatory in an old life, this orchid now
belongs to Nissa Hope.
So wonderful when something you once had thrives somewhere else.
HAVE I GOT A BULB FOR YOU....
One set - 3 bulbs - of Voodoo Lilies for $25
Guaranteed to be winter hardy on Long Island...that is all
I can promise. They look extremely tropical, but are as reliable as
This is Sauromatum venosum (or maybe S. guttatum I don’t
think it really matters), there are several in the Arum world that
have, more or less, the same characteristics....but not one is as
dependable as these
A weird and wonderful early summer spathe that only lasts a few days comes first.
It is followed by tall, graceful, spotted stems topped by a circular tuft of exotic leaves that last for months and make fresh the tired old garden...
Obviously, I have a limited supply, but to those I hear from first: