Monday, February 3, 2014

Oh let it Snow, says Dianne B

DIRTIER ....The Newsletter
Volume 54  Early February, 2014
Dianne B
Capturing the hoarfrost patterns on the windows
is heaven to me.
Further proof that there is
no man-made decoration
quite as beautiful as the natural world


Enhanced by the snow

Like an all-white version of the
extravagant elephant painting
that you see upon arrival in Jaipur.


The Slithery eel seems right in its element.


I probably should bring John Barham's
monkeys indoors for the winter,
but they look so good
out there.


 The grinning  monkey holding up the table
was made in the USA,
from that great Connecticut garden ornament company, Kenneth Lynch & Sons, (though not sure they carry such funky things anymore)


The Balinese cow trio gloats
over the Italian Arums
 unfurling new leaves even as the snow falls.


In 10 degrees, Macaws beg to be bronze


 And this big old snapping croc is
daunted by nothing...

Now,  I don’t know if the next three count:

Are gargoyles animals?

How about insects?

And what about Balinese gods?

I think they are just supernatural,

but of course, the most precious animals
are snowingly happy

Magnolia gallivants about

While Flora just likes to stretch out
as if it is an  A/C vent




Read this book:
The Signature of All Things  by  Elizabeth Gilbert

Don’t be dissuaded by that other pulpy piece -
Eat, Pray, Love - the big best-seller by the same author. This is nothing like her girly memoir
or much like anything else you might read
if you are enthralled by fascinating people who,
among many other pursuits,
are beguiled by:

Botanical Obsessions


Yes, moss.

It has never been so fascinating as in this tale.

Image 1 copy

You, my dear readers, surely must know by now that I am compulsively working to create a Moss Garden under our big old Magnolia tree
with the 50 foot spread.
That’s a lot of ground and
to tend


I devote much time to it:
preening, plumping and patching;
but in comparison my ambitions are paltry,
totally unscientific and not
particularly rigorous.


Can you imagine?
Doesn't all moss look more or less the same to you?

My negligible knowledge of moss has come from
observation and the single, but wonderful, book in my library devoted to moss,
Moss Gardening by the estimable George Schenk.

Alma Whitaker, the gutsy protagonist of the
Signature of All Things
had no such awesome source to rely on
in the 19th Century,
so she set out to write the definitive book herself.

Now, we have come to know that all mosses
Are Unequivocally Not the Same.

But on her fantastical journey, she learned
there are 15,000 kinds.

Her experience began by observing
the mossy rocks behind her studio cottage
on her inimitable father's great estate on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Not so different from
 my own experience (minus the great estate)
within my own mossy patches
and the neighboring Nature Trail
from which came  the origins of my Moss Garden.

I try my hardest to keep it clear of leaves and debris
Because it does not like to be inhabited or disturbed

And attempt to keep it free of these
awful ‘brown spots’

but it is a particularly trying...
and never-ending job because, well...

one of the reasons the moss thrives is, naturally, because it is under this almost-century old magnolia;

Image 2 2

So with the huge magnolia comes the constant
storm of leaves:
new ones, old ones, green ones, brown ones;
plus all the elements of a flower that bud, bloom
mature and then disintegrate.
In varying stages they go
from big browning petals to the pretty teardrop-shaped outer casings of the new buds as they swell with new life and burst open...

Which is actually what you see here


And now that I know that each of the mosses
in my very own little yard IS DIFFERENT: depending on what surface it grows,
the conditions around it,
how hard it has to fight to keep its place in the
moss kingdom




It makes a big difference, doesn't it?
and I am more and more enchanted.

"Dedicated to the person who pauses
to study small things in Nature."

    George Schenk

Read both books --- you’ll love them.

P.S.  Signature of All Things isn’t only about Moss


1.  Find other duos with matching hair:

This is Ulf Skogsbergh with one of their divine chickens
Image 1

This is my brother-in-law David and me


And on that note, go and visit family.
I had a wonderful time in Maryland.


2.  Read a little Proust...

To get you started, consider this:


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our
souls bloom.”


3.  APPRECIATE the LESS  OBVIOUS in the Garden:

Fascinating contortions of the Harry Lauder’s
Walking Stick 


And Cryptomeria cristata


Color of Bark 


4. Learn  fascinating new subjects, like:

Small Miracles of the Desert


This gorgeous clustering beauty was sent to Lys by her dear friends who live in the
Bedouin Village of Petra,
where it has just snowed, which is a startling
happening in the desert.


I'll let Lys tell you more about
this bunching
Egyptian Meadow Saffron
and why we are so lucky to know about it.

In the Mid-East, as everyone knows, water is more precious than what…? Oil? Gold? A Nabataean coin?
When Dianne, Skye and I visited Amman, Jordan, our hostess, the photographer/writer Jane Taylor, instructed us to never ever leave the faucet on while brushing our teeth and to double up while taking a fast shower. Reason: 91% of the kingdom gets a paltry 50-200 mm rainfall per year while we Hamptonites are socked and soaked with 1300 mm per year.
But over there, when it finally snows or rains –a “depression” according to the Jordan Times –- what looks like barren desert around Petra springs into action. This year’s first sign of stirring was sent out by Salwa Manaja, who as a small child lived in a cave carved 2,000 years ago out of red sandstone-- with her charismatic Bedouin father, Mohammad, and New Zealand mother, Marguerite. Pictured is Colchicum ritchii, or Egyptian Meadow Saffron, a low perennial with pointy green leaves, clusters of creamy white-to-pink petals, centered by bright yellow stamens. Not the cooking variety of saffron – this one is pure poison.


Mushrooms Create Their Own Weather

How weird is that?...but this seems to be the result attested to by some academics from Trinity College and reported by The Daily Mail UK.
Of course, Brits do like to exaggerate and mushrooms haven’t really figured out everything; but they concur that mushrooms, somehow,  create their own special breezes and little windtunnels to carry their spores.
(which is how they propegate)
And the tests were conclusive on Shitake and Oyster mushrooms - my favorites.



5.  Watch the carniverous plants grow...
This delightful insect-eating pitcher plant came from festive Marders during the holiday season...
absolutely delighted to see it throwing up its veiny and other-worldly new shoots
(or flouresences or stalks,
not sure of this nomenclature)


The carniverous plant specialist chosen by Marders
is right on our own North Shore
this is a Sarracenia,
the expert's name is Eric
and he did promise this
would thrive outdoors in a boggy but sunny spot.
We'll see


6. And it goes without saying

On these blustery, icy stay-inside days, there is
nothing better than perusing
the plant catalogues.  What I like least is deciding
which to  actually order from, and then what to buy: considerations of sun, shade, space, and $$$.

Here are a few little tips:

Get lost in the catalogues but order least then you can keep track and they usually add up the order as you it is not so startling
when you total it up.

Stagger their delivery (put in your agenda or calendar) so that the plants don’t arrive all at once
I have made this mistake more than once.

My first order progressed because I was totally charmed by the genially seductive cover of theDIGGING DOG Nursery Catalogue.


and of course, Digging Dog
is an especially cute name and the Egyptian dogs
are quite divine.

Plus they had things I have been searching for (another criteria, because it is so easy to order things
you have really no place for but are enthralled by the pictures or descriptions)
like weeping  and variegated-leaved Tricyrtis (toad lilies that bloom in September), trillium, geraniums to experiment with and one of those must-haves
that Ken Druse advised:
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’... the one with  big thick leaves that turn burgundy in the fall ..


This catalogue has charming line drawings and you can go to their site for most pictures

There is a great pile of catalogues on my
desk that I am sorting through daily...




Flora’s head when it unexpectedly comes peeping out of the doggie door


The maze underneath the
Sargent’s Weeping Hemlock when unimpeded
by greenery

and a smidgeon of a vision of New Green



the green of the first new leaves on the Hellebores


For those of you who have not heard, LongHouse Reserve has a fabulous Insider's Tour Program...

Trips to Japan, India and Arkansas (Arkansas? of course, the new Alice Walton museum) have been so successful because of the specialized nature of LongHouse and personal relationships that allow visitors to be welcomed into places that are normally not on the regular route.

Late this spring, LongHouse is visiting gardens in England in its own unique way.

Idbury Manor by John Dransfield,
a 16th C. private home and garden


LongHouse is happy to invite you to join our first study tour to London and Gardens of England in Sussex, Kent, the Cotswolds and the Capital. This tour (June 5 - 12, 2014) is tailor-made for gardens at the height of their season.

You will be invited to visit  estates with head gardeners and one particular highlight will be meeting  Fergus Garrett (2013 LongHouse Landscape Award recipient) and sharing dinner with him at Great Dixter - the five hundred year old house and famous gardens.

To travel with LongHouse is to meet Outstanding People and to experience the best of the world.

Please note there is limited space on this tour and I recommend forwarding a reservation as soon as possible.

If you want to be part of this glorious LongHouse now. 631.329.3568
                           The Cotswolds by John Dransfield


The Nature Trail is freezing over, the ducks and
geese have fled to higher ground


The swans are iced in...


and all of the wildlife is HUNGRY.
So, don’t forget when the ground is snow-covered,
PLEASE feed the birds

Stay cozy

Keep warm

And since more snow and even colder temperatures are expected as I write this...

I am extending the COLD DAYS of JANUARY SALE into the

Use coupon code deeperfreeze  to get 25% off
of every single indispensible item at
The Best@Dianne B

And don't forget
Garden Gifts make Great Valentine's Day presents



Gardening, like fashion and Nature, is all about shape and color, textures, pattern and layers.

I think the Buddha looks particularly good in the pill-box hat.


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