Wednesday, August 29, 2007

As August sails to a close, I left Fire Island, NY yesterday to visit our winter home in Huntington. Mail needed to be collected. Plants and planters needed water and some TLC - assurances that I would be back soon. The abundance of summer blooms are past but a few continue - phlox, re blooming platycodons, roses, late hydrangeas, to name a few. My tall marigolds are hitting their stride and the fall blooming salvias (annuals) are coming into their own. Yesterday, I arrived home too late to see this night blooming water lily in full display. But today, at dawn I caught its full glory. This beauty is our only lily as our pond is too small for all but a few water plants. We have, on average, about 20 goldfish that love the lily's cover - it protects them from poaching blue herons and feral cats!

In addition to the lily, another part of the garden is looking particularly lush. Elephant ears, cannas, hibiscus (not in bloom at the moment) and blue lobelia thrive in a chronically wet spot. Victorian styled gardens containing these dominant plants were quite out of favor during the early twentieth century. That's is not my view today. I marvel at the ability these plants have to grow so quickly and at their usefulness in truly tough garden locations. They will always have a place in my garden. Besides, they multiply like crazy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's Fall
t may still be August but fall has announced its presence today. We are in the last week of our summer retreat on Fire Island, New York. It's 68 degrees F. with a strong dry wind from the East. We still have some late season blueberries - enough for another batch of muffins or two, but the big buzz around here concerns the ripening of beach plums (Prunus maritima). Beach plum jelly is a major love of the residents of this sand spit. The color of beach plums is intoxicating, ranging from purple to blue to reds, pinks, and green. The jelly is a clear claret color with a subtle taste. This week I will go in search of beach plums to take home for processing into jelly. Ummm. Another way to treat beach plums is to make a chunky freezer sauce for ice cream. Christmas pies with ice cream and beach plum sauce - Wow! I have not made sauce for years. Maybe its time.

Fall is also the time for white tail deer bucks to strut their stuff. We live amongst the deer daily (not the other way around) and they are usually benign. But this weekend I was stopped on my walk by an imposing buck with a well formed rack who had no intention of moving out of the way. I don't recall ever having to question my safety around deer before. There are way too many here and in the fall, they seem to be asserting their dominance.

What has this to do with gardening and landscape history - everything! On Fire Island they have reduced the number of species of native plants dramatically. Ornamental gardening requires fencing or very judicious selection. Grey herbs, cleome, ornamental grasses, caryopteris, vitex, some foxglove, marigolds, and the dreaded bamboo are among the deer reject options. New blueberries and beach plums must be caged until they are tall enough to withstand deer poaching or old enough to have acquired enough local soil acidity.

So fall is blowing in and as I pick beach plums this week I will reflect on the balance of nature and what happens when that balance is disturbed as it is here with deer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Here are more pictures from Lacock Abbey. Wonderous differences in texture! June is a perfect month for flowers.

My son is home, visiting. He has kindly taken me under his wing and has begun to explain the mysteries of blogging. I hope that my blog will begin to improve!. On the last post I commented on Lacock Abbey and its newly replanted border in a walled garden. These pictures represent tutorials on resizing photos into web friendly formats. The Lacock delphiniums came in multiple shades of dazzeling blue and were strongly swaying in the rainy breeze like welcoming ladies at a floral party. You may recognize the Abbey from the first Harry Potter movie. The Abbey survived Henry VIII's distruction by having been bought by one of Henry's supporters (long story there - another time perhaps). He bought the whole town while he was at it. The town and Abbey had remained in the same family until the mid twentieth century - amazing! I urge you to put Lacock on your must see list. By the way, the house built over the Abbey is a Jacobean fantasy - the garden around the house is English Arts and Crafts. Here's a link to some additional photos..

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I have been thinking recently about the floods in Tewksbury and the Glouchester area. I visited that region of England in June, traveling with my daughter Sarah. We were combining our love of gardens with, in my case, a love of English garden history, and in Sarah's case, her intense interest in early English abbeys and early monastic life. It rained during most of our trip and I guess in never stopped. We are heartbroken when we consider the damage both to the land and its people. The English are such wonderful stewards of their land and history. I know it will recover.
In the next several Blogs I will include some pictures from our trip. But first I will start with Lacock Abbey because it is both an historic garden from several eras and an abbey. (Some of you may recognize the Abbey from the early Harry Potter movies.) The walled garden was used in WWII as a victory garden for the town. It is in the early stages of becoming a demostration garden. I wish I could grow such beautiful delphiniums.

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