Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Farm

I pass this farm every day during my new commute and immediately recognized its photogenic quality. It is, for me, an interesting subject and I enjoy seeing it daily, watching how light, weather, time of day and the seasons keep it from seeming static. The field in front often has cows and calves in it who seem mildly annoyed and surprised when I pop over to take a picture.

I abuptly stopped when I rounded the corner and saw the clouds piling up in the Mohawk Valley beyond the silos. A lot of detail is lost in this picture but in the original the clouds and trees evoke paintings of English landscapes and the Hudson River school. I reduced and moved my logo because it seemed a shame to obscure the most interesting section of the picture.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Where I've been

Papaver orientale 'Prince of Orange' - indeed

I wanted to say I've been living with indigenous people in New Guinea or trekking the mountains of New Zealand or finalizing the arrangements for moving to Tenerife in the Canary Islands but I can't. No, I've taken a few weeks hiatus as I adjust to a terrific new job. With a much longer commute and a constant stream of gardening and other outdoor activities, a reordering of priorities happened and this blog ended near the bottom.

poppy buds

Less time at home has sharpened my interest and made me more attentive to the growing cycles of everything. My intent for this blog has never been to chronicle the minutiae of every task but discover and share in the why's behind what is happening here. I'm an observer by nature and nature is what I'm interested in.

ready to "pop"

Good news is I have been gifted with a digital camera (thanks Beth!). Now I am teasingly addressed as "Ansel Adams" - I wish - but I've always admired the work of Eliot Porter. Anyway, expect more photography and less text as this blog moves forward. I much prefer the written word but it's that "finding the time" thing again.

poppies and peonies


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spring flowering tree

a large Amelanchier bordering the horse run

The first spring after we moved here, I noticed small white trees flowering in early May. They weren’t found in great numbers in any one locale but were lightly sprinkled among the other trees, especially along tree margins and in transition areas bordering open fields and along roadsides. They hadn’t shown up in the meager resources I read before coming here and were a delightful surprise discovering them. But what were they?

Without a huge amount of sleuthing, I found out they were Amelanchier (am-el-AN-keer), a name that begins flowing off the tongue after the 372nd utterance. It's no wonder it has a stable of common names: Serviceberry, Juneberry, Shad Bush, and my favorite, Shad Blow. Like salmon and steelhead, shad are fish that migrate from salt to fresh waters to reproduce, their spring runs coinciding with the blooming of this tree, hence the name.

Locally common but not abundant, they are mostly found in part shade in the company of other trees. I have found them on dry hillsides and almost boggy lowlands but suspect they prefer soils that are moist and well draining.

It isn’t until they flower that their Rose family inclusion is apparent. Small sprays of flowers are white with a tint of pink and have many stamens, a typically rose characteristic. Fruits are black colored when mature and are relished by birds. The oval leaves are distinctive enough for identifying trees when out of bloom and are complimentary to the branching structure.

One of the odd things I noticed last year was early leaf drop in August, depriving us of their autumn tones of beige and rust. I don’t know if it was the excessive rains or earlier predation from Eastern Tent Caterpillars but Amelanchier and other small trees were under stress and defoliated early.

full picture of my May header


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Green-eyed but not envious

I posted again at Cold Climate Gardening.

I thought of it as a here's-my-problem and here's-my-solution kind of post but realize readers' confusion for writing about a plant so early before its season. Now is an excellent time for transplanting them into your garden, allowing for root growth to establish them and producing a respectable showing during bloom later this year.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Watering needs

I have a post on the watering tools I use and why I use them over on Cold Climate Gardening.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Iris - wrapping it up

I'm looking forward in the future to introducing myself to the Louisianas, their rich tones of rusty browns and other colors providing an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the garden. I've only just started with a few shade lovers and want to grow more. I also have one Japanese Iris, ensata 'Momojido', and want to perfect my growing of it; it is a sorry little plant and has not thrived. Perhaps moving it or replenishing its soil will work but sometimes there is an incompatibility, the relationship is not in equilibrium. That sometimes happens in gardening, the wrong plant in the wrong garden, and then it's time to find a new home for it with someone else. I'm not upset if it happens and want only the best for it, it will be an amicable parting.

Native to the Northern Hemisphere, Iris are grown and enjoyed worldwide. From high alpine ridges to deep forests, and deserts to wetlands along with many grasslands, Iris are found. Some have been used medicinally and others show up as representative symbols for royal houses and youth organizations. There is something about their recognizable flowers that is so appealing and on many levels. Their world is deep and large and I must explore further. I've often thought that a garden without Iris is the weaker for it and makes a statement about the gardener.

For more information please visit:

For specific classes and types of Iris visit:

International Iris Societies

Iris Research from Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden which includes a cool phylogeny of Iris based on DNA sequencing

Most of the societies have links for where to buy Iris but in case they might have missed some try:

My Aunt and Uncle used to visit us while I was growing up. We didn't see them very often, our lives were separate and didn't intersect much, and each visit was a pleasure. They have unique voices, on the order of old radio and movie stars, and I loved hearing them talk. My Aunt had a way of looking at you that let you know her expectations of you were pretty high and you didn't want to see her being disappointed with you.

When I was older I found out she loved gardening and eventually specialized with orchids, covering a small patio and growing them into perfection. She would lose herself with her gardening and plants, taking a respite from the day and replenishing her soul. Eventually they moved into a retirement community, and of course, bringing a few special plants with them. I don't know how my Aunt did it but she managed to secure a unit with a small garden, one of the few and rarely available. The scale was reduced, true, but the joy of being outside and involved with something she loved was still there. My Aunt passed away a few years ago and it's outside I feel closest to her, sharing the same processes, enjoying the weather, and feeling part of an ancient tradition. It's where I imagine Aunt Iris and her sisters, Rose and Fern, being forces of nature and taking on the world.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Still working on the Iris

I've been writing my Iris posts on the fly, scurrying to get them done and uploading them in a timely manner. I'm behind right now because of a few sleepless nights this week and trying to verify some of my facts in a future post are accurate.

But until then, how about some good news? We're in for a stretch of better weather here, from today through next week, with much higher temperatures and a true look at spring. A couple of bluebirds, male and female, were spotted here yesterday and I hope some insects are flying around for them. They were awfully pretty in the evergreens with a snowy background but at the same time it was weird. I'm glad they're back: the snows are receding, Salix sp. (Willow) and Acer rubrum (Red Maple) are blooming and we're on the right track, once again, for spring.