Monday, February 23, 2009

A gaggle of hyacinths

There are mature buds on all the tulips, so I thought it best to document the forced hyacinths before they begin to go. The ones in forcing vases (below) are mostly done-they do not last as long-but the Isabelle (blue) and Raphael (pink) in pots are still developing. As I've mentioned before, I am fascinated by the differences between them. We tend to think of the traditional Dutch hyacinths as a generic group, but everything about them varies.

The Isabelles (blue) have huge, heavy flower heads, so much so that their tallest stalks will not hold them, and I've cut them to put in vases. The Carnegies (white) have much fewer florets, but on the other hand, they stand up in their forcing vases with no problem. The Raphaels (pink) are the weirdest, and latest, with shaggy petals, black centers, and an inexorable need to go pointing off in all directions.

Maybe next year, I'll pick cultivars that are easier to deal with, forcing-wise, but I am enjoying these. I'd hate them if they were in the garden though! They'd likely all have to be staked and how ridiculous would that be.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A houseful

As my Valentine/GBBD offering to my friends, here are the highlights of the indoor blooming season so far. There is much yet to come in the way of tulips , hyacinths, and orchids and I'll need them. The weather remains (as is should; it is winter) cold and inhospitable to outdoor gardening. I must say that with all that I'm growing this year (40-50 spring plants outside of the normal houseplants), I spend a good amount of time tending to it all. Which is fun.

The hyacinths in glass vases are all in bloom, but many of the ones in pots are still coming up, as you see. This is Isabelle. The Raphaels in pots are coming up the slowest, but I think they will be bigger and better developed than the ones in vases. It's fascinating to observe the differences in flower shape, bloom time, and other behaviors in hyacinths.

I still have narcissus coming—probably more of these Martinettes, which have a lovely scent, utterly unlike any tazetta I've ever grown. The Grand Soleil d'Or, below, contrasts very well with these African violets which have been blooming nonstop for months.

Here's one final tribute to the pink cyclamen, finally fading after flowering valiantly since early November. GBBD is the creation of Carol/May Dreams Gardens., who, like me, is a strong believer in the rewards of indoor gardening.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A garden for a mansion

The strange little statues that surround the place will be removed.

This is the second year I will be participating (representing the magazine) in a decorator’s Show House, and this time we’re doing a garden, which is kind of exciting. Many of you may have these projects where you live. A large residence is decorated by a huge team of designers and the public views it (in April-May), the admission price benefiting a charity. Usually the house is between owners. In Buffalo, the Show House is run by the Junior League, a women’s group, and I imagine that this, too, is common.

The project: we (me, landscape architect Joy Keubler, and Urban Roots garden center) are attempting to create a sustainable demonstration garden, where people would learn about such strategies as composting, using rain barrels, using native plants, and designing with edibles. But it would also be attractive. Not such a tall order as one might suppose. Sustainable gardening is not as widespread in Buffalo as it should be, and the Show House is visited by thousands, most of whom have gardens. Normally, the SH gardens are simple little patio affairs, focusing more on paving and furniture than gardening.

This year’s house is gorgeous, an E.B. Green-built estate barely outside the city proper. It’s a 1929 French Provincial structure (click on the link to see interior images), with lots of distinctive details: plaster work, fireplaces, chandeliers, etc. I am not totally sure how many rooms there are, but for it to work for a Show House it needs at least 30, which it likely has. There are also large grounds (including a tennis court) and a little carriage house/garage. Our garden will be to the right of the drive leading to the carriage house, near some pine trees.

This (in the foreground) is more or less where we'll be installing; the chain link by the garage in the background will be removed.

I won’t be doing most of the heavy lifting on this, mainly just an advisory role, to make sure it has all the elements we need it to have. I’m thinking a repurposed wine cask as a rain barrel would be fun, as well as a solar fountain, and some native shrubs … More on this as it develops—the ground is still covered in white now, so it will be a while before we can work on it. All we can really do now is plan it and work with suppliers.

Comparatively speaking, it's a lot of work for a garden that will likely only exist for 4 weeks!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Down by the river

We had a gorgeous sunny day with relatively balmy temps today (high 30s), perfect for a drive I had to take anyway. Everybody knows what Niagara Falls looks like—and that the best, fullest view of it is from the Canadian side.

But there are also the rapids and the gorge, which look just as wonderful from either side. In fact, I think the American side offers easier access to a lot of this part of the river; it’s not as built up, that’s for sure.

I wandered around the upper rapids for a while and got some shots looking toward the Rainbow and Goat Island bridges. Then I drove down to Whirlpool State Park and got some shots looking down at the gorge. There were few sightseers and a biting wind.

Finally I stopped by my former workplace and admired it in the snow with its little evergreens protruding here and there. I have a full slideshow here. It was a good day—for winter.