Wednesday, May 29, 2013

European Allotment Gardens

When traveling in Leiden, the Netherlands last year, one sees acres of land, outside small towns, that are cultivated mostly with vegetable gardens. Learning more, these are usually referred to as allotment gardens. Each country in Europe has it's history with these plots, but for the most part they are awarded by governments or companies to workers after years of service. They usually have some structure to sit in or under, but are not meant for permanent occupation. People can enjoy and cultivate their gardens during the day, but not make them a summer home. We saw Grandparents with grandchildren, playing, watering, digging, trellising, and generally enjoying summer in the sun while growing a large amount of their vegetables for the year. This was serious vegetable gardening..the kind most people don't do in this country anymore. Here are a few pictures of what people had going on....and yes...Gnomes!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Snug Harbor Farm

Yesterday's visit to Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, Maine reminded how inspired I have been by Tony Elliot's operation there since discovering it 13 years ago. Everything he creates on this gorgeous property is done with big vision, passion and energy. From greenhouses filled with rare and unusual plants, to exotic birds and animals, to the intimate garden rooms created by espaliered fruit trees, this extraordinary nursery is a sanctuary from the rest of the world for the beginning gardener to the expert.

When Tony gets interested in a species, the hunt begins for the rarest and finest forms. Here is a collection of succulents, rare to find in Maine.

But if you want Topiary...this is the place to go. Many of his greenhouses are dedicated to growing all types of topiaried plants; myrtle, lavender, curry. If you can grow it, he can train it!

Rare Begoinas
But I was on the hunt for rare begonias...of which he has many. His collection has been featured in Garden Design Magazine, and here is one his blog entries on the subject of begonias. I picked up a few for my own collection...a Ginni and a Deco Chicks.
Be sure to stop by Snug Harbor Farm when in lower Kennebunkwhen you have some time because you will be well rewarded and inspired!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What a difference a week makes!

What a difference a week makes! After driving across country with my daughter after her graduation, I was pleasantly surprised how far along things were back home. Though I still have a little envy of Ohio, as they seemed a month ahead of us in spring there, I know Maine lettuce will last longer and our days will never get as hot! Yugoslavian red lettuce and Tatsoi for dinner tonight. Bok Choy tomorrow!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

British Soliders!

Just wanted to post this picture of the most lovely lichen I have growing in the back yard on a decaying log. British Solider lichen is easy to miss, but once you see it, they take your breath away! Cladonia Cristatella, like all lichens, is an algae and a fungus living together. Keep an eye out for these beauties on your next walk!

French Edging and Spring Color

Edging is one of the most satisfying of jobs, but one that you don't want to do but once a season. When I lived in CT, I worked at New Pond Farm in Redding. It was started by a retired actress, Carmen Matthews, whose dream was to teach children and the community about sustainable farming and early Native American life. Being still the actress, she loved to tell a good story. Once while edging the beds of the vinca around the farmhouse (a tedious and discouraging job), she professed the virtues and correctness of what she called "French Edging". With characteristic bravado and comedic flair, she insisted that one must edge deeply and at almost a 45 degree angle. This created a trench between the garden bed and the grass, that would last the whole season. Then fill with mulch and it creates a inhospitable situation for the grass to creep in.

I don't know if this was actually "French", but every spring, as I work my way around every bed, I smile as I think of her bright face beaming while she declared this made up truth and made me feel that the labor was somehow "European" and part of a grand tradition. I now have carried it on for 25 years and believe it from experience. Cheers to Carmen, who made simple things exciting and joyous!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Early Bird Catches the Worm II, Art of the Garden

I finished this work while we have been waiting for spring here in Maine. I have to love the extra time to be in the studio here in Maine before the garden completely takes over all my energy. Large drawings like this will be part of two exhibitions this year. First, the exhibit at The George Marshall Store Gallery, Silent Spring; An Enduring Legacy, and at The Wells Estuary Research Reserve starting in September. More information to follow.