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Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

I have been avoiding Crystal Bridges for a long time.  I heard about it a long time ago, probably around the time it was being built by the Walmart heiress who did it.  For some reason, the fact that all that money came off the backs of people who labored for that empire in not very good conditions bothered me.

But a lot of my friends have gone down there and loved it.  I guess that sort of thing doesn’t bother them enough to keep from availing themselves of the experience.  After all, you only have to pay for the special exhibits.  The rest of the collection is free.

I have to admit the museum itself is a work of art.  Seldom have I seen a more beautiful building, and it really set off the site it was built upon.  The surrounding grounds with all their sculpture were beautiful to view from within.  I know there are several miles of trail but it was so raw a day we did not walk on them.  Next time.

Crystal Bridges has a pretty decent collection too, although I was sort of surprised that it did not include a single Peter Max, who truly is a pretty well known American Artist and certainly is worthy of having his work represented.   Nor were there any Russells on display.  At least not at the moment.

They do have four different Georgia O’Keeffe works on display, which made me happy.  There is a large Jimson Weed painting, just gorgeous.  It was not lit very well, so it was difficult to appreciate the glory of her brush work.   They also had a couple of smaller studies, one a still life with leaf and feather and the other one of the hills near Ghost Ranch.  The surprise for me was a large bronze sculpture by her.  I thought I knew about Ms. O’Keeffe, and either I did not know or had forgotten that she had done some bronzes.     The one on display was very beautiful but I would have liked to have seen it put farther out in the middle of the floor rather than stuck in a corner where you could not walk around it and observe the flow of light along it.

One thing about Crystal Bridges that bugged both Jim and myself was the very poor lighting of the collection.  I am not sure what the curator and the hangers were thinking, but there were several walls that had far too many works on them set way too close together.   Each one had bright lights on them, and if you tried to get close enough to see brush work the glare was so severe you could not see anything, not even colors and shapes.   If you stood back far enough to get away from the glare, the works’ proximity to each other made it hard to focus on them individually.

There were some very amazing large works that occupied full wall panels that were very fun to look at up close.  Then when you went outside and looked at them from the lawn, they were a completely different story.   Very complex.

I am afraid that there was a period of time during our visit I really wished I had never studied music, because for some reason the museum had a young man playing the cello near one of the galleries.   It was interesting to see the audience lapping up his very Chopinesque murder of the Bach Cello Suite in C.  It was pretty excruciating to listen to his out of tune, rubato rendition of a work that I studied assiduously for an entire semester while I was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.  I sort of missed a whole section of the museum because I felt compelled to get out of that wing before I was driven to madness.

We LOVED the special exhibit that was in residence,  “The Soul of a Nation”, a comprehensive focus on the art of Black Americans during the Civil Rights era.   If that collection comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.   It was educational, illuminating, thought provoking, and filled with some really wonderful art by artists that I was largely unaware of.

It is no secret that I love beautiful things; it might even be an addiction.  Although we went into the Museum Shop fully expecting to leave empty handed, that was not to be.   There was a vase there that called out to come home with us.   So we ransomed it and freed it from its captivity on the shelf.   It truly is a wonderful work of art from Cohasset Gifts and Garden.

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I accepted the reflection of the dining room lights in this photo because the illumination from above really brings out the sculptural aspect of the molten glass having been draped over the root it rests on.

This following shot was serendipitous in the extreme.   I had opened the dining room curtains and noticed how the scene out side reflected in the glass of the vase.

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Well, I hope that everyone has a fantastic week.  It is supposed to warm up around here, and I am very much ready for it.

We are waiting with bated breath to learn whether or not the freezing and just below freezing temperatures will have been enough to kill the wisteria buds.

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Even though the weather has been totally schizophrenic, the species tulips are out in full force.

I planted some in my newest Day Lily garden, which started out life as the Rose Garden portion of my stroll garden.  Over the years all the roses planted there succumbed to the rose rosette disease that is indigenous to our area.  Thanks to the plantings of multiflora roses done in the 30s and 40s, we not only have a vector for the mite that carries the virus but a state-wide infestation of an invasive exotic.

At any rate, a couple of years ago when the last rose kicked the bucket, I repurposed the area as a day lily garden.  I needed a new space for them since the original day lily garden is not very happy any more due to the fact that the shrubbery of the stroll garden has gotten so tall it shades the day lilies to the north of it, and the ground ivy and vinca are busy trying to strangle them at the same time.

There are days when I wonder why in the world I think I have enough energy to maintain all the gardens I do have.  Especially when I am suffering the results of the face plant I did a few days ago.   My artificial hip does not think that was a good activity to engage in.   But at least I did not plant my face in the rock borders of the path I fell into.

But I digress.

It turns out that if you plant species tulips you have planted something that is a survivor and a colonizer.   If you think about the fact that most of these little beauties are natives of the mountains of Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, it makes perfect sense.   Even so, it was news to me that a couple of tiny bulbs could manifest as empire builders.   They are indeed.

DSCF6629Check out the orange tulips, and ntoice how they have spread through the garden.  The yellow ones in the right corner have completely filled in the area around the perovskia (Russian sage).   Fortunately, they appear to be willing to peacefully coexist with it, unlike some other colonizers I could name.   (e.g. Missouri primrose, spotted knapweed).

Here is a close up of the corner where the tulips are happiest.

DSCF6630Yes, yes.   I see the chickweed in the lower corner.

Two days ago it was 80 degrees here, yesterday the temperature dropped precipitously all day and this morning it is just below freezing.   I have a cover over my peonies, which are now about a foot tall, and am hoping and praying that they will survive tonight.   The wisteria is way too large to cover, it has big swollen buds and I hope it also makes it through the freeze promised for tonight.

The tulips won’t care at all.

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Readers of this blog will know that OBE stands for Overcome By Events.   It is a term used when what you planned to do did not happen because the Great Bird of the Galaxy decided to change your plans.

Just two days ago, Jim was looking at his List of Planned Jobs for the next few weeks.  It contain such varied items as “Mend chair,” “Fix shed door” (an entry occasioned by the gnawing through the door achieved by a squirrel who wanted to move up in the world), and “Mow” (a constant entry on the list, actually).  I am not sure why mowing gets put on the list as it is a perpetual event around here.   You can do it, cross it off, and put it right back on, all summer long.

That was the primary job on his agenda for this week.  The grass has gotten happy what with all the precipitation and the slow warming trend.

One of the items on the list was “hive body”, which was a shorthand reference to cleaning out a hive body and preparing it with new frames and wax foundation.   We are anticipating that our bees might want to swarm this year, and it is always better if you are ready for the event when it happens.

At any rate, Jim was contemplating his list (which I am not allowed to add things to) and looked at me and said, “I don’t think I need to worry about preparing the hive body for a few weeks.  It has been so cold I don’t think the bees are going to swarm any time soon.”  I did not disagree with him.

Yesterday I was taking Ruby for her morning excursion about the yard.  I went back behind the vegetable garden to see how the hazelnuts were faring and whether any birds were making nests in the sumac grove,  and I observed that the service berry bush looked sort of odd.   Closer inspection revealed this:

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Yes indeed, that is a swarm of bees.   Not our bees, who are still very much at home in their cozy hive, but a group from one of the wild hives that exist “out there” in the woods.  It does seem odd that the wild bees tend to bring their swarms to our property.  Or I guess it would seem odd if we didn’t assiduously avoid sprays and other poisons and encourage all kinds of pollen producing plants.

I cut the dog walking short and hustled into the house, interrupting the morning coffee ritual by saying to my mate, “Guess what we have?”

He had no earthly idea, so I illuminated him.  “We have a swarm of bees!”

“Oh?,” he replied.  “Where is it?”

“Out behind the vegetable garden on the service berry bush.”

He put some shoes on and we went out and investigated the situation.   Well, OF COURSE there was no hive body ready, since we just agreed the day before that we didn’t need to rush to spend the time, energy and money on that just yet.

Ha ha.

Off he went to the farm supply store to acquire a hive body, frames, foundation and a hive floor.   At least we had a hive lid on hand.   And an extra super, which was fully equipped with frames.

I retired to the massage room to give a massage, and he put the super frames into the new hive body, and then introduced the swarm to their new digs.  While they sort of settled in, he went into the shop and installed the foundation in the new frames.   Right about the time I finished up with my client, he was ready to install the large frames in the hive body.

This is a shot of the process of one of the super frames being divested of the bees clinging to it after the large frame was slipped into the hive body.

DSCF6627The bees were pretty excited about the process, but since they were in swarm mode they were very mellow and I was able to get up fairly close to the operation.

After the proper frames were put into the hive body, Jim put the super frames back into the super and put that on top of the hive body to give the new hive plenty of space.

Now, here is a little tidbit that amazed me rather a lot.   Those bees had only been in the new hive for less than an hour when we took the lid off.  The following picture is of the underside of the hive lid.

DSCF6624They had already created that much beeswax, in less than an hour.   I am not sure why they decided to put it on the hive lid…

At any rate, when you hear the phrase “Busy as a bee” you can think about that clump of beeswax and how much work went into forming it.

Today the new hive seems to be quite happy and adjusted.  They have already found the pond and are busy bringing nectar and pollen back to their new digs.

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Spring garden

I have been out working hard today.  Mostly my focus was on cleaning up the joint and I got a ways on that.   I filled my weed basket up five times in addition to digging out some bush honeysuckles that had volunteered in the stroll garden.

I found some hostas that had decided they needed to be growing upside down, so I dug them up and replanted them the right way too.  I am not exactly sure how that happened, but I decided the situation needed rectifying.

The labyrinth is looking quite festive, as is the rest of The Havens.

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I love having so many daffodils around the place.   It makes it easy to pick a big bouquet for the house.  The mid season blooms are coming on strong; there are still lots of late season varieties that are in bud out there.  This is today’s selection.

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And the peas are really up!

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Hope your spring is going as well as ours is!

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Last night I stayed up until 4 a.m.   Or I guess I should say this morning…  At least it wasn’t because I had insomnia.  It was that I was so deeply engrossed in what I was doing that I didn’t realize how long I had been at it.

It is no secret that I love my art journaling.  It is also no secret that I am not made of money.  I look at some of the studios that people have and I wonder if their homeowner’s insurance realizes how many thousands of dollars they have in art supplies!   Since I do not have a studio, but only a desk, I have to be creative about how I stay organized.  It also keeps me from going bonkers buying stuff.

However, all that being said, I have been lusting after stamps for quite some time.  These are pretty pricy items, and I do have a small selection.   But I am a piker when it comes to stamp ownership.   There are YouTubers who are doing tutorials and every time you turn around they are picking up another stamp for making background imagery for layering.   There are a couple who not only use stamps but they would very much like you to buy the stamps that they have designed and have for sale at princely prices.

I came across a video wherein the tutor was showing you how to make your own stamps using fun foam.   This is an interesting product.  If you get the really thin stuff, you can cut it into shapes easily with scissors, and glue the pieces onto cardboard and voilà, a stamp!   There is thicker fun foam, which if you heat it up with your heat gun and press it into things with texture will take on the image you pressed it onto.  Once again, you trim your piece of foam appropriately, and bam, you have a stamp.

So I was doing this with the thicker foam.

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I have a bunch of antique buttons and some of them made extremely interesting impressions in the foam.   I also cut pieces and glued them.   Incidentally, the backing I used for my stamps was simply cardboard from my recycling bin.  I glued to pieces together to make it more or less rigid.

There are a couple of long thin stamps in the shot above that were created using the innards of cardboard glued to the backing.  There is a piece of bubble wrap in there too.  But the one that became an obsessive project is the bright blue one just next to the cardboard stamp in the upper left.   That one is made of well over 200 little random squares and rectangles of the fun foam individually glued to their cardboard backing.  It makes a VERY interesting image.

Over on the far right is one that does not involve fun foam.

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This is made of a selection of o-rings from my local hardware store.   These are spare parts for faucets, and I will just say that there apparently is no such thing as a standard size in faucets!  I was quite careful to make sure that I got a selection of o-rings that were all the same thickness so my stamp would make a good impression.  (Interesting side note:  all these o-rings were individually packaged with their dimensions printed on the little bag.)  They glue to the cardboard quite securely with tacky glue.

I love the image this stamp makes!

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So once I created my group of stamps, I had to play with them.  The blue basket weave stamping below the o-ring stamp is an imprint of one of the old buttons.

Art is not the only thing accomplished around here.   I got the potato sets out, and planted my onion plants today.  I also threw some mesclun seeds at the ground and hope they will grow.  I thought about planting broccoli, but decided that perhaps I was a little too tired to do that too.

The peas that I checked the germination on the other day are now UP and being little green shoots.   Pretty soon I will plant the beets and carrots in that bed.

I just can’t believe how fast the season is progressing!

Now, I have three loads of laundry to fold, so I suppose I should go do something other than sit at the computer for a bit.

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Spring 2018

It is most definitely spring here at the Havens.  I went out today and walked around the yard, picking daffodils from along the street, in the labyrinth, behind the rock garden, in front.   It is really wonderful to have so many out there, I don’t even notice they are gone from the huge clumps I have.DSCF6598

It has been a pretty weird few weeks here.  Jim has gone off to Wisconsin to help one of his good friends while he was having his knee replaced.   He has been gone for three weeks and there are two to go before he comes home.  It isn’t until your partner is away that your REALLY remember just exactly how much they do to help.   Well, at least I notice that MY partner is not here…

It is pretty time consuming to have to do everything.   It really is time to plant potatoes, and I have my potato starts cut and scabbed.   Since we decided we wanted to try growing them in the compost pile, I needed to turn the compost pile.  That doesn’t sound like much of a job until you realize that it is over 2 cubic yards of compost.   I got it done.

I also went out and checked my pea seeds.  The plants had not shown up yet and I was worried that the wonky weather had resulted in the seeds rotting in the ground.  I know that it is not really considered best management practice to dig up your seeds, but I needed to know if it was going to be necessary to replant.   Nope!   The peas I came across had sprouted well, and I expect to see them up out of the ground in a couple of days.

I also got the onion/lettuce bed prepared today.  I wound up being too tired to finish off the job, so tomorrow I am going to plant the onion plants I have waiting in the kitchen, and sew some lettuce and mesclun.

And so the gardening season begins…

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Surprise!

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I fully expected to see crocuses this morning, since they have been out for several days.  They were there, but since it is a cloudy day they have their flags furled.

But down in the front garden, I was very surprised and pleased to see that the Jack Frost mini daffodils are blooming.   Needless to say, I had to go pick one (there are lots out there).  When I went about the yard looking for other blossoms to accompany it, I found snow drops and a hellebore that is almost out.

Last night I heard spring peepers too.

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