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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

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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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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The snowdrops are out today.   They have been out for at least 10 days.

A week ago Sunday (I think), we had a fine sunny day and they decided it was an optimum time to bloom.  Within two days, it got very cold, temperatures down in the teens.   They tucked their heads down and held on.

Then it warmed up a bit last Wednesday and Thursday.  They perked up.

The next day, the bottom dropped out of the temperatures again.  But it didn’t get so cold that we couldn’t achieve freezing rain.   Last Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday these flowers were coated with about a quarter of an inch of ice.   Nevertheless, they persisted.

Monday the ice started melting, and it continued to gradually warm up all week. Yesterday it got into the sixties, and today we reached a high of 78 degrees.   And so the snowdrops are merry.

They are joined in the party by a flock of early crocuses that popped up all over the lawn this afternoon.   There were two or three blooms yesterday, but today there are dozens.

It is sprinkling this evening.   And rumor has it that it is supposed to get cold again forthwith.

This weather is giving me whiplash.

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We are getting some badly needed rain.  It has been threatening all morning, flashing and muttering under its breath, teasing us with brief sprinkles.

The radar shows that all of this activity is moving along to the south, which is odd because most of the lightning and clouds I am looking at are to the north of me.  At any rate, I am glad it is raining.   We need for the ground to be nicely wet and more rain promised in order to distribute the beneficial nematodes that are reputed to dine on Japanese beetle grubs.  With a good rain under our belt, and more promised, we can order the supplier to ship them.  With any luck, the weather will cooperate and keep the ground nice and wet after they are applied.

I am happy that there is a storm, Impy is NOT.   I don’t know what horrible trauma happened to him in his kittenhood, but he is terrified of thunder and slinks off full speed ahead for the nearest closet as soon as the first distant rumble occurs.  This morning has been just terrible for him.  With the sporadic nature of this storm, there have been periods of calm in between the heavenly percussion performance long enough for him to stick his whiskers out.   Inevitably, as soon as he is bold enough to exit his sanctuary, a random clap of thunder will send him scurrying back under cover.

We have hypothesized that Impy can understand the weatherman and has listened to all the instructions regarding what to do to be safe in a stormy situation.   If you don’t have a shelter to move into, you should stay in an interior room (preferably with no windows) and put a pillow over your head.  When you hear thunder, you should keep yourself as close to the ground as possible while you move to shelter to minimize the danger of being struck by lightning.   And for God’s sake, don’t go stand under a tree.

Our local YMCA is so careful about lightning danger that they clear the pool if there is any within a few miles of us.   Consequently, this morning our water aerobics class was only 15 minutes long.

I have been surfing the interwebs excessively, so I finally decided I ought to get something worthwhile done instead of endlessly posting on facebook.  I made the bed, and cleaned the catboxes.   I did the dishes, and I am contemplating the idea of vacuuming.   I am pretty sure I can spend enough time on my blog that I simply won’t have time to do that chore before I have to leave for my mammogram.

While I was washing the dishes the storm finally blew into our area and produced a measurable amount of rain.   I was musing as I scrubbed my pots about how one would depict the skies opening up as a response to a prompt of “Open” on an the Art Journal Adventure.   The view out my window captivated me as I worked and pondered.  The finches are busy at  the feeder, they don’t care it is raining and neither do the squirrels, who use their tails as easily as an umbrella as they do a sunshade or blanket.

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The rain will be good for the garden too.  The peas are about an inch tall, and the lettuce that we tended all winter is going gangbusters.   I heartily endorse the use of cold frames in this climate.   We ate beautiful lettuce all winter.

So as I allowed this train of thought to pass through the station of my mind, a huge ground strike flashed down just to the northeast.

I was standing at the window, scrubbing a metal pot with my hands in running water, and I recalled the wisdom that says you can get a pretty bad shock if lightning strikes near your water line when you have your hands in running water.   Suddenly I thought “If that bolt had struck the house and electrocuted me where I stood, I suppose my last thought would have been ‘Impy was right’.”

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We had our roof replaced and the house sided last month.  Looks pretty good now, like a brand new house outside.   Too bad the inside does not match…  I definitely need new floor treatments.

However, during the course of the work, the siding guys simply had to walk next to the house, which involved walking in the garden on the north side.  This garden mostly consists of hostas, with a few hellebores and bleeding hearts thrown in.   It started out as a real shade garden with several varieties of shade lovers in it, but over the years the less hardy plants died out.

Truth to tell, some of the original plantings, which I established with great forethought, turned out to be unwise choices.   One of those, notably, was the lily of the valley, which was summarily evicted after I discovered it busily strangling the hostas nearest to it.   The violets that I was so sure would look very nice along the house turned out to be a noxious weed and empire builders.   I have been trying to eradicate them for some time, and if I live long enough I may eventually succeed.

But I digress.   I decided that the north border needed to be revamped.  To that end, I removed all the rocks I had placed next to the house, leveled out the area and edged it with some pound-in edging.   The rocks got thrown into a pile over near the pergola.   After the edging was in place, I lined the rock border right next to the house with black plastic.   The idea is to have a strip of decorative rock between the house and the garden so that I do not have plants right up against the house, in the interest of proper air circulation.

It has taken me about a week to get ready to put my rocks back.   These are mostly very cool rocks that I have brought home from various gravel bars.   While I was doing the prep work, though, behind my back the rock pile became habitat.  I was not particularly surprised to find pill bugs and centipedes living there when I started moving the pile.   The big wolf spider also did not seem very out of place.

But this fellow surprised me!

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He (or she — I’m not good at sexing amphibians), had taken up residence under the pile of rocks and wished sincerely that I had not moved them.

I did pick the little fellow up, because I certainly did not wish to hurt him during my job.

As you can see with the scale of my glove added, this is a very small being indeed.  I think this may be the eft stage of the red spotted newt.  This is very interesting, because for a long time I have been aware of having what I referred to as salamanders living in the pond.  It turns out that the red spotted newt has an aquatic stage, and the guys in the pond are more than likely the red spotted newt in that aquatic stage.  This little fellow has found its way out of the pond to transform to its terrestrial stage.

I took it over to the rain garden, which seemed like a good place to relocate it out of harms way.

Indeed, it found the location satisfactory, and crawled back in and under the rocks there.

I am happy to find yet another individual creature that appreciates the habitat we have created here at the Havens.  It is really very exciting!

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