Category Archives: Gardens

Friendship Garden

There was a time when I felt overwhelmed by the needs of my children.  The attention they demanded caused me to abandon my interest in taking care of any other living things, specifically my plants.  I believe I have one houseplant which survived those toddler years.  It is a shadow of its former self, but seems determined to remain a member of the household.

As the boys became more independent and able to entertain themselves a bit better, I started acquiring plants again.  There was a rubber tree I inherited after a friend’s move, a fern or two, a couple of plants my brother no longer wanted. My house once again had bright spots of greenery.  It was time to direct my attention elsewhere…

My front yard is the size of a postage stamp.  When I moved in 18 years ago, there were a couple of rose bushes and some grass. Simple.  And boring.  Over the years , friends have shared their perennials with me, beginning with Sharon and her purple cone flowers.  I remember her bringing over clumps of flowers and my not getting them into the ground for days.  I was skeptical that they would survive my neglect, but they have thrived in the sunniness of my front yard.

A few years later, the cone flowers were joined by Black-eyed Susans.  I love the sturdy cheeriness of these and usually cut some to have in the house.  I like to put them in an old glass pitcher with the baby’s breath my brother gave me a few years back.  The baby’s breath fills in an area of my garden directly in front of the red bee balm and purple balloon flowers which my friend Donna gave to me.  It’s one of my favorite little spots this time of the year when everything looks so lush.

There are shasta daisies and a variety of ever multiplying lilies, also.  The grass is long gone and mulch and rocks fill in the garden in the few bare areas which remain.  My iris, given to me by both my brother and my friend, Lisa, have long since bloomed, but I’ll need to thin those out come fall because they have taken off.  They’re surrounded in their home in my parking strip by colorful snapdragons.  I don’t recall ever planting snapdragons, but an elderly neighbor always had them in her front garden and I suspect that is where mine originated. I think she’d be happy to know that she left behind some life on our block.

Come fall, I also plan to thin out the geraniums I was given by a work friend. They would take over if I didn’t keep my eye on them! The peony, which was originally in my shady backyard, has settled into its sunny home and thanked me for its new digs by bestowing bloom upon bloom.  I’ll be splitting that this fall, as well.  Right now the peony is home to a cat which Jeter is constantly trying to flush out. Each time he brushes past the star-gazer lilies he marks himself with pollen.  Guess that makes him a flower, too, almost.

The biggest surprise in the garden this summer are the sunflowers.  After years of planting seeds with limited success, this year I left the work to the birds.  They have thanked me for my mostly constant feedings by spreading sunflowers throughout my garden.  In return, when they’re done blooming I will harvest the seeds and give them back to the birds.  Without the birds and my generous friends, my garden, and my life, would be a far less beautiful existence.

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Filed under beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Summer

Longing for spring

As I’ve recently confessed, I love winter.  I like cashmere and wool and boots and colorful scarves and hats that hide hair mishaps. You know I am undaunted by cold temperatures and that I’m happy when there is deep, fresh snow.  Crockpot suppers, roasted root vegetables and hearty stews are some of my favorite (and simplest) meals to make.  Me and winter?  We’re good, but…
unnamed2I also like crisp cotton and exposed ankles and bare shoulders.   I’m tired of sleeping in leggings and long-sleeved t-shirts, on the ready for Jeter’s middle of the night “bathroom” breaks.  My flannels may welcome me with cozy warmth, but I’m ready for the cool comfort of high thread count cotton sheets.  I want to light the grill and sip a refreshing glass of rose’.  And then there’s my garden…
unnamed3Wardrobe, bed sheets and diet aside, I miss watching things grow.  After months of being frozen, the earth is ready to start coming to life again.  There are bunches and clusters of pale green shoots pushing out through the ground and I can’t wait to be reminded what is where in my postage stamp front garden.  I recognize the purplish red leaves of my tulips which have emerged and see the crocus preparing to take their turns – yellow first, followed by white then purple, but there are other beautiful promises which are less predictable.  Did the hyacinth take?  Are my daffodils naturalizing and filling in?  Will the lupine come back?
unnamedAfter a long season without obvious development, spring brings the assurance that there will be change and growth.  The quiet acceptance of winter yields to hopefulness and a sense that things will soon be different.  It’s time to see what comes next.

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Filed under Flowers, Gardens, musings, Observations, Spring, winter

The Rose of Tralee – sort of

About a million years ago, I entered a beauty pageant known as The Rose of Tralee.  Yes, really.  There were two reasons I was prompted to enter the particular pageant I did – one being that my teenaged friend/nemesis V had won the contest the previous year, and the second that it was a contest geared to Irish-American princess wannabees and that had my name all over it.  Sign me up.  I knew I was sunk when my current events topic during the contest involved Northern Ireland and Ireland and I made parallels to the Middle East and other historical religious wars.  Nope, not quite what they were looking for.

Speaking of looking…here are some of the flowers I encountered during my visit to Ireland.  Hope you enjoy them more than I enjoyed that damn pageant.

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Click on photo for slideshow

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Filed under beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Ireland, Summer

Three good things to do this week…

The “I’m boreds” are still a distant promise yet to be fulfilled, but the events I’m here to tell you about are probably more appealing to grownups anyway. You know, people who don’t often have the luxury of being bored.

Let’s begin with an event scheduled for this evening,Tuesday, June 24th from 5;30-7pm at the Albany Desmond..  Have you been thinking about becoming more involved in your community?  Perhaps you have a soft spot for a particular charity which you’d like to actively support with your time? Tonight’s event will introduce you to some opportunities and the women who help to make local charities and not-for profit organizations successful. Come, meet some new people and find a way to help make a difference.

Thursday night is the annual Historic Albany Foundation Hidden City House & Garden Tour in the city of Albany.  This annual event takes place from 5-8 pm and features 10-15 historic homes and their gardens. The tour is described as “mostly” walkable and attendees set their own pace as they wander from house to house in whatever order suits.  Let’s cross our fingers and hope for sunshine, but the event promises to be held rain or shine.  Tickets and more information here.

Skip that graduation party you’re invited to on Friday and instead be a part of something just beginning – The Albany Barn.  Do you know about this cool initiative?  The mission of this not-for-profit is to develop “a permanent, sustainable creative arts incubator and community art center in Albany, NY – a place for artists, neighborhood residents and the public alike to create, collaborate, present and explore, particularly those who cannot afford or otherwise access such space and services.”  Awesome, yes?  They have a location, the former St. Joseph’s Academy, which they’re currently transforming to meet the needs of the community.  Friday night from 5-8pm is their Build Up event – an artful slider slam featuring gourmet burgers, sandwiches and locally produced adult libations.

Stop saying there’s nothing to do, Albanians!  Get there and get involved.

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Filed under Albany, Events, Flowers, Gardens, Local, Moms@Work, Recommendations

Taking a break from the Lillys…

photo(130)to focus on the beautiful Iris of spring!  Lilac season  has passed and the current floral fragrance scenting my evening run is lily of the valley, but what’s really feeding my visual senses are irises.

The irises this year – they have been spectacular!  Maybe it is just because mine are finally doing something after settling in for the past 2 years in my parking strip flower patch, but I don’t remember ever seeing such a glorious array of iris varieties as I have noticed this spring.

The rain is kind of beating these beauties down a bit, but I console myself by cutting the ones I find lying horizontal and bringing them into the house to admire.  Here they are for you to enjoy -
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Happy Friday!

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Filed under beauty, DelSo, favorites, Flowers, Gardens, Spring, Uncategorized

Done with Mother’s Day

Yet another benefit of drinking - flower boxes!

Yet another benefit of drinking – flower boxes!

Screw Hallmark – as far as I’m concerned, May 5th was my ideal Mother’s Day. No matter what happens next Sunday, I will cherish the day I had, from the scandalously late start to the fortified-with-an-afternoon-nap late ending – perfect! Let me be a little more specific…

Saturday night, I shot a SEEN gallery down at Prime 677.  The occasion was a fundraiser for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and it was a lovely event.  The food was spectacular and the folks at Empire Wines rallied the troops to put on an extraordinary wine tasting.  It’s been noted by some astute Times Union readers that whenever an event involves wine, I’m usually there.  Guilty as charged.

I got home from the party working at about 10:30 only to find my little guy desperately upset that he had been denied a ‘s’more from the neighbor’s party, a situation I was able to correct with a soothing shower and some ice cream.  Tucking him in at such a late hour gave me the first gift of Sunday – he slept until 10:00, which gave me an incredibly quiet morning.  Soft music, strong coffee and the paper comprise my personal morning bliss trifecta.  So far, so good.

After the boys departed at noon for their Dad’s, I got busy in the front yard with mulch and some annuals.  The sun was glorious, birds were chirping and the simple joy of getting a little dirty made my heart sing.  I had a mid afternoon visit from the person I most love spending time with and the day moved along at a pace that was completely enjoyable.  I accomplished some other chores, including eating a fantastic lunch salad, and punctuated the afternoon with an indulgent nap on clean sheets. But, wait – there’s more.

Caesar salad with shaved Romano and grilled asparagus

Caesar salad with shaved Romano and grilled asparagus

As the day cooled down a bit, I tied on my running shoes and hit the streets for a 5-mile lap through the neighborhood.  I had intended to go a bit further, but contented myself with not pushing myself too hard and tried to just enjoy myself.  Done.  A shower, a quick visit with the neighbors for a glass of wine and then home again for finale of the only reality show I would ever want to be on, The Amazing Race, and I was in bed by 10:15, thoroughly relaxed and satisfied with my day.

There weren’t any tulips or handmade crafts, but nonetheless it was a lovely day with a wonderful mix of boys, friends, productivity, relaxation and good food and wine.  Mother’s Day 2013 is a done deal, as far as I am concerned.  Any additional gifts are truly unnecessary, although I do have a fondness for the imperfectly made card along with a hankering for a French lilac bush.  Just saying.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, Coffee, DelSo, Eating, Events, family, favorites, Flowers, friends, Gardens, ideas, Local, love, running, SEEN, Spring, sunday, Wine

Troy’s Botanic Studio

I used to really have a way with plants.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.  Other than a single plant that somehow survived the days when I had to choose between nurturing the children or some potted greenery, I pretty much killed plants. 

Something shifted, though, about 10 years ago.  I inherited a rubber plant (tree?) from a friend departing town, and unlike our friendship, this plant has thrived.  Two re-pottings later this plant towers over me and is beautifully lush all year long. My confidence grew and I took on a spider plant, which became multiple plants as it happily threw off shoots.  I began forcing flowers during the winter and more seriously puttering around my tiny front garden.  But the day I knew I had arrived as a competent plant tender was when Lisa gave me a mostly dead fern, a type of plant that I have killed on a routine basis, and told me I could make it live.  And I did.

Last year I added an asparagus fern, also nearly dead, to my indoor garden and its beautiful  feathery fronds make me happy every time I see them.  I also dug up my parking strip (the grass between the curb and the sidewalk) and added some herbs and iris to my landscape. Yeah, I got this.  
Whether you struggle with gardening or have a natural green thumb, Botanic Studio on River Street in Troy is bound to inspire.  The space is gorgeous and tranquil and each eyeful of the shop is pleasing.  Get yourself to Troy and bring some of that peace to your home.

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Filed under beauty, favorites, Flowers, Gardens, ideas, Recommendations, Troy