Thursday, June 23, 2011

in bloom

How quickly things change in the garden. Quicker than I can make time to snap a photo, load it on my computer, upload it here, and come up with something interesting to say about it. 

For instance, these blooms on my purple leaf plum bushes that came mid-May were beautiful - heartbreakingly so, as it seemed like they left us as suddenly as they came (days upon days of heavy soaking rain did not help their longevity). 

I cant say for certain whether or not these bloomed last spring, our first spring at the house. But I can say that I didn't take note of them like I did this year. I came home from work one gloomy day in May to find them suddenly in bloom, and I can't even describe how happy they made me.  

By the time my mom and grandmother came to visit for Memorial Day weekend, the blooms had mostly wilted and began to fall. 

I went back to New England with them for 12 days (more on that in separate posts) to visit with family and friends, and returned to another exciting floral surprise - peonies! 

Peonies have always been a favorite from my mom's garden (in high school I had the hilarious idea to make perfume from them called "My Mama's Peonies" - not really sure she found that as funny as I did). So when we bought the house I was excited to see that we had a peony bush planted in the backyard - but was told that in the few years since our friends planted it (we bought the house from friends), it had never bloomed. Last spring was no exception. 

I planned to dig it up and plant it closer to the surface, as was suggested to me by Evan's uncle, once I returned to Buffalo. 

Here is what it looked like just one day before I left for New England:

Grammy helping me plant some hellebores in a temporary 
location before leaving for Maine/New Hampshire. 

And here is what I returned to!

And now, a week later, these blooms have faded away too. Maybe this peony will bear more blossoms this summer, but if not, I'll still be satisfied with the progress we made over last summer. 

This week's featured bloom is the Japanese Stewartia in the front yard - a favorite of mine.

I love the little soft silvery buds as much as the blooms themselves. I hope they stick around for a while.

Dear Photograph

This blog/project has been posted all over the blogosphere this month, but just in case you hadn't seen it yet - you need to. I wish I had stumbled upon it before my trip back to New England earlier this month - there would have been many Dear Photograph opportunities.

Simple, and completely brilliant.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

late afternoon snack


Frozen raspberries 

Lemon juice


Cold River Blueberry Vodka (from Maine)

While I am entertaining the illusion that I am a practicing "lady of leisure" (rather than an unemployed attorney with student loan payments that remind me not to get too caught up in the homesteading/family memoir writing/Baby Boom/Etsy junk shop/personal shopper - alternative career fantasies I go to at least 40 times a day - side note: have you read The Bucolic Plague? I am reading it now - not helping my affliction) ... 

... why not go for a late afternoon cocktail? Quite Mad Men era housewife, no? Except that I have no children  to justify "staying at home" (unless a Boston Terrier counts). Let's bypass the rampant alcoholism and chauvinism that marked the time for a moment, and focus on the fact that here, in 2011, I find myself disappointed that Evan doesn't wish for a cocktail at the ready when he walks through the door after a long hard day at work. And I call myself a feminist!

So rather than whipping up a drink for my breadwinner (and, oh, why not make myself a little one while I'm at it), this is all about me.  

Its a little bit of this and a little bit of that - I couldn't give you the exact measurements. I think there were 5 or 6 ice cubes, a handful of frozen raspberries, juice of one lemon (though it was QUITE tart - I might scale back on that a bit or add more sugar), a tablespoon of sugar and about a two second "splash" of vodka. I put it in a blender, but its so hot right now that it soon turned from smoothy texture to liquid (tasty liquid!)  - so I just added a few more ice cubes to enjoy it on the rocks.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

lilac festival and shade garden envy

{Note: this is just one of a series of posts drafted quite some time ago, that never got posted. Yikes... time has flown this spring/early summer!}

On Sunday [as in Sunday, May 22] we went to visit friends from Buffalo who recently moved back to Western New York from California, this time settling in Rochester. They invited us to visit this weekend to see their new place and to check out the Lilac Festival at Highland Park. 

I haven't spent much time in Rochester, aside from a few quick visits to friends who live there, but it's usually at night, in and out, and I don't do much exploring. Or I get sidetracked by Dinosaur BBQ and tend to want to stay put, gorging myself on ribs, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and beer.

This time around I got to do about 5 or 6 miles' worth of exploring on foot, from our friends' new apartment on gorgeous Arnold Park, to Highland Park and through the South Wedge neighborhood. So many beautiful houses with amazing trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover.

I'm generally not a huge rhododendron and azalea fan - but the ones leading up the steps to the entrance of Highland Park are stunning contrasted against all the greenery.

And there were, of course, lilacs - holy cow, were there lilacs. Highland Park boasts over 500 varieties of lilacs on more than 1,200 bushes.  Here are a few shots that were taken in between sniffs. I was surprised by how different each variety smelled from one another.

Double petaled variety. 

Two varieties growing together.

White double petaled lilac.

Lilac tree with lichen.

And hills. Oh how I miss the variety that hills lend to the landscape of a place. Buffalo, I love you dearly, but you are as flat as a surfboard.

Another stunning feature of Highland Park is its Magnolia collection.

JC studying the magnolia. We did a lot of comparing and contrasting.

And there were dogwoods....

... and buckeye trees, which we have plenty of in Buffalo, but none that I have seen up close at eye level. We marveled over their tiny clusters of orchid-like blooms.

Fallen crabapple blossoms.

On the walk back I noticed that many people's front yards were steeply sloped down to the sidewalks and covered in various ground-cover instead of grass (something we are very anxious to do with our front yard). One house had a bank solid with Lilly of the Valley - SO pretty and fragrant.

Another house had a bank scattered with wild violets and beautiful foliage. 

On the way back to our friends' apartment, we stopped at our friend Dave's brother's house, and had a beer in his backyard, where I came down with a bad case of shade garden envy. 


Sweet Woodruff - holds a special place in my heart. Our wedding cake was decorated with Sweet Woodruff from Evan's mother's woodland gardens in Bar Harbor, Maine. 

Solomon's Seal. 
{postscript - my mom has added this to her adorable patio and fire pit area in her backyard, and I couldn't get enough of it when I was back in Maine visiting recently - especially how dramatic it looked in the light of the fire. Definitely filing it away as something to plant in the one small shady area on our property.}

Lounging in this shady garden made me realize just how many of my favorite plants are in fact shady woodland plants, and how completely sunny or little property is. 

But believe me, I know that is not something I should ever be caught complaining about. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

unpaid vacation of unknown duration: New England - Part 1

I have been in New England for 1 week and have been too busy for words! So for now, some photos. 


I still have three more days before heading back to Buffalo, so there's more to  come.