July Kitchen Garden

The July Kitchen garden is poised for it's second act. The purple beans have climbed to the top of its tower and has beautiful knotted purple stems and flowerbuds. There are flowers and little miniature fruit on the cucumbers. The tomatoes are not quite as tall but look healthy and some have fruit. There are tiny little fruits on the chili peppers in Mamaroneck, here on the Harlem windowsill, I actually harvested my first one yesterday.

The best part is that although we now wait for all this to get really going, we had for the first time a pretty decent first act. We had a good amount of snap peas which we had both mange tout and shelled. We have had beet greens, carrots, pacific greens and the Monet's Lettuce is insane. It keeps being cropped as young leaves and just keeps coming back. The arugula, a wild Italian version, is small and keeps bolting but I've found the strong peppery taste a great herb for noodle soups.

The not so good news- the eggplants seems to have stalled, the second batch of beets were badly sown- big gaps, and the potatoes are looking a little dodgy.

+ OccasionalOasis:Solitude

+ GreenKraft:Willow Sculpture

Beach Roses and Milkweed

My last vacation post is about the local flora that I associate fondly with Rhode Island. Top of the list are the rugosas also referred to as the beach rose. They are everywhere with bright magenta flowers and at this time of year heavy with ripening hips. The old house we used to rent always had milkweed popping up everywhere and seeing it anywhere else always reminds me of them at that house. There's also the beach pea that often grows alongside the beach roses. I also think about the phlox that grew in huge drifts near that old house and the Queen Anne's Lace that is everywhere. Weeds, natives, invasives, escapees, all a powerful part of my memories of this landscape.

+ OccasionalOasis:Sea Sky Ocean

Summer Bonfire

You can just about see my friends' kid, Liam's outline as he stares enthralled by the flames, as we all were. In fact we all became kids, singing songs, eating S'mores, layering all our fond memories of campfires past onto the fiery spectacle of this outdoor hearth. We sat in chairs, in an ancient circle around the bonfire watching the sparks levitate into the dark. The fireflies in the trees echoed their response.

It's not difficult to see the primitive logic of smoke and fire as magical and capable of invoking spirits and communicating with gods but who knew in this modern day its immense power in forging community. My vacation was about a reunion with old friends and making new ones as they brought new family members to the circle. This summer bonfire welded our bonds, its shared memory as powerful as it's crackling flames.

Wild Boundary

My friend's property in North Stonington has an abundance of amazing features but particularly interesting to me was how the garden space is defined. Timbered fencing drew a rouqh quadrant around the property, keeping their two border collies in and drew your eye well into the distance.

It was incredibly peaceful to sit in a rocking chair on the porch and visually roam this huge outdoor space that was further sub divided by two stone walls. The wind chimes added an interesting dimension to this space, I could almost sense the ripples of their chimes fade at the perimeter.

The fence also kept the wilderness out. Beyond it, the forest was thick and mature. Coyotes yipped at night and hawks prowled during the day to remind us what lay beyond. I particularly loved how the wilderness was allowed to creep in, in places with huge drifts of wildflowers and ferns blurring that line between the two spaces.

+ OccasionalOasis:Kuroshio Sea

Salt Pond Views

The salt ponds that are a prominent part of the southern Rhode Island landscape, where I'm on vacation add a certain ethereal quality to the views. There's always a sliver of land beyond the shimmer of water, and it always looks slightly hazy, a blue gray blur in the horizon. Although there are tidy gardens that punctuate this view where we are, it's best enjoyed through the unruly tangle of an unmown lawn.

July Harvest Getaway

On Sunday we had the kohlrabi curried in coconut milk along with some beet greens for dinner. On Monday I harvested a variety of herbs and greens packed them up and and hopped on the train to Rhode Island where I am on vacation for a week. Hence the basic framing of this photo as I am sans computer. I'll probably be posting more photos to twitter until I return next week.

Three Lacecaps

At NYBG, these three lacecaps really caught my eye. The first one above, Maculata, had beautiful variegated foliage and the flowers were very pretty also combined in a flower bed with an assortment of blue and white flowers. I don't know the name of this unmarked magenta one but I love the color and I immediately processed an idea I saw earlier in another bed- tall lillies growing near and around a hydrangea shrub. It was a really great solution to propping up their slender stems and there are probably quite a few lily colors that would go well with this. Finally, this one called lady in red. I was drawn mainly to the bronze/ purple foliage, but looking it up online, it seems like the flowers turn a deep rose in the fall too


The poor weather has kept me indoors too long, I've become sloth like reluctant to venture out. I finally broke this hermetic streak and headed out to NYBG. What I saw and what I liked was unpredictable as ever. One reason being that the plantings change from year to year, another being, different times of day with different light situations shift the aesthetics. Today, in the late afternoon light, I couldn't take my eyes of the Echinaceas.

I'm usually a little biased against them, I don't like their scale in the beds in Mamaroneck and they're always in uninspiring clumps when I see them in gardens. But here, in large drifts interplanted in a busy cottage garden way with a lot of other dots of impressionistic color, lit by a soft late afternoon light, they look really great. As they should closer to a more naturalistic prairie setting which is their native habitat.

I loved the orange glow of "White Swan". I don't know which one the magenta ones were, but the buds were really pretty. My favorite was one called "Green Jewels" and it was also the bees' favorite

Mint Season

Is mint the summer herb? The ultimate yin for the yang of hot summer days? I picture a dish of new potatoes rolled in mint. I think of combining the potatoes that are still growing in the garden with the mint that is now flourishing in the pots and the moment that the two can go together and I realize - I've never really thought about this before. Growing food isn't just about produce, it sharpens the gardener's ear to the voice of the seasons, dulled by the seasonless availability of grocery produce. I can hear you now.

I'm on a mint trip. The imaginary resort staff have been garnishing my drinks with generous handfuls of fresh leaves. I inhale the pungent steam of mint tea and the soundtrack of Istanbul swells, I am in the deep shade of a cafe squinting out at harsh sunlight. I brush away the beads of condensation on my glass of lemonade to begin my visual meditation on the cool green submerged sprig and moments later dive into another past summer memory. There are two big pots in Mamaroneck and one on my Harlem windowsill to fuel this habit.

Check out the awesomeness of the climbing frames, Jim built.

+ OccasionalOasis:Poet's Landscape


Here's how this visual delicousness came about. We got a few other vegetables from Noah along with our tomatoes and one of them was this Kohlrabi. Since space is limited in the vegetable bed I googled to find out who it would be the best companion with and discovered that it was no one where there was available space. Heidi had also picked up some Purple Calibrachoas, so I thought- might be pretty in a pot together.

This week, the swollen purple stem seemed to have come from nowhere and it's a beautiful shade of purple that the photo doesn't really capture. Behind it the dark purple tint of the purple bean vines slither upwards. Elsewhere in the garden purple is well represented - two shades of clematis, Wisley and Jackmanii and the black Viola is the darkest purple.

June Window

The monsoon subsided and we enjoyed a couple of hot sunny days here allowing a window of oppurtunity to do some gardening and get a last glimpse of June which seems to have slipped through our fingers. In the picture, note the nifty window tray that Jim had made from industrial aluminum. It's filled with gravel and water which helped the little pots of starter seeds we had there keep from drying out too quickly.

The vegetable garden is doing great, enough to make dinner that night and bring home a bag to NYC. The flower beds on the other hand were all over the place. There was a lot of weeding, some major pruning - the geranium Johnson's Blue got hacked. There seems to be a problem with the Japanese anemones in one corner of the south west bed. The fennel buds looked so different without their usual partner. The Cosmos are starting to flower but are disappointingly puny. The black violas on the other hand which I thought were a lost cause are flowering quite nicely.

It was distinctly odd to enjoy the hot sunny weather, usually the norm for June, instead its been gray wet and cool. The good weather followed me all the way back home and then it started pouring again.

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