Thoughts on Gardens & those who garden.

Since becoming a gardener, I have been lucky to have experienced many gardens and met so many inspirational gardeners…   I have been inspired by petite pocket gardens in urban areas; potted vertical gardens – flowers and herbs  spewing from pots precariously attached to the walls of houses in ancient cities,  gardens which dangle off cliffs in the High Atlas region of  Morocco;   Tomatoes growing  atop the Acropolis;  as well as DSC01860luxuriously endowed and staffed gardens.

I think of the times when I have been away for 3 months and return to thigh high vegetation growing in our gravel drive – as nature pushes back and weed seeds have blown in…  it has taught me that gardens are precious, without a gardener to maintain the vision and nurture it, they can so easily revert to wild.  And, that  I need to purchase a machete the next time I’m away for an extended period!

What matters…  is that these exterior visions are fragile and important to our culture as art and architecture of the times. They need to be respected and saved.

Plan to vist a garden – one can always learn something, or at least breathe some fresh air, but more importantly experience the gardener’s work in progress… their vision…  their need to plant, sustain and enjoy nature.  The fragility of these visions… which creates a memorable sense of place and balance.

Enjoy – Living the EntwinedLife!

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

 

 

 

 

There are places I remember…

There are places I remember…

DSC00057One of them was a charming gem of a garden… located in an urban neighborhood, cleverly designed as a private escape with a stucco wall, softened by vines, providing a warm hug of privacy..

Gentle breezes, blowing table cloths – transporting me to a country hideaway.

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Secret nooks captured  views…

Bevelled opening in wall to frame the view.

The memory is so visceral.

Fall 2008 – My friend Beth and I sat in the Harmon driveway, greeting guests for the Garden Conservancy Open Days Tour – taking tickets, answering questions and simply enjoying the discoveries in this magical setting.  By the day’s end, I sat in every place provided for lingering – to capture a better understanding of the effortless design,  to breathe it all in – beauty and peace – to capture a memory.

Judy Harmon, ASLA (RIP) – a landscape architect,  had lovingly designed and planted this garden.  For Judy, it was her and husband Frank’s private space – integrating interiors with exterior living.   The swaths of plants on a tiny lot – sensitively complementing and enhancing the lines of husband Frank Harmon’s  (an amazing architect, teacher and green advocate) contemporary design for their modern home.

The Modern dwelling, provided an integrated backdrop – contemporary softened by visual living movement – of light and color and water.  Punctuated along paths by simple visual shapes for contemplation.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs were shocking at one time, yet with time, revered for his  ideas, scale and functionality.

Over time, his designs are now historic pillars of architecture.

New subdivisions of faux period bungalows today flourish and beckon to a safer time – before cul-de-sac s, and soccer moms, when kids walked to school and played in the streets… times when Moms’ spent more time in their homes that in their SUV’s waiting in lines for school or Chick fil-A orders!

I love contemporary design as well historic design.    There is is place in time for each.

With open minds,  a respect for the new and the old to live together – to balance each other.

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Every fall as Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks‘ – golden rod – bloom, catching and swaying in the breeze… I think of that glorious day in Judy’s Garden.   Old fashion golden rod  bred for a shorter explosive stature, cleverly punctuated – with the yellow of other flowers and furniture and  repetition of Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’  – grouped in clusters of fives giving structure and a modern edge.  Greens contrasting the strong Red of the contemporary dwelling… with exciting complementary scheme and the yellow marrying it all together in soft drifts of movement and color.

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It is brilliant, old and new,  yet fresh and fluid as the pressed linens in the breeze.

While asking Frank if it was OK to feature his charming watercolor painting of Elizabeth Lawrence border, (stop back tomorrow), I spoke of my sweet friend Judy, his wife and partner and her garden.

Frank wrote, ” The Garden looks as fresh and vibrant today as it did in 2008.”

He was touched and knew Judy would be smiling her sweet impish smile of approval… to be remembered and to once again be sharing her garden.

 

So grateful to be sharing this place I remember…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Message Sent

A loud CRASH breaking the silence, followed by raining shards of glass hit the parquet floor, my polish grandfather had crafted.

Scrambling up the stairs, a jagged gaping hole through the window pane in the living room. Icy Chicago winter air curling around us.   My grandmother now frozen in disbelief, tears running down her round cheeks.

Inching closer to the grenade, I reached for the large hunk of black coal wrapped in brown butcher’s paper, tied with string.

The scribbled lettering said “Get out polack, if you know what is good for you.”

Now my whole body was trembling. Should I translate the words to Busia?

Her head now shaking uncontrollably, left to right, left to right, as she dabbed the tears with her flour covered apron, she understood the message that pierced her core, that pierced her view of the prairie.

Would she stay or would she leave the home in the land of the free, she escaped to at a mere sixteen, risking everything.   This home she built with her husband to raised her six children?

She needed no translation.

 

 

Open Days Program—Creating Rooms with a View

As gardens evolve through the seasons— it is lovely to experience the transition.

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Peony in the herbaceous border .

Jean & Lawrence Shuping invite you to relax in their three-acre refuge of peace and serenity.

Come and enjoy the pleasures of their garden in Spring! Continue reading

Inspired Plants with Benefits

This morning my friend Helen Yoest, and fellow J C Raulston Volunteer  appeared on My Carolina Today.

Click  Here to see Helen’s  charming interview.

Plants with Benefits will inspire you to create…  Avacado on Toast with a drizzle of Virgin Olive Oil for breakfast—I am fanning myself at the imagery—Thank goodness Helen gave out fans at a recent talk—I keep it with my Copy!

Then  for a sinful treat with historical Benefits back to 7,000 BC –  Chili and Chocolate oozing the ancients and thoughts of Johnny Depp too.   It’s all in  Plants with Benefits!

Somehow knowing you’re taking a bite out of history  makes HOT decadence guilty free!  Thanks Helen.

Jayme's Quick Chocolate Chili Brownies

Jayme’s Quick Chocolate Chili Brownies

Jayme’s Quick Chile-Chocolate Brownies

· 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
· ¼ Vegetable oil
· ¼ Water
· 1 egg, at room temperature
· 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
· 1 box Ghirardelli Triple Fudge Brownie Mix
· 1 1/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup chopped and toasted pecans* (optional)
For the glaze:
· 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
· 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
· 1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur
· 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
· 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 8x8x2-inch baking pan.

*Heat frying/sauté pan to medium.
Add Pecans, stirring occasionally for approximately 4-5 minutes or until they release their roasted aroma. Chop when cool. Well worth doing, unless you prefer nut free.

In a medium bowl, whisk together; Vegetable oil, Water, add the egg. Stir in the vanilla.
Add fudge pouch (enclosed with mix)

In a separate bowl – whisk brownie mix, ancho chile powder, and salt;
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring well until fully combined.

Stir in the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is set and the brownies begin to pull back from the sides of the pan.

Cool brownies for 1 hour in the pan.

To make the glaze: in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, butter, liqueur, vanilla, and chile powder; blend until smooth. Place the glaze in a pastry bag (or zip-top bag with a snipped corner), and drizzle back and forth over the brownies.
Cut them into 20 bars.

Makes 20 brownies

WE love them with a little caramel/vanilla ice cream on the side!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

The Happy Wanderer—Entwined Life

I was ready for a change… a new relationship, a fulfilling work environment, a total change of perspective…  

Finishing up a stressful weekend job in Phoenix, I flipped through a “Do Not Remove” hardbound book, tucked in the bedside table of the upscale resort.

Realizing  Sedona was just a short 2 ¼ hour car ride away, I changed flights and took 2 days off from my week day gig, and headed north through the most amazing Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) lined desert highway.

 Talk about instant change of scenery! I am The Happy Wanderer!

 

 Immediately the stress of dealing with unreasonable, rude clients dissolved as the unexpected startling positions of the delightful Saguaros waved me onward—smearing a nonstop smile crossed my face.

Saguaro mixed media collage by Patrick Coffaro

Saguaro mixed media collage by Patrick Coffaro

Ahhh… Sedona. The soothing southwest—Oak Creek Canyon, Red Rock State Park, Slide Rock Falls, vortexes, Indian Jewelry—fresh dry air!

What a difference a mere 24 hours makes…

I felt free—light as an eagle’s feather—headed through town—out to the mystical afternoon light playing off the canyons and falls. 

Shopped for Indian designer jewelry a bear fetish for my sister’s birthday… a talisman of sunrays for self.

Shopped for Indian designer jewelry a bear fetish for my sister’s birthday… a talisman of sunrays for self.

Found a café for a leisurely nosh for the soul—alfresco—in the dry air breezes—setting sun set spewing pure visual bliss—crisp white wine to toast the winds of change and me!

The next morning, hunted for a free spirited coffee kiosk for a cup ‘o joe, cream & sugar to go and a whiff of Patchouli.   The perfect place to inquire about the closest vortex.  This was the mid 90’s – no smart phones, or internet and vortex hunting might get a raised eyebrow. 

“Just up the road, around the canyon, off to the right,” the tie-dyed head banded waiter said, as he handed me my hot courage, winking as I left an ample tip.  I was offheaded to the Airport Vortex for a short hike.

Overlooking beautiful Sedonasagebrush permeating the breezethe sounds of heavy equipment of major construction in the distance, a huge dust cloud as the earth gripped in steel teeth, and moved into a heap.  Then BEEEP, BEEEP,BEEEP, as the mammoth equipment backed it’s load and began the gnawing into the earth againBEEEP, BEEEP,BEEEP—for the future tourists seeking the environment and solstice for the soul—broke the peace of mind I had imagined. 

Well, I was here, in the NOW and the clock was ticking to get back to Phoenix to catch my afternoon flight. 

I offered up myselfopened to change in the airnever dreaming what the winds of change would blow into my life over the next three days…  turning desert into oasis… and fortune for the Happy Wanderer…   stay tuned.

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

 

 

Gratitude

A beautiful story, whether planting your own garden of dreams or rebuilding an Entwined Life… I am grateful to Deb Hunt halfway around the planet . This came across my screen at the right time, at the right place.

With trowel in hand, tapping down gingerly plant roots or seeds in soil, I let these words pass my lips,

“Grow well and Prosper!”

Then my thoughts flash to Captain Kirk (a “Trekkie”I am not) and I feel a soulful grin as the vibrations are sent, intention in motion.

“Grow well and Prosper!” Deb Hunt

Jayme B – on the cusp of spring in Piedmont of North Carolina

Strawberries in the Desert

I’m an optimist. If one plant dies, I know another will grow. There was a time when I lost sight of that optimism. There was no sign of a strawberry growing anywhere, never mind in the middle of my desert. A series of events conspired to make me miserable, and I did my utmost to add to that misery by staying in a job I hated.

I was working for the Telco giant, BT, trapped in a job that paid well but sapped all hope of being a writer. I liked the people, hated the job.

Put a plant in the wrong spot in your garden and it will wither; transplant it to the right spot and it will flourish. I was like a tomato plant, struggling in the gloomy shade behind a shed. Had I been a climbing hydrangea I’d have loved it. But I wasn’t.

The ‘gardener’ who…

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The Craig and I

A Gift from my friend for my Birthday… the Craig and I… enjoy!

A Tale

 He was a little sad, the mercury he used to keep his hat up right made him a little mad

He always came for tea and had a story for The Cheshire CatCake 92-001

It was hard to keep Alice in check

Her dreams were too big for a girl

Too big for this world

Where happy lived with sad

And bad was just down the road from mad

 

A fool always played the room

Where thoughts escaped from good intention

And the sun sought the gloom

And goodness lost its cool

 

What more can be said

When a Queen says off with her head

Enough to wake any one up from a dream

But hope swirled under the Mad Hatter’s hat

Mad Hatter and Poet Photo by his daughter

Mad Hatter and Poet
Photo by his daughter

And blue could take over a room

And poke a heart down the wrong road of a tall tale

There’s no shade for the waking

A requiem for a Mad Hatter

 

In a world where mercury

Holds a hat up so high

Sometimes even lilies can’t pretend

That happy can stay around

Craig Champlin - Musician, song writer, poet,  friend

Craig Champlin – Musician, song writer, poet, friend

Till the tea party ends  

        — Craig Champlin

              October 5th, 2011  

Read more of Craig’s work and the Ernie Bedlam Stories

Soon to be on stage!

http://craig-champlin.blogspot.com/

Chicago Reader

Living the EntwinedLife,

Jayme B.

The Mark of Adventure (part 3 of 4)

For the last 2 days we’ve been on a virtual journey to meet The Mark of Adventure  – that is Mark Weathington – Assistant Director and Curator of Collections at J. C. Rauslton Arboretum. 

Mark’s Motto:  “Life is too short for boring plants!”

Along the way we’ve discovered a little history and insight about out how plants are hunted, collected, documented, before they are selected, grown and then produced… all this before they arrive at a local nursery to be planted in the landscape.  PHEW!

Mark W

The Mark of Adventure…

“This photo was taken in 2008 at the lowest waterfall at Nine Dragon Falls, Huangshan mountains, Anhui Provence, China.  I think Dr. Fu from Zhejiang University took the photo,” said Mark Weathington.

Entwined Life: Where have you plant hunted?

Mark Weatherington: Ecuador, Mexico, British Columbia, Taiwan, China (Zhejiang, Guanzhou, Guangdong, Sechuan, Anhui), Japan, New Zealand next week! – throughout the southeastern US, mountains of VA and NC, Texas, California

 EL: What was your most difficult experience?

MW: I was stuck in a car overnight during a typhoon with roads blocked by landslides on either side.

Next worse – getting stuck in Ecuador for 6 extra days because the only flights to the US were through Miami and Houston during hurricane Katrina and those flights were all grounded.  Worst part of that was no one would cash any traveler’s checks, not even banks in the capital and we were out of cash.  NEVER travel with traveler’s checks.

EL:  What do you pack as rain gear?

MW: Rain jacket, occasionally rain pants.

EL:  What was your first trip and who was it with?

MW:  Outside the US was to Ecuador with 2 coworkers both from the Education Department – Norfolk Botanical Gardens – to collect plants and handicrafts along the Rio Cayapas with the Chaachi people.

EL:  Who else have traveled and explored with?

MW: Tony Avent, David Parks, David Creech, Todd Lasseigne, Brian Upchurch, Bill Barnes, Liu Gang, Takayuki Kobayashi, Yamaguchi-san, Suzuki-san,  Dr. Fu, Teobaldo Eguiluz.

EL:  Do they have any quirks or fears they overcome to get a plant specimen?

MW:  Tony (Avent of Plant Delights Nursery) is deathly afraid of heights but will do what it takes to get his plant (maybe that’s why he likes those ground hugging perennials instead of trees).

EL:  Any injuries or illness?

MW:  I was once sick with a stomach bug in China and didn’t eat for about 4 days – kept going morning to dark though.

EL:  What type of shoes/boot and how many pairs do you bring?

MW: Running shoes and/or hiking shoes (no boots), one pair of leather or canvas slip-ons that can be worn for a slightly nicer occasion (meeting w/officials, etc.) 2-3 pairs total.

EL:  Any ‘Aha’ moments you’ve had about culture, travel, horticulture

MW:   In Ecuador as we prepared to travel up river for many, many hours, we picked up 1 of the 3 Chaachi who had a college degree and lived in the city advocating for the tribe.  He was going with us to facilitate our trip and to visit his parents.  He brought with him some kitchen supplies and clothes for them, 3 young chickens for eggs for his parents, and 6 different forms of croton (Codiaeum) for their garden in the rainforest.  It hit home not only how universal gardening is but also how necessary ornamental horticulture is to our well-being.

EL:  Most beautiful place you found yourself in?

MW:  I was in the Japanese Alps (Nagano area) during prime momijigari time or maple viewing when all the city folks head to the mountains to seek out the spectacular fall colors on the various Japanese maple species. 

Or, perhaps the top of a sacred waterfall in a remote spot in the Cotocachi Cayapos Ecological Reserve with tree ferns and slipper orchids everywhere.

Or, the yellow mountains of China (Huangshan), or…

 EL:  Any travel comfort you bring? 

MW:  Sony noise cancelling headphones along with an eye mask for the plane – I sleep all the way there and back. 

On the road, I’m pretty much all go from early am to very late at night, collecting, cleaning, cataloging, documenting, etc.

EL:  What is the creature comfort you most appreciate back home…

MW:  Family, reliable plumbing, water out of a tap that is drinkable.

Check back tomorrow to see what is in Mark’s Advernture packed – tools of the trade – Suitcase!

Mark writes and speaks on a variety of topics in horticulture.

He has recently revised and updated the Propagation Guide for Woody Plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Mark has been published in Horticulture, Carolina Gardener, American Nurseryman and VA Gardener magazines as well as The Mid-Atlantic Gardener’s Book of Lists. In addition, he writes a weekly column for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. (source: http://cals.ncsu.edu/hort_sci/people/faculty/pages/weathingtonvitae.php)

 You can follow Mark’s Blog– for cool plant profiles and follow his adventures too! 

Tomorrow:  What’s in Mark’s Suitcase?

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Visit under the Oaks

At this time of year chores at Entwined Gardens include raking the leaves and acorns from under the Oaks.  It somehow seems like a never-ending task, but one that always elicits a mixed bag of frustration and wonder, as I visit under the Oaks.

The grove of Oak trees was on the property when my husband purchased this woodland paradise.   He hates the thought (and expense) of  thinning them.   So many hardwoods were cut adjacent to our property when the woods became a golf course community – habitat lost.

But their  limbs have begun to hang over our rooftop,  making the back deck and terrace a constant battleground… and a potential threat of roof damage in some crazy storm.

I know – first world thinking!

Overhang

The acorns under foot can be dangerous, the leaves slick…  and with a back that easily twists out of shape… I do get annoyed from the raking and sweeping.

It is not an easy task to establish new plants under the Oaks, as they provide a dense shady canopy for most of the year, so I often grouse (to myself) that I’d really like a more refined view from my dining room and kitchen…  more light would be nice.

Most recommended woodland plants I’ve tried have languished, as the roots of the Oaks are far-reaching – sucking  up any available moisture from the hard packed,  root bound clay soils.

Then  comes the fall when the thick drop of leaves builds up an anaerobic layer, smothering anything below.

To have any success,  I have learned to plant specimens in pots. Should they survive the deer, then  I create a modified raised bed – planting on top of the of the woodland floor adding good soil amendments  around the root ball and  spreading out the  hauled in soil around the plant – yet not too high to smother  the roots of the Oaks.  It’s a learning experience and indeed a delicate balance.

I grumble more as most of the acorns sprout with ease just laying on top of – well anything –  in the pots in the raised planting and across the woodland floor…  while nothing else grows with vigor under the thick woodland floor of  tannic acid…  each spring I have a sea of Oak seedlings.

Oh a good remainder  when raking – to limit the amount of Oak leaves added to the compost pile –  no more than twenty percent  because they take forever to break down and will create an acid, anaerobic mess.

While on the topic of tannic acid, (Plant Geek Alert!)  it  is also found in acorns… this is the true reason that squirrels and Jays hide the nuts… waiting for rain and melting snows to wash away the tannic acid  over time to make them palatable.  It is also nature’s way of distributing the nut seed with squirrels acting as dutiful gardeners planting them in new locations where often they forget to retrieve.

Or, is it Mr. Squirrelly shrewdly planting a tree for ensuring a future harvest?

The deer eat acorns and don’t seem to have a digestive problem.  Then again the deer seem to eat just about anything, except poison ivy or just plain ivy!   Dang!

The sprouted acorns cannot get raked,  so this becomes a zen like meditation of tugging them out one by one.  There  are hundreds each year! It always amazes me how quickly they can put out a tap-root of several inches long once they get growing as temperatures become mild in early spring.

Last year I had an indoor mini forest of Oaks growing in a large pot of Aspidistra – cast iron plant – which we bring in for the winter.  It was amazing that 15 or so acorns sprouted and developed leaves!  Note to self: to look for photo.

So in the midst of raking, hauling and grumbling,  I am reminded to pause, look up and ponder…

OakWonder… good for the back, good for the soul – the majestic Oak.

Today with milder temperatures  under a Carolina Blue sky,  I laid down in the leaves to take the photo, resting and hoping to capture some frolicking squirrels, as they perform aerial feats of delight, soaring from tree to tree, but no suck luck.

I am reminded that these giants are also woodland habitat to Woodpeckers, Jays and lodging for migrating flocks.

Squirrel NestMajestic crooks are protected nurseriesfor the baby squirrels called kittens.

Shelter also for butterflies and host plants for moths.

All in all – grateful for their beauty,  the  shade for our home.  The Oak flooring we walk on, and Oak furniture we use.  The delicious wine that is aged in Oak barrels…

Grateful for the Oak table our family gathers around.

Now back to work…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Thanks for taking the time to visit under the oaks…

Leave a comment on your what your favorite Oak …