American Moderns and the West

Trading the sultry summer of coastal Georgia for  cool and clear Taos days was exhilarating. The art scene in Santa Fe and Taos was energetic and just as exhilarating as the change of climate!  I’ve been back for awhile, but before summer disappears, I will make a note about the summer trip to Taos.

We toured the “Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company, American Moderns and the West” exhibit at the Harwood Museum of Art.  Called the “new woman” of her time (1879-1962), Mabel was born in Buffalo NY during the Gilded age.  The story of her life, moving from Buffalo to Florence, Italy, to Greenwich Village, NY to Taos NM was on display along with the artists of the day.  She was a collector of creative types, attracting important artists and writers of her time to Taos.  DH Lawrence, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Marsden Hartley and many others came to visit her in Taos and influenced a new modernism in the Southwest.

Last year we toured the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos.  Millicent was another strong woman who brought to light the culture of this region.  The myth of the cowboy and the Southwest is fascinating but I am glad that two important women are credited with bringing the lively art scene to the attention of the world.  One thing I will never forget is how amazing it was to bring my Mother to this part of the country, this late in her life.  She had never thought she would ever see such sights.

On a day trip to Santa Fe to visit galleries and shops, I had an amazing experience as I happened on a painting by Jerry Johnson.  Literally it took my breath away.  Well, yes, at the high altitudes of 7000 ft above sea level, your breathlessness is a fact until you get acclimated.  I bought a lottery ticket and hoped for the best.  Needless to say, I did not bring that painting back home with me…

But I will remember where the gallery in Taos is located which also had some Johnson paintings!  Who could miss their turquoise door?  And speaking of turquoise, I also wanted to bring some serious turquoise home, but that didn’t happen either.  What I did bring home ….. the sounds, smells and sights of that small town high in the moutain valley…. never to be lost.

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Tornadoes and Trees

When Hurricane Hermine decided to make landfall in Florida on the Western side, we knew Coastal Georgia would see some of her aftermath.  As a friend called her, Her Meany,  was not nice to spin-off a tornado from her wake, because it touched down on Skidaway Island.  There was miraculously no loss of life but trees came down, homes were smashed and weeks later we are still waiting for the County to clear all the debris piled high at almost every curbside.  Two doors away from me, a tree fell on my neighbors’ home.

Fortunately most neighbors keep their cars in the garage, but you can see what a disaster it could have been if they had not prepared.

 

After a couple of days of hauling tree limbs and debris from our yard, I was back to the happier chores of gardening.  One of the dahlias bloomed, as if to say it will all be fine.  This dahlia Dahlia 'American Dream'‘American Dream’ is a much deeper pink than I expected, and very different from any other photos you will see on the web.  I can only chalk it up to the intense sun and heat it receives and the bloom booster I have been feeding it to get it to bloom!  Jeez, it is September and I’ve been waiting since July to see some bloom from this particular plant!  Dahlias and the deep South are a challenge that continues, at least in my garden!

I have been volunteering at the Sparrow Field to help maintain their pollinator garden.  This is the time of year that the butterflies arrive, if you’re lucky, and I’ve enjoyed participating in a project to help them along.  

At my own back door this week, look who stopped by!img_0533

The luna moth!  This is a very poor photo, but I did not want to flash camera  light at this lovely creature.  When it opens its wings, those two eyes really give you a stare – apparently it warns predators to stay away!

This is a very busy time of the year as neighbors return home from their summer places or journeys, and as birds migrate through, along with butterflies and the like,  I have to remind myself to make time for the bike ridesA and the glorious sunsets just a walk or bike ride away!

View from Moon RIver

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Sea Island, Georgia

One of my readers wanted to know what is happening on my blog break.

Well, there were big birthdays to celebrate and we chose The Cloisters for the perfect setting!

Need I say more?

Now I will go back to my blog break!  Filling my new birthday basket with a picnic and sailing off on my bike!  See you later!

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TIME OUT AFTER TAOS

Every blogger needs a break!  After a long drive cross country to Taos NM and back, I am ready for my break!

I leave you with some sights from our trip, and promise to be back when the cooling winds of seasonal change blow through!

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Low Country Heat

We are back in our Low Country home as the summer really turns hot hot hot..  After nearly two weeks away, some of that on the road, I was worried about the state I would find our small property in as the summer heat and harsh sun is a big factor.

Without human intervention, the eugenia topiaries baked and died.  DSC_4818But there were some nice surprises.  Look who is about to bloom for the first time!  DSC_4821 Even in the early morning, the sun that makes it’s way through the sheltering trees is strong.  DSC_4843

Not all blossoms can take it when the water supply dwindles.

This year I planted the tomatoes  early, and the crop was abundant because the sun was strong and there was some good rain.  It is just about the end of the tomatoes; once the temperature rises above 85, the tomato plant won’t set bud.

Sometimes we interfere with Nature too much.  She makes a beautiful landscape on her own.

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Hope you are having a happily hot, hot summer!

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No No Nantucket, it’s Newport this year!

Do you ever use the expression, “No, no Nanette!”?  This post title is my take on that famous show.  I have never seen it played on stage but I love the whole concept, that stylish era, and who couldn’t love a play once called, “The happiest show in town”?

Usually this week past in June, I am happily on Nantucket, but this year I was asked to judge Horticulture at the Newport Flower Show.  Nantucket is a very happy place and always has been for my family, but this year – all the happy was in Newport!

Newport R.I.

Newport R.I.

In the play, there are hints of scandal, misunderstandings and in the end, a wonderful resolution.  At Newport, the horticulture judges come in to judge all the magnificent and wonderful specimens that represent SO much hard work and creativity, BEFORE the opening of the show.  Scandal and intrigue escaped my attention, but I did enjoy the construction and staging of a blissful and beautiful flower show!  And when the curtain went down on the show, I think you could safely say that Newport’s flower show week-end was the happiest place in town!

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If you read my last post, you were introduced to Rosa ‘Polaris’.  I was in New Canaan CT last week and made a visit to the most enchanting garden I have ever been privileged to weed and water with my Garden Club pals.

Waveny Walled Garden New Canaan CT

Waveny Walled Garden
New Canaan CT

Enter at the gate, and follow the Rosa ‘Knock Out Red’.  When I planned with three other talented gardeners to rejuvenate this garden over 10 years ago, my choice for the border was this red rose.  At the time, it was fairly new on the market.  Now you see it everywhere.  I still love the choice as it is dependable, ever blooming and does not require all the BAD chemicals that some roses demand. And finally,  I was able to get a photograph of the one and only…..Polaris.

Rosa 'Polaris'

Rosa ‘Polaris’

Is she the most beautiful rugosa?    This blossom would have made a lovely entry at the Newport Flower Show…maybe just remove a few damaged petals….the Horticulture Judge would never know….

Happy Summer!

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Every Garden, dear friend, a rose

If you have planted and tended or restored more than one garden in your life, is there a plant that appears in all?

In Russell Page’s “The Education of a Gardener”, he writes

The rugosa rose, “Blanc Double de Coubert” goes into every garden I make and very frequently  into the flower border.”

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A lovely rose, but not Blanche!

My oldest and dearest friend, who left this Earth 2 1/2 years ago, unexpectedly, loved roses.  She grew this rose and referred to her as Blanche!  Blanc Double de Coubert is a mouthful.  When I first met dear friend, she wasn’t yet the great gardener she would become.  Her main achievement initially was morning glories.  Roses that eventually tumbled over her stone walls, up trellis and through borders became one of her favorite flowers.  We propagated a very special rose, “Polaris” and it grew with abandon in her yard.  It is not seen in the markets, but a few years ago I spotted it at NYBG.

I do not have any roses in my Savannah garden.  Maybe someday I will plant one, and I hope I can locate a Blanche.  If not for this garden, maybe another.  I feel  that dear friend could be  among the clouds in a bower of white roses.  Or perhaps she is in a garden admiring a well grown Blanc Double de Coubert.  Page says,

The flowers are chalk-white, their petals silky and almost transparent and they have the delicious pungently sweet scent of their kind.

With or without a white rose growing in my garden, dear friend, your memory is with me there like a delicious and sweet  white rose named Blanche.

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Roses on the Coast

Much of Georgia soil is clay, but on the Coast, sandy soil predominates.

Years ago when I was first smitten with roses, I took great pains to amend the soil so that I could grow roses.

Here in Georgia, the temperate climate is favorable for roses,

though the humidity causes some problems.  But I am a different gardener now,  than I was when I began.  I wanted to grow everything!  I stretched the zone by planting against walls or by mulching heavily in Winter.  I brought tender pernennials indoors and stored tubers in the root cellar.  But now, I am more inclined to work with Nature.

 A garden of all native plants might seem boring, but I am so much more likely to plant something that belongs than something exotic, here in Savannah.

I am learning a little more each day about the climate and about the richness of coastal Georgia.  I think of our garden as a habitat, and a place where I can observe in a small but intimate way the workings of Nature.  From the deep shade and canopy of our live oaks to the rich fruit of the hollies at mid level, to the nectar of the vines and right down to the blossoms of such plants as  asclepias and lantana , there is a rich world to observe.   As much as a rose

can move my spirits with a perfect bloom, I no longer crave a garden full of them.

I am quite happy to observe a beautiful rose garden of someone else’s design.

The Bird Girl

The Bird Girl

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Georgia Garden Gazing

A glorious day for gazing at gardens on Skidaway Island!  This garden tour featured beautiful gardens that were seen in their prime viewing mode today.  We hopped on an open golf cart and sailed away under the BLUE skies of Skidaway Island.  The temperature reached over 90, but the air was dry, the breeze softly cooling.  Many years ago my New Canaan garden was on a garden tour and I will never forget the last minute pressure to make everything look JUST SO.  Ready for their close ups today:

An enchanting garden on a small lot with a reverence for nature.  The gardener in this home proclaims a profound respect for Doug Tallamy. His book,  “Bringing Nature Home” should inform gardeners of all kinds, and it was a joy to see the ideas brought into practice – especially in this place where the rich ecosystem is so important to the health of the Island.

This next garden was designed by well known landscape architect Thomas Angell who is known for his swells and ingenious use of systems for water retention and directing water in low coastal areas like ours.  I love this parking area/path which serves to drain water and minimize water run off in big rain events.

One of the gardens we toured recalls Italian gardens visited by the owners.  I did forget for a moment that I was in the Georgian low country.  The best views on Skidaway can be of the Eastern and Western marshes, and this pool area was sited to take full enjoyment of that view.

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Every pot in this garden was filled with healthy plants with great color combinations. My favorite garden visited today was full of what I call garden soul.  Here is a garden tended by owners who put their heart and soul into their space.  I get goose bumps when I visit a special spot like this. I especially felt a kindred spirit when I recognized a statue, the same as the one I left behind in my Ct garden.  We called him Oliver and he traveled with us through 3 gardens.  Why didn’t he come with us to Georgia?  I thought he wouldn’t fit in with the coastal landscape.  Look how wrong I was!  I am sad I left him behind. Along the sides of the property were garden niches.  Not large enough to be called rooms, but individual spaces with a sculptural or garden ornament featured.  The only drawback that I could see was the large lagoon abutting their back yard – filled with alligators!   That is not a log floating – it is an alligator! That wouldn’t do with my sweet cavalier King Charles Spaniels in the garden!

I could really belabor this post and show you every photo I took, but I know most blog readers like it short and concise and sweet.   Just two more I’d like to share:

Garden tours always bring me back to my  garden where I  reassess what I have done to tame Nature.  I am satisfied at present.  I no longer have a large garden as I once did, but I am still very satisfied to be able to take a walk in the garden, collect some blooms, and bring a few stems indoors for a bouquet to enjoy!

Happy spring from Georgia!

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Iris and Orchid

Iris and Orchid.  Today was a day for both at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden.  The Deep South  Orchid Society staged their 30th annual show in the new Visitors Building and vendors sold orchids on the new veranda in the back.

Yes, we all love to pick up orchids cheap at the grocery store and expect them to live several weeks.  When our inattention kills them – or over attention in some cases – we just toss. But this takes the love of the orchid to another level.  And what a level!  I am still struggling with Phalaenopsis so I am not ready to take on any of these stunners.  But I was thrilled to see these beautifully grown and cared for plants and maybe someday I will be up for the challenge.  Take a walk with me…

The Savannah bird girl greeted you as you entered the show.

Do you have the perfect table or stand for this?

My head was spinning.  I have been to the New York Botanical Garden for their orchid show in the Haupt Conservatory many times.  That is big and impressive and has a lot of money and manpower behind it.  Somehow the charm and excitement of this show was seeing what individual orchid enthusiasts could put together.  Some of the plants rivaled and surpassed anything I have ever seen in New York.

After exploring the new gardens outside a bit, we came upon the iris.  

Last year I had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks, but this year, the serpentine bed of iris was in its glory, and this is just the time of year to enjoy their splendor!  The colors were like an Impressionist painting.  No matter your color scheme, you should be able to find an iris to suit your taste.  The spiky foliage is always a desired element in a garden design and the iris fills this need nicely.

I brought my Grandfather’s deepest purple iris with me from his Hudson Valley garden, but this is the third Spring in Savannah, and it is not happy enough yet to bloom.  I divided it and moved to a new location on the other side of the house last year.  Two moves in 3 years may be too much.  It would be for me!  I have been in this low country for 3 springs, and one move was more than enough…but at least now I feel I am blooming.

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