Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Today I will celebrate quite a number of years on this great planet. It truly amazes me how quickly the time passes, the years add up, the seasons melt into one another and repeat with such amazing continuity.
I've painted the glorious flowers C gave me this weekend - but after scanning the painting, I realized that I didn't finish one wee piece of it ... LOL Ah yes, aging! LOL
So I thought I'd post this quick sketch of the fall displays that are on every corner, in every shop, and certainly coloring our roadsides. Yellows, oranges, golds, greens, umbers, siennas -- they've found their way onto my canvases lately, but before that, into my psyche and heart. The harvest time ...the time to gather and celebrate our labors and the bounty of blessings - from family, friends, food, work, life.
Today, I'll do just that. And thank each of you for sharing it all with me.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
We spent the day outdoors yesterday under incredibly blue skies, a cheerful sun, and mild temperatures. I took my class to the B&B to dig up tree seedlings so we could repot them and grow them out for our spring sale. While there, we picked up a bucket of chestnuts from one of Rebecca's trees -- oh my gracious, prickly things when in their shells, but delicious roasted!
So many of the students were unfamiliar with the nuts, so we roasted some for tasting as I talked about the chestnut blight, the loss of the American chestnut tree, how our native peoples would use chestnuts in soups, stews, porridge, breads. After lunch, we put in two more vegetable beds and made preliminary plans for the pounds of lettuce we're expecting to harvest this fall and early winter. A good day.
I caught up on some paperwork and got to the B&B late last night. In my 'spare' art bag that I carry in all of my travels, I ran across this old photo of the back of the Arboretum. The photo was taken in the fall of the year, a few years before we had a gardener. The ditchside, now kept tidy and cut monthly, was overgrown, but with such a profusion of goldenrod and grasses that I captured it in a photo. The back of the property just glimpses a neighborhood church, seen here. I thought I had painted fromt this photo before, but couldn't locate it.
I am still so enamored with the roadside vegetation this year that I hope I'm not boring you! LOL The yellows seem so much more intense and the profusion of wild grasses and weeds seem more plentiful than in the past few years. I am having a hard time being inspired to paint anything else! LOL
Today, I'll try to get to some paper projects I've not had time to address. The weather this morning is a cool 60F or so .... my heater is going, my sweatshirt is on ... and we're about to turn the calendar ....
Have a great day!
Monday, September 28, 2009
The sun finally made its way out yesterday -- the sky turned September blue, the air cleared, and the scent of damp earth was wonderfully refreshing after so many days of rain. Despite a week of precipitation, we are still 7" below normal ... but nonetheless, it was good to see the sun again!
I return to my favorite roadside for inspiration and fall color, this time focusing on the Rudbeckias (black eyed Susans) and the bank of rocks. Their sunshiney color matched the day!
We're in for cooler temperatures this week, and that means the leaf color will be hastened. Already I can imagine woodsmoke and apple pies and holiday preparations .....
Meantime, it's off to work ... Mondays seems to come around mighty fast too!
Have a great day!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
This so reminds me of the years I spent in Charleston, SC.
Though we lived within walking distance of the ocean, I preferred the quieter, inland waterway side to the island - lapping water instead of crashing waves. The pluff mud and dark waters heralded the marsh to be the incubator for so much estuarine wildlife. The smell - distasteful to so many - became part of our expectations living close to it, and after a while not unpleasant in the least. This time of year, the marsh grasses slowly lost their emerald colors and unless one watched closely, it was easy to miss the subtle changes of green to tawny brown. I can still hear in my mind's ear the call of red-winged blackbirds, the croak of frogs, the plop of turtles, splash of fish, and smell that scent of salt ....
Fall - different from the countrysides of yellows and golds, ochres and russets - but charming and mysterious and filled with as much glory ...
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This is the view I have found each morning this week as I wended my way to work. Today, the rain is still with us, the fog fairly thick, and the sun as I leave for the office before 6 am, is considering making its way over the horizon. Bits of trees can be viewed in shades of blue, green, brown -- all slightly tinged by earliest light ... It's September in North Carolina.
Temperatures fluctuate from the 50sF to the 90sF, colors are kissing the foliage, and days grow shorter. Farmers markets are already bringing in colorful pumpkins and corn, and the mums and pansies are making their fall debut ...
I just LOVE this time of year!
We're in for more rain, but we've some running around to do. We'll wait for the fog to lift before venturing out, but my eyes will be peeled for those wonderfully warm colors of the season.
Friday, September 25, 2009
As grey skies continue to dominate our weather and the colors of autumn are in that 'between' stage of fade and full splendor, I return again to my favorite place in the world - Italy. I remember taking this view from the window of our van as we traveled from hill town to hill town ...the cypress trees, deep, rich green, poking out of the lighter shades of olive and lime like tall sentinels, a bit of white house sitting atop a hillside.
I remember so many trips to Florida when I was young and seeing similar cypress trees here and there among the palms -- and I really didn't like them at all -- their thin, vertical shapes reminding me of green telephone poles ---! LOL But tastes and experiences sure change one's opinion ... and now I can't think of Tuscany without envisioning these giant scepters against the blue skies and glowing hillsides.
Chores dominate the day today, and annual check-ups and obligations. Yesterday's high was close to 90F with humidity that was so uncomfortable and high that we all felt like we were 'molding' .... temps are supposed to cool off this weekend. I suppose summer is reluctant to move on!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
One of the benefits of so many of our trips is seeing the plants other people select , grow and manage. At Old Salem (Winston-Salem, NC), many of the historic gardens have been restored. The soil has been amended for over two hundred years with rich compost - and with nitrogen-producing plants such as this crimson clover.
We saw so much of this, millet and especially buckwheat growing in the gardens alongside the fall cole crops of spinach, lettuce, cabbage, turnips and more. When I used to mini-farm our own gardens, I used cover crops, like this crimson clover, to fix oxygen-born nitrogen into the soil, and then, after the clover had flowered but before it had set seed, tilled the entire crop into the soil to enrich it even further. By the time I was ready to plant in the spring, the soil was significantly amended and ready to nurture another season of crops.
"Green manuring" involves planting particular plants to enhance the soil. Benefits include:
*Crops act as a soil cover to prevent erosion by wind or water
*The crop acts as a mulch, and
* Pest Management
One can use non-green plants such as
Millet or Buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittatum) -- or green plants such as Hairy Vetch, Beans, Field Peas, Clover (such as crimson) and vetch for winter cover. For summer green manures: Cowpeas,Soybeans, Sweetclover or
Velvet Beans (Mucuna pruriens).
I've used some of these other cover crops for the same benefits - but I have to admit that my favorite is the crimson clover ... not only does it make my soil and plants happy - but I find it charmingly beautiful!
We've had a week of rain and our soil is mighty soggy ... but I know the plants and our acquifers are being refreshed.
Have a great day!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
One of our Arboretum board members brought me a photo of several Pink Lady's Slippers that she found growing in the woodlands near her home. Flora is one of the most generous individuals I know - ALWAYS bringing delicious home-baked goodies to the staff, offering assistance when we need it most, and supporting our efforts for over 15 years! I wanted to surprise her with a small painting of a flower she loves .... and hope this will please her.
It's been raining and should be all week. We've been very dry with a 9" rain deficit, so this week's showers are a tremendous welcome. Our temperatures remain high, and the rain, though keeping us from making progress on the formal gardens, should make our change in leaf color more vivid.
I've a number of writing deadlines to meet -- so I'm off to pound the keys ... I hope you have a great day!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL!
I was greeted early this morning NOT with colored leaves and crisp autumnal weather, but insted with torrential RAIN and slight outdoor flooding at the B&B. Ah well, we are in dire need of rain, but two showers so early in the morning can be a bit -- well -- damping ...! LOL
Our students put in two beds of veggies yesterday during our six-hour class - and just in time for the rain. They all worked so hard that all of us, me included, could barely raise our arms after hauling so much soil and mulch! LOL
This scene is from the roadside by my home. I am simply enamored with the changing light and colors this time of year. The roadside is on a major thoroughfare for us with no shoulders on the road to speak of.... I had to park the car and walk several dozens of yards to capture the scene ... good exercise, but a bit unnerving with traffic! LOL
Still, I love viewing the tumbles of yellows and golds, browns and changing greens .....I do know it won't be long before they'll all be shades of grey -- so I'm truly enjoying them now. I hope you are too!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday dawned cloudy and rain- threatened. C and I left for Winston-Salem from home, while the three vans left from the college. We drove into dense, misty fog, in some places as thick as pea soup.
After picking up another Arboretum guest, we met up with the vans on time, despite the fog. As we drove westward, the weather improved, though the clouds and grey day remained.
We wended our way to Bethabara Park and found the parking area we were looking for that was located close to the historic gardens so our guests, especially those with trouble walking, wouldn't have very far to walk.
We were just getting out of the car and vans when we were met but a garden volunteer who shocked us all -- "The Festival was canceled," he told us. "There had been so much rain in the area, that they were unable to put up the necessary tents, and since more rain threatened, the festival was canceled."
Imagine our shock - 45 people all geared up to enjoy the music, crafts, gardens, history and tours! YIKES! He was incredibly nice and apologic, and volunteered to give our group a guided tour of the gardens and to answer any questions. We took him up on it, and really got to know more about these beautiful community gardens, the history of the first gardens at Bethabara, and more.
While we were touring, the director of the park came by as well to apologize for the cancellation. We could see the decision was so very troubling for her -- and having been in that spot so many times myself, we all did understand.
But then she did something so very extraordinarily gracious --- she, knowing we were coming, but since she couldn't reach us, arranged for a free showing of the film explaining the history of Bethabara, apples and cookies for the entire group, AND a concert performed in one of the historic churches -- just for us!
To say we were overwhelmed by such generous kindness and consideration was an understatement. The film was delightful and helped us understand this first Moravian settlement, the gardens, the buildings. And the concert - a trio on violin, antique organ and, I am unsure of a flute, oboe, or other wind instrument - was incredibly moving. They performed from the balcony of the church with over 100 year-old accoustics - with music, from Bach, Handel, and others of that era. EXCEPTIONAL! and so deeply moving! What a time!
We left the park following the concert for a buffet lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then continued with our plans to Old Salem and some of their restored gardens. Wonderful gardens filled with fall vegetables and crops that included some 'cover plantings' such as Crimson clover and buckwheat that will be tilled under as 'green manure' this spring.
We added an impromptu stop at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market so folks who were hoping to purchase some apples at the Festival could do so here.
All in all, it was a great time ....and the graciousness of the Park's Director was certainly above and beyond. We took a vote to return to the festival NEXT year - fingers crossed for sunshine - and yet the Park, its volunteers and employees, the history, the gardens, the absolute beauty of the place, will have us returning no matter the weather!
PS - Thank you all for your most generous comments and anniversary well wishes yesterday!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Today Charles and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. The morning breaks much as it did 17 years ago - a bit overcast and misty, the clouds 'thinking' about rain - and yet, the sun breaking the indecision of wet or dry to give us a glorious day.
Seventeen years ago we said our vows under the embrace of maple trees, among family and friends, the trees and woodlands serving as witnesses and supporters. We've loved living our rural life ever since - among too-quickly vanishing farms, tertiary roads, deer, possum, hawks, fox, and cats - ours and neighbors. From growing our own food to frequenting the farms and markets around us, to keeping neighbors bees and planting trees and perennials beds, to driving around the countryside, feeling blessed to live among such rich diversity and beauty.
And so today, I offer these humble cattails and 'ditch' flowers - evidence of the simple joy we take in nature's offering. We'll celebrate by participating in a farm tour - an annual event to showcase our area organic farms and agribusinesses. For dinner, we'll cook the produce we purchase from those who, like us, love living a bit closer to the land.
While cattails may seem an odd choice for a celebration - I offer these humble, often overlooked uses of this roadside dweller: According to Euell Gibbons, whom I admired for his love of the outdoors and recognition of wild foods, cattails are the 'supermarket' of the swamp. Almost all parts of them are edible, and all parts of them are useful:
The rhizome, buried deeply in the muck - can be harvested for the rich flour it produces; the 'potato' like nodules on the roots are harvested and eaten as potatoes, the stalks can be collected in the spring and eaten like water chestnuts, the unripened flowerheads (which later turn brown) can be collected, cooked and eaten like small ears of corn, the pollen can be collected and made into pancakes or used as flour, the seeds can be collected and made into a gruel, the pappus of the seeds (those hairy filaments) were used in WWII to stuff life vests to keep them buoyant, the tall, brown flowers were used to clean chimneys, used in bouquets and flower arrangements, the leaves were woven into mats or used as thatch, and the entire stand of cattails were used to absorb pollutants from lake and river waters.
Amazing - a humble plant and yet filled with so much often overlooked potential. Much like other aspects of the natural world that is often taken for granted until it is gone.
Happy Anniversary, Charles. Happy rural living and many more years of doing so!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
We're off to the Apple Festival today with a group of 45 folks -- then we'll take in some of the area gardens. The weather is supposed to cooperate and only give us a 'bit' of rain - fingers crossed.
I had a most difficult time painting apples last night .... I could get my reds and greens to resist making mud! LOL But I managed one apple that wasn't too dark, and so I'm posting it here for the Apple Festival trip.
We won't be back until late tonight ... so I'll try to catch up later this evening.
Hope your day is grand! I'll be thinking of fall gardens and red apples!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Okay, I have to admit it, as if it wasn't perfectly obvious -- fall is my favorite time of year. In my chore-running travels yesterday, I kept coming across these wondrous fields of yellow - all set against the grey/browns of barns and fences and treetrunks. There is something so soothing to me about these views, and that golden yellow of grasses and flowers catches my eyes at every turn. We're finally having the rain we desperately need, and the weather is again cooling. Perhaps the clouded skies brought out the vivid yellows ... but yesterday, it seemed to me as if the world had turned golden -- even when it was raining!
We pass this barn and field each time we drive to the next small town. The barn is tucked far off the road, and if I kept driving to the left of this image, I'd come across a modern white house. The hayfields I painted last week are to the right of the fields. I cannot tell you how many times I have pased by this scene without ever noticing the barn! But the yellow caught my eye and I had to stop long enough to LOOK. It's on a rather well-used road that links several busy streets, and so I supposed we just speed by like everyone else, never 'quite' noticing. Sort of reminds me of never noticing a piece of furniture that we use all the time until we get a new slip-cover! LOL
This Saturday we take 45 people in three vans and several cars to the Apple Festival and to another area garden over 2 1/2 hours away. I'm hearing mixed reports for the weather, so my fingers are crossed that the rain holds off until we return late Saturday night.
I've more errands to run today - but hope to get in a nap and a sketch. I'll be in a different part of the county and hope to find more overlooked 'treasures'....
Hope you see some too!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
"They" say beauty is where you find it -- or beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I suppose that's true. Especially with this view.
I returned some books to our library last weekend. Our town is in the process of rennovating the library's main branch, and so books, people, and all activities have been moved to a former warehouse. When I arrived there last week to exchange my books, I was awe-struck by the incredible yellows, browns and sepias in the storm ditch bordering the road and parking lot.
I carry my camera almost everywhere I go -- and so, books forgotten for the moment, I began taking photos of the ditch and plants - rudbeckias in full golden display, tumbled stones, cattails in all degrees of flower and seed, pokeberry, daisy fleabane, and more. I was in roadside plant and grass heaven!
I must have taken 40 photos before I even noticed the stares I was getting from the patrons arriving and departing the library. I could overhear some of their conversations and bits of chatter wondering just WHAT I was looking at! LOL Yep -- 'in the eye of the beholder to be sure!' LOL
Since the strip of 'safety' between the road and parking lot was too small to pull out a sketchpad and work on site, I settled for reference photos and a ton of painting ideas.
I'll be painting more from this site and talking more about the specific plants I found there - especially cattails - one of my favorites. But for now, what I want to emphasize more than anything, is that once we begin to train our eyes to SEE the wonder in even the smallest things around us, we will be constantly amazed, excited, thrilled, and rarely at a loss at what to paint. I offer this 'waste-water ditch' as an example.
Have fun 'seeing' today --- and please share with me what you find. I'm always curioius to learn what other folks find amazing .... that way, I learn to 'see' better too ...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I am always amazed at the clarity, diversity and magesty of the skies in North Carolina this time of year. It seems that the humidity, so dense most of the summer, is lessened, and that famed 'Carolina Blue' coats the overhead dome. Clouds seems to be whiter and more varied in their shapes, and the sunsets! My gracious --- incredible.
This is the view C and I found this weekend when we walked to the top of our road. Our typical walks begin AFTER the evening news, as this one did, but we soon realized as we had to RUN to catch the last of the sun's glimmers, that the time was fast changing, and if we WANTED to see the sun set, we would have to take our walk BEFORE the news ended. Ah, the sacrifices! LOL
There was an orange/yellow glow to the sky, and it glinted off the pine needles we stood under to gaze at the setting sun across the rural road and behind the banks of trees. I LOVED that GLOW!
This morning as I'm typing, it's deepLY dark outdoors. Spots of deeper dark in the sky look like potential rain clouds - rain we truly need. Through my office window, I try to catch the sunRISE as the sun makes its way over the treeline and greenhouses. I have about an hour before I might catch it .....but those sunrises and sunsets seem to start and end the day just right.
Have a great day!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Throughout our counties, the rural barns that I so love are getting embraced by fall's changing colors and lowering light. Here and there bits of bright red foliage poke out against the dulling greens, but we are still weeks from the vibrance of fall's display. Still, the changing light with the sun's lower arc across the sky, sends different shadow patterns across the land - all wonderful to see and admire.
This landscape was sketched late last night after an exhausting day of non-stop teaching followed by several even later meetings. I crawled home to a friend's house to spend the night after dark, and could only manage something a bit quick and unfussed before ending the day. I'm so hoping today is a lot less frenzied and the workday ends before the sun sets.
I hope to catch up soon .... Hope everyone's day is terrific!
Monday, September 14, 2009
During our Open House this Saturday, one of our students brought in several enormous 'Angel Trumpets' to display. He's been growing them for several years, and I couldn't believe not only the size of the plants AND the flowers, but the gentle peach color of this one.
In our area, Angel Trumpets are treated as 'tropicals' meaning that they can grow outdoors during warm weather, but must be kept indoors or in the greenhouse to overwinter. Our cold winter weather will not allow them to survive outside.
While we waited for buses to bring guests to the Arboretum, I sat on the sidewalk to sketch this pretty, and then painted it when I got home. I must admit that I had to paint it twice - I kept loosing that delicate color and had to show a lot of restraint not to darken the trumpet! But these were such an eye-catching addition to our exhibits - those enormous flowers just hanging like silenced bells from dark, big leaves and stems. Beautiful plants.
It's another, sigh, busy week. Today I work with my students to design the kitchen garden. Their plants are about ready to place, and I want to discuss companion planting, edible flowers, and design elements prior to our final planting. It's supposed to be in the 80sF today, so I'm expecting more color on my face!
I'll be off line until late tonight ...
I hope you have a great day.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is a quick rendering of one of my views coming home last night. If I had my druthers, I would change the grasses in the forefront -- Still, it's a pretty accurate painting of the hayfields I'm seeing less than two miles from my home. I have to admit that I love scenes like this - and even when I was in Italy, the citing of a hayfield made me feel so much at home!
Yesterday's Open House went well. I am especially pleased with the incredible job my staff did in helping create a well-flowing, colorful, exciting display of information and activities for adults and children. From vegetable, small scale, container, and lasagna gardening to an emphasis on soil and water, information about the arboretum, raffles, give-aways, a rain-barrel demonstration, and planting vegetable seeds -- it was fun. I believe my face even got a bit of sunshine since my display was in the bright sun all day!
I came home to do laundry and prepare to leave again tomorrow, and with C's jam here today, I'll be resting and trying to get a leisurely sketch in before another busy week. It seems the weeks grow in intensity ....
It was downright cold this morning when I went outdoors to feed the kitties, but temps in the afternoon are as high as mid 80s. We picked more grapes on our walk last night - no time to make more jams - just out-of-hand eating. The cool nights have turned them mighty winey-sweet. But I'm still checking the wild persimmons. They've begun to turn orange, and it won't be long before they're ready ....!
Have a restful day!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I have yet to make it to the beach this year, and so I take pleasure in sandy, salty-air daydreams and photo references that remind me that the Atlantic Ocean is a mere 3 1/2 hours away! I thought I'd paint a last homage to summer, since today's temps are supposed to be near 90F and I'll be working outdoors for our college's Open House in celebration of our 40th Anniversary.
I'll be scarce today since the five hours of activities are non-stop -- afterwards, I'm heading home to enjoy a bit of the weekend. I'll try to catch up later tonight.
Meanwhile -- have a great day. The sun is supposed to be shining all day today! Vitamin D!
Friday, September 11, 2009
The long days and nights have me daydreaming again, and when I do that, I often return to Italy. This weekend while I was walking on my treadmill, my nearby computer was going through its screen saver mode, enticing my walking with my saved photographs. This one popped up, and so after my exercise time, I went through my photographs to find it to use as a potential sketch subject this week.
I've tried so many times to capture that blue/green of the ancient olive tree's spring foliage, and that spot of red on the chicken as s/he passed by was just too funny not to include. I think my 'scale' is a bit off ... but it was fun to try to recreate that gnarly, old texture of the tree, the holes, and that elusive color of the tree's canopy. And of course, it was terrific to daydream for a while.
Today, all over our country, we'll be holding moments of silence to remember those awful events not too many years ago. We'll bow our heads, offer prayers and think of the lives lost, the lives and times forever changed. I humbly offer visions of olive groves, clucking chickens, and the peace and serenity these bits of landscape seem to engender. And the commitment to strive, even more ardently, to truly secure world peace.
May it soon be so
Thursday, September 10, 2009
While many of us are changing our gardens into its fall dress, there are still some flowers that continue to give their luscious color and richness. In Rebecca's garden, two such flowers, these zinnia and coreopsis, are still blooming like crazy. They reside among the newly planted spinach, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, turnips and collards plants - their bright petals contrasting with the new green of fresh seedlings. Rebecca's chickens love to dash around the vegetable garden, pecking at the new plants, and it'll be a contest to see whether the veggies can grow large enough before the chickens get to them!
Today it's a final spit and polish to the gardens, hand weeding, and setting out our larger displays. The count-down to Open House has begun ... we're almost ready.
Outdoors, the evening light is growing shorter ... and by the time I leave the office, the sun has already set. Mornings find me at my desk while it's still dark, and the morning dew is pretty heavy. It's time for me to break out the sweatshirts -- at least for the mornings and evenings. I'm sure we'll have a warming spell and it will be 'hot!!!!' once last time. Still, it's time for me to consider exchanging my short-sleeved shirts for heavier clothing -- and keeping a few lighter garments for those afternoons that reach 90F.
Before we know it, there'll be woodsmoke on the air and halloween candy in the cookie jars. HO HO HO! LOL
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Almost fall - and pumpkins, gourds, apples, grapes -- the harvest time of our year. We had our own mini-grape harvest this weekend. The muscadines (sketched a few weeks ago) have turned a wonderful variety of burgundy to deep purple, to black/blue. This year, the first in so many, they are weighing down their thick vines entangled high in the trees so much that even as 'tall' as I am, I could reach many without a ladder! LOL
We collected enough to make a batch of grape jelly -- and it's turned a wonderful wine color in the glass and gold-topped jars I used for the process. Instead of the cloying sweetness of store-bought grape jelly, this has a fresh, tart-sweet taste that is really delightful.
Years ago, a friend of mine wove a basket for me consisting of the many vines she found growing in the woodlands -- the basket is not only a treasure for the friendship and craftsmanship it represents, but it also is a representation of all those woodland plants I love.
The rains have soaked the grounds again yesterday and the plants (and weeds) are enjoying another growing spurt. We're off to tame them before the Open House on Saturday .....
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
It was a restive day yesterday with the rainfall we had been needing. The cleaned garden beds seemed so receptive for the extra dousing of water, and the plants still flowering, seemed to 'perk up' with the day's rain.
It'll be a super busy week again. We're preparing for our college president's inauguration and a college open house that should bring in hundreds of guests. We've eight activities planned and the four of us involved should be pretty tired by the end of the week. We're also preparing the outdoors AND indoors so everything looks extra nice, and we're hoping that the rain will hold off enough so we can get to the last need for edging and pruning. The rain yesterday will have given the weeds a 'boost' as well.
I'll only have Sunday off this week, which means a day to launder clothes and repack for the following week - so I may be a bit scarce around the 'net. It seems each of my weekends this month has a work commitment. C and I will have to celebrate our wedding anniversary next month! LOL
The painting is of a field of goldenrod seen near my home. That yellow truly brightens up a rainy day! So many folks blame their fall hayfever on the goldenrod. Truth be told, goldenrod pollen is far to heavy to be windborne --- Instead, the culprit is the ragweed, which also blooms about now. There are hundreds of varieties of goldenrods. My favorite is the sweet goldenrod, Solidago odorata. The leaves, when crushed, smell like black licorice - and make a fabulous tea!
Have a great week!
Monday, September 07, 2009
I cleaned the garden yesterday, and spent a good time pruning and tidying - readying my garden for fall and winter. I removed the tired tomatoes and squash, spent spiderflowers, weeded many of the ornamental grasses that had over- propagated, removed weeds, spent daylily leaves, and began spreading some of the seeds from the purple coneflowers.
I snipped a dozen or more of them and placed them in jars -- I just love their colors and their prickly seedheads. I've admired teasel seedheads, but not having any of those around, I substituted the coneflower heads instead.
This time of year and moving into winter, it's time to really appreciate the grasses and seedheads of plants. Although it is typically the color, shape, and scent of the flowers that attract us, if we observe well enough, we'll be absolutely amazed at the variety, ingenuity, and diversity of the mechanisms plants have evolved to disperse their seeds.
These prickly heads, while seemingly firmly held on a central axis, would slowly drop with every gust of wind or touch of my hand. As they're dropping, I'm collecting them, and spreading them around the garden. Already, I've seen the first year's showing -- leaves only -- so that next year (since coneflowers are a biennial), they'll be ready to product their incredible flowers. The cold of winter scarifies the seeds well enough so that there's little I need to do to 'plant' the seeds, other than spread them around.
I painted these twice, unable to decide WHICH background I preferred!
We're off today for 'Labor Day' --- and since I've labored most of the weekend, I think today will be a bit more resting! LOL
The weather's been incredible to get outdoors and in the garden! Have a great day.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
The blooms on the cannas are about gone, but those enormous, magnificently colored leaves remain a while longer. When the sunlight shines through them, they turn an incredible blend of yellow, chartruse, blue, wine .... I'm not crazy about the flowers, but the leaves ... well, that's another story!
A busy day yesterday. The demo at Jerry's was fun -- it's always interesting to see how other artists approach their work.
We finally picked our muscadine grapes and rendered those into jelly -- really good --- different than store-bought grape - the muscadine is almost sweet/tart in flavor - and the color reminds me of burgandy wine. My jelly closet is bulging and we haven't gotten to the persimmons yet this year! LOL
Temps have risen a bit again, sitting in the high 80s. Humidity is back, too. I suppose summer isn't quite done with us. Still, the changing light and the yellow leaves forewarn us that there isn't much left to the summer season. Hopefully, we'll finish the chores and get out in it a bit today ...Hope you do too!
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Despite evening temperatures dipping below 60F, the roses seem revived by the cooler airs. My knock-out reds and pinks are blooming for all they're worth - giving a colorful vibrancy to the dulling greens around them.
This image was painted from a photo reference. We've added several reds and pinks to the front garden, but they're not quite as large as this! Not yet anyway. The reds at the Arboretum have certainly reached this magnificent size and like mine at home, are blooming in incredible profusion.
There's a watercolor demo at my local art supply store today that I think I'll catch. It seems like nine-forevers since 'art in Italy' and I really love seeing how other artists work!
Hope your day is terrific!
Friday, September 04, 2009
I go for my evening walk; the day has cooled, and the fresh air caresses my arms and face. Though the crickets and tree frogs have begun their night song, it is so very, very still that the crunch my feet make on the fallen sycamore leaves seems almost sacrilegious, and I move to the grass to stifle even that small bit of sound.
The kitties walk with me only to the driveway, and they turn back when they realize C isn’t walking with me tonight. Slackers! LOL
I turn a curve in the road and startle the deer feeding on the grapes I hope to collect for jelly. They scamper into the woods, and I walk to the end of the road to watch the sun’s slow decent.
It’s utterly peaceful. Still. The earth is making its slow turn toward winter. We are on the cusp of fall, and all around me, signs of the season are growing with the length of the night.
Today, the kitties are one year old. A year ago I watched Boots bring them into the world – five little fluffballs, blind, helpless, adorable. Today, they are ‘into their own’ with personalities and antics that keep me in laughter.
With each day there are signs that remind us of time’s passing. Of all the seasons, I think I love fall the best. It’s a time to gather in the harvest of summer’s hard work. It’s not quite time to rest, but certainly, it’s a time to begin to slow down. It’s not quite time for coats and mittens and fires in the fireplace, but there are hints of those times to come.
For now, it’s enough to simple begin to slow down. And gather in. And reflect.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Driving along our rural road, sights such as this abound. I LOVE bucolic scenes and rural living, and spend a good amount of time painting them.
This view is of two sheds, a small pond to their right (out of view), and fall grasses and goldenrods adding bright yellows to the fading greens. This is about five miles from my home.
Fall is coming fast around here .... the cooler weather is welcome after the high heats of summer, and the lowering of humidity, bright Carolina blue skies and golden roadsides are sheer joy!
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
I used a photo reference for this painting, and tried to give this a more relaxed, looser feel. Looser paintings are still a challenge for me!! LOL
Yesterday was a far quieter work day than I've had in a long time -- nice! Temperatures are cooler, especially in the morning. We're in the mid-50sF with highs expected to be around 80F.
Our college is celebrating its 40th anniversary next week - our new president gets inaugurated, we have an open house, and so we're busily preparing 'hands-on' activities and tours for guests. Construction on the new garden must wait until after the celebrations, but we're also in the throes of ordering plants, gravel, equipment and the like.
We've another trip planned, a conference at the end of the month, and fall plantings around the rest of the property.
Fall is really a terrific time for gardening!
Thank you all for your most overwhelming comments yesterday ... I am deeply touched and humbly grateful ....
I hope your day is filled with joy and peace!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
As we reached the top of the drive other evening when C and I went for our walk (followed by the cats -- with Pepper BEGINNING to come with us), the sun was just beginning to set behind the mass of pines. The sun's rays caught ONE pine in particular, lighting it up like it were lit by flame. I snapped a few photos, and tried to capture that incredible glow here.
Rain most of the day yesterday, a soft gentle showering so needed by our plants. I ache for those worried, frightened and fighting the fires in California and offer my heartfelt prayers.
May those awful fires be contained today, lives and homes and wildlife saved .....