Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Color inspiration—In the pink

I am in a bit of a pink mood today and inspired by these flowers.

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Monday, June 5, 2017


Florathe Roman goddess of spring, has cast her magic spell upon my garden. I wish that all these blossoms—the irises, albums, and wisteria—would stay in bloom all season, and that I could bottle up the heavenly scent of the wisteria blossoms.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

High on Highgrove

It is said that a garden is a reflection of ones soul. Being a hardcore gardener I seek out inspiration from books, magazines and from the places we visit. Yesterday we toured Prince Charles's gardens at his home, Highgrove in Doughton England. What inspiration! I admire Charles's philosophy about organic gardening and the only thing that could have possible made the day more enjoyable is if we were able to tour his killer composting operation of which I've read about in depth. The gardens were magnificent—grand but not too formal—with touches of humor and whimsy here and there. I was in heaven. Sadly, no photography is allowed here, but here are some tools and a book that I bought to remind me of a spectacular day.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Bucket list item. No further caption needed.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cotswold sketch

Here is a quick watercolor sketch that 
I made of a typical Cotswold cottage.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Charming vignettes abound

We are seeing such charming vignettes driving through this English countryside. We drive though miles and miles of wide open rolling green or golden hills and then suddenly we land in a small village clustered with classic Cotswold homes.

Nestled together in a rabbit warren of tightly knit streets are a melange of brown thatched roofs perched on top of limestone cottages—all with flowing heaps of blossoms that heave and ho over sturdy stone walls. Then through the village we drive and out to more open green hills until we come upon the best village up the road.

Below is one cluster of homes that we came upon (Not by chance, mind you. Dan had researched this place and we actually sought it out as a destination). This is Arlington Row, Bibury (in Shipton Moyne). These stone cottages were built in 1380 and, like so much of Cotswolds history, are tied to the wool trade. Very picturesque.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fields of gold

Leaving Oxford proper and driving out through the Oxfordshire countryside we saw fields and fields of this golden flowered crop called rapeseed, which is harvested for its oil. It's something that neither Dan nor I expected to see in England, and in some vistas even reminded us both of Tuscan hillsides.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tea time at Badger's Hall

We had a quintessential English tea yesterday at a charming little establishment called Badger's Hall in an even more charming town called Chipping Campden. The recklessly high-carb lunch included tea sandwiches—cucumber for me and salmon for Dan—scones with clotted cream and jam, and treacle pie (which our waitress described as being very naughty). Oh, and a pot of tea, too. Being a huge 'Wind in the Willows' fan I was smitten by the ambiance of Badger's Hall and half expected Mr. Toad to pop in for a cuppa.

Four fine gents

Dan and I are touring though England and Wales for a few weeks, and bumped into these four fine gents today. You just never know who you will meet when traveling—and everyone has a story to tell so I am nerver too shy to ask them about their own stories. Who could resist talking to these men? Not me. The shorty story is that the gentlemen were fundraising for a charity, which is why they were dressed so patriotically. They had to 'collect things' along the way and asked us to sing our U.S. national anthem for them so they could check that off of their list. There was a lot of happy energy there!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Color Inspiration—ripe apricots


Pow! How about those colors? 
Ripe apricots looks irrisistable against a turquoise tabletop

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bodacious bunnies

Wishing you all a happy Easter. These darling little bunnies were made by Beatrix Potter, from her  book 'The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies', published in 1909. Sure—they look adorable here but any gardner will tell you that rabbits are quite a nuisance in the the garden! 

Here's a bunny sunbathing in my veggie garden. Rascal!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Color Inspiration— scrumptious garden


I'm still dreaming of spring, and until ours arrives I'll have to settle for colorful photos and paintings of flora. American artist Childe Hassam painted these sorts of wonderfully detailed paintings, of the seaside and of gardens. This is one painting he produced in a friend's garden on the Isles of Shoals. I love the delicate splashes of color against the greens and blues, which really help the background recede. To me this garden is scrumptious—truly, truly scrumptious.

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bouquets to tide us over

Here in New England, our spring is a bit slow in emerging this year, so here are several incredibly beautiful bouquet paintings from centuries past to help tide us over until the earth explodes with color. Look at the scrumptious colors and the details! One interesting fact about these sorts of flower paintings is that a tulip would never be in bloom at the same time as, say, a larkspur or a rose. Artistic license was at play, as the artist included flowers from spring, summer and autumn. The little insects that these artists included in these paintings are a delightful surprise—butterflies, dragonflies, snails, and ladybugs, to name a few. Can you spot them?

This 19th-century watercolor,
 by Antoine Jules Pelletier

Bouquet of flowers placed on a pedestal in stone, with a dragonfly
by Abraham Mignon

Flowers in a Vase
by Paulus Theodorus van Brussel, 1792

Still Life of Flowers, by Ambrosious Bosschaert, 1620s

Cornelis Van Spaendonck

Still Life of Flowers, by Ambrosious Bosschaert, 1620s

Here is one more—Contemporary painter Yana Movchan has embraced this style of floral still life painting quite successfully. Here, his Bouquet with Gladiolus has that old-world charm, right down to the little snail climbing up a leaf on the left side of the canvas. See it?

Bouquet with Gladiolus, Yana Movchan, 1980

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Foolery, sir...

Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb 
like the sun, it shines everywhere. 

~ William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night 

Hans Hanberg in 1568

Mother Nature is playing an April Fools trick on us today with a spring snowstorm. When will spring ever arrive? This beautiful etching of a fool was made by Hans Hanberg in 1568. He is resting his chin on his right hand, wearing a chain with a large medallion, with a fly on his fool's cap. I'm pretty sure he is looking for signs of spring!

The Fool By Heinrich Vogtherr, 1513-1568
  Print made by Hans Hanberg 1568

After Pieter Jansz Date 1638-1678

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hello Spring!

We made it through the winter! I'm excited to smell the earth warm up, to hear the birds singing and to see the trees and flowers come to life. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Let the sun shine in!

I love that citrus season falls mercifully in the middle of our deep, dark winter days—just when we can all use a blast of vitamin C. What better way to brighten up a morning than with a sunshiny plate of colorful citrus fruits? Here, I sprinkled crunchy, salty pistachio nuts over a mélange of citrus fruits, including white grapefruit, blood oranges, CaraCara oranges, meyer lemons and kumquats. Let the sun shine in!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Have in hands

Hands in classical portraiture hold more than mere objects. They can also hold secrets and reveal stories of place, time or social class. Hand gestures can have myriad meanings in religious art, or amorous meanings in later portrait art. The classic Napoleonic 'hand in waistcoat' pose in men's portraiture harkened back to classical times when it was considered bad manners to speak with an arm outside of one's toga. And once upon a time a woman's hand fan was an instrument of communication for her. Her freedom of speech was highly restricted otherwise, so this was very clever indeed. 

(click to see larger view) 

There was an entire slew of secret messages in fan language. For example, to fan slowly meant that the woman was saying I am married. No doubt this this was done somewhat surreptitiously, to a prospective paramour.  If a woman were to hold her hand on her left cheek it mean that she was saying no; to let the fan slide on her cheek, it meant I want you, and if she held the fan on her left ear it meant I want you to leave me alone.  

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day dreaming of Paris

I wonder what Paris would be like to visit around Christmastime? Surely the macarons from Laduree would taste better than in springtime.... or autumn. Must visit in winter one of these years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Good night, sweet dahlias

I have this crazy routine for putting my dahlias to bed for the winter. The process takes a whole week. First I make sure that each plant is labeled (kind and color, temporarily tagged on the stem with a twisty tie) before the last frost hits, because once the leaves turn black and the flowers die off I'd never know my Emory Pauls from my Chloe Janaes. I wait until the frost so that the leaves have all the time they can to send energy down to the tubers, which will actually grow eyes over the winter (the way a potato tuber does). When the frost hits, that's my cue to dig up my dahlia plants. I carefully dig them out of the ground, hose the dirt from the tubers, and line them up on the grass by kind with their specific labels all ready to attach. Then I cut off their lush green tops. Off with their heads! 

Here are the labels, all ready to attach to the bags that they each will go into. You can still see some of the names stamped onto the dahlia  tubers from the sellers, and all the new tuber growth. Some experts say to discard the 'mother tuber', and break apart your tubers at this point, but I always overwinter the tubers as they are, and divide them in the spring. I can see where they eyes have sprouted over the winter.  

Then I place the tubers into plastic mesh bags, like you'd get with bags of potatoes or lemons. (You can find these mesh bags in all sorts of colors on Amazon here. ) Sometimes the tubers get broken off from the mother tuber clumps and this is a nice way to keep the family of tubers all together. My husband says that these tuber filled mesh bags look like chickens. They do, actually. I do not bother with anti fungal powder, but this would be the time to do that.

Then I dry the dahlia tubers out for a week or so, preferably with the tubers upside down so any moisture from the cut stem will drain out. Then off they go into a ventilated box for the winter, where they stay on my porch. Where you store your dahlia tubers must have a constant temperature of between 32° and 50°, and the moisture should not be too dry or too damp. It's a little tricky, but worth the effort. I check on the dahlias every month or so to make sure there is no fungus on the tubers. I am excited for next spring, when I can put these chickens back into the ground.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Crane Estate art show & sale—2016

Magnolia 40 x 40" 

This coming weekend is the Trustees of Reservations annual juried Crane Estate art show & sale! With over 300 pieces of original art, it's a nice chance to visit and view "... art highlighting the beauty of North Shore's landscapes and landmarks." The theme of this year's show is called the Spirit of the Garden, so I have submitted the 4 floral paintings shown here. They range in size from very large (the 40 x 40" white magnolia shown above) to very small (the 4 x 4" yellow magnolia shown below).  

The show is free and open to the public from 10AM to 4PM Saturday and Sunday (November 5th and 6th) There is also a preview garden party soirée Friday night November 4th from 7 to 10 PM, and the ticket price includes an open bar, catered hors d'oeuvres, and live music. They throw a good bash, so hope to see you there. 

Spring Magnolia 10 x 10"

Madam Butterfly 4 x 4"

Even without the awesome art show, the Crane Estate is beautiful to visit this time of year, magically perched on a hillside that overlooks the Atlantic ocean. The kids can run wild and the adults can pop inside to see the paintings, then you can take a long walk on Crane's Beach, or stop into Russell Orchards on the way home for some apples or cider donuts.