January 18, 2014

A Snow Day and Garden Party...Really!

Who says that you can't have a garden party in January during a snowstorm? Believe me, if there was no snow, these dead abutilon topiary trees still out on the deck would look pretty dull, if not trash-worthy. Well, they are still trashy, but with a coating of puffy snow, they actually received complements. Yes, it's amazing how brilliant we are.
Today we hosted our annual American Primrose Society luncheon, and planning meeting for the New England chapter's annual primrose exhibition, which is held in early May at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, near our home. Truth be told, this meeting is more of a party, than a meeting, for once the formalities are addressed ( ribbons, who's ordering awards or doing PR), attendees drift out to the greenhouse, eat clever food ( this year, a taco and burrito bar) and then coffee, tea and cupcakes as they discuss their favorite nurseries or file through boxes of seed in a spontaneous seed exchange.

Plants women Ellen Hornig (center), and horticulturist/botanist Kris Fenderson ( on window) joked with us that our dining room table looked like a board room table (um,yeah... it does). But we had to relocate it to my studio while the dining room substitutes as a bedroom for my father, blah, blah, blah. Believe me, everyone understood in this tight-knot group of plant lovers. This annual event has brought many like minds together for lively plant discussions, seed exchanges and good food.

Our mixed group this year welcomed long time member Ellen Hornig, one time proprietor of (the now closed)  Seneca Hill Nursery in Oswego, NY, a plantswomen who is well known in the botanical circles in which we sometimes dabble. We welcome her not only as our new neighbor, but a fellow plant geek if not expert of the most accomplished kind. 

I was lucky to have a few camellias still in full bloom, not sure why they never dropped their blossoms from last week, but the remained full of color, so the greenhouse looked pretty good on this dark, snowy January day. Oh, and yes....the snow, with flakes so fluffy and big that they floated down in slow motion. It was a day when the weathermen all forested a 'light dusting of snow', which ended with 4 inches of wet, sticky snow - the sort that sticks to every twig and bud, but that melted when it hit the pavement. Perfect, in a Hollywood set sort of way.

And so, the modern plant society evolves - from what was once a strict and formal genus-specific organization, into one where plant lovers of most any breed ( cacti, succulents, wild flowers and native plants, woodies and alpines - whatever) all join on a snowy Saturday for nachos and plant chat, and this year, it couldn't have been better.

In the back yard, the snow stick to everything. It was relatively warm, just near freezing, and when this happens, the snow is heavier and stickier. It's OK, it was pretty. Even thought many of the hardy bamboo didn't like it.

We also welcomed Gail from Blythewold Mansion, another horticultury friend who has been here before for our Primrose events, an like always, she did not come not empty handed ( which, really, we don't mind at all!). Blythewold has a terrific greenhouse, with loads of winter blooming plants, where they winter over many of their collections ( they also have a very nice blog that you MUST visit).  Gail brought me an entire box of plants from the Blythewold greenhouse - plants that she propagated and treasured, often with a very personal story with each one - all are proven to thrive in cold greenhouses, and they range from common, to uncommon, to rare. Gail knows what I like, but even if she didn't, she knows what I would appreciate. I will write about these plants later, I am sure. She has convinced me to visit Blithewold again ( I haven't been there since 1995 when I designed a friends wedding there). Perhaps, it's time.

The Blythewold blog reminded me of something that I, as a blogger, but a rather incompetent one, needs to do more of. Sharing with other blogs. I noticed that they participated in a very lively event called the Bloggers Bloom Day ( see the May Dreams Gardens blog for more info). I am so caught up with my job, commuting, and life in general, that I rarely get the change to work on social media skills let along Twitter or Instagram, but this Bloomday is something I actually could do, for it is true - around here, I do have something in bloom most every day of the year, and especially on the 15th of every month!. So this might be something I could try. Besides, it looks like I know about a third of the bloggers who are already participating. 

Not that I need to get more social or commercial with this blog, but the truth is, the more readers I get, the better the experience for you can be. It's just the business of blogging, I guess. I know so many of you were kind enough to share your thoughts with me about the future of content on this blog, ( or site, as I dislike the term blog), and I agree, but in order to continue to maintain my high rankings without advertising, I sometimes need to participate in these events that link back or connect digitally with other on-line posters. It's just the way things work.

The only primula species I had in bloom were these Primula obconica, but that's OK, everyone was transported to a zone 60 degrees warmer with the scent of citrus and the Daphne odora in the greenhouse.

Doodles scoots down the greenhouse path past the potting bench, as she tried to see if someone dropped some chicken taco bits, or a cupcake. No luck, I am told.
 We also were thrilled, as always, to see that Kris Fenderson, another well known New England landscape designer, author and horticulturist could drive down from his farm ( and incredible garden)  to visit with us. A long time member and officer of the American Primrose Society, Kris pops up here so often that we often joke that the dogs know his truck and trademark cowboy hat better than they know us! This January party has become an annual event that we too enjoy, even though we go a little bit crazy cleaning up the house, and cooking, in the end, we never regret the stress involved in getting ready.

Some new additions to the aviary room - Spanish Trombetto canaries. Incredible songsters that will brighten up the second floor of our house with their lark- like twittering. Of course, the girls have other things on their minds.


  1. what a great idea for the dreary month of january! if you can't actually get out and garden, the next best thing is to talk about with other die hard gardeners.

    love the glimpses you are giving us of your home. it is lovely.

  2. You're sweet. but LOL, you have NO IDEA how messy and out-of-control our garden and home is! I am very select in what part I shoot images in, and in what parts you never see! Believe me - one visit and you'd understand! But thanks. Honestly, though, it's lived in. I mean, I imagine that we all have dog toys in the garden, pots left out for the winter, old tomato stakes laying around with plants still on them. Someday I may have the strength to show what the garden really looks like, but until then.... I like the peacefulness of the fantasy viewed on-line! We are not neat-niks!

  3. And yet another mystery revealed - please post sometime about the aviary room, even though it doesn't have anything to do with plants, or does it?

    1. HI Paul. Not much of a mystery revealed, since the term 'aviary' might be stretching it a bit. We are just converting a sunny, vacant bedroom into a 'bird room'. Currently in it, we have various cages ( nothing nice), with a dove, 6 or more canaries ( red factor and Spanish Trombetto) and a nesting pair of Cockatiels. Well, they have a nesting box but no eggs yet.

  4. I sure do miss Seneca Hill Perennials. Even reading the catalog was a treat. Also, I agree: " the modern plant society evolves - from what was once a strict and formal genus-specific organization, into one where plant lovers of most any breed" get together. That's how I got to be newsletter editor for a rock garden society--and I don't have a rock garden!

  5. Lovely snow photo


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