September 10, 2010

The Herbaceous Leaf, Objectified

We can learn something from John Maeda's book and blog, 'The Laws of Simplicity'. But this can be more than a Japanese aesthetic, it's something anyone can appreciate. A simple leaf, a simple bottle, a simple expression.

 Look around your garden for interesting leaf forms which, once removed from their environment and placed in a new one, suddenly become art. OK, I'll admit that as my computer and my body dealt with a wierd virus this past weekend, I spent a few too many hours watching the TV program Hoarders (on A&E TV here in the US), which, lead to a bout of fall cleaning in the kitchen. Admit it, you know what I mean. Nothing major, but a good wash down and a dumpster full of year-old spices, gave me an excuse to spend time ordering new ones on-line.

After the cleanse, I thought that I might pick some flowers since the garden is full, and I had some Grappa bottles which we emptied since who wants to drink 5 year old Grappa out of greasy, dusty bottles. The openings were small, so only one stem could fit, perfect not for flowers, but for leaves. It wasn't hard finding interesting leaf forms, and the result are both beautiful and long lasting, for not only do leaf forms from herbaceous plants look completely different when brought indoors in summer, they also last a few weeks longer than flowers. Try looking for ones in your yards, a collection of Hosta leaves in various bottles, or, as I did, some Helleborus foliage ( on the right) and a giant shiny Farfugium japonicum ssp. giganteum, on the left.

September 7, 2010

The Curated Delights of Maine's Snug Harbor Farm

Image from the Snug Harbor Farm blog

It's Sunday morning in the near-coastal town of Kennebunk Maine, in a section known as ' Lower Village' . Kennebunk, once the town of wealthy sea captains, sea merchants, and known more for it's Wedding Cake house than it's garden centers, it is now the lesser sister to Kennebunkport ( where I spent summers as a kid). Before you hit the crowds, lobster rolls and traffic of Kennebunkport, why not stop and visit the peaceful and retreat-like garden and virtual escape of Sung Harbor Farm. Pick up some rare gourds, or perhaps a hand made garden pot.

A pair of chickens, 'free range' through the manicured topiary. Photo by Susan Costello.

This is a such a special place. The sort we plant lovers crave, and only rarely find. Walk amongst Pleached Hedges, the Topiary, the heirloom vegetables, the peafowl the collector fuchsia, hand-thrown pottery for the garden- all of this carefully created and curated by owner and garden designer  Tony Elliott, clearly a talented and well-informed plant person. If Linnaeus shopped here,  it wouldn't be long before there was an Antonius magnifageekii  ssp. curatoriata.


A Bespoke Poly Hoophouse at the Farm

 Thanks to fellow blog reader, and photographer Susan Costello who shared with me most of these images (except two from their blog), I now have discovered Snug Harbor Farm, in Lower Kennebunk Village, in Maine.  Only rarely does one find the perfect recipe of style, botanical geekness and quality design- clearly the owners know much, much more than just how to shove gallon pots of mums around on black weed-block cloth. The American Garden Center is changing, ( not fast), but the few who have the vision, guts and knowledge will rise quickly to the top.
 A wide selection of hand-thrown pottery at the farm

 A new consumer demands more, and sometime less. They want more style, more personality, more instant planting, or they are more knowledgable and expect hellebores in spring, and some at Christmas too. To sum it up, todays garden center customer is much more complex. Sure, there will always be the need for fast, instant disposable material like the most common of annuals and seasonal display material like bushel basket mums, but those are now easily found at the big box stores. Even my local super market has dwarf purple fall asters and white pumpkins. If you want heirloom speckled hungarian pumpkins and brilliant violet or white berried Callicarpa shrubs, you will still need to go to the specialist nursery.

My Blog is Sick

Your computer is fine, there is something wrong with my blog, and we are trying to figure out what is wrong. The weird "Movie / Flash 10 Script Warning" that keeps popping up, is the issue.

Blogger is working on it, and hopefully, my blog will be up and running again,  soon.