New Adventure

Hi all,

It’s been a bit quiet here because I’ve been working on a new project. I’m launching my own landscape design company called Bluestar Gardens. Take a peek at my website. I also have a blog on the site, so check there as well. I will keep blogging here, but probably not as often as before.

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Seed Heads

I’ve had these seed heads on my desk since the summer. I collected them while working in various gardens. The first seed is Clematis pitcheri, commonly called purple clematis, purple leatherflower, or bluebill. Here’s a link to photos of the lovely nodding purple flowers. This clematis is a climbing, twining vine that begins with purple flowers that turn into fluffy Dr. Seuss-looking puffs and then into these stunning seed heads. The star shaped head is fragile, with the individual paddle-shaped seeds breaking off the stem.

The second seed head is from the Hibiscus dasycalyx, or the Netches River Rosemallow. It is a hibiscus that is native to Texas, and is protected because it is only found wild in 3 places along the Netches River. It has beautiful white flowers with red centers. You can see photos here. It grows in wet conditions. The seeds are sweet fuzzy teddy bears and I’m officially scared of screwing up their propagation.

I also saved some Asclepias purpurascens that I’ve put in the fridge to stratify. They are over year old, so I’m not too hopeful. Reference pictures here. I love milkweeds and always try to propagate and distribute them to fellow gardeners.

Is it obvious that I’m dreaming of Spring?

Birthday Blizzard

IMG_9487As you know NYC got a little snow this weekend. Lindsay’s birthday party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. We were going to take the girls into Chinatown and have soup dumplings and bubble tea and then they would come back to Brooklyn and spend the night. We were getting calls from parents to see if we were cancelling and we weren’t. Lindsay is on a ski team, so it’s hard to take weekends off. We were getting reports of above-ground subway closures, and restaurant closures. We checked our restaurant and the subway station and they were remaining open. So we decided to go for it.

Our closest subway line does go above-ground, so we had to walk what is normally a 10-15 minute walk to a station that had running trains. Then we would get off at Canal street, which is 6 lanes of some of the most congested traffic in Manhattan and then walk about 10 minutes to the restaurant. Turns out the bubble tea place threw in the towel and closed.

IMG_9400Call us crazy for attempting it, but it turned out to be magical. The girls totally realized how special it was and made snow angels right in the middle of Canal street. Lindsay kept saying “Best day ever!” and one or more girls would agree with her. It made me so happy to see these kids, who can be over-programmed, or addicted to their screens, really rampage in the snow. They lay down in snowdrifts and gazed up at the falling snow and remarked how beautiful it was, and just lay there quietly observing. Then they made me do it too, and you know what? It was amazing.

lindsay birthday 2016-18It took us ages to get home and then we had the galaxy birthday cake.Gaxay cake 2 up

Turning 12

IMG_3972  Today amidst the blizzard-mania, we are celebrating Lindsay’s 12th birthday. I just finished knitting this infinity scarf for her and will be making a new hat for her as well.

Every year I make a cake to her specifications. This year she requested a galaxy cake. See photo below. The cake is baked and I’m waiting for it to cool to frost it. Wish me luck.IMG_3964

And fingers crossed that her friends are willing to brave the storm to come over. Her very first birthday was a true blizzard and everyone showed up. Not sure why we’ve gotten so soft. Made me think of this clip from Animal House.

Winter Twilight Mitts

twilight mittsI made these fingerless mitts for my daughter Lindsay. She very patiently waited in 2014 while Christmas passed, and then her birthday in January. Last year held very little knitting for me as I finished my certificate of horticulture. But now that I’m done, I’ve been able to pick up my knitting needles again and give these to her for Christmas this year.

I love how the gradating yarn looks like twilight coming through the trees.

Small Gifts

Many people do not know that chickens lay eggs according to the number of daylight hours. The shorter the days, the fewer the eggs, until they stop altogether and rest during the Winter. This is a time for them to rebuild the calcium in their bones that gets robbed to produce eggshells.

Commercial farmers add lighting to their coops to fool the hens into thinking that it is still time to lay eggs. They need the eggs to offset the cost of their chickens feed. I’m not trying to make this a commercial venture, so I give my girls a rest during the dark, cold months.

During this time I have to buy eggs and try not to think of my girls as a bunch of freeloaders. It gets hard right around Christmas when I’m baking trays and trays of cookies and going through cartons of store-bought eggs. I don’t know if the chickens tune in to my grumblings or if they are just feeling well-rested and generous, but every year right around the Winter solstice during the darkest time, they lay a few eggs for me. We were away and weren’t checking in the nest box, so when we got back we found this..

eggs-1

Thanks girls. Enjoy your Winter break.

Painted Bunting

 

WatermarkPhotoSquare™2015-12-29 03:12:37 +0000This little fellow got sidetracked from his migration and ended up in Prospect Park in the native flora area. I finally got a chance to go see him today and he was as spectacular as anticipated. Right now he should be hanging out in southern Florida or Central America, not in Brooklyn. There have been as many as 100 people a day stopping by to gawk at his stunning coloration. This little guy seemed completely unfazed with all the attention he’s been garnering. He’s been sticking to a very small area and munching on the grass and pokeweed seeds.

He’s puffed up like a little ball in the picture because it was a little chilly today. Hopefully we’ll get some more seasonal temperatures here and that will kick his migration instinct back into gear. Cross your fingers for a good outcome for this beautiful creature!

Fall on the High Line

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Come and take a peek at the stunning Fall foliage happening on New York’s High Line. It’s worth the trip. The plant above is Amsonia hubrichtii or blue star. It is a perennial plant that is bush-sized and looks amazing almost all year. There are tiny blue flowers in the Spring. The green foliage sways in a hypnotic way all Summer and now it’s just showing off.IMG_3753This is the path going from Gansevoort street towards 14th street. That’s an Amelanchier or Juneberry tree on the far left. They are one of my current favorite native plants to grow. They have tasty berries that look a bit like reddish blueberries.