Monday, September 27, 2010

Halloween's a-Comin'!

I know Halloween is still a month away, but with so many rich colors out there and the crispness of the air here on Long Island, I'm really starting to get into the spirit of the holiday.
So here are a few gems I found and I think look rather spooky!

An Evil Eye?
(or just Rubeckia hirta)

Dried up brains?
(or just a fungus)

Long, sticky fingers of a witch? 
(or just an ornamental pepper)

Hairy arms reaching out to strangle?
(or just an old vine on a tree trunk)

A magic electricity ball?
(or just pine needles)

Pimpled, decaying flesh?
(or fungus on a tree stump)

Sweat on the green monster's face?
(or morning dew on a leaf)
Bloody fingers?
(or just Amaranthus)

Skeletal fingers, reaching out to grab you?

Mwahahaha! Happy (early) Halloween!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Beauty of Moss

As the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. But then, what fun would that be when moss is so beautiful and unique! It's like a mini coat or blanket for the rock - or a tree for that matter!

Some people find moss unattractive or a problem in their garden. But I think all types are beautiful and an added value to the woodland setting.

When I was a little girl I used to imagine little fairies or gnomes living among the green, lush moss in the yard. Doesn't this spot below look like the perfect setting for miniature, magical creatures?

Just looking again at these photos, I am transported back to the woodlands and can feel cool, dampness in the air.

I came across a blog that talks about all things related to moss, entitled "Moss Plants and More." In it, the author links to a site that sells live moss bath mats. The moss enjoys the low light and humidity the bathroom provides and the owner gets a plush, natural cushion under his or her feet. Have a look at this unique bath mat.

Moss is a very simple type of plant that lacks conventional roots, stems, and leaves. There are over 12,000 species of moss out there. Each one as beautiful and unique as another.

This photo reminds me of an ice cream sundae where the tree stump is the ice cream and the moss is the hot fudge, just oozing down the ice cream, covering every bit of it. 

Hmm... I wonder what magical creatures are living in there?

Monday, September 20, 2010

High Line Park - New York City

I recently visited a park in New York City called The High Line. It was, by far, one of the coolest places I've visited in a long time. The park is built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad along Manhattan's West Side.

The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s to lift freight trains off Manhattan's streets.  From 1934-1980 trains carried meat to the meatpacking district, agricultural goods to the factories and warehouses of the industrial West Side and mail to the Post Office. (

In 2006, construction began on the old railway to create a unique park. It was redesigned, incorporating some of the original tracks into the design and planted with naturalistic plantings as an elevated park running through the West Side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen.

Since it was late August when I visited, there were many different types of grasses growing, in addition to Ecinachea, Rubeckia and Asters. All the plants are allowed to grow freely, to simulate natural plants growing around abandoned train tracks.


I loved how the old train track elements were worked into the design like under the benches (above, left) and peeking out among the hardscape and plantings (above, right).

Here is another image with the tracks and plants nestled together:

And another of the late summer plants growing along the park:

The Section 1 of the park begins here at Gansevoort Street and continues to 20th Street. Section 2 is due to open in 2011 and will continue to 34th Street.

If you happen to be visiting New York City, I highly recommend the High Line. Its an easy walk and every season offers something beautiful and unique to see both in the park and in the bustling streets below. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A question for all of you...

I am volunteering this year at my son's Elementary School, tending the school garden. It is my first time working with a "community" type garden but also one that's geared specifically for children ages 10 and under. Right now, the garden is close to bedtime. We planted a few cool weather veggies like spinach, radishes and lettuce. The sunflowers are close to finished and the herbs are about the only thing left actively growing. 

I was wondering if any of you had experience with a garden like this? If so, what would you recommend we do with the children in the coming weeks? There isn't much to harvest, but I'd like them to be involved in the last few weeks of growing for the garden this fall. 

In addition, I'd love some ideas for next spring. I was thinking we could again plant cool season veggies in late spring and maybe some spring flowers. The kids aren't there during the summer and the garden is fairly neglected (from what I'm told) so I don't want to go too crazy with summer stuff. 

I'd love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good morning, Morning Glory!

This stunning blue Morning Glory brings a smile to my face. I have other pink and purple Morning Glories growing as well, but there is something so beautiful in the true blueness of this one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Art of Waiting

Lots of things in life involve waiting. Waiting for a bus, waiting for a traffic light to change or waiting in line at the post office. Waiting can be annoying. But sometimes, when you are forced to wait, you are forced to look around you in ways maybe you hadn't done before. I decided to find a spot along a pond's edge and just...wait. I was curious what I would see if I just sat there quietly and waited.  

As I sat, I noticed so many dragonflies flying through the sky. I had never seen so many in the air at once before. And then, a dragonfly with beautiful black and white wings landed right in front of me:

I waited a little while longer and watched the breeze create a ripple on the surface of the pond. I sat, admiring the beautiful plants growing here like this one:

And then, I heard a quiet splash. I looked around but couldn't spot anything that would have made the sound. I waited again and looked closely. 

Can you see it? That cute little frog was checking me out, hiding so well among the vegetation in the water. 

But a few minutes later I saw another one, hiding under a water lily:

And as quickly as he popped up, he was soon gone under the lily pads and I lost sight of him (or maybe it was a her??)

I can't tell you how long I sat there, just observing life, alongside that pond. But when I finally got up, I felt so peaceful and happy to have stopped for a moment instead of rushing by. That's what life is all about right? Stop and smell the roses (or in this case, stop and watch for frogs!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trains, Gardens and Hostas

School starts this week and my son is starting Kindergarten. For this reason, I've been a little preoccupied and haven't found much time to post. So, this week I'm going to republish a post from a few months ago. Seems like just yesterday he was learning how to walk and now he's going off to school without me!

I visited an open house for the Long Island Garden Railway Society in Huntington, NY. The couple have created a beautiful oasis in their small yard with running water, a pond, over 50 varieties of Hostas and other beautiful landscape plants. But the main centerpiece is the working railroad track throughout the back yard.

My son and nephew (age 4 and 3, respectively) were fascinated with the trains and especially loved watching them go in and out of the tunnels!

Though the yard was small, I was impressed with the variety of plants and the combinations of color and texture. Their front yard is enclosed by a white fence and instead of planting the garden along the house, they planted it along the fence. In doing this, they made this front yard seem like a small room, inviting to the visitor to wander or admire the garden from either the yard or the house. 

Along the side of the house, they made great use of the natural slope of the lawn by putting in a water feature. Part babbling brook and part waterfall, it flowed down into a small fish pond at the base of the slope.

I think garden statues and structures can be attractive if done correctly. I love it when they are almost hidden among a plant or a shrub. As if they were put there by the garden gnomes and fairies themselves. Can you spot the little fairy sitting on the curb in the photo below?

And did I mention the 50 varieties of Hostas?? This one had leaves that were bigger than my daughter's whole body! This big one looks like Hosta 'Sum and Substance'.


To find out more information about the Long Island Garden Railway Society, check out their website at:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Colorful Containers

I came across these containers at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. I love the color combinations - especially for this time of year. They look so vibrant!

The red/orange Lantana mixed with the purple Petunia is quite striking, both cascading around the red Hibiscus in the middle. 

Upon closer inspection of the Hibiscus, I found it was inhabited by a bee.  Hello little bee!

The purple container and the yellow Cannas are a nice anchor to the purple foliage and yellow flowering plants cascading along the rim. 

Though these containers are way too big for my yard, I love it when I stumble upon a cool looking one, as it gives me such great inspiration for my own garden and/or containers!