2008 Year in review (Part 1)

The obligatory (and hopefully entertaining) look back …


Not much happening in the garden, so it was a good time to think about ordering seeds and plants (unfortunately, they’re more than 5 cents a pack these days, unlike these old packs) and sharing stories about the great bowling ball accident of 2003.

castor bean seed packet

While there were no blooms (or scans), there was surprisingly much to photograph on a very warm January garden bloogers bloom day.

The ridge in January


February is for forcing

forced bulbs

And time to fiddle around with PhotoShopping that month’s bloom day scans and chase away the merry blues with Manu Chao.

bloom day scan feb

Had a sunset picture grace a CD cover.

Read and reviewed Tulipomania. Added my two cents (and a ton of pictures) to the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Color in the Garden edition.


I love March, if only for its excitement. There are the forced bulbs in flower

forced bulbs

The first of the spring ephemerals


Then back to winter, hell and high water.

Fred and bottle tree

By Easter, plenty of signs that spring is on it’s way …


Then more snow. There’s a reason they’re called snowdrops, you know.
snowy snowdrops


Speaking of snowdrops, April brought the open house at snowdrop collector Hitch Lyman’s garden.


And the spring ephemeral peak at my place. Crocus …



scilla i think

Hyper-spring also brings scilla …

scilla siberica

… and erythronium.

trout lily

And by the end of the month, a bazillion daffodils, these at Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge’s annual open house.



Spring continues full bore. Purple primrose …


Thalia daffs

angelic daffs

Sakuraso primrose

Sakuraso primrose

…an iris from Marcia’s garden

marcia's garden

… and many more in this bloom day scan.

may scan with hard light effect

In the world of art, Quilter Lisa Ellis used one of my canna images for this work of art …

canna quilt

… Cornell students built this Turfwork! project

Turfwork! from the air. Photo by Peter Cadieux

… and Durand Van Doran built this fabulous floral gate — roots and all — in Minns Garden outside the building where I work.

Minn's garden gate

And we are reminded that there’s nothing new under the sun.


Some theme posts in June, because there’s so much to cover you’ve got to do some lumping. One on openings


,,, another on chartreusey stuff …


… too many blooms on bloom day to fit onto one scan …

june scan

… actual bloom day pictures to go with the scans …

goatsbeard (Aruncus)

East Digitalistan

not digitalistan

… and decent images of aruncus (finally!) …


summer songs

Mussolini was a-shavin’ whistlin’ tarantella,
Stalin was keeping eye on barbeque.
When their fish line bell started to jingle,
Mussolini caught a-nothin’, Stalin caught two.

On the art front, Cornell graduation turf art

cals sod sculpture

I tried to push back on the bland reporting on leaf casts in the garden media, and reported on the infamous Memorial Day jello contest.

As we head into the second half of the year, these alliums in Minns Garden outside the building where I work are all ready for 4th of July fireworks.

painted alliums

Part 2 starts here …

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The healing powers of water

As an addendum to my GBBD water garden workshop post, I wanted to add a short post about one of my favorite water features on the Cornell campus. I try to find an excuse to walk through the Bailey Plaza almost daily. (Outside Bailey Hall, which, yes, is named for that Bailey.)

bailey plaza
larger view | supersized

The plaza used to be a crumbling old parking lot until about a year ago. Already, the plantings give a feel for much of the wildland in the area, and the massive water feature at the south end resembles the blocky, right-angle rock features you can see in gorges throughout the area, where streams cut through the land as the descend into the various Finger Lakes.

bailey plaza

Thousands of stressed out students pass through this plaza daily, most unaware that they are getting a quick dose of serenity.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Water gardens, from puddles to pools.

This is my post for this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Water in the Garden.

When I started thinking about this topic, it dawned on me that I’ve actually got four water gardens — seven if you count the stream, beaver pond and wetland that I had no hand in designing. (I’m not counting the birdbath either, which the birds usually have to share with some small pots of emergents I’m rooting.)

Starting from the smallest and going to the largest …

My buddy Robert gave me this old dairy cow waterer for my 50th birthday because he knows I love old stuff collecting dust in the barn. In fact, I think I still have stuff of my own in his barn, stored ‘temporarily’ for the last 10 years. I float blossoms from my bloom day scans in it, or here some cut tulips. The dogs like to drink out of it, too.

cow waterer

Next up, the container water garden. I picked up this ceramic container for about $5 new years ago. (Matches my blue bottles nicely.) This year, I just have some dwarf water lilies in it.

water garden stuff

One of the great things about water gardens — even a modest little one like this — is they draw in the wildlife.

water garden stuff

One more step up, the whiskey barrel water garden, which has room for some other plants and I suspect that there are a few fish in there that came up from the big water garden. I highly recommend this if you think you’d like to try water gardening but don’t want to go whole hog. You will probably decide that you really need two or three, or make the jump to an in-ground garden. But these make a nice addition to a container garden.

water garden stuff

And finally (no surprise because you see it every time you visit in the banner image) is the big water garden.

water garden stuff

You can see pictures and read more about it’s installation here. But long story short: I was certain that the perfectly rectangular raised area in our lawn near where springs popped up every spring, I was sure I would find the foundation of an old stone springhouse if I dug down deep enough. Instead, I found rocky fill and then came to a plastic drain pipe leading to the wetland.

One more shovel-full down from the drain I hit water, and it started rising. I cut holes in the liner as I installed it so I could extend the pipe into the water garden so I can drain it. And also to let the water in from the spring bubbling up underneath.

I’ll get to some of the plants, but the main reason for having a water garden is so you can have fish. I like shebunkins, koi and also usually buy some cheap small goldfish in spring.

water garden stuff

I’ve gotten some of the koi up over a foot in a season from 4-inch starts at the pet store in spring. But invariably in late summer when all the fish are starting to size up nicely, the water garden once again attracts wildlife.


Fortunately, most years the heron leaves after a week or two of decimating the larger fish. Then a few weeks later after the remaining fish recover their wits, I’ll notice a few of the medium-sized fish that successfully hid under the lilies and also a dozen or so newborn fish with a different combination of markings that make shebunkins and koi so delightful. Enough to start the whole process over next season. (I’ve had no problems with overwintering. With relatively warm spring water flowing in, the pool stays open most of the winter.)

Plants? I usually stick some tropicals — elephant ears and cannas — in the moist bed on the lower side of the garden. (It leaks, so the downhill side of the garden is pretty boggy.) I’ve got pots of water lilies (easy to pick up at plant sales and exchanges as they multiply quickly) in the middle area, which is close to 4 feet deep. Then pots of emergents on the shallow shelves around the edges. Some favorites:

This yellow water lily …

water garden stuff

Pitcher plants …

water garden stuff

Pitcher plant flower …

water garden stuff

I’ve also got some equisetum, various irises, a variegated sedge, curly sedge and a pickerel weed that surprisingly hasn’t thrived.

And finally, a couple more full views, from fall of last year …

water garden stuff

And finally, the image I sliced for the banner:

water garden stuff

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Weekend pix

Just the usual pix from a quick Sunday walkaround …

I don’t normally go in for the ‘vignette’ shot. Mostly because I have a hard time filling the viewfinder with a medium-range subject without having something truly ugly or frightening intruding on the scene. But I looked up and saw this and it was almost garden-worthy.

sunday walkaround

Bee on globe thistle.

sunday walkaround

Pink Malva.

sunday walkaround

Yellow water lilly

sunday walkaround

And the same up close

sunday walkaround

Print Friendly, PDF & Email